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How to Skin an Animal

by Staff Writer

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Hunter

Things You Need:

  • A good, sharp knife, ideally, a knife with a "gut hook," a curved hook found on the back of some hunting knives that will "unzip" the hide without damaging the internal organs.
  • If you don't have a knife with a gut hook, just be extra careful.

For many, the thought of skinning an animal is intimidating. You must be very careful if you want to maximize the use of the animal. It is important to know where to make your incisions in order to retain the maximum amount of meat while simultaneously saving the hide for later use. It isn't difficult once you get past the feelings of squeamishness you may encounter, but it is important to use a good hunting knife and to follow the steps carefully and in order.

Skinning an Animal:

  1. Lay the animal carcass on its back with the belly exposed and legs facing upwards. If you can, lay it on a slope with the head on the raised side.

  2. Always remove the genitals and anus.

  3. Begin your first incision at the animal's tailbone and draw a straight line from the tail to the throat, like you are unzipping a jacket. Make sure the cut is shallow so that you don't pierce the stomach or other internal organs; you don't want these to leak onto the meat.

  4. Insert your hunting knife or fingers under the skin and begin to slowly peel back the hide on both sides. Again, you want to leave the internal organs intact, so progress slowly and carefully. Keep peeling until the coat is fully peeled back. If it sticks along the legs, you can use your hunting knife to cut down the sides of the legs to help get the pelt off.

  5. Access the chest cavity by splitting the sternum. Use your knife to firmly cut the sternum where the ribs join.

  6. Carefully spread the rib cage.

  7. Remove the internal organs.These should come out connected in one mass. Only cut when it is necessary to release the organs. You may want to save some of these -- the liver and heart, for example -- as they are edible.

  8. Roll the carcass over and remove the coat entirely. Your small game is now skinned and ready for cooking.

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