As far as most Vermonters are concerned the 2010 hunting season is officially in the books. Just don't tell that to Eric Nuse.
The former game warden is part of an small group of Vermonters who love hunting squirrels.
"I started when I was 12 and actually a gray squirrel was the first piece of game I ever shot," Nuse says.
Squirrel hunting is very popular in the deep south. Here in Vermont that's not the case, but those who do it say don't knock it 'till you try it.
"They really have a nice chunk of meat on their hindquarters," Nuse says. So what does squirrel taste like? "Like really good flavored chicken. No joke."
"Of course it all depends on how you marinate it," says Dale Whitlock of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. "it depends on the cook."
According to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, gray squirrels are the state's most overlooked game animal but one of the most prevalent. Gray squirrels love to mate and will reproduce up to three or four times a year.
But hunting squirrel is no piece of cake. After a few quick tips and a little target practice I figured there'd be nothing to it.
But we waited...and waited...and waited some more, but never even saw one.
It turns out squirrels are pretty squirrely, at least in cold weather.
"This late in the season the odds aren't very good," Nuse says.
But the beauty of hunting for bushytails is that there's always tomorrow. Squirrel season is four months long and you can bag up to four critters a day.
That's enough to keep just about any hunter satisfied and dreaming about that trophy squirrel.
"You don't hear many people bragging about taking home that trophy squirrel, but I'm sure someplace they have a long squirrel contest somewhere. I don't know," Nuse says.
But what do you do with the squirrel once you've bagged it? Nuse has some tasty suggestions, including squirrel pot pie:
Squirrel Pot Pie
The large gray and fox squirrels are the best for eating and are only fit to use when young.
1 small glass, sherry
1 onion, minced
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp salt
1 recipe biscuit dough
Cut squirrel into serving pieces; dredge with flour. Cook in small amount of fat in skillet until brown. Place squirrel in kettle; add 1 quart boiling water, lemon, salt, and sherry. Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter until brown. Add to squirrel mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover tightly Simmer for 15 minutes.
Place squirrel in center of hot platter; arrange dumplings around squirrel. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in skillet. Add 1 tablespoon flour, cook, stirring until brown. Stir in squirrel broth; cook. Stir until thickened. Pour over squirrel.
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