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Questions About Skinning And Tanning Raccoons

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Admiral, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. Admiral

    Admiral New Member

    As a bit of background, I've been trapping nuisance Raccoons in my backyard, and decided to give skinning and tanning the hides a try - the local laws say I have to kill them if I catch them (or let them go on the spot, but then why bother), so I may as well use them.

    I bought a skinning kit and some add-on tools, as well as the Wallhanger Kit B from Trubond. Note that I'm just interested in getting the hides tanned to either hang on a wall of use for something (make a hat?), not planning to mount them or anything. I've gotten started on the process, but have run into some issues and would like advice on how to handle them. I appreciate any help I can get here, so here are my questions so far:

    1. When preparing to skin a raccoon, what would be the best way to get rid of any parasites like fleas and ticks? I tried spraying the carcass with raid and leaving it for about an hour, but that didn't seem to be completely effective, as I saw fleas on several raccoons and one had a lot of ticks. Also I'm worried that just leaving it for a while like that may be enough for hair to start slipping.

    2. I haven't been able to find much information on what to do with ears. The Trubond instructions mention turning them, though I'm not too sure how to do that. From what I've already found, with some animals you're supposed to just cut off the front of the ear, and with others you can turn it inside out, leaving the cartilage on the skin. I actually already sent some questions about this to Trubond and got back a response that I can indeed turn the ear without removing the front part, but I'm still not sure of how to go about it. When skinning these raccoons, so far I've been trying to cut the ears off right at the ear canal, so all of the cartilage stays on the skin and there's just a tiny hole - should I be doing this differently? I noticed that in doing this, I can't really find where the cartilage meets the ear, so I haven't separated it yet on any of the skins I have.

    3. Similar to the ear question, I noticed I have quite a bit of nose cartilage left on the skin when I cut it off. How much of that needs to be removed? Is there a recommended method for removing it without damaging the rest of the nose?

    4. I've gotten started on the tanning process for the first skin I got (~16 lb raccoon), though I have a roadblock now. I made some mistakes with it in that I salted and dried it without getting enough of the meat/fat off, and did that step after rehydration and about a week of pickling. Then it went back in the pickle for a while, and eventually I tried to do the wire wheel step in the Trubond instructions. Unfortunately, I couldn't get much at all with the wire wheel, and actually destroyed my wire wheel in the end. I'm not sure if maybe I need to get more flesh off by scraping (it isn't really coming off - I'm not sure if I'm damaging the skin at this point), or maybe I need a different kind of wire wheel. The kind I used was about one inch in diameter with metal wires at an angle. I also tried a straight one (same size) but that was even less effective though it did not break. Any suggestions for this? Maybe I can use a mini sanding drum?

    5. So far I've only started on preparing one skin for tanning, though I have quite a few more in my fridge now. When I get to the rehydration/pickling for those, about how much water would I need per skin? I used 2 gallons for the aforementioned skin from the 16 lb raccoon and it seemed more than enough, though the other skins I have are somewhat smaller, with each raccoon being between about 10 and 14 lb. I was thinking I could do several at once, and I could go up to about 4 gallons with the buckets I have.

    That's what I have so far, though I may come up with more questions later.

    Also, not really related to taxidermy so it isn't with the rest of my questions, but I've also been interested in giving the meat a try. I've seen recommendations though that urban raccoons should not be eaten, though I'm not too sure if this applies to the raccoons I'm catching as I live in a suburban neighborhood with several lightly wooded areas nearby. Anyone have an opinion on this?

  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Some places where an animal is trapped as a nuisance they must be dispatched and thrown in the garbage or otherwise destroyed, check to see that that isn't the case where you are.
    1- freeze the critter for a few days, that usually kills off the parasites
    2- yes turn the ears, it's similar to turning a sock inside out, check the tutorial section here for info or watch utube videos
    3- yes turn the nose out to the end and remove cartilage, do similar as #2
    4- flesh well prior to salting, I use a beam and fleshing knife to scrape the fat and meat off the majority of the skin. There is a lot of fat on coons it must come off prior to salting or your pickle won't likely soak in. If you salt and dry hard you must rehydrate prior to the pickle. When they mention a wire wheel I'm sure they are talking about a bird flesher with a wire wheel but a bigger one on a drill will work on after the skin has been in the pickle for a few days to clean up the skin and leftover membrane, as long as it was fleshed well when fresh. Be careful not to burn through. After it has been wheeled a separate degreasing step is needed for trash pandas, they are greasy lil buggers. Do some research here in the tanning section for methods.
    5- Until you get comfortable with tanning I would do one at a time just so that you keep a better handle on it and get acceptable results.
    There is almost no way I can think of that would make me want to eat a trash panda so I can't suggest anything there.
    jrandall71 likes this.

  3. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Google pressure washing skins. A pressure washer will thoroughly flesh and de-fat a raccoon in about 5 minutes. Turn the ears and cut off lips at the hairline. Drain, salt, dry hard and ship to Moyle, Mink and Tannery. Compare their tan to yours, and you'll never waste time tanning another. There is nothing the matter with the meat of a healthy raccoon. People here eat them year round.