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Welcome back everyone! After the satisfaction of my getting my first catch, it’s now time to put this natural resource to use. I’m after a pair of rabbit fur mitts for next season. That means getting my first catch skinned out and eventually tanned. Join me in the fur shed. Let’s get to work skinning that rabbit.
WARNING!! This video contains graphic images of animals being processed for fur. Images may include blood and/or animals with their fur and skin removed. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!!!
Full Article Continues Below.
Welcome to the Fur Shed.
Ah… the fur shed! With it’s kerosene heater, bottle of whiskey and unmistakable feeling you’ve gone back in time! It’s awesome. Very nostalgic. Furs, traps and gear line the walls, and bits of scrap fur lay here and there on the floor. The fur shed is purpose built, and there is no mistaking what goes on there. This is a man cave, if ever there was one!
You can see in the background of the shots above and below, a coyote and two foxes that we had just skinned prior to beginning the rabbit. These were my first canine skinning jobs and I enjoyed the work immensely. It was a great learning experience. These furs were donated as practice furs for me to work on. I have one of the foxes tanned up and hanging on my wall at home now.
Anyway back to business. I admire my catch one last time and then get to the business at hand. Turning that catch into a rabbit pelt.
Let’s Get to Skinning .
Now the step by step process is much more fluid in the above video, but here are the basic steps I follow when skinning a rabbit. I’m sure I could break it down into even more detailed steps, but to be honest I feel that would over complicate things. It’s actually not rocket science and you just gotta get in there and go for it. Your first skin or two might be a little jagged but you will learn really fast. It’s a simple learning curve.
You need to start somewhere and most trappers start skinning from the hind end. The first thing you need to do is cut a ring around both ankles and remove the rear feet.
You need to open the pelt up so you can pull it off the carcass. First identify the line from the ankle to the vent. You can see a fairly slight change in the color and direction of the fur on most animals along this line. Use this line as your guide. You open the fur from the ankles to the “vent”. The vent is the skinning term for the poop shoot. But we don’t say poop shoot. We never say poop shoot! Unless we do say poop shoot. In which case we just say poop shoot. Anyways… it’s the vent.
Now it gets easier. You will feel you’ve really gotten somewhere after completing this step. You’ve already opened it up on one end so now all you need to do is pull the pelt away from the flesh. You can basically think of pulling off a sock. Just roll it down off the carcass.
Remove the front feet and pull the front legs out. The only tricky bit to this part is getting it started. What you need to do is poke your finger through the sinew under the “armpit”. Right between the skin and the meat. Once you have this accomplished you can use the front legs to pull against, removing them from the pelt. Do this for both front legs.
Now you just have to finish up and cut the pelt free of the carcass. Basically just continue pulling the pelt off as you did before up over the neck and as far up over the head as you can. For species like mink, muskrat, otter and others this is a must. These species must be perfectly removed from the carcass to be marketable. In the case of rabbit, they aren’t even typically sold at large fur auctions, so it doesn’t really matter. I was trying to see if I could do it on this rabbit but I blew it. Rabbit skin is very thin.
Once you have the pelt free of the carcass you simply split it straight from vent to chin along the belly to open it up… Then open the front legs, identifying the same sort of fur patterning as you did for the rear legs.
Remember to open your pelt up and salt it well to remove moisture and preserve it till tanning. Lay the pelt fur down and salt directly on the bare leather, making sure to cover all areas of the pelt. I did not show this in the above video. I should have, I’m sorry. I will show it in the tanning video I have planned for the near future.
My Furry Prize.
With the skinning done and opened up I admire how clean and soft it is. A job well done I’d say. Typically with farmed rabbits I had been cutting the heads off and going in from front to back, so this was a bit different for me. I’m sure I’ll get more proficient with time.
So again, I’d refer to the video above for more detail, but there you have it… Rabbit Skinning 101! As mentioned above, I plan on doing a tanning video in the near future. Stay tuned as this future article and video will complete the process of turning my catch into usable fur.
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