If you have gone through the trouble of maintaining breeding stock, having a successful whelp and raising the kits to adult size, there is no reason to sell yourself short on the final steps of preparing your product for market. High quality final presentation is extremely important, not to mention there are standards to follow.
Fur animals must be dispatched as quickly and as painlessly as possible, by lethal injection or a substance accepted for this purpose by a licensed veterinarian. In cases where such a substance is not available, producers must employ a method considered by the inspecting veterinarian to be humane.1
The humane practice imperative in every phase of the production of fox must be followed as well in the harvesting of pelts. The producer should employ the most humane methods available.1 Aside from being ethical, it is also to your benefit to minimize unnecessary pelt damage during dispatching the animal and eliminate blood on the final product.
Skinning the Fox
- Tie a length of cord to each hind leg of the fox, just above the foot; tie the opposite ends of the cords to a rafter or anything else that is above your head. Lower the fox, head down, until the hind legs are at eye level and pull the hind legs as far apart as they will go.
- Put on gloves. Cut through the skin just above each foot, front and hind legs, going completely around each leg in a circle.
- Stick the top of the knife into the cut on one back leg and cut an incision following along the back of the leg, just below the anus and along the back of the opposite leg ending up at the cut around the opposite foot.
- Cut around the anus and then poke the tip of the knife into the incision bewteen the anus and the tail. Slice an incision on the underside of the tail half way to the tail’s tip.
- Peel the skin away from the tail bone with your fingers until the skin is free from the tail bone for the length of the incision. Push your fingers against the fur part of the tail at the end of the incision. Pull the remainder of the tail bone in the opposite direction, pulling the bone out of the uncut part of the tail.
- Pull the skin away from the carcass at the hind legs and cut through the membrane holding the skin to the carcass. Keep skinning out the hind legs until the skin is free of the legs.
- Slide the thumbs and forefingers of both hands between the skin and carcass and peel the skin down the body until the front legs are reached.
- Pry the skin away from the upper part of the front legs with your fingers only, as a knife here can cut the skin. For each leg, push a finger through the opening made between the leg and freed skin, grip the leg and pull it toward the body while pulling the skin over the leg in the opposite direction. Pull until the skin comes free over the foot.
- Skin down the neck to the ears using caution not to cut into the neck arteries. Cut the ears free by cutting against the skull and through the cartilage at the base of the ears.
- Move the knife slowly, skinning down the face to the eyes. Press the knife blade against the eyes cutting through the membrane covering the eyes, being careful not to cut the skin around the eyes.
- Pull and cut the skin free down the muzzle to the nose. Cut through the nose cartilage, freeing the nose. Cut the lips free by passing the knife between the skin and teeth/jaw bones. The skin is now free of the carcass and ready to be stretched and dried.
Fox skins are dried fur side out. Remove ear cartilage and pay close attention to pinning the skirt as it should be straight. Typically, leaving the fox on the board for four days at a moderate temperature is adequate. It is recommended that you use an air board. At this point, remove the pelt from the board and hang it up by the nose for two more days.
Whether you put up your own furs or have a professional complete this task, one thing you must be certain when selling through NAFA: You must use the correct board size. Pelts dried on boards with dimensions different from these specifications will be penalized accordingly during sorting.