The sale value of a raccoon pelt depends on how well you skin and prepare the pelt. Fur buyers pay top price for a pelt that has been handled well and bottom price for a pelt that was poorly skinned, fleshed and dried. Raccoons are skinned in the method known in the fur industry as “cased.” Case-skinned pelts have only a single cut in the fur itself, along the top of the back legs. After making this cut, you remove the skin in a similar manner to pulling a sock off your foot.
1. Hang the raccoon from its back feet by tying a cord around each back foot and the other end of the cord around a rafter or board mounted for this purpose. Pull the hind legs as far apart as possible and tie the cord off fast with the hind legs at your eye level. Position the raccoon with its head facing downward.
2. Put on rubber gloves and cut completely around all four legs at the point where the skin of the feet and the fur meet. Cut completely through the skin to expose the muscle.
3. Stick the tip of the knife, blade up, into one of the cuts around a back foot and cut directly along the top edge of the hind legs. Cut above the anus, between it and the tail, and continue the cut until you reach the cut around the opposite hind foot.
4. Poke the knife tip into the cut going past the base of the tail and make a cut on the underside of the tail all the way to the tip of the tail. Cut the skin loose from the tail bone by cutting through the membrane between the skin and tail bone. Free the skin completely from the tail bone.
5. Separate the skin from the hind legs by cutting through the membrane that holds the skin to the muscle. Continue separating the skin from the muscle by pulling the skin out from the carcass and cutting the membrane until you have reached the front legs. The skin that has been freed will hang past the head.
6. Work your fingers and thumb around the shoulder until your fingers pull the skin away from the leg muscle, allowing your fingers and thumb to meet in the space created in front of the shoulder. With one hand, pull the leg skin down toward the foot, and with the other hand pull back on the leg until the skin pulls free over the foot. Repeat this procedure for the opposite front leg.
7. Skin down to the head, continuing in the same manner as the top part. At the base of each ear, cut into the muscle and against the skull to free the ears from the skull with the ear cartilage attached to them.
8. Work the skin down the face and cut across the eyes with the knife blade flat on the eyes so the eye lids and skin rimming each eye stays with the skin.
9. Pull the skin down tight against the mouth and nose and cut the lips free from the jaw bones by cutting against the bone, leaving the lips on the skin. Cut through the inner nose cartilage, leaving the nose on the skin. The skin is now free from the carcass.
Items you will need
- Sharp knife with a 3 1/2- to 4-inch blade
- Rubber gloves, snug fitting
- Knife sharpening stone
- “Raccoon Trapping Methods"; Russ Carman; 1982
- “Trapping North American Furbearers"; S. Stanley Hawbaker; 1969
- John Alves/iStock/Getty Images