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skinning

The method below is the way to case skin an animal, it leaves the pelt intact and is the most common way to see Coyotes and Foxes done. It may not be the perfect way, but it works for me and usually goes pretty fast. This is the way I skin 99% of the Varmints

Tools needed:
A sharp knife - I cannot emphasize enough on how important it is to have a razor sharp knife, if you bring a dull knife to a skinning party, you might as well stay home.

Rubber/Latex gloves – Some of the critters have diseases or other bugs that could make you quite ill if you have open sores or some other way for them to get from the insides of the varmint to the insides of you.

Bugbracers – These are no more then a pair of tube socks that has had the toes cut out of them and dusted liberally with flea and tick powder. They will help prevent the ticks and/or fleas that are on the varmint from taking up residence on you.

Plastic bags – To hold the pelt after skinning.

Dog Choke Chain – Works great for hanging the varmint from a tree, fence pole or the tailgate of the truck.

Case Skinning Steps:
Step 1: Loop the choke chain and attach it to one of the varmints back legs, just above the dew claw.

Step 2: Either hang the varmint from a tree, fence pole or I sometimes attach it to the ball hitch on the back of my truck.

Step 3: Start cutting through the skin right at the knee, and cut through the skin all the way around the knee. Be very careful not to cut any of the tendons or other tissue that holds the lower leg to the knee. If you do you will have to move the chain to the other leg. Repeat this step on the other rear leg.

Step 4: Start cutting down the inside of the back leg, right where the lighter colored fur meets the darker colored fur. Follow this line all the way down the leg to the anus. Carefully cut around the anus, a little pressure in this area on a dead coyote can get real messy really fast, so be really careful. Once you have cut around the anus, follow the same line back up the other leg to the cut you made around the knee.

Step 5: Start a small cut at the base of the tail, just above the anus. Continue to carefully cut along the tail all the way to the tip. You can either use a couple strong nails or sticks, one on top and the other slipped between the bottom of the tailbone and skin, to pull the tailbone from the skin. I simply just use my fingers and work my way down from the base of the tail to the tip, carefully pulling the skin away from the tailbone.

Step 6: Once the tail is skinned out you can start pulling at the skin at the cuts you made in the knees. Carefully pull the skin away from the flesh and use your knife as little as possible. Most of the work in this area will be pulling instead of cutting. Work your way down both legs until you get to the rump area.

Note: At the rump area, on the back of coyotes and foxes there is a large saddle muscle that nearly runs the length of the animals back. If this muscle is left intact your fleshing job will be much easier. The connective tissue for this muscle is just in front of the base of the tail. Be careful not to cut into this area.

Step 7: Once you have the rear legs of the varmint done you can start working forward. Usually from here until I get up near the front legs it is just pulling with very little knife work. Use your fingers between the skin and flesh to work the parts that just don’t pull off. Continue pulling of the skin, turning it inside out as you go, until you get near the front legs. Try not to let flesh stick to the skin, any flesh or fat left on the skin must be scraped off later, and its easier to not have it on there in the first place.

Step 8: This part can be a little tricky. Once you are to the front legs make a cut similar to the ones you made on the rear legs, just below the knee this time. Work your fingers from the shoulder area to the cut below the knee. This is one area that I usually end up using the knife quite a bit. There is a lot of gristle and other connective tissue in this area and it can be a real bear to work through. Don’t worry about leaving small pieces of flesh and tissue on this area, this is one area of the skin that’s pretty easy to flesh out later. Once you reach the cuts, cut the front legs off at the knee and pull the skin over the leg stumps.

Step 9: Now that you have the front legs done keep pulling the pelt to the neck area. Work you fingers and use your knife to cut away the connective tissue around the neck. Keep pulling and stretching the skin until you get the skin over the back of the head. This is one area that I usually find ticks so be especially watchful of them in this area.

Step 10: Use you knife to carefully work the skin away from the top of the head. Once you reach the ears pull the skin slightly past the ears and cut the ears off at the base, leaving as small a hole as possible. Continue to skin down the muzzle and leave about half of the lower jaw unskinned. Remove the dark ‘lips’ with the rest of the hide and cut the nose off at the base.

Turn the hide right side out, roll it up with fur on fur and flesh on flesh and bag it up. Voila! You’re done!

Note: Try to place the pelt in a cool spot. Heat at this point in the game is a bad thing and can ruin a perfectly good hide in just a little while.
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