Groundhogs are common airgun quarry. They are a pest species, and as such, many are shot and left for the coyotes. It’s a real shame, because if you prepare them right, they are darn tasty!
Begin by cleanly harvesting with a headshot. This will keep the meat from being tainted and having that gamey taste everyone talks about. Remove the feet, skin it out, remove the head and entrails, and rinse well. Trim away excess fat, and remove all the scent glands found near the back legs and armpits.
Soak the carcass in salt water overnight. Discard water. Pat dry. The meat is ready to cook, or for even better flavor, allow it to age a couple days more in the fridge between 32*F and 38*F.
Preheat your oven to 200*F. Add some beef stock to a dutch oven. Better than Broth or beef bullion cubes and water can be substituted. Dry red wine can be added for additional flavor. I add enough liquid to cover the meat. Place the lid on the dutch oven and put in the oven. You’ll want to start this early in the morning, I recommend at least 8 hours at 200*.
After at least 8 hours, remove the dutch oven and pour most of the liquid out. This can be saved to make gravy. I leave about a quarter to half inch of liquid in. Turn the oven up to 250*F, throw on your favorite seasonings, replace the lid, and throw it back in for another hour or two, or until the meat readily falls from the bone.
Debone the meat, serve with gravy, BBQ sauce, or steak sauce. Add your favorite side dishes. Your stomach will growl the next time you see one of those pesky whistlepigs!
If you enjoy shooting air rifles, but don’t enjoy hunting, then you will want to visit other parts of this site. For those of you that enjoy hunting, I’ve got a couple of videos that I shot while hunting with my Umarex Fuel .177. Here’s a video that I took shortly after purchasing the rifle:
As you can tell, it puts them out humanely with minimal damage to the meat. Here’s a video I took while wearing my GoPro clone. I bagged a squirrel within a minute of leaving my door. This was an offhand shot from a tad over 20 paces:
Squirrel improperly cooked can be quite unpalatable. Slow roasting works really well, and with the right seasonings, can produce terrific tasting meals. Look at how nice they turn out:
Here’s how I prepare them. First, skin, gut, and remove the head and tail. Preheat your oven to 250 F. Clean the carcass with cool clean water. Blot excess water. Season the meat inside and out with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Next, take a small onion and quarter it. I find that two quarters fills the length of the cavity well, one quarter in the rib cage, the other in the stomach.
Place the squirrel on heavy duty foil. Be sure you have enough to completely wrap it. Spray everything with some cooking oil (a Misto is what I use). Wrap the squirrel in foil and place in the oven on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours.
Serve with your favorite side dishes – dressing, rice, potatoes, vegetables, or what ever you like! Give it a try, you might be surprised at how good a tree rat can taste.