G. Sam Piatt
Kentucky’s squirrel season came in yesterday, two weeks earlier than Ohio’s.
Nuts and acorns are ripening and hunters intent on keeping a family tradition alive should find good populations of red, grey and fox squirrels deep in the woods, in the hollows and on the hilltops.
Squirrels can live up to 15 years, so now and then the meat hunter may bring home one a bit tough. Squirrel meat is sweet, lean, and nutritious and can be very tender when properly prepared and cooked.
Through the centuries the pioneers developed a fondness for the squirrel’s eating flavor and qualities.
Soaking older squirrels in ice water for a while will help to tenderize as well as remove any remaining blood.
When you’re cleaning squirrels be sure to remove and discard the scent glands found in the small of the back and under the front and rear legs.
Also, of course, remove the entrails, as well as the feet, head and tail.
It’s not necessary to remove body fat, since the delicately flavored meet usually calls for additional fat or moisture, such as bacon or margarine when cooking.
The daily limit in Kentucky is six squirrels, while the possession limit is 12.
Most people fry squirrel and serve it with gravy and cathead biscuits. But maybe you’d like to try this recipe for squirrel pie?
6 dressed squirrels
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
¼ cup flour
1 green pepper, minced
1 onion, minced
½ stick margarine
1 onion, chopped
2 pie pastries
1 stalk celery, minced
Place the squirrels, minced onion, green pepper and celery in a kettle of boiling water and cook until very tender, then bone out the meat and discard the bones, but save the water in the kettle.
Next, return the meat to the kettle and stir in the flour, chopped onion, margarine and parsley flakes until smooth, then reduce the heat to low, cover the kettle with a lid, and let it simmer for one-half hour, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Now place one pie pastry on the bottom of a pie pan, then pour in the squirrel mixture from the kettle and cover with the other pie pastry, then place the pie into a preheated 350 degree oven until the pie crust is browned.
This recipe is from the Pioneer Heritage Wild Game Cookbook, by Trapper Jack French.
It was published 28 years ago, so I’m not sure if the 400-page cookbook, priced at $14.95, is still available.
You could find out by writing: Realco Publishing, 825 Center Street, Suite 22-A, Jupiter, Fla., 33458.
I wouldn’t advise sending a check until you find out if the book is still available.
THE SHRINKING MUSKIE
Here’s a bit of an unusual fishing item that occurred down near the mouth of Kinniconick Creek.
There’s a boat ramp at Garrison, which the local fire department usually keeps the mud hosed off of after the stream has been up and back down.
It’s about half a mile from the ramp down to where Kinni empties in to the Ohio River. There’s some good fishing along this stretch for bass, sauger, crappie, catfish, and when you least expect it, a muskie or two.
I ran into Bill Carver, of Shultz Creek, one day this past week at KD’s filling station and convenience store, off U.S. 23 two miles east of South Shore, where we had both pulled in to fill our tanks.
“Got to tell you this fishing tale right quick,” he said.
It was last December when he and his son, Little Ottis, were fishing that section of the creek, about halfway between the boat ramp and the mouth.
Bill pointed to a bit of an inlet and told Ottis about hooking and losing a big muskie there some time back. He loaned Ottis a spoon from his tackle box and told him to cast it in where he had hooked the muskie.
Ottis cast it and “bang!” a big fish hit. Ottis held on and battled the fish up to the side of the boat, where they got a look at it. But before they could get it in the boat, either the line broke or the plug come untied, and the muskie said goodbye.
Three months later, in March, Bill and Dale Collinsworth were fishing that stretch of Kinni. At the place where Ottis had lost the fish, Bill cast a lure and “whoom, boom, whoosh!” he hooked a big one.
This one was also a muskie. They got it in the boat, and when Bill was retrieving his lure from the fish’s mouth, he discovered the spoon he had loaned Ottis still hooked in the fish’s jaw.
They took the muskie home and ate it.
Bill told Ottis about it, and asked him how big he thought the fish was.
“Why, it was 51 inches,” Ottis said.
“Well, you’re a little off,” Bill said. “It was 41 inches.”
To which Ottis replied something like, “Well, that plug in its mouth caused it to have lockjaw. It hadn’t eaten in three months, which of course caused it to shrink!”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at email@example.com or 606-932-3619.