Not only can squirrel hunting be exciting and challenging, the animal’s meat is one-of-a-kind and tastes nothing like chicken — it’s definitely not a white meat.

The flavor of squirrel meat can bring joy to hunters at the dinner table, but getting the meat off the carcass can often be a problem to an unseasoned butcher.

Cleaning a squirrel is not much different than cleaning any other wild or domesticated mammal with four legs, except that squirrels are small compared to deer, hogs, and cows. Care must be taken to ensure that every morsel of meat is extracted.

First, the squirrel’s hide must be removed from its head all the way to the rump, and removing the skin is the easiest soon after the animal’s death. If the carcass is allowed to set for several hours or even overnight in a cooler, the skin becomes very difficult to remove.

The most efficient way to remove the skin takes two people. Start with making a cut completely around the animal’s middle without puncturing the muscle or any other tissue below. Then, pull back the skin on each side, exposing just enough for each person to grasp. After grabbing the skin tags, each person should pull against each other, removing the skin from the squirrel down to the legs, tail and head region. The feet, tail and head can be clipped off using a pair of garden shears or bone clippers.

Finally, the carcass should be split from the pelvic region downward through the sternum and all the way to the neck. All internal organs and other soft masses should be entirely removed, then the squirrel can be cut into quarters or can remain whole.

While squirrel meat is considered one of the best-tasting wild meats available, if improperly prepared, it can be tough and difficult to chew. The best way to tenderize the flesh and bring out the natural flavor involves a slow, moist cooking method. Slow cooking in a crock pot or braising in an oven or on a stove top are preferred and will guarantee fork-tender meat.