When a hunter catches his prey, it gives him great pleasure to extract the prize. But only a wise hunter knows how to take his trophy proficiently and in its full glory. Skinning a fox is a tedious but rewarding task, requiring patience and skill in order to separate fur from body as neatly and efficiently as possible. Thus, in this article, I’ll be giving you a tutorial on how to skin a fox in this very manner.
When I caught my first fox, I skinned it from the head to the bottom, and this method proved to be a little damaging to the fur (or maybe it was just my tugging). Nevertheless, I found another method that was not only easy, but also preserved the quality of the animal’s pelt. This method I will share with you here:
A red fox – Photo credit: steamusercontent.com
3. Rubber Gloves
How to Skin a Fox
Step One: Prepare your workspace
The first thing you have to do before skinning a fox is lay out your tarp, or any other material, for that matter (garbage bag, plastic sheet, etc.). Lay it flat against the ground right underneath the area where you’ll be hanging your fox. Push away any furniture or tools that may get in the way, and then take out the tools you will be needing for easy access.
A suitable knife for skinning – Photo credit: knivesandknifemaking.com
Step Two: Suit up
Of course you don’t want any blood or dirt to get on yourself. Wear appropriate clothes like full-length pants, rubber boots, and a shirt. Additionally, wear rubber gloves and safety goggles, if you prefer.
Step Three: Hang your catch
It is of absolute importance that you skin your fox immediately after trapping or killing. Otherwise, your catch may start setting into rigor mortis and be harder to skin, and thus affect quality of the pelt. With this step, make sure that your fox is devoid of any excess water.
After you’ve made sure your fox is nice and dry, hang the animal by its legs. I recommend not hooking your fox because this may damage the skin. Instead, use rope to tie one leg to the ceiling with just enough height for you to work properly.
Step Four: Start skinning out the feet
What you want to do is start with the front feet and work your way up. To start, run your knife from the pad of the paw up to the back of the front leg until you reach the fox’s armpit. It is best that you use a sharpened knife to make your cut precise.
After making the incision, gently pull back the skin to separate the fur from bones. Cut only what is necessary, for example, the membrane connecting the fur to the muscles. This process will take a lot of time since the feet have lots of little bones, so be patient.
Pro Tip: Pull back the fur while cutting it away from the bones and muscles; this will make your job much easier
Step Five: Move on to the hind legs
Make an incision from the hind leg’s paw and up to the fox’s anus. Similarly, start pulling the skin from the bones. Remember to pull back the fur while cutting the membrane that connects it to the muscles.
Step Six: Pull out the tail
To pull out the tail, grasp the fox’s tailbone firmly and gently pull on the pelt, basically separating it from the muscles underneath. It is important to not be impatient when doing this, as you can risk pulling off the tail completely.
If you encounter any difficulty, do not tug on the tail. Instead, make a little incision on the membrane that’s keeping you from taking the pelt off. After you’ve done this step, make a straight cut from the tip of the tail to the bottom.
Step Seven: Pull the rest of the pelt off
Now that you’ve skinned the trickiest parts of the fox, start pulling the pelt down from the hind legs. Gently grasp the fox’s fur and tug down the pelt until you reach the ears. At this point, you need to skin down the ears by simply cutting the membrane until the fur pulls free. Afterward, cut the cartilage at the point where it connects to the fox’s skull.
Skinning the fox’s head – Photo credit: express.co.uk
Skin out the eyes properly by cutting just along the lower eyelid. Then, you will want to skin out the lips as well. Keep pulling the pelt off carefully until you have fully separated the fur from the rest of the body.
Congratulations! You are only a few steps away from that gorgeous fox hide.
Step Eight: Pre-tanning process
In this step, you’re going to ready the extracted fur for tanning. To do this, you must stretch out the fur with a corresponding stretcher (size and length depends on your choice) with the pelt on the outside. Place this stretcher in a cool, dry place so you can dry your fur.
You can also opt to salt the fur immediately after skinning to remove remaining moisture from the hide. Or, if you have a freezer and don’t plan on tanning your pelt soon enough, roll the fur into a plastic bag and freeze it.
- Be patient. Impatience can make you do a sloppy job at skinning.
- Always be careful with your movements. Some parts of the fox may be thin enough for you to accidentally tear through.
- Use a small, sharp knife.
- Make sure not to spill any blood that can get on the fur.
For a more visual tutorial, watch this video below on how to skin a fox properly:
We end here, for the next steps of tanning entail an entirely different tutorial. Nevertheless, skinning the fox is three-fourths of the important part, and with this tutorial, I hope you got the gist of what you need to do. It takes time, practice, and skill. So don’t be discouraged when you first skinning doesn’t go too well.
Did you like this article? I hope you did. If so, don’t forget to leave a comment below and tell me what you think. Good luck on your first skinning process. Thanks for reading!