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Skinning / Fleshing Raccoons
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 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:30 am
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Dan Tanner
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The best and easiest way to learn how to put up fur is to find someone who knows how to handle fur show you. A trapper in your area or even a local fur buyer. If no one can help consider buying one of the many books on the subject.

I'll try to teach you what I know.



You will need a few supplies in order to put up your fur correctly.

First things first you will need a skinning knife and a sharpening stone or a quick sharpener (Cam-nu etc.). I highly recommend an Improved Muskrat style Old Timer. I have had mine for a long time now and it still takes and holds an edge. Your skinning knife needs to be kept razor sharp to avoid holes and cuts. I have done everything with mine from skinning squirrels with it to skinning, quartering, and butchering a whole deer.



You also need a tail stripper for stripping coon, fox, coyote and mink tails.



If you would like to put your fur up (fleshing, stretching and drying) you will need stretchers in the various sizes and models for whatever animal you plan to trap. You have choice of wooden stretchers and wire stretchers. Wire stretchers are cheaper and easier to use. Wooden ones give your fur a better look I think, I use wood for my  foxes and for all my mink.

If you trap beaver you will need to make some beaver boards. A pattern is obtainable for beaver boards from the Fur Harvesters Auction. I will however assume you using wire forms for all but mink and beaver.



You will need a fleshing knife to scrape of all the fat, gristle, and meat left on a hide after skinning. I have used everything from a sharp knife to old fashioned draw knives. I used a draw knife for a few years. I now use a Knecker Knife, which you can buy, from most trapping supply stores. It has a dull edge for basic scraping, and a sharp edge for scraping gristle on coon, and especially beaver. With a fleshing knife you'll need a fleshing beam. If your ambitious you can make your own out of a 2x6, or do what most people do buy one from a trapping supply store. Arrange the beam so you push down with the fleshing knife. The end of the beam where you put the pelt should be about waist level.



You should get a rubberized apron as well to keep the blood and grease off your clothes. Make life easier for your wife, girlfriend.


You should also get a box of rubber gloves, to protect yourself from diseases. They keep your hands mostly clean of blood and grease, however sometimes they do make it hard to scrape when they get greasy.



The last things you need are some rags, old T-shirts are ok, but an old towel cut into 3 pieces is better.



I have no experience with preparing, nutria,  badger, wolf or wolverine furs. Therefore I can't tell you how to put them up.



This is for all animals, let them dry out before skinning if you can. You can skin wet animals if need be, but when they are dry they are much easier to skin and handle. After they dry out brush out all the mud, dirt and burrs in the fur. I use a dog grooming brush. Cockleburs in any hide, but especially fox and coyote hides and tails are best removed by crushing the burr and using your fingers to remove the small pieces.

 


Raccoons



Hang the raccoon by its hind feet head down. I Use a strong cord or cable. (I use a dog chocker chain.) Start by making a cut about 1 1/2" onto the pad of the hind foot continuing the cut around the whole foot, repeat with other foot.






Now make a cut from one foot to the other just in front of the anus of the coon. Then make two cuts on either side of the anus, connecting the cuts in front of the tail.Now using your knife cut he hide free of the feet. Once the hide is free of the feet you should be able to pull the hide off the hind legs and the belly.



 


photo of the starting cuts below




 





If it is a male coon you will have to cut around the testicle. You will see the penis bone, pull the hide down to the end of the bone and then cut it free.












Now continue to pull the hide around the back to the tail.



Work your fingers between the back and the hide till you break through the other side.



Now give it a good pull, and it should start the tail.






Take your knife and insert it upside down into the top of the tail, and very carefully drawthe knife toward you. This should give you a 3-4" cut along the top of the tail.



Now pull on the hide near the tail, not the tail because on young coons it can rip off.



While pulling to get the tail free every 1/2" cut along the underside of the tail (you should see a white line). This will prevent tail hairs from being pulled out.You cancontinue to do this till the whole tail is skinned out,



or after about 5-6" you can use a tail stripper.



Photo of a tail stripper below







To use the tail stripper open the tail stripper and place the tail bone into the desired size hole and close and hold tightly with one hand.



photo of the tail stripper being used



 





 





Now with your one hand holding the tail stripper closed on the tail bone, grab the tail bone itself tightly with your  other hand and firmly separate the tail bone from the tail. The tail bone should pull out of the tail. If it is to hard to pull out, skin out more of the tail and try again.



 





photo of the tail being stripped




 





If you use a tail stripper cut down the inside of the tail and open it up,otherwise it may rot.




photo of the tail  split open





 





Once you have this done it is just a matter of brute force to get the rest



of the hide off.  Using your rags will help you get a better grip on the hide.




photo of cutting the hide loose around the belly



 



Pull down till you reach the front legs. Work your fingers in under the shoulder between the carcass and the hide. Once you poke through to the other side pull down on the hide as far as you can.



 



photo of getting the legs free



 





 





Now pull down on the hide around the legs and cut the hide to free the hide



from the feet.



 



photo of the pelt cut loose from the feet





 





Now using your knife pull and cut down toward the head, be careful not to cut the hide.



Cutting on the whitish lines closest to the animal will prevent most accidental cuts.



photo of the head and ear





 





Once you reach the skull look for the 2 white lumps of cartilage that mark the ears. Cut them off close to the skull.
photo of the ear cut free from the skull





 





Continue to pull till you find the eyes, they'll be dark spots under a thin layer of tissue.  Use care or you'll get "starry-eyed" coons









Pull down to the nose and cut the pelt free at the base of the nose cartilage.



 



Photo of the nose and eyes skinned out and pelt removed from the carcass





 



 





SCRAPING / Fleshing



Scraping coons can be tough. It depends on what kind of knife you use and the size of the coons. Anything over 15 lbs. can be pretty tough and gristly.






Place the coon on fleshing beam as far as it'll go. Have it's eyes looking up at you.Now take your skinning knife and make a shallow cut just below the ears. Make sure not to cut through the hide. This cut is the starting point for you to scrape.






Scrape with a downward stroke, using a few short strokes to get the hide started, once started the fat and flesh should just come off fairly easy.






Continue to scrape around the hide, pulling the hide up the beam and tucking the excess under, till hide is clean of fat.






Stretching



Now center the pelt on a wire stretcher, place the hooks into the two pieces of foot pad on the hind feet (these will hold better than the hide and not slip.)



Place the other hook in the tail. Now pull down on hooks till the coon is about 7 3/4 to 8 inches wide at the hips. (The average persons hand is between 7 1/2 to 8 inches from the tip of the index finger to the base of the palm.)






Place a clothespin on each hip to hold it in place.






Now take your knife and cut "the window". Cut at the penis for male coons and the second set of teats for a female. Cut out to about 2-2 1/2" of the side of the coon.






Cut off lower lip so mouth is one big oval shape.






Raccoon Sizes:



4XL(over 35")



3XL(32-35")



2XL 29-32")



XL(27-29")



Large(24-27")



Large Medium LM (22-24")



Medium (20-22")



Small (under 20")








Last edited on Tue Jul 10th, 2007 08:33 am by



 Posted: Tue Jul 10th, 2007 09:51 pm
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wildforrats82
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Also sometime when you are fleshing coon you might want to sprinkle saw dust on it so it is easier to handle because it will soak up most of the grease.



 Posted: Wed Jul 11th, 2007 08:43 am
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Dan Tanner
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wildforrats82 wrote: Also sometime when you are fleshing coon you might want to sprinkle saw dust on it so it is easier to handle because it will soak up most of the grease.
I agree that adding something to the greesy pelt can help with handling but instead of sawdust which ends up sticking to the pelt I will sometimes use 100 MuleTeam Borax soap, this dries the grease up pretty good gives you a gritty texture so its easier to get a grip on it and shakes off the hide real easy and anything thats left on will dry out the pelt even more to help it in the stretching and drying stage



 Posted: Sat Jul 14th, 2007 04:57 pm
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boarmaster
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Great info, I got a lot to cull to thanks to PETA!

Attached Image (viewed 9651 times):

coon1.jpg



 Posted: Sat Jul 14th, 2007 04:59 pm
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boarmaster
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Here is some more

Attached Image (viewed 9074 times):

coon2.png



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