Photo #15 shows the finished skin ready to be salted or
frozen or tanned. Not much fleshing to do here. The time it took to skin this
deer was 15 minutes, including stopping to take the pictures.
Before I leave you, Iíd like to point out a few of the
mistakes I see people make when skinning that make the difference between a
good hide and a really nice hide.
First, a lot of people will make the incision on the back
leg where Iíve put the black line in photo #16. This is probably because itís
easier to reach when the deer is hanging than making the cut up the back of
the leg. What that does is make an irregular edge along the bottom and it puts
about three or four inches of thin, weak skin along the bottom of the hide.
Although this isnít a huge problem, if you frame soften your buckskin those
holes along the bottom will be much more likely to tear out while you're
stretching the hide.
Next, many good skinners will not get this area (photo
#17) separated good enough before they really start pulling the hide. Then
they will go back with a knife to separate it after the meat has already
started to come off with the hide. The skin is very thin here and a knife
score is very likely to be a hole by the time the hide is tanned.
This last mistake is very common, even with otherwise
excellent skinners. Many people will cut the front legs up the back, like Iíve
shown with the black line in photo #16. I guess they are making the cut while
the deer is hanging, before they pull the hide off, and this is the easier
side of the leg to get at. What this does is create a large indentation just
behind the front legs that gives the hide a sort of hourglass shape, like the
hide in Photo #18. The skin is weak here and many times Iíve had the skin
start to tear here when wringing the hide. Iíve never had a hide tear from
wringing that was cut farther forward on the front leg.
If you want to cut the front legs before skinning, itís
best to do it before you hang the deer. After you remove the lower leg, cut up
along the inside of the front of the leg from the knee joint, to
where the leg meets the chest. Then cut straight across the chest, making sure
the cuts from either side meet in the middle.
This method of skinning will save you time and effort at
the fleshing beam, and give you hides that will roll up smaller to put in the
freezer or store better salted. Itíll give you the most usable square footage
per hide, as well as putting the most meat in your freezer from each deer.
Compare the shape of this hide (the one I skinned in the
article), to photo #18. This is the shape I like!