by Rick Julian
With the need to recruit new trappers into our ranks, detailed instructions on all the skinning processes are needed for the newcomers. So much of what we do while skinning we do almost unconsciously as a result of repetition, where the novice has a lot of gaps to fill in. The following process is how I handle muskrat hide prep.
To do any job right, you need the proper tools. With this method of skinning, you sit in a chair. Under the chair, place a 3-by-4-foot square of cardboard to help keep the floor clean.
To keep your pant legs clean, stack, on each leg, three folded burlap bags. The roughness of the bags keeps them from slipping off of your legs while you work.
On your right, place a small table. The table will hold your skinning knives, some paper towel to capture any excessive blood as needed, an Arkansas stone for quick knife touch ups and the muskrats waiting to be skinned.
To your left, place a 5-gallon pail with a plastic bag inserted in it for the carcasses, and another pail for the hides.
The muskrats need to be dried before skinning. To process furs, you will need an area that is heated. The area should have a ceiling to hang animals for drying, both before and after skinning. It is easy to place nails or hooks, 5 inches apart, to a piece of 1×3 board and then attach that to the rafters or ceiling with a few screws. It can later be removed and stored if necessary.