Predator Masters


The Five Minute Coyote

By Mike Granger


The perfect stand. Three coyotes just came running into your best imitation of a dying rabbit and stopped broadside at 100 yards. You slowly squeeze the trigger reminding yourself not to jerk at this crucial time. The gun goes off and a prime coyote is on the ground. Now what to do?

For those of us that not only enjoy calling coyotes, but selling the fur, our work is just beginning. Many a year ago, I would drag that coyote back to the truck no matter how far it was. Besides, isnít that part of hunting, being exhausted when you arrive back at the truck! Iíve got a better solution. The five minute skinning job.

I distinctly remember the day I decided dragging coyotes was not my bag of tea. I had just walked 3/4 mile over hill and dale to a great spot. Coyotes had already howled at me but I was on a county road and knew they would not come. Off I go. When I got to the spot and start calling, here comes 4 coyotes. Full bore! The closest coyote is on me in no time and I shoot him at five feet (he wouldnít stop). I start the yelp, yelp, yelp and get one to stop at 100 yards. Bang, down goes another. There I am, two dead coyotes and 3/4 miles from the truck. Of course, I didnít have anything to drag two coyotes with as I had just come out for a short calling session and just ďknewĒ theyíd be right close to the road. I threw the rifle over my shoulder, grabbed a coyote leg in each hand and took off. If you have never drug two coyotes without aid of any type of rope 3/4 mile, you havenít lived. By the time I got to the truck my hands felt like they would fall off! Cramps like you wouldnít believe.

I had read somewhere about skinning coyotes in the field and decided to give it a try. My biggest concern was what do you attach a coyote to so as to skin it. Well, in my part of the world, we donít have many trees but we have a lot of fence posts. Many of these posts are brace posts (some call them corner posts) and are well anchored into the ground. I figured these posts would be plenty strong enough to hold a coyote while I skin it.

On my next excursion, I had in my trusty pack a piece of parachute cord, skinning pocket knife and a diamond lap sharpener. All, in a handy little blue change purse. The parachute cord has a simple loop in each end to attach the back two feet. Once attached, I just throw the cord over the top of a wooden post. Pretty simple but how did it work?

I quickly discovered skinning a warm coyote is a lot easier than a cold or frozen coyote (I live in the cold country). Sometimes it took me over an hour to skin a frozen coyote. Now I could skin a coyote in five minutes!! Five minutes you say. Yes, five minutes. Another benefit is not dragging a 30-45 pound coyote no telling how far, Some of us, me in particular, are prone to get a little too far from the truck. I have never let a little walk get in the way of a great calling spot. What this means is many a time Iíve just killed one, two or if Iím real lucky, three coyotes and the truck is a long ways off. You also donít have to come home from a long day of calling to spend another hour or two in the garage skinning.

The downside is you donít have the opportunity to take pictures of all your coyotes together at the end of the day. This can be a real bummer when youíve just had the perfect day and the back end of the pickup is full of furs. Taking a digital camera with me to each stand allows for a quick picture before skinning though. And finally, a pile of coyotes just doesnít look as good all flattened out and deflated!!!

My technique does take discipline. Sometimes you have to force yourself to skin the coyote instead of throwing it in the truck and hurrying to the next stand. Especially on those days when the coyotes come at almost every stand , or you just killed one close to the truck!

This is my technique, having perfected it on well over two hundred coyotes the past few years.
The first word that comes to mind is brutal. Yes, Iím rather brutal when it comes to skinning a coyote. Especially if your going to do it in five minutes. Iím not talking about hacking it all up just to get the skin off. When I say brutal, I mean yanking and pulling, hard. Thatís why you need to select a good sturdy post. You donít want to be breaking a farmer or ranchers fence post just so you can skin a coyote. I look for a large wooden post. It doesnít have to be a brace post but these are usually the largest posts in a fence. Whatever the size, it has to be strong enough to take some serious yanking and pulling. Once the right post is spotted, I make a beeline to it with coyote in hand. When I get to my post, off comes the fanny pack, binoculars and gun. I usually place these items several feet away as I donít want to fall or step on them during the skinning process. Then I pull out my little blue change purse with the parachute cord (any good cord will work), knife and diamond lap sharpener. I make a slit along the coyotes back legs from the achilles tendon down through the genitalia and up to the opposite achilles tendon. Be very careful not to cut the achilles tendons. If you do, all bets are off. You wonít get the coyote skinned in five minutes. Next I go to the front legs and cut a complete circle just above the elbow. I have found trying to get the hide below the elbow really slows down the skinning and the skin below the elbow is of no value anyway. I learned this by watching a fur buyer take a hatchet to some coyotes. He chopped the front legs off above the elbow. Why, itís much easier to skin. Now keep in mind, Iím skinning these coyotes for the fur industry, not the taxidermy industry. Thatís an entirely different article.

Next, I place the parachute cord loops over the paws on each back leg and hang the coyote on the post, belly out. Now the fun begins. Use your index finger to grab the skin at the slit on the back leg. With your finger, poke down between the skin and muscle pulling away the hide. Very seldom do I use my knife here. I just keep pushing my finger around the leg pulling the hide away. When I can get my knife between the hide and achilles tendon and all the way around the leg, I cut the skin. I do the same on the opposite leg. Turn the coyote around, tail out, for the next step. Grab the tail and stick the knife along side the anus cutting straight back towards the genetalia. Cut on each side of the vagina or scrotum, whichever the case. Donít worry about how deep the cut as it doesnít matter. Just make sure you connect with the initial U shaped cut from back leg to back leg. Next, place the knife blade under the anus and cut back towards the tail. I then make one slit along the tail bone for maybe 3-4 inches. All you have to do now is grab the skin along the back legs and pull down, hard. You will discover the hide comes off rather easy. I use my diamond lap sharpener as a tail stripper. Works great. I just unscrew it and place each half around the tail and pull down. Presto, stripped tail. Works as a mighty fine sharpener too!!

Now the yanking really begins. The tail is stripped, hide is off the back legs and your breaking into a sweat. Donít worry, weíre almost there. Pull the hide down around the front legs, this is tough so pull hard. Youíll eventually get to where all the pulling is for naught. Thatís when I stick my index finger underneath the arms and find the cut around the front leg. Once you find the cut, pull a bit and the front leg will come out. Be careful here as you could make a bigger hole than necessary. The hide is rather soft in this area. Once you have the front legs out, pull real hard and youíre over the ears. One cut on each ear and the eyes are next. Be very careful on the eyes. The last thing you want are BIG eyes. This indicates to the fur buyer you donít know what youíre doing and they may dock you on the price. Once youíve got the eyes, the work is done. Off with the nose and lower lip and youíve got a nice, light, five minute coyote.

Granted you wonít be able to skin your first coyote in five minutes, but eventually youíll have mastered the technique and will be an old pro in no time.

I promise, the first day out coyote hunting that you donít have to drag coyotes or come home to spend the evening skinning, youíll be a believer. But remember, no matter how bad you want to hurry up and get to the next spot, take five and skin that coyote!!

This setup has skinned many a coyote. It ainít pretty but it works.

All you need is a good strong post, knife, parachute cord and sharpener/tail stripper. Notice the cuts along the back and frong legs. Iíve just stripped the tail and at this point the coyote is about two minutes from being skinned.


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