Skin squirrels the easy way

Jean Poirrier III, left, his father, Jean "Crow" Poirrier II and the younger Jean's son, Jake, are a third-generation squirrel hunting family. Jean II hasn't missed an opening day squirrel hunt in more than 30 years.

Air compressor pushes skin right off meat

What hunter doesn’t enjoy bagging a limit of bushy-tailed tree rodents?

But as for the task of cleaning those tough little buggers — well, not so much.

Jean Poirrier III, however, has no issues after the hunt, using an air compressor for cleaning older, tougher squirrels.

After learning how compressors are useful in cleaning tough alligators, a light bulb went off in his head. He already had the fastest, hairless method of cleaning squirrels I’d ever witnessed, but with the quick extra step of pumping air under the skin, the squirrel’s hide just glided right off.

It’s so quick, eight squirrels can be sizzling in grease in less than eight minutes. Shears, a compressor and a small, sharp knife are all that’s needed — here’s how you do it.

Poirrier starts by cutting off all four feet. Then, with a cut below the tail and through the backbone, he steps on the tail and pulls the hide right off.

Finally, he quickly slices the head off, and the job is almost done.

If the squirrels are older and tougher, he’ll take his air compressor and insert a nozzle into the bullet hole — or a hole he makes in the neck — to pump the squirrel up before starting the cleaning process.

Carefully pushing compresses air into the hole in the skin essentially inflates the squirrel’s hide, pulling it away from the meat.

During the process, Poirrier stresses to keep one hand clean at all times — if hair gets on a hand, he quickly rubs it off on his pants.

The secret trick to having a hairless squirrel is putting them in icy water immediately after skinning. Any stray hairs will rub right off after a cold soak before the skin’s fascia gets dry and sticky.

Poirrier guts them last after the initial soak, and then gives them a final rinse.