the Badger, or Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Such is the serendipity of country living, when the soft furry creature lying before you is the victim of furious driving and your future rug. 


Armed with skills acquired in Biology 101 roughly 20 years ago, and butchering lectures from Tim garnered from Daniel’s sanglier trophy, I made quick work of disrobing the beast.  Sadly or not, there are no photos due to my daughters’ squeamishness.

Various google searches gave me little to go on tips for curing the hide.  I decided to use Daniel’s Roman method, a mixture of salt and ash, to thoroughly dry the skin.


Since then, I found a classic article in The Farm Journal’s How To Do Things, published 1919, with “Instructions That Will Insure Results.”


“Skin animals as soon as possible after taking them from the traps, but not until they are dry.  If you have a water-soaked muskrat, mint, or other animal, rinse it carefully, then take it by the hind legs and tail and crack as you would a whip.  Next take the head and crack in the same way.  The animal will soon be dry.” 


Thankfully, I was not aware of this.

“To skin an animal cased, cut from the toes of one hind leg straight across to the other.  Make no other cuts.  Be careful not to cut the skin or leave any more fat or meat on the skin than can be helped.  Skin down over the head and eyes, skinning even the nose.  Skin very carefully over the ears and eyes.  Cut tails from muskrats and opossums only.  Skin the feet out of valuable animals.


To skin open, make additional cuts from one front foot to the other, and from the base of the tail to the under lip.  Stretch the skin in natural shape on a board tacked fast at the edges.

After skinning cased, stretch as soon as possible in natural position on the board.  Stretch fully, but not too much.  Keep the pelt side out.  It is not necessary to turn skins, but sometimes mink and fox skins are turned.  Turn in from twelve to twenty-four hours.  Pelts that are skinned cased should be tacked at the large end of the board.  When the skins are dry enough to hold their shape well, remove them from the board.


The boards for cased skins should be planed smooth, with beveled edges, and taper gradually.  The thickness should be from one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch, according to the skin.  Shingles are fine for making muskrat boards.  For convenience in handling the boards should be a few inches longer than the pelts.  The sizes vary in different parts of the country, [and a graph follows.]

After the skins are stretched, they should be placed in a cool, shady place (never in the sun or near a fire) to dry.  When partly dry, scrape with a dull knife to get the fat and meat off, but do not go too deep.


Freezing does not hurt skins.  When shipping, pack flat, fur side to fur side, or pelt side to pelt side.  Always put a tag on the inside, and insure your furs if shipping by parcel post.”  Well, that’s certainly something to keep in mind.


Bet you’ll never look at roadkill the same way again…


[More unAIXpected stories here.]


And I've uploaded the video!

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