Michigan’s public lands offer endless outdoor activities for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts alike, including squirrel hunting.
Heather Iverson, who has been out squirrel hunting with her family for several years, said the activity is perfect for beginners or those just looking to get outdoors.
“You don’t need any specific type of weapon, and then for gear you would just need boots and bright orange,” Iverson said. “So basically, if you’ve got your orange and a gun and the will to go hiking in the woods, you’re probably equipped enough to hunt squirrels.”
Iverson said she brings her two sons, ages 8 and 3, to get them outside more, especially this time of year when it’s off-season for other common game species. Squirrel hunting season is one of the longest hunting seasons, running from September 15 to March 31 for fox and gray squirrel species.
Ryan Soulard, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said black squirrels are included because the color is only the squirrels that exhibit more black pigment.
“It can be done by a variety of people, you don’t need a lot of special equipment or a big investment to try it,” Soulard said. “They are one of the most abundant mammals that we have in the state, there are very few places in the state that you could go and not find them, pretty much anywhere you go you will find them.”
Squirrel hunting requires a basic hunting license, which covers small game that also includes rabbits and pheasants and is required to hunt larger animals. A basic hunting license ranges from $6 for a junior resident license to $11 for a resident age 17 and older.
Soulard said hunters can find the animals almost anywhere, but he recommends going out earlier in the morning or later at night for the best chance of finding them. However, if the temperatures are cooler, the squirrels are more likely to be outside in the hottest part of the day.
“There’s really no limit to finding them,” Soulard said. “If you’re driving or hiking and looking up at the treetops frequently, you’ll see their leaf-filled nest in the trees, so it’s relatively easy to get an idea of where they are seasonally.” .”
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What do you need
The actual requirements for squirrel hunting are simple: wear a bright orange color that is visible from all angles and have the entry level hunting license.
Soulard said squirrels can be hunted with small rifles, such as a .22-caliber rifle, BB gun or small shotgun.
“That’s one of the nice things, it can be done with any number of tools,” he said. “You don’t need to have a specialized firearm to do it, let alone a pellet gun isn’t a firearm, so in theory you wouldn’t have to have a firearm to do it if you didn’t want to.”
How to prepare and cook squirrel.
Once the squirrels have been hunted, the cleaning and cooking part is relatively simple, Soulard said. Soulard recommends skinning the animal and separating it as he would a whole store-bought chicken.
The flavor of the meat itself is not pungent, but is more subtle with an earthy flavor, Soulard said.
“It certainly looks like chicken, but I would say it has a richer flavor, even with a hint of nuttiness or just a more earthy flavor,” he said. “It’s nothing like what you can get at the store and it just has a very unique light taste, but with a nutty flavor.”
Iverson said he estimates that it takes about one squirrel to feed a single person and that it can be used in any way chicken or turkey is used. His option is to slow cook the meat for 2-4 hours, shred it, and add barbecue sauce. From there, Iverson said he puts the shredded meat on a ciabatta roll with coleslaw, Swiss cheese and jalapeños for a barbecued pulled squirrel sandwich.
Three ounces of squirrel meat is 102 calories and 18.1 grams of protein compared to 120 calories and 23 grams of protein for venison.
The meat can also be cooked in a frying pan or frying pan.
“They’re really good to eat,” Iverson said. “Most people don’t even think about eating them, but they’re really good.”
Meredith Spelbring is a news intern for the Detroit Free Press. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mere0415.