What is meant during the skinning process when the eyes, ears, and nose is "split"?
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The eye lids and lips have skin that is needed for the mount. Grab your own lip you will notice it has skin on the inside as well as the outside. This skin between your thumb and finger must be seperated and all meat must be removed . Eyes are the same way . Ears are similar, but there is a cartilage between the inner and outer skin.
Deer have more muscle tissue around their lips and eyes than on other parts of their face.You need to take a sharp knife or scalpel and cut slices in that tissue(obviously dont cut thru the hide),this allows salt to reach the hide.I cut a crosshatch pattern.As for the ears,use ear openers to seperate the front side of the ear(cartelage)from the backside(skin).Have fun.
There will be an in-depth article in "Back to Basis in the next issue of "Breakthrough Magazine" on fleshing a deer.
The eye can be split till you get the fat out of the lids. Hold the hide in one hand, with fingers being the "depth sensitive" fleshing beam, it works well to put your middle finger thru the eye and use your thumb to gently pull skin back while slicing thru the skin with your scalpel. Keep going till you see the fat follicles that hold the eye lashes in. You can gentley cut out the fat now, or after the pickling/tanning process, when you are fine tuning the cape for mount prep. DON'T cut so deep you LOOSE your eyelashes though! Practice will tell you how thin you need to go.
Lips same way. Once you have the lips split, you can lay it open on your finger and shave away the meat, you will end up with close to transparent lip skin when you are finished.
Nose, again same idea. You need to cut through the cartilage of the nose till you have two separate "flaps". Again I like to use my fingers as the fleshing beam because I can FEEL how much meat is left on and how deep I need to go with the scalpel.
One of the best tips I can give you on this splitting process, as well as fleshing then meat and muscle from these facial areas is to use a NEW SHARP BLADE. I'll go through 3-4 scalpel blades on the face and ears, and more often than not, 5-6 scalpel blades, WITHOUT feeling guilty or wasteful. A new sharp blade cuts the tissue off much better and quicker than a slightly used blade AND ironically puts less holes in the delicate areas, probably because the effort is not as pronounced adn the blade is doing all the work....did that make sense? Anyway, don't be afraid to use those scalpel blades. It's worth it.
Thanks for the useful information. Its good to know there are people out there willing to share some of their expertise.