How to hunt and prepare squirrel meat

This story was originally published in November 2020.

Eating wild game meat is a great way to make your diet leaner, fresher, and more sustainable. For fans of sustainable meat who aren’t ready to hunt deer or elk, one way to get wild game meat in Maine is to hunt and prepare squirrels for food.

If you’re squeamish about eating bushmeat in general, Steve Vose, blogger for Maine Outdoorsman, said consider your options at a conventional grocery store.

“If you look at the meat we eat in the supermarket, it’s pretty far from organic,” Vose said. “People say, ‘How can you kill deer and squirrels or anything else we eat over the course of the year?’ and I say, ‘How can you eat that piece of meat in that sterilized Styrofoam at the grocery store?’

To hunt squirrels of any kind, you will need a hunting license. Gray squirrels have a hunting season that begins in the fall, usually in late September, and continues through the end of the year. Red squirrels can be hunted throughout the year. You can eat both gray and red squirrels, though Vose said the latter are less worth it in terms of the amount of meat you get.

“The grays and reds are the only ones that are technically harvestable in the state of Maine,” Vose said. “The grays are pretty good, the reds are tiny. I don’t tend to shoot reds to eat.”

For Vose and others, it’s not just about putting food on the table: hunting and eating squirrels can be a more sustainable form of pest control.

“There [is] an overabundance of squirrels on my property,” Vose said. “If they are not controlled, they cause a lot of damage. They are really destructive, especially in large numbers.”

Instead of just killing and disposing of the squirrels that wreak havoc on his land, Vose said he feels better about putting the animal to use.