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Thread: Advice on skinning a musk ox / muskox

  1. #1

    Default Advice on skinning a musk ox / muskox

    OK, I have skinned several big game animals (Elk, Caribou, Sheep and Goat). I am familiar with basic caping and taking hide off of skull. Where I have NO experience is with Musk Ox. How in the heck do you remove the hide/hair from between the horns, in the middle of the boss? I plan on caping for a shoulder mount, and then skinning the back side for a rug. Anyone on here have advice for me? Yea, I'd love a life-size mount, but big bucks and also I have no room... Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks, Ak.


    If you shoot an old enough bull, it won't have much for hair between the bosses. What is there isn't worth worrying about. The Taxi will take care of that.
    The hard part is getting the skin off the head that is under the horns. You can make a cut from the front of the boss, down the middle of the forehead, about 3 or 4 in. to help get the skin peeling off.
    If you have a taxidermist lined up, talk with him.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

  3. #3


    I used a scalpal with replaceable blades to get around the horns and eye sockets. I've done a bunch of animals and this was by far the hardest and most time consuming, and I did mine on my porch. If it were early enough in the day, and warm enough out, you might be able to get it done in the field, but you would have to work fast before it froze up too much. My taxidermist told me to cut the hide to the horns, and not worry about the hair between the horns. If you take a look at my old post, I've got some pictures of the head right after the hide was taken off and it shows how tight of an area it is between the eye sockets and horn. You have to go at it blind for a while in there. Just keep everything as close to the skull as you can, be3 patient, and you should be okay.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    NorthWest Alaska


    Wish I had a better pict....

    But this all I got.

    It should look kind like this when your done. 3 peices.

    They skin very easily, I often use just my hands, after making the initial cuts. This one was mostly, but we piled the meat on it in the boat to protect the meat from sand.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

  5. #5
    Member sharksinthesalsa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    wasilla ak

    Default leave the hair between the horns

    like martentrapper said if you have and old enough bull you will go crazy trying to get that hair/skin will never happen....instructions for a cape and a backskin are....

    first cut around the entire animal about 6 inches behind the front shoulder...then cut around the front leg at the knee...then from that cut go up the back of the leg to where it meets the body of the animal then straight back to the first cut around...
    next on the very top of the animal cut from the cut around to the very back of the horns...this cut should allow you to skin away to the head and butcher the front of the animal.... cut the head off at where the spine meets the skull and remove from field like this

    for the back... cut around the back leg at the ankle....the from the very back of the leg at this cut go directly to the anus...then from the anus up the very center of the belly to the first cut around the body...this should allow you now to skin away and butcher the back half.....

    now for skinning the head if you dare to attempt will need a good smaller manueverable skinning knife and a flexable fillet knife...

    first go inside the mouth and at the gumline cut the lips away from the cut around the front of the horns cutting up as far as you can in between the horns then straight over to the other cut as far as you can around the back of the horn from the back to underneath the skin away from the back of the head going toward the front....cut the ear cartalidge as close to the skull as you can and continue to where the horn comes down close to the skull.....get as far as you can before you skin out the ear like you were going to turn it all the way.....all you want to do right now is remove the meat from around the cartalidge...this will allow you to get the skin underneath the horn easier..

    now get the fillet knife out and blindly(by blindly i mean its really hard to actually see what you are doing...sometimes i wear a headlamp to check progress) cut as far as you can under neath the will have to "feel" that you are not cutting the skin...good you go try to cut further right at the horn as the skin goes under the horn....keep trying to pull/push the skin under the horn......coming back and trying to skin from the front of the horn base forward a little may help relieve some tension....once you finally get the skin out form underneath and on the other side of the horn you can now continue on to the eye orbit....once you get there stick your finger from the outside in right into the eye and pull the skin away carefully cutting away the skin and trying not to cut through the back of the will want to try to skin into the eye socket itself to prevent this...once you get to the front of the eye the skull dips in quickly to the tear duct....this is kind of a weird spongy gland...that will come off nicely if you stay as close to the skull as possible still pulling at the skin finger in the eye hole....

    once past this your on the home should be able to skin up past the cartilidge of the nose ...once you get to where it is all cartilidge all the way around except the bottom you can cut straight down through then you should have already gotten to where you went through the meat when you skinned through the mouth at the beginning...if not be careful not to cut through the corner of the lips and cut through the cheek meat so that you can see the you should see the cuts you made before if not work along the gumline fully releasing the skin from the skull....

    now you can finish turning the ears and splitting the lips and splitting the septum of the nose before you start fleshing......the back skin...all you should have to do is flesh unless you left the tailbone in then you will need to skin that out......

    once again good luck.....if you don't feel comfortable doing any of this take it to your taxidermist..where ever you stop..even if the head is unskinned....your taxidermist will appreciate that you didn't butcher the cape and riddle it with holes that must be sewn and possibly make your trophy less than perfect when it finally makes it to your wall..the price you sill pay for a good skinning job far out weighs learning the hard way that you should have taken it in, by having to look at a mount with repairs around the eyes and lips and nose...

    have a safe and enjoyable hunt......wish i could go
    "early to bed, early to rise, fish like hell, and make up lies"

  6. #6

    Default Ox

    I have had the pleasure of working on a couple. On the first I tried to work the strip out from between the bosses, even after being told not to worry about it. I finally caved after an hour & left it. The eye socket is a bear as Jerod stated.

    I came to the same conclusion that under each dropping horn you can only work it so far before you cry UNCLE. It is just to tight of an area, just like the spot between the bosses. You are working blind trying to cut it away from the bone. GOOD TIMES FOR SURE. Especially on a big bull w/o broken tips.

    Be intresting to find out if anyone has done it & if so how long did it actually take?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    North Pole, Alaska


    Every one has given you very good advice, but the best advice you have gotten is to stop by your Taxidermists and ask some questions. You taxidermist should have pictures or diagrams. They may even have one in house that they can show you on.
    We are always open to people asking questions, it helps you as well as us. Also we play with dead stuff all day, its nice to talk to something with a pulse and respiration.
    Alaska Mountin' Man Taxidermy
    North Pole, Ak 99705
    (907) 488-7083

  8. #8


    Sometimes pictures are nice when you are trying to visualize the process, so here are a couple of the head once the hide was off. I should have taken a better side profile for reference, but didn't.

  9. #9
    Member Milo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Checkbook

    If you are afraid to screw it up, cape it with you checkbook. Leave the head inside, it certainly won't spoil and pay your taxidermist to do it. On the other hand with the amount of hair they have, ox are about the easiest thing out there to hide skinning cuts and errors.

  10. #10


    Thanks to everyone for all the advice! Looks like I'll be in good shape, biggest limfac is going to be whether it (or I) freeze before I get it completely caped. Knives are sharp and scalpel is ready! :-)


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