To do it methodically and to retrieve the most I can for the pot, I usually skin and dress out my squirrels as such:
1. After harvesting, I'll remove the head and feet. This can be done several ways, from continous cutting witha small bladed knife, to one chop with a larger "Rambo" knife (my preference, quick and easy), to using a set of pruning shears.
2. Once that's done, I start back up, belly down, usually on a log, from the point of the neck area. For ease of removing the skin, I leave the entrails "in" at this time.
3. I move down the backbone toward the tail, seperating the skin away from the cut:
4. I then start working the skin away from the body, usually behingd the front legs / shoulder blades and at the point of my first cut at the neck:
5. I work it down the body, using my fingers to loosen and turn "inside out" the skin around the front legs:
6. Using the front legs for leverage, I hold it up and start pulling down:
7. I work the rear legs much like the front legs, getting the skin worked away with my fingers (like a finger in a glove) between the skin and legs, then pull and turn inside out:
8. Once clear of the legs, IU'll pull past the base of the tail about 3/4", then remove tail the same method of removing the head / feet.
9. At this point I'll remove the entrails, finding the point on the ribcage that comes to a point:
10. I'll make an inscision there and work my way to the anus area. On males, i'll go to one side of the genitals, then using the front legs for leverage, pick the squirrel up, work my index and thumb into the chest cavity breaking the membrane there, and remove the heart, lungs, and gastro tract all at once:
11. Once the entrails and anything deemed undedible is removed, I'll trim out the belly flaps:
12. I'll split the legs / hip to remove any other unwanted "inerds", and to set myself up to remove the legs:
13. I'll hold the squirrel upside down by the rear leg, and start a fillet near the backstrap to get the most meat off. I'll then trim around the leg socket, then a simple twist and pull to remove:
14. Moving back up the body once the legs are removed, I'll trim up both the sides of the rib cage, making an arrowhead look. A simple breaking, twist and pull of the vertabrae seperates the two:
15. I'll remove the front legs just as the back, starting a fillet from the meatiest part where attached to the rib cage, under the shoulder blade, them trim around the socket. I'll also make the breast meat a part of that fillet.
16. You are now left with 5 pieces:
17. This is a total of 6 squirrels on 2 platters. Platters are slightly larger than a standard dinner plate. Unfortunately a few of the quarters had to be discarded due to too much damage from an off shot.