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#174935 - 12/12/01 06:55 PM Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
More folks then one would think are unfamiliar with the process of fleshing a hide. I hope I can help out a bit.

The first fleshing, and probably the only fleshing that anybody not finishing their own furs, needs to be concerned with , takes place right after skinning the animal.

The hide is placed flesh side up over your fleshing beam and stretched downward to stretch the skin and make a flat path for your fleshing knife.
There's a post in the forum titled "making a fleshing beam" at http://www.predatormastersforums.com/ubb/Forum14/HTML/000050.html for anyone looking for ideas or more info on what a fleshing beam acually is and or does.
With the hide stretched down over your fleshing beam what your looking to do is scrape off the meat and fat left on the skin from the skinning job. Scraping is actually what your doing too. A Skife knife works best and is available in many sizes and models. With the sharp edge of the blade facing away from you, lay the blade flat against the skin, not edge down, but edge away and the blade laying flat.
Press the blade down against the hide and firmly push the knife away from you, down the beam, across the hide in a scraping motion. With the hide stretched over the fleshing beam, if you tube skinned your critter you can roll the skin as you go turning up a new area to flesh each time.
A skife knife, sometimes called a draw knife, has two handles and a wide flat blade. One handle on each end of the blade, one for each hand...yeah you see where I'm going with this but that's what I'm referring to when I say skife knife, and they take a lot of work out of fleshing for you.
Continue to scrape the meat and fat off, rolling the hide as you go until you feel you have fleshed it adequately.
You will come across large chunks of meat from time to time, so it's best to have your skinning knife handy and they can be cut away before attempting to scrape them off with your skife knife.
Any part of the hide that you cannot really get a good flat stroke with your skife knife will have to be worked on with your skinning knife also. A good example is the ear nubs. If you left most of the inside ear nubs on your hide when you skinned the animal they will literally be surrounded by meat. The ear nubs either need to be cut off closer to the head skin or that meat needs to be removed. Meat left behind will 90% of the time lead to hair slippage on the ears.
When you get good enough you can literally turn the ears inside out and fill them with salt to prevent this. If your fleshing a hide to send out to be tanned and you can't get all the meat off the ears, be sure and pack them nubs full of salt. On them, around them, in them, until they are dry. I like to turn the ears inside out on hides that come in here to thoroughly tan them and to add one more step against slippage. Turning ears takes lots of practice, not something everyone need be concerned with, but it's a good safe gaurd against slippage.
The faces of your hides are another delicate area. Don't try to use your skife knife on the face.
A good trick I learned years ago is to take a light bulb, bulb up, feed it in through the mouth of your hide and press it up against the inside of the head. Drape the rest of the face down over the bulb and by squeezing the whole works you force that bulb up against the inside of the hide and with the other hand you can whittle the meat away with your skinning knife. The bulb gives you a hard, smooth, rounded, surface to press the hide against with your knife. They make wooden tools for this, some call them bull horns, or fleshing horns, similiar to the end of a ball bat for those interested.
When fleshing faces you want to take as little as possible off when working on the muzzle of your critter. Scraping to deep will cut the cuticle of the whiskers and they will fall out. It will appear as a small dark pimple or bump, simply, but carefully flesh around them.

Tails on most other then raccoons don't need to be scraped...to an extent. If you split your tails, fine and dandy. If the tails are stripped instead of split, I like to pierce the tip of it and fill it with salt before I began any tanning steps. During the tanning, I will feed a small cloth strip through the tail and out the piercing I made to help wick the tanning chemicals into the tail.

Once you feel as though you've finished fleshing your hide, you'll want to give it a good salt down.

Happy fleshing


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~River Runner~

Champion Tannery

www.predatormasters.com

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#174936 - 12/13/01 12:05 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
illinoisboy Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 11/07/01
Posts: 145
Loc: S. Illinois
RR
Thanks for the post. In all the years I've been at this trapp'n thing...I've never heard it put so well.
Since you seem so capable at this... how 'bout me pack'n up all my hides and have you do this for me... for FREE of course.

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#174937 - 12/13/01 03:01 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
Tommy Johnson Offline
Retired PM Staff

Registered: 05/10/01
Posts: 4807
Loc: Midland, Texas
RR, good post and thanks for the info.


Two questions for you though, last Saturday I was skinning a roadkill (coyote) for a shoulder mount I figured I would go ahead and turn the ears. When I was skinning i started to notice the ear cartilage I started to cut the flesh from the backside of the ear, when I got to the tip there was no way i could get the flesh off the inside of the ear. Is this not the right procedure?

And two, the taxidermist I occasionally use says she splits the lips. What in the world is that??

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#174938 - 12/13/01 03:51 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
Illinoisboy...you send em on up, I'll carve on em a while. But I keep every third one for services rendered

Tommy..I don't think I'm following your description real well.
Lets try this...when I'm skinning the head out, I follow the skull all the way down (towards the face) until I get to the ear nubs. If you have trouble recognizing the nubs from the inside, lift the hide up and take a peak once in a while so you have half an idea where you are with your knife in there. Once you get to them take and tip your knife in towards the skull a little more so that you take the whole thing. It's easier to work on them on the table then it is on the carcass. Once you cut into the nub as close to the skull as possible you will notice a small opening it. (the ear canal) Put your finger in that hole and pull the skin down slightly as you continue to cut with the other hand. Pretty soon you have the entire ear and nub, free from the head and then do the same for the otherside.

As far as splitting the ears. I don't know if I can explain this without pics on here or not, but we'll give er a shot.
If you look at the coyote face to face, you see the front of the ears. When you split ears what your doing is turning them inside out, but your only seperating the back of the ear skin from the rest of it. The ear nubs that we spoke of will remain attached to the front skin and will be right below it.
You'll have to turn the skin right side out and inside out and back and forth until you get the hang of where your going with your knife. Just keep looking.
With the hide inside out and the ear nubs pointing up, take the best knife you got...I use a scalpel, and slowly cut around the back side of that ear nub. Pull the nub towards the rear of the hide as you go and as it splits you'll be able to see where the skin and the cartalidge meet. That's where you want to cut. You'll only be able to peel what you cut, taking it real slow, and turning the ear inside out as you go. And remember your only working on the back side of the ear. Your seperating it from the front.
Once you get it opened far enough to get a finger or two in, you can force your thumb or finger into it as if you were trying to put on a glove that was way to tight, and open the ear up that way without any more cutting.
Another way is to use a... well lets see...something laying around the house. How bout a broken broom handle? If you take the rounded end of that handle and force it into the ear from the fur side, then turn the hide back so your dealing with the flesh side, and as you push the ear down over that handle you can again run your knife around that line where the skin meets the cartalidge.
You probably won't get them turned inside out and have them come to a perfect point your first couple of time. No big deal, as long as you get it 3/4's of the way split.

Be very carefull using the broom trick as the closer you get to the tip of that ear the thinner the skin gets and it will rip easily.

They make tools for splitting ears and it takes all the work out of it. The one I use looks like a big pair of tongs, but when you squeeze the handles it opens instead of closes. You get the idea. I push that up inside the ear a little at a time and spread them open with a little squeeze as I go.

I hope at least some of that made sense. Let me know if you have any troubles.


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~River Runner~

Champion Tannery

www.predatormasters.com

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#174939 - 12/13/01 04:01 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
Forgot to answer your other question, Tommy my fault.

Splitting the lips. Actually I'm not a taxidermist, I just make fur and leather. I have a co-partner that does all the mounting preparations which is what splitting lips is.

If you ever look at the flesh side of the critters face after you have it skinned, you'll see on the lips where the black (which is the lips) meet the rest of the flesh.
Splitting lips consists of nothing more then peeling the lips outward, starting at that line. Using a fillet technique works best, being carefull not to go right out the front through the lips. Fillet the black part (the lips) out towards the front but leaving them attached on the very outside of the face.
Once the lips are split the taxidermist will take and scrape all the flesh off the inside of them and this way he can wrap those lips back around the form when mounting it. Tucking them in around the form so that it gives the species a natural look.

Unless your doing your own mounting, you really don't need to bother with splitting the lips of your skins.


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~River Runner~

Champion Tannery

www.predatormasters.com

[This message has been edited by River Runner (edited 12-13-2001).]

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#174940 - 12/15/01 10:00 AM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
illinoisboy Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 11/07/01
Posts: 145
Loc: S. Illinois
RR,
All kidding aside, it was a good post. I'm make'n my son read it too, as he is ASSUMING all skinning duties this year!!

I've heard of skinning out the lips, but never knew what they were talk'n about.
"preciate the info...

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#174941 - 02/04/02 06:40 AM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
bvomark Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 07/27/01
Posts: 64
Loc: Bartlesville, OK
River Runner thanks for the great post. Back to the ear question. I can see turning the ears on yotes, fox, coons and such. What about beaver, muskrat, and possums. Also do you just leave all that cartiledge attached to the front of the ear? And will it tan that way?

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#174942 - 02/04/02 07:33 AM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
I don't split the ears on critters that small, bvomark.
I just make sure I pack the ears full of salt when I'm dehydrating their hides.

I cut off most of the cartilage that is at the base of the ears. The nub, looks like coliflour (sp?). The cartilage that's inside the ear stays attached to the front skin of the ear. When I split them I seperate that from the back skin, and turn the ear inside out in doing so.
Yes, they will tan that way, better that way then if not split. It also allows for the ears to be salted better, eliminating slippage.


------------------
~River Runner~

Champion Tannery

www.predatormasters.com

[This message has been edited by River Runner (edited 02-04-2002).]

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#174943 - 02/05/02 06:01 AM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
Brushwolf Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 05/10/01
Posts: 73
Loc: Top of Utah
River,
Great post on how too. Thanks. I use saw dust on my greasy coyote and coon hides, while fleshing. I find a handful of saw dust spread on the hide helps the fleshing knife bite into the fat and helps eliminate the knife just slipping over the fat. I can really get the hide scraped clean with much less time and effort using a little saw dust. It also makes clean up of the fleshing area easier after the job is complete. Have any of you ever tried using saw dust?
Brush

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#174944 - 02/05/02 03:52 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
Nope, can't say that I have, Brushwolf. Sounds like it would work though.

Most of my fleshing is done on the wheel, so the slimyness isn't a problem there.

------------------
~River Runner~

Champion Tannery

www.predatormasters.com

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#174945 - 02/06/02 09:20 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
rojo vapor Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 94
Loc: Boise, Idaho USA
river,

How much fleshing does a coyote need? I've heard some guys say scrape till it's white, and others say just throw some salt on it and forget it.

I've been getting as much off the face as possible, but it still seems pretty gory compared to the rest of the hide. Is that normal, or should I try to get the face as clean as the rest of the skin?

great post above. learning a lot
rojo

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#174946 - 02/07/02 03:33 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
No offense, rojo...but the average Joe Trapper will never get the face as clean as the rest of the hide. (I did say the average)
Those that try to, usually ruin it because if they flesh to close they end up cutting the whiskers off in the process by shaving off it's cuticle.

Don't worry about the faces, fur buyers don't use them, normally. And if your having the hide tanned, the tannery can clean them up.
Scrape em till their white? Well....yea, in a way. You'll know when you've got the hide down to it's actual flesh. The skin will be smooth with a faint porous look. Usually white...yes.

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~River Runner~

Champion Tannery

www.predatormasters.com

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#174947 - 11/09/02 10:32 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
River Runner Offline
PM is my life

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 8930
Loc: Bloomington, WI
BTT-11/09/02

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#174948 - 12/05/03 05:15 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
JohnnyP Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 01/09/03
Posts: 182
Loc: Oregon
ttt

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#174949 - 12/08/03 07:46 PM Re: Fur Tip #5 (fleshing)
cat whacker Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 188
Loc: Bronte,Texas
Say River Runner would you know of any tanneries that could make boot leather out of Nilgai antelope hides. Used to get it done through a taxidermist who sent them to California I think. Last ones we left with him he ripped us off. That stuff makes the toughest boots I have ever found. If you can do it let me know and I will try to come up with a couple of hides.

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