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Can You Eat Skunk? | What You Need to Know

While most people don’t necessarily want to eat skunk meat, mainly because skunks are known for spraying foul-smelling liquid when they are scared, some of us would like to see if you can eat skunk if that is all the meat you have access to. The question is, can you eat skunk, or will it harm you somehow?

Skunks are entirely edible. Depending on the location, skunks are legal to hunt, although the tactics used to kill them vary. There are numerous ways to cook skunk. And as far as taste goes, skunk meat can be compared to rabbits, chipmunks, raccoons, and other similar wild animals.

If you are curious about where skunks can be legally hunted and how you can safely catch a skunk, keep reading.

Humboldt hog-nosed skunk

Can You Eat Skunk?

You absolutely can eat the skunk. People have been doing so for ages. There is historical evidence dating back to before the United States was colonized that Native Americans were hunting skunks for food. In certain places around the world, skunks are known as a delicacy.

However, there are several obstacles to overcome before eating skunks. Those obstacles include:

  • Why do you want to eat skunk?
  • Is it legal in your area to hunt skunks?
  • How is the meat processed for cooking?
  • Can I change my mindset from finding the idea of eating skunk repulsive?
  • Will there be health effects from eating skunk?
A cartoon of a waiter serving stinky skunk on a platter in a restaurant

Should You Eat Skunk?

Whether or not you should eat skunk might depend on why you want to eat it. Realistically, there aren’t many reasons to eat skunk in today’s economy, which is one of the main reasons why it isn’t commonly eaten in the United States. However, there also aren’t many reasons why you shouldn’t.

Whether you should eat skunk is ultimately up to you.

Is it Legal to Hunt Skunks?

Whether or not it is legal to hunt skunks depends on where you are located. Are you hunting skunks in the wild, or are you in the city? The laws and regulations about hunting skunks vary from state to state and the landscape of where you are.

The following information includes some of the regulations and rules of each state regarding whether hunting skunks is lawful and what procedures you must follow while tracking them, depending on your location.

StateRules in the State
AlabamaYou can kill skunks in this state. There are restrictions on how close you can be to the road, and you can’t use poisons or fumigants to kill them.
AlaskaYou must have a permit to kill skunks here. You can trap and release them, which is pretty easy should you catch one, as there are many habitat options for them in the state.
ArizonaThere are quite a few regulations for trapping, releasing, and hunting skunks here. You can hunt them, but there are restrictions and boundaries that you will need to stay within.
ArkansasStriped skunks may be hunted on land outside city limits by landowners holding a Predator Control Permit.
CaliforniaSkunk hunting is fair game in California. If you’re in the Sierra Mountains, however, night hunting might be a no-go. Skunk bait and poisons are not allowed, but licensed firearms are.
ColoradoIf you’re going to hunt skunks here, the only legal way to do so is to use a cylindrical trap or a Havahart cage trap. You must then kill them or let them go on-site.
ConnecticutWith a permit, skunks are huntable in this state.
FloridaSkunks may be hunted with a permit at any time.
IdahoHunting skunks is permitted in this state.
IndianaBetween October 15 and March 15, you can hunt skunks in Indiana with a permit.
KentuckyYou can hunt for skunks in Kentucky as long as you have a permit.
MaineAs long as you have a valid hunting license, October 17 through December 21 is the designated period when hunting skunks is permitted.
New HampshireOctober through December is the skunk-hunting season for those with permits in New Hampshire.
New YorkThe dates when people with permits are allowed to hunt skunks are publically announced annually in New York. These days occur during the fall and winter months.
TennesseeIt is legal for people to hunt for skunks in Tennessee.
TexasSkunk hunting is legal year-round in Texas, although there are specific locations where it is not permitted, and there are severe penalties if you hunt them in these locations.
UtahIt is legal to kill skunks in Utah.
VermontPermits are required, but skunks are huntable here.
VirginiaNo Kill Permit is required from VDGIF; landowners may kill skunks on their land. The spotted skunk is protected here.
WyomingAs long as hunting regulations are followed, it is legal to hunt, trap, kill, and release skunks in Wyoming.

How to Catch a Skunk

Three happy cartoon skunk s in the forest at night

To catch a skunk to eat, you will need to do the following things, especially to avoid getting sprayed.

  1. Make sure you really want to do this. It isn’t easy to catch a skunk, and it isn’t easy to cook one, either. You’ll need to have the right mindset if you want to be successful. If you have the drive, though, this could be a cool experience for you.
  2. Find a skunk. There are a few ways to find one of these critters. They burrow, so if you can find one of their holes, you have a relatively good shot at finding one. You can also trace their smell and follow their tracks. Many people say that skunks leave a cannabis smell behind.
  3. Choose the right trap. Remember that depending on where you are, there are different regulations and tactics to use when hunting your black-and-white striped meal.
  4. Shoot your shot. In the end, you will most likely end up shooting the skunk. Please be educated on how to do that humanely. The lungs or the spine are probably good places to aim to make death as painless as possible for the animal. You will also probably want to be at a distance when shooting a skunk to avoid being sprayed.

How to Process Skunk

Here are the steps involved in cleaning a skunk:

1. Look For Infections.

To process a skunk so you can eat it after you catch it but before you clean it, the first thing you will need to do is look for any infections. It can be a little hard to tell, but use a brush or something similar to see if there are any lumps or anything unusual about the body. Even when skinning it, keep an eye out throughout the entire process. If you see anything that looks dangerous or off, eating the animal is not worth the risk. Using gloves is a good idea too.

2. Remove The Scent Glands.

Before you cook or eat a skunk, you have to defuse it. This is quite the ordeal. Skunks have two scent glands. The primary function of these is to protect these animals from their predators. The glands let out their spray to ward off unwanted hunters; in this case, you are the unwanted hunter.

The video below details what you must do to process a skunk.

When you pull the skunk apart, please do so carefully. Most parts of the skunk are edible, including the liver and kidneys. Additionally, you don’t want to trigger the scent glands in the process. Separating the parts is crucial because even though most of the animal is edible, some are not.

Don’t eat the glands. They taste like skunk body odor. The glands are hidden within the entire body, so you’ll have to be thorough when gutting it. If you can’t stomach the process, you probably shouldn’t eat a skunk.

3. Wash The Meat.

Next, you’ll need to wash the meat. After washing it, you still need to finish cleaning it. You’ll have to marinate it in apple cider vinegar and water in order to disinfect it. Let it sit in that solution overnight.

You will then need to cook the skunk.

How Do You Cook Skunk?

To cook a skunk, wash it in clean water after processing the dead animal. Once it is clean, it will be ready to season with your preferred spices and seasonings. Let the seasoned meat sit overnight in an apple cider vinegar and water solution. Come morning, your game should be ready to cook.

You can stick it in an oven or roast it over a fire. Cooking the skunk over low heat will help to tenderize the meat and make it easier to eat. Using a crockpot is also an option. You could barbeque, grill, fry, bake, boil, or cook your skunk in many different ways!

The trick to getting it to taste good is being thorough. Be sure to be precise and take your time when going through the process. Remove each gland and clean the meat very well. Let it sit long enough to remove all scent and cook it thoroughly, as you would with any other type of meat.

When cooking skunk, seasoning is essential.

What does Skunk Taste Like?

The taste of skunk has commonly been described as similar to raccoon and rabbit meat. This makes sense, as it is closely related to these animal families. Skunk has also been compared to the flavor of chipmunks, chicken, opossums, and other animals. The skunk’s environment determines how it will taste.

Something interesting about skunks is that they have a ‘wild game’ taste. The best way we can describe this is that they have not been domesticated. Since the skunk you would be consuming will have been obtained from the wild, it will be pretty easy to taste that outdoorsy element in the flavor of your meal. With their gamey piquancy, skunks might not be for everyone.

If cleaned well, skunk should be good to eat, although it is easy to miss steps or not be thorough. If this occurs, it might have a skunk-ish aftertaste that will not be enjoyable.

Illustration of a skunk with a gas mask

Benefits of Eating Skunk

There are at least a few benefits associated with eating skunk:

  • An obvious benefit of eating skunk is that you can say you did it and can tell people about it.
  • On a more literal and physical level, skunks have lots of healthy fat that can benefit the human body.
  • If you were in a situation that required you to hunt for skunk because you had no other options, you would likely need all the healthy nutrients you could get.

Risk Factors of Consuming Skunk

There are risks to consider when debating whether or not you want to eat a skunk. Aside from getting sprayed, more severe and permanent possible threats come with this adventure. Should you decide to eat a skunk you hunted, you should realize there is a chance the animal is carrying diseases and may pass them on to you.

Rabies, roundworms, various diseases, parasites, and other severe illnesses can be passed onto you if you eat a skunk afflicted with them. Some diseases can be cooked, baked, or boiled out of an animal so you can safely eat it, but others cannot. If you eat a skunk, you risk your health in ways that may not be reversible. If you get sick after eating skunk, go to the hospital as soon as possible to receive proper treatment.

However, if you clean the skunk that you plan to eat and look carefully through its fur, checking for bug bites and other signs of illness or infection, you will likely be able to eat the meat safely.

Final Thoughts

In most states, you can hunt and eat skunk if you have a hunting permit. However, there are only so many reasons why you should choose to do so unless you are in a situation where you don’t have access to any other sources of food.

For more, check out 7 Ways to Find Food in the Wild | Must-Know Techniques.