Thursday, December 08, 2011

N-i-c-e coyote!

Anonymous sent me the link to this beautiful coyote that he got.

Prime hide and a healthy dog, isn't it? I wish ours out here were as pretty - every one that I've gotten in the last two years has had either bad scars or at least a touch of the mange. I won't even handle one of those mangy coyotes.
But he mentioned that he didn't know how to process the hide. Believe me, you don't want to know how. It's a nasty foul, business. You've got to knock all the fat and meat off the inside of the hide and then run it through a couple of chemical processes. That and the fact it'll run you about 20 bucks a pelt to do. What I'm going to do from now on (if I ever get an animal with a decent pelt) is take my shit to a tanner.

So I'm going to tell you how skin a dog.
First off, get yourself a couple of decent skinning knives. It doesn't have to have a 6" blade - you're skinning a coyote, not a buffalo. My knives have a 3" blade and look like paring knives, but they're sharp enough to shave with. Why two knives? So you won't have to re-sharpen in the middle of the job.
Coyotes and foxes are case skinned, meaning there's no cut up the belly. What you'll end up with is a tube of coyote fur with a tail on one end and a head on the other.
Cut the front paws off at the knee joint- your fur buyer doesn't want that scrap and if you're going to keep it, it'll look funny with them hanging there. Then hang it upside down from a skinning gambrel with the back legs about 18 inches apart. Make a 4 inch cut up the backside of the tail. Then make a tight circle around each back leg between the ankle and the knee. Starting at one leg, run your knife to the other cut. Cut the fur around the asshole. Then take a pair of channel locks or a tail puller and pull the bone from the tail. Now the fun part starts.
Start pulling the hide down evenly, from the legs to the head, making small cuts when you need to and only when you absolutely have to. Coyotes are so thin skinned it ain't funny and it doesn't take much to cut a hole in the hide. Pull the hide all the way down to the head. Here's where most of your knife work is going to come in.
Because there's so little fat on the head, the hide sticks a little more, so you'll need to help it along with the knife. Cut through the cartilage in the ear. Being very careful, skin around the eyes. Don't fuck it up by cutting too liberally, otherwise your pelt will have big eyes and look funny. Pull the hide over the snout, skinng the mouth out with the lips still on, so the hide is hanging from the tip of it's nose. Snip it off, leaving the leather pad of the nose with the hide.
You're done with the skinning.
Leave the hide inside out and lay it on a flat, level surface. Use the hood of the pickup if you have to, you can always wash it next month. Knock off the chunks of fat and meat, rub it down good with non-iodized salt and roll it up as is, put it in the cooler ( put your beer on one side so it doesn't get hair from the tail on them) and take it to your local tanner. He'll charge you about 30 bucks a hide.
If you can't find a tanner in your phone book, just find a taxidermist and ask him where he sends his hides to be processed.
If there's any delay in getting the hide to a tanner, keep that fucker cold. Coyote hides green up pretty quick. Matter of fact, keep it rolled up, put it in a garbage bag and throw it in the freezer. It'll keep for 3-4 months there.
One more quick tip - it's a hell of a lot easier to skin a freshly killed coyote than it is to sking and cold stiff one.