October 14 was the opening day of small game season in Pennsylvania. It is a day I’m beginning to look forward to more and more. For the past two season openers a couple of my friends and I take the kids out for a morning squirrel hunt.
Last year, between five adults and three kids we managed to get one squirrel. This year, we had three dads, a grandfather, and three kids, ages 7, 5, and 4. The 7 year-old was equipped with his own Savage Rascal .22 to try to take the squirrels himself. My daughter isn’t quite ready to handle a gun so I was doing the shooting. But she is my eagle eye, keeping her head on a swivel and pointing any movement out to me.
The morning was perfect for squirrel hunting, calm, sunny, and warmer than normal. No rain to dampen our spirits and no cold air to bite at the kids’ noses. We all split up and my daughter and I headed up the hill to an opening along a bench. Oak trees and acorns littered the area and it wasn’t long before we saw our first squirrel. We sat in several spots and managed to take three different squirrels, while missing a couple as well. The first was a gray squirrel, and the next two were black squirrels.
I’ve always coveted the black squirrel. When I was growing up they were a relatively rare sight and I managed to get one when I was 16. I got the hide tanned and I still have it. It seems that black squirrels are not as rare as they once were, as I see them several times throughout the hunting season, in various places.
After we got the third squirrel, my daughter said she thought three was enough, and I couldn’t argue with her. So we headed back to the truck to wait for our friends. One other squirrel was taken by the dad of the second group, and the third group got shooting in but no squirrels. So we ended up with four squirrels for the morning. A successful day in my book. We headed back to a friends house to meet the wives and other kids to have a hunter’s breakfast. It is a day I will remember for a long time, beautiful weather, a successful hunt, all while sharing friendship and food. I’m already looking forward to next year.
Last year I made squirrel noodle soup, but I wanted to make something different this year. So I decided on squirrel tacos. Everybody loves tacos. Below is the recipe I used. I took inspiration from Hank Shaw’s Turkey Carnitas and Harvesting Nature’s Hefe Braised Rabbit Carnitas.
- 4 Squirrels
- 3-4 jalapeños, chopped
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 3-4 gloves garlic, crushed
- 1 Lime
- 2 cans (24 oz) of beer
- 1-1/2 TBS Firing Lime Chipotle seasoning from tacticalories.com
- Olive Oil
- Corn and Flour Tortillas
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Minced cilantro
- sour cream
- Brine the squirrel in kosher salt water before beginning this recipe to pull out the blood
- Coat the meat in olive oil and Firing Lime Chipotle seasoning
- Place meat in Dutch oven with the onion, jalapenos, garlic, and enough beer to nearly cover the meat, and the remainder of the Firing Lime Chipotle seasoning. If necessary add broth to bring up the liquid level.
- Juice the lime into the pot and add the juiced lime in as well.
- Bring the pot to boil and cover, allow to simmer 2-3 hours or until the meat falls off the bone
- Separate out all the meat, strain and save the braising liquid for the next steps
- Place oil coated cast iron skillet on high heat
- Put in the squirrel meat with some honey to sear and crisp the meat, add some braising liquid to keep the meat moist, add some more Firing Lime Chipotle to taste. You can throw some lime juice on as well.
- Remove meat from skillet as to not burn the meat
- Serve on a warm tortilla with all the necessary taco fixings, including but not limited to cheddar cheese, cilantro, chopped onion, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc…