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Thread: Skinning a red fox

  1. #1
    Member whitewolf2025's Avatar
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    Default Skinning a red fox

    So I caught my very first red fox in a snare last week and tried skinning it last night. I have a fur handling video from ADFG, and I tried to do it the same way that they did a marten in the video, i.e. I skinned the head out and then tried to pull the skin down around the body, only the skin won't go down past the armpits! Further on in the video they go on to describe how to skin an animal from the bottom up, maybe I'll have to try that if I can't get the skin to go down any further.

    How do you skin your foxes, and does anyone know of any good resources? Thanks a ton!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    With my coyote, I went from the anus to the head. Cut from the elbow on the rear legs up the back to the anus, then pull the skin inside-out up the body. Make a similar cut up the back of the front legs, but these cuts don't meet - just make 'em far enough to pull the legs out. Hang the fox by its back legs to make the process easier.

    Congrats on the fox! If you've got a picture, add it to the trapping photo gallery.

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    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    I take a slightly different approach that I was taught by a trapping friend. I too hang the fox head down, and it's normally partially frozen. I trim around the anus (leaving it on the carcass) and cut open the hide from the anus down the rear legs along the hair line. I split the rear legs all the way to the paws. It just seems easier to then split open the paws around the pad and then snip the individual toe bones around the first knuckle.

    I do this because I like to keep the feet on my tubes, and once tanned, you really can't see the split very easily. The fur just seems to naturally curl around and close up much of the slit. Of course I cut the slit up the inside of the legs following the edge of the hair line so it's not visible in a normal hanging.

    I presume the video shows you how to pull the tail bone out, right?

  4. #4

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    It all depends on what you plan to do with the tanned fur. The best way in my opinion is just like Brian said. "Case skinning". I skin most of my critters that way. I also keep everything with the animal, claws, ears, lips. That way, if I choose to mount it I have everything there. First, get a skinning gambrel from Sporty's Warehouse. I think they are 13 bucks or less. It's a great extra pair of hands. I start by holding the rear paw in my hand, claws facing me, pads up. I split the biggest pad up the middle and work my knife (blade up) up the back side of the leg (look for where the fur on the haunch meets the fur from the groin/inside of the leg). cut along that line to the anus. Once I peel the hide from the leg I cut the leg off at the elbow. I can then use leverage to help skin out the foot and toes. Do the same for the other rear leg. Take the dog down and lay flat. To easily remove the bone from the tail you'll need a tail skinner (4 bucks at Sporty's). Starting at the base of the tail, skin about 3 inches down the tail. Put on the skinning tool and holding the base of the tail in one hand strip the tail out of the bone. Lay the tail out flat and make sure its not twisted. Then split the tail all the way to the tip. This is hard, so take your time. They also sell a "V" shaped guide that slips in the cased tail and guides your knife. SLICK! I don't think sporty's sells that though. Try Fort Geene's in Wasilla. Once that is done, hang the dog back up and go to the front feet. Do the same thing you did with the rear feet, cut the hide from the pad to the elbow. No need to go any farther since you will cut off the leg at the elbow joint again. Now pull the hide down the torso towards the head. Once you get to the front shoulders slow down. The hide around the armpits and chest is thin and clings to the body tight. It's cuts/tears easily. Work the shoulders free and push the upper arms through the cut made to the elbows. Now work the hide over the neck. The ears have been pulled forward and are laying tight against the head. The ear canals should be right behind the jaw bone. once the hide is well clear of that, make a deep cunt in the tissue and you'll find the ear canal. There is also a big vein there and it will bleed all over your hide so have paper towels handy. The blood won't hurt anything, its just gets messy. Stick your finger in the ear hole on the hide and pull out/down as you free the hide form the skull with your knife. The next trick is the eyes. Work the hide down past the orbital bone above the eye. Push in with your finger to locate the socket. Make a tiny cut high on the socket and slowly expand it to expose the eyeball itself. Look in the hole to view the upper and lower eyelids and tear duct. Stick your finger in the hole you cut and pull down on he tissue and free up the skin saving the eyelids. Do both eyes. Next, feel the teeth back towards the jaw joint and make a small cut like with the eyes. Stick your finger in there and look around and idenetify the gumline where the tissue stops and the teeth begin. Cut along that line as you pull down on top and bottom gums. HINT !! Take a little pocket knife with you hunting. As soon as your animal is dead and pictures are taken, open the mouth and cut along the entire gumline top and bottom CLOSE to the teeth. This way, when you get it home and the jaws are locked tight, your cuts will already be there for you and there will be no guessing. Work the hide down from the bridge of the nose. This skin is thin and delicate so be carefull. it down to the cartilage. Cut the nose off close to the bone and keep the cartilage in the nose tip. Your taxidermist can trim it closer. IMPORTANT !! There is VERY LITTLE tissue surrounding the upper lip. Cut the skin right along the upper teeth in front. If doing a life size mount, the taxidermist will want every bit of that tissue. There is much more tissue between the gum and the lower lip, but hardly any on the upper lip (even less on cats). The hide should be free from the animal. Now you have to turn the ears and lips inside out. Just like your mouth, animals have inner cheek skin and outer skin. You need to separate those tissues so it won't rot and cause hair slippage. Same with the ears. Go all the way around the top and bottom lips and turn them until they are flat and no "ridge" exists between inner and outer tissue. The ears should be turned from the back tissue forward. The skin on the back (outside) of the ears is much tougher than the inner skin. There is cartilage between them. Imagine turning a mitten inside out all the way to the seam. That's what you have to do to the ear, except you need a knife to do it. Like with the lips the ridge, or outer edge of the ear needs to be eliminated. Pros use a wooden tool shaped like the ear (think pointed modified wooden spoon) to put in the ear that pushes up towards you. The seam of the ear will appear white as it is stretched and that is your cut line. The closer you get to the tip of the ear the thinner everything becomes. It gets less than paper thin at the tip. You don't have to remove the cartilage. leave it attached to the inside skin of the ear. The tanning solution will penetrate the thin skin and it will tan just fine. When back form the tannery, soak the hear and rehydrate it and with a pair of pliers the cartilage will rip right off. Is this vague enough for you? Sorry for any bad typing mistakes.
    PC gag in place.

  5. #5

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    Definitely start at the rear end first, that will make life so much easier.

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    Member whitewolf2025's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick responses! We let it thaw a little more since last night and were able to pull the skin down and finish skinning. We got to the tail, and lacking a tail stripper, my husband grabbed the tail and I grabbed the body and we both pulled. Bad idea. The tail popped right off! Lesson learned (don't be too stingy and buy the tail puller), it's no longer good as a wallhanger but will make a nice mad bomber style hat for the husband

  7. #7

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    No big deal, sow on the tail and then have it tanned. I have a wolf and the last 4 inches of the tail popped off. The tail was sowed back on and it stayed on during the tan job. You can't even tell it's sowed on.

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    No need to buy a tail skinner. Just take a board like a 1x2 and cut a small V notch in the end. Start to rip cut from the anus area down a few inches on the tail and then pin the tail bone to the floor with the V notch and pull the tail out. It will hold the fur in place pulling the tail bone all of the way out.

  9. #9
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Skinning thru the mouth only works for the smaller critters in the weasel family....marten, mink, ermine..etc.

    Case skinning everything else starts from the hind end as someone above described above...

  10. #10
    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    Alaska Sportsman, why do you cut through the middle of the pads and not around them? I haven't had any of my red or arctic foxes mounted because I've either had garments made from them, sold them to friends for hanging on their wall, or hung them on my own walls. So, I've always just removed the pads because the fat in them would go rancid if not removed. The paw still looks very good. However, if you were going to mount the fox, then I would think most would want an in tact pad (with the fat removed). Cutting it down the middle would make a more visable seam for the taxi repair and hide.

  11. #11

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    Hi my name is Water_Gremlin and I cut through the pads. Three cased skins on the wall and one rug here. All wall hangers you can barely notice the cut through the pad after tanning, and the rug..... well I havn't seen a rug with bad pads yet.

    Turning the feet sucks as it is, cutting through the pads gives a more open paw to pull over the toes IMO.

  12. #12
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    Snared animals are usually dead animals are hard t skin. Go slow, and use a sharp knife.

    I prefer leg holds and connibears that I check daily. I cant wait to go home........
    I like the leg holds because Ravens dont eat a live animal.

    #1 skinning tip from me is, when posssible, to skin them as soon as you kill them. Nice and hot , the skin will peel like a sock , except the legs and head.
    I use a pice of soft iron wire thats wrapped around the loop on the ski of my snowgo.
    I case skin the animal after making my cuts and loosening the legs, cutting the paws. After Ive made the cuts, I loosen the skin around the tail, crook my finger around the bones, and pull in a long steady pull. Never lose a single tail, once you get the feel.
    Then I wrap the twisted wire around the legs and lean back with my body weight, peeling it rather nicely, loosing connective tisseus with my finger where possible, using a knife when i must. The ears, eyes and lips are all knife work, while Im pulling away the skin.

    I also push the flesh off right away to clean up the skin, using a homemade flesher/scraper, and do a more detailed job when I put it on a strecher to dry back at home.

    Its Sooooooooooooo much easier to just do it right away, by your 5th fox, it'll be a 5 minute job.

    read books, set traps, adjust untill your happy.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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