Tutorial: How to Skin a Coyote
You’ve spent the last few hours out in the field luring a coyote to you, had a steady aim and successfully took down a coyote — now what? If you’ve never learned how to skin a coyote, it can feel a little intimidating. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered — read on to find our guide for skinning a coyote and all things coyote taxidermy!
Skinning a Coyote for Tanning
If you want to turn your coyote into a beautiful and functional pet, then you’ll want to learn the art of skinning a coyote for the pelt. This process is called tanning, and you’ll have to follow three steps in order to succeed at the task.
In order to properly skin a coyote for tanning, you’ll need a few things:
- Latex gloves
- Sharp pocket knives
- Dog collar choke chain
- Small game skinning gambrel
Once you have these things, the process will go much easier.
First, lay the coyote on its back. Make the opening cuts on the inside of the coyote’s back legs from the color line on the fur from the feet all the way down to the center of the coyote’s anus. Skin the coyote close around the anus and genitals and then down the center of the tail. Cut the tail down by 3-4 inches.
Close the blades of your pocket knives and one knife on each side of the tailbone. Slide them down together at the same time toward the tip of the tail.
At this point, the coyote should be open like a pillowcase. From here, you’ll want to hang it by the tendons in the back legs on the gambrel, toes up. Starting with the tail side first, pull the hide down and away from the carcass and pull it straight down 5-10 inches.
Move to the stomach side and gently work your way down both sides of the carcass until you come between the front legs and shoulders. Cut the hide on the front legs all around the front knee and pull the hide off the carcass as if you were removing a pillowcase.
Release the hide by pulling the front legs through and pull the rest of the hide to the base of the head. Cut at the base of the ears and carefully skin around the face. Once you’ve made it past the eyes, pull-down and skim the gum line to the nose. Cut it off at the tip of the nose and leave about an inch or so of hiding around the bottom jaw. Turn the hide fur side out, throw it over your shoulder and you’re good to go.
Depending on where you live, you may want to keep it in the back of your truck or place a mat on the bed of your pickup, as cold weather may cause the pelt to freeze or soak in blood, which can make for a tenuous cleanup process later on.
Once the coyote is skinned, you have to transform the skin into a dry pelt. After you purchase the basic furrier tools (found online or at any trapper-supply house), follow these steps to do so. Be sure that you have a good fleshing beam, a good fleshing knife, and a metal dog comb.
Start off by giving the skin a good comb through to remove any pests or cockle burrs that may remain. Once you’ve done this, place the hide flesh side out and place the pelt over your fleshing beam like a sock. Work your way down from the top of the neck to the base of the tail and remove any heavy fat down to the leather.
Using water, dish soap, and conditioning shampoo, wash the pelt fur side out as thoroughly as you can. Wring it out like a towel when you’re done.
Once it’s cleaned to your satisfaction, you’re ready to stretch it out. Use some wire or wood stretchers to pull the pelt good and tight over the stretcher leather side out. Use a fan to blow dry the hide until it’s mostly dry (not crunchy) and pliable to the touch.
Re-stretch the hide fur-side out. Center it on the stretcher and comb the fur again. Leave it on the stretcher for another day or so.
After your pelt is dried and ready to be removed from the stretcher, grab it by the nose with one hand and the tail with another. Give the pelt one last shake to remove extra dirt or water, then leave it hanging for one final day. After that (and potentially one final brushing) your pelt will be good to go.
Skinning a Coyote for Taxidermy
Is the coyote that you killed worth displaying? If so, you’ll want to take extra care of the carcass so that a taxidermist can properly prepare it for you.
Once the animal is killed, you’ll want to take extra care when transporting it back to your vehicle. Try not to drag it on the ground or tie a rope to its neck — instead, carry it over your shoulder or use a sled.
When you arrive home, use a wet rag to clean the carcass of any blood or dirt that you may find. If it’s cold outside, you’ll want to hang it by its back legs so that any blood can drip out of the animal. Once it’s clean, use a brush to brush the fur and remove any debris or cockle burrs.
If you can’t make it to the taxidermist within a day or two of the kill, you’ll need to put the coyote in a garbage bag and freeze it so that it is preserved. This is crucial if you want to set your taxidermist up for success.
Find the Right Taxidermist
Finding the right taxidermist depends on a lot of different factors — their specialty, their prices, their location relative to you, etc. However, the most important thing for you to do is to look at their past work and see the quality of work that you can expect. Ask to look at some of their previous work and see if it’s up to the standard that you want. This will help you rest assured that you will be getting a high-quality product when you turn in your carcass.
Still, have some questions? Here are some answers to some common questions that come along with skinning a coyote.
Is it hard to skin a coyote?
Like anything, learning to skin a coyote will take plenty of time — especially if you’ve never skinned an animal before. It can be a complex process, but the more you do it, the more you’ll feel comfortable every time the moment arrives. Practice makes perfect, so keep trying, and don’t be afraid to mess up!
How long can you wait to skin a coyote?
Coyotes are smaller animals, and they can spoil pretty quickly if you don’t skin them right away. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll never want to wait longer than three days to skin a coyote — especially if you aren’t storing it somewhere frozen. A freezer will buy you a little bit more time, but it’s generally always a better idea to work sooner rather than later.
How much are coyote skins worth?
The price for the pelt of an animal is entirely dependent on the state that the pelt is in. This is why it’s so important to learn to master the skinning process — it’ll get you a higher quality of pelt in the long run.
An excellent coyote pelt can be sold for around $70. On average, however, you’ll be looking at prices in the $30-40 range.
Do you need to field dress a coyote?
If you want to skin the animal for its pelt, it’s best to field dress it right away so that you can preserve as much of the pelt as possible. If you plan on bringing it to a taxidermist, you can wait and allow them to do it as long as you have taken the proper precaution and frozen and cleaned the carcass.
Take Your Predator Hunting to the Next Level
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