Every year countless dollars are lost on damaged and miss-handled pelts and hides. Hanging an animal in an old shed or nailing it to a barn wall does not preserve the fur value. The key is skinning or freezing the pelt as soon as possible. Here are some basic tips to help you get the most for your fur and hides.
DEER HIDES Deer hides should be delivered fresh or rolled up and frozen. If hides are to be stored for more than a few days leave hair side out and roll into a ball before placing in freezer. Salting deer hides to preserve them is fine if done properly. Hides should be layed flat with all leg and neck holes opened up. Hides can be stacked hair down on top of each other. The top leather side of the hide needs to be salted generously before placing another hide on top of it.
COYOTE A common problem with coyote are drags. Drags are areas of the hide where the fur has been worn off due to dragging the animal on the ground back to the vehicle. A small plastic sled works good for this. Another problem that detracts from pelt value on gunshot animals is mud or blood in the fur. All mud and blood should be washed out of the fur before it dries. Snow works well to clean and dry fur.
RACCOON I get many coon every year that would have been worth much more if properly cared for. Spoiled coon have no value. An old misconception is that if you bury raccoon in a snowbank they will keep. Not so! As soon as an animal is dispatched they begin to deteriorate. By burying an animal in snow you insulate the animal so it will take days to freeze. The way to handle coon is sell, skin or freeze them as soon as possible. If you are not an experienced fur handler do not attempt to process pelts by yourself.
FOX I buy many fox that have been shot during deer season and thrown in the back of a pickup. The problem comes from foreign materials in the box of the truck. Gasoline, oil or diesel fuel residue on the pelt will cause the fur to slip. Slips are areas where the fur loosens from the hide and falls out causing the pelt to become less valuable.
MUSKRAT Many beginning trappers target muskrat and process the pelts to add value to the fur. A common problem with finished muskrat is over scrapping. The red membrane on the pelt is called the saddle. This saddle must be left intact to secure the fur to the pelt. Only excess fat and chunks of flesh need to be removed from the hide.
MINK Mink should be clean and dry before freezing whole. If frozen mink should be marketed within 30 days to prevent freezer burn. If processing mink the saddle should be left on but all fat must be removed.
SKUNK Properly handled skunk do have value. I only buy skunk that have no damage. Most damage is caused by gunshots, blood on the fur or spoilage. Skunk caught in conibear traps have the most value.
BEAVER Skinned beaver pelts are graded damaged if there are any holes, nicks or knife marks present. If beaver are skinned they are best left with a heavy layer of flesh on the pelt to prevent damage and freezer burn to the pelt.
BOBCAT - It is important to leave the front legs on cats when skinning them. It is OK to remove the feet but the legs have fur value and if removed detract from the overall value of the pelt.