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Thread: My first fur bearer.

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Default My first fur bearer.

    I'm not a trapper yet, but I plan to give it a try next year after learning what I can this year. I kind of stumbled into a fur bearing critter though, while rabbit hunting yesterday. I was with a couple of friends, hunting rabbits. It seemed to be a bad day for rabbits though. There was a fresh, heavy snowfall covering everything. We managed to shoot one, and that was all the bunnies we were to get for the day.

    After lunch though, we tried again, and my buddy saw a flash of color in the dense brush. He thought it might be an eye or an ear of a rabbit, so he let loose with his 12 gauge. I saw white fur skittering away after the blast, so I figured he must have missed. I fired with my Remington 572 Fieldmaster, anchoring what I thought was a rabbit. I crawled into the brush to discover....... an Ermine.???

    This is the first one I've ever seen in the wild, so I was intrigued to say the least. I hate to see an animal go to waste, so I started thinking about what I might be able to do with this weasel. Then it occurred to me: The pelt is likely just about the perfect size to make a pair of slippers for my new-born daughter.

    I've never skinned an fur-bearing animal for the pelt though, so I took an on-line crash course and decided to wing it. Following are a few pics of the process so far.

    I am open to suggestions, corrections, and help of any kind. I skinned the Ermine, cut off the feet, head and tail and stretched it on my workbench, pinned it and rubbed in a copious amount of non-iodized salt. I am not quite sure what to do next, but I'll be learning what I can as I go. Here are the pics:





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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Most critters are sock skinned like pulling a sock off your feet.I would remove all the salt and tiny bits of fat left.Dry a few day and if you can fine it soak in something like fellsnapta soap and you will be good to go
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Did I run into you yesterday? I can't imagine two people shooting ermines while out hare hunting by chance. My friend and I met you along the trail and then headed the opposite direction. We heard some more shooting a while later - no more hares? We didn't see another thing on the way back towards the truck - just the one that my buddy got early in the day. You're right - that new snow made visibility non-existant.

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Yep, that was us. I was the one with the BDU Gortex jacket. The shooting later was just picking out targets. I put a couple of .243 rounds into the mountainside on snow-covered trees to make sure my zero was still on, and we patterned our shotguns in the snow. Just boredom, really. I had the .243 in case we got lucky with some predators. I called a few times with a dog howler, but I really didn't think we'd get anything in the middle of the day. That was my first time hare hunting up there. I'll try it again sometime after the wind blows the snow off the brush.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Just for the future, a lot of times taxidermists will buy them from you (whole) for a few bucks. They use them in predator mounts.
    AKmud
    http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j96/AKmud/213700RMK1-1.jpg


    The porcupine is a peacful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKsoldier View Post
    I am open to suggestions, corrections, and help of any kind. I skinned the Ermine, cut off the feet, head and tail and stretched it on my workbench, pinned it and rubbed in a copious amount of non-iodized salt. I am not quite sure what to do next, but I'll be learning what I can as I go. Here are the pics:
    ]
    Well you said that you were up for suggestions. First you ruined the pelt by case skinning it. You would have been better off freezing it whole and the skinning it later with some advice. They need to mouth skinned and put up right. I hate to say it but it is pretty much trash now. Fish and game put out a great video on how to skin most animals. I think that the alaska trappers manual also goes into skinning and how to put up fur. I have always said that people need to learn how to skin, flesh, and put up animals. The only animal that you will case skin in alaska besides big game is beavers. Now that is a ton of fun the first. Caulk this up as a learning experence.

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    Member Bsj425's Avatar
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    I think you have your definition of case skinning wrong swampdonkey . Case skinning is when you cut from rear leg to rear leg around the anus then peel it downwards and at the end basically have the entire animal face and all legs . I would however like to see a case skinned moose or bou lol that would be alot of work!

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Swapdonkey is right on the mouth skinning. Marten, mink and weasels are most easily skinned thru the mouth. He just used the wrong word, ie case skinning or tube skinning is when you dont make the long cut up the body splitting the hide. You can also tube skin them like any other furbearer, but mouth skinning is alot cleaner and a better way to do it....

    Aksoldier, I cant say for sure that its a lost cause...but I will say that no salt is required, ermine are so thin skinned they will air dry just fine. I would think you could still send that sucker to Moyles and tan it. It will cost you about $5 plus shipping though, and I dont think you'll get enough fur to make slippers from one ermine.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    How do you put them on a strecher skunt through the mouth
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Amigo, the hide, once removed from the carcass is exactly the same as normal case skinning. The advantage to mouth skinning is that you typically dont get blood on the fur as you pull from the head down. But boarding them is exactly the same. I have boards I made specifically for ermine out of trail lathe. I dont typically target ermine as it costs too much to tan them, and they dont bring much $ to sell them. If I decided to home tan, that might be reasonalble...to use for handicrafts...

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Why is it "pretty much trash now", swampdonkey? If he's just hoping to make a pair of slippers (or maybe just one slipper, as the case may be), why can't he do so with fur that was skinned in this manner? It seems like it can still be cut and sewed into various patterns. I'm not seeing the problem. I know it wasn't the "correct" way to skin it, but does it matter in this case?

    Sorry to hear that the shooting wasn't at a live target, AKsoldier. There were some coyote tracks running up and down that trail, so I was hoping maybe you guys got lucky.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Aksoldier,

    Congrats on the ermine. Typically the most coveted part of them is the tail, used for trim on fur garments. I have one here I tanned that I didn't case skin, skinned it out similar but haven't found a use for it yet, tail is still on and I may do something with it down the line.

    If you are gonna sell them then case skinning is the way to go. But if you're going to make something with the hide it will end up being cut up the belly anyway. They tan real easy using dish soap if you want to tan it up, just put some dish soap on the skin side and rub it in everywhere, leave overnight then work the hide with a scraper or knife til it is soft and you're pretty much good to go.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Wow, Mark...good tip. How's the longevity of the fur tanning them that way?

    I've sent a few incidental ermine into Moyles, but at a Ben Franklin apiece, it is not economical. I'll try the dishsoap method on any future catches...

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    dk,

    We soap tan most all of the thin-skinned critters, marten, hare, ermine. They've always held up well. Learned it from a Native friend way back, she soap tans all her stuff she uses for hats.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Interesting, I cant justify using marten for hats, etc...but for ermine, rabbits,etc. that sounds like a good plan...thx

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info guys. bushrat - I think I'll try your soap idea. I think this Ermine is big enough for two slippers. My newest daughter is very small, born a month early and has tiny feet.

    Brian - I tried the dog howler call a bit, but no luck. I will get out after some predators sometime this winter though.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

  17. #17

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    Soap tan the hide. Bob the tail off to use as a decoration on your hunting hat. Then Full Mount the beast standing up on it's hind legs. Put a mean snarl on it's mug and have it's front paws clawing at you and tell everyone it is a Miniature Polar Bear. Most will believe it.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Brian M.
    After looking at my past post. I was a little harsh. I have just seen to much where people will trash a good pelt. I have said this before, that I think that everyone that plans on trapping or varmit hunting needs to know the proper way to put up animals. The fish and game put out a great video for skinning most of the animals in AK there are also a few web sites that will help with it. I know that refer back to it every winter for the first few animals. I just hate to see it not right. I take a lot of time to get my pelts right. It really chaps my butt when I go to fur rondy and see pelts that are not put up right. They are only worth half the price and with a little care taken could do much better. I do understand that this was for personal use. I might have jumped in and been harsh and should have approached it in a different manner. I just think a prep is better in the long run.

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swapdonkey View Post
    Brian M.
    After looking at my past post. I was a little harsh. I have just seen to much where people will trash a good pelt. I have said this before, that I think that everyone that plans on trapping or varmit hunting needs to know the proper way to put up animals. The fish and game put out a great video for skinning most of the animals in AK there are also a few web sites that will help with it. I know that refer back to it every winter for the first few animals. I just hate to see it not right. I take a lot of time to get my pelts right. It really chaps my butt when I go to fur rondy and see pelts that are not put up right. They are only worth half the price and with a little care taken could do much better. I do understand that this was for personal use. I might have jumped in and been harsh and should have approached it in a different manner. I just think a prep is better in the long run.
    For what it's worth, I didn't take any offense. I can take criticism, especially for something I know nothing about. I'm the kind of person who likes to jump in and give things a try. Obviously, that means I'll make some mistakes. That's how we learn though, right? I had a vague idea of how to tackle this project, and I was too impatient to wait for the "perfect" process. Maybe I didn't do it exactly right, but this post has allowed me to learn far more about pelt handling than I knew before I started it.

    I mentioned in the initial post that I plan to start trapping next year. This is the beginning of my education to that end. I want to have a passable knowledge of skinning and hide care before I wind up with animals in my traps. Thanks for your input, even if it is "harsh". I value all opinions.

    I'm still laughing about the "one slipper" thing though. If only you guys could see my newest daughter. I could almost make her a blanket out of this one Ermine! ;-) She's MAYBE 6.5 lbs now, at four weeks old.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

  20. #20
    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    Soap tan the hide. Bob the tail off to use as a decoration on your hunting hat. Then Full Mount the beast standing up on it's hind legs. Put a mean snarl on it's mug and have it's front paws clawing at you and tell everyone it is a Miniature Polar Bear. Most will believe it.
    LOL! I have family in California who probably would believe that.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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