Feasting on Small Game When TSHTF – Skinning for Survival

Today’s guest post includes a product giveaway – this basic hunting knife:

The giveaway drill is simple. You comment (once) on this post and a random commenter is chosen via random.org. Your comment must answer this question:

Should preppers that have never captured, skinned and eaten squirrel-like small game do so now, as preparedness practice, or is that just unnecessarily taking the life of a poor little critter?

Comments that critique or supplement the subject matter of this post will also count. Your comment can also praise me … actually, don’t do that. People would call me biased when you win.

Good luck!


People often grumble because rabbits ravaged the petunias or squirrels got into the birdfeeder again. But in a survival situation, those small yard pests can become an important food source – if you know what to do with them.

Whether you’re lost in the woods or living in an urban area when TSHTF, knowing how to skin and clean small game can keep you from starving. Rabbits, squirrels and other small animals are plentiful even in densely populated areas and can provide a decent source of meat. Of course, everyone and their dog will have the same idea, so pickings could become slim pretty quickly. If you do manage to bag one, however, it won’t do much good unless you know how to get the most out of it.

To skin a rabbit, squirrel or other small game, you’ll need a sharp hunting knife or skinning knife. It’s also helpful to have pliers and a sturdy pair of scissors; a quality multi-tool can provide everything you need in one compact, portable device. Whatever tool you use, make sure it’s good and sharp to reduce the risk of injury.

STEP 1: Use your hunting knife to cut off the front feet behind the knee joint.

STEP 2: Slice the underside of the tail at the anus to cut it loose from the body, leaving the tail attached to the skin.

STEP 3: The next step is to peel off the skin, which can be done several ways. The simplest is to place the tail under your foot, grab the hind legs and pull the body upward, which will skin the animal from tail to head. It may take some work to get the front legs out – continue pulling until the skin is hanging from the head.

STEP 4: With the tail still pinned, use your pliers to pull off any remaining skin from the belly to the back legs.

STEP 5: Place the carcass on a flat surface, and use your hunting knife to cut off the head and back feet.

STEP 6: Remove the genitals using the scissors or pliers on your multi-tool.

STEP 7: Carefully cut open the underside of the animal with your scissors or hunting knife, beginning at the anus and cutting up through the ribcage. Don’t cut too deeply or you risk slicing into the stomach, which can contaminate the carcass.

STEP 8: Open up the animal and remove all of the organs. (It’s helpful to have a bucket nearby.) When removing the bladder, be careful not to spill any urine on the meat. Ensure the cavity is completely clear before cooking.

STEP 9: Place the carcass into a bowl of clean water and soak it overnight to remove any excess blood.

STEP 10: To cook your small game, boil it in a stock pot with water or broth for two hours. You can also cut it into pieces, dredge in flour and seasonings, and fry in oil until browned. Then let the meat simmer for 30 minutes.

Skinning a small animal may not sound pleasant, especially if you’ve come to think of these critters as woodland pals. But knowing how will add one more skill to your survival arsenal.

Tom Huntington lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes about hunting knives, outdoor survival and emergency preparedness.