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Except for the beaver, all fur pelts are "cased." This means the skin is cut along the inside of the hind legs, from heel to heel, rather than along the midline. Then the fur and skin are worked loose from the body and pulled over the animal's head. The beaver skin is prepared "open and round."

  • After the initial cut for the cased pelt, follow these guidelines for skinning out the tail.
    • For smooth-tailed furbearers, such as the muskrat, cut the skin around the tail. Then cut off the tail.
    • For fur-tailed furbearers, the tail is split, skinned out, and left on the pelt. Be careful to split the tail all the way to the end. Otherwise, you may form a pocket that can collect moisture and spoil the tail.
  • After the hind legs and tail are skinned out, most furbearers can be skinned easily by just pulling. Be careful not to pull the skin hard enough to tear it. The skin should come off clean with the fat left on the carcass.
  • A knife should be used only when the skin sticks. In this case, use the knife to lightly stroke the thin membrane between the skin and the carcass. The knife should be kept very sharp.
  • Larger animals can be skinned more easily if they are hung on a gambrel or hook after the hind feet are skinned out. This makes it easier to pull down on the skin.
  • Muskrats and mink can be skinned best on a table or bench, although some muskrat trappers prefer to hang the muskrat by its tail when skinning. When skinning on a table, hold the animal down with one hand and pull the skin with the other. Use pieces of light cloth to help hold the slippery skin and carcass.
  • Animals with scent glands should be skinned carefully to prevent cutting into the glands.
  • Beginners often have trouble skinning out the head. The ears and eyes must be skinned carefully.
    • Cut off the ears as close to the skull as possible.
    • Carefully cut through the membrane attached to the eyelids. Do not cut the eyelids themselves.
Skinning out the tail