Animal Hunting Tips: How to Handle and Process Animal Skins

Animal Hunting Tips: How to Handle and Process Animal Skins

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on handling and processing animal skins. Whether you are an experienced hunter or new to the world of animal hunting, understanding how to properly handle and process animal skins is essential. In this article, we will provide you with valuable tips and techniques to ensure you make the most out of your hunting experience. From skinning and preserving to tanning and storing, we will cover all the necessary steps to help you transform animal skins into high-quality products. Follow along to learn the best practices and expert advice on handling and processing animal skins effectively.

Preparing for the Hunt

Choosing the Right Hunting Gear

Before going on a hunt, it is essential to have the appropriate hunting gear. The right equipment can greatly enhance your hunting experience and increase your chances of success. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing your hunting gear:

  • Firearms and Ammunition: Depending on the type of animal you are hunting, you will need to select the appropriate firearm and ammunition. Research the specific requirements for your target animal to ensure you are properly equipped.

  • Optics: Good quality binoculars or a spotting scope can be invaluable for locating and observing animals from a distance. Invest in optics that provide clear and sharp images to help you spot game more effectively.

  • Clothing and Footwear: Dressing appropriately for the hunt is crucial. Opt for camouflage clothing that matches the environment you will be hunting in. Additionally, choose footwear that is comfortable and suitable for the terrain you will be traversing.

  • Knives and Tools: A sharp and reliable hunting knife is essential for field dressing and skinning animals. Carry a multi-tool or additional tools that may be needed for processing animal skins.

Understanding Animal Behavior

To become a successful hunter, it is important to understand the behavior of the animals you are pursuing. Familiarize yourself with the following aspects of animal behavior:

  • Habitat: Different animals inhabit specific types of habitats. Research the preferred habitats of your target animal to increase your chances of encountering them.

  • Movement Patterns: Study the patterns of animal movement, including feeding, breeding, and migration habits. This knowledge will help you anticipate their movements and position yourself in strategic locations.

  • Communication: Animals often communicate through vocalizations, body language, or scent marking. Learn to recognize and interpret these signals to better understand their behavior and locate them more effectively.

  • Senses: Animals have highly developed senses, such as hearing, sight, and smell. Understanding how animals use these senses can assist you in remaining undetected and approaching them stealthily.

Identifying Animal Tracks

Being able to identify animal tracks is an essential skill for hunters. Tracks provide valuable information about the presence, size, and direction of travel of animals in the area. Here are some tips for identifying animal tracks:

  • Study Track Patterns: Different animals leave distinct track patterns. Learn to recognize the track patterns specific to the animal you are hunting. Pay attention to factors such as the number of toes, claw marks, and the shape and size of the track.

  • Track Size: The size of the track can give you an indication of the animal’s size. Compare the tracks you find to reference materials or use measuring tools to estimate the size of the animal.

  • Freshness: Determine the freshness of the tracks by examining their clarity and the presence of debris. Fresher tracks will have sharper edges and fewer signs of weathering.

  • Track Location: Observe the location of the tracks in relation to the surrounding environment. This can provide insights into the animal’s behavior, preferred routes, and potential feeding areas.

By following these tips for preparing for the hunt, choosing the right hunting gear, understanding animal behavior, and identifying animal tracks, you will be better equipped to handle and process animal skins effectively. Remember to always prioritize safety and ethical hunting practices during your hunting expeditions.

Hunting Techniques


Stalking is a hunting technique that requires patience, stealth, and a deep understanding of animal behavior. It involves moving slowly and quietly towards your prey, remaining hidden and undetected. Here are some essential tips for successful stalking:

  • Camouflage: Invest in high-quality camouflage clothing that matches the surroundings of your hunting area. This will help you blend in with the environment, making it harder for animals to spot you.
  • Scent Control: Animals have a keen sense of smell, so it’s crucial to minimize your scent. Use scent-free soaps, sprays, and laundry detergents to eliminate human odors that could alert your prey.
  • Slow and Silent: Move deliberately and silently, taking small steps and avoiding any sudden movements. Use the natural cover provided by trees, rocks, or bushes to hide your presence and maintain a low profile.
  • Awareness: Pay close attention to your surroundings and the behavior of the animals you are stalking. Look for signs like tracks, droppings, or broken branches to help you anticipate their movements.

Ambush Hunting

Ambush hunting involves setting up in a strategic location and waiting for your prey to come to you. It requires careful planning and knowledge of the animals’ habits and routines. Here’s what you need to keep in mind for a successful ambush hunt:

  • Scouting: Spend time scouting the area beforehand to identify high-traffic locations, game trails, or feeding areas. Look for signs of animal activity like tracks, droppings, or bedding areas. This will help you choose the best spot for your ambush.
  • Concealment: Set up your ambush spot in an area with natural cover, such as dense foliage or behind large rocks or fallen trees. Ensure that you are well-hidden and that your silhouette is not easily visible from a distance.
  • Patience: Ambush hunting requires patience as you may have to wait for extended periods without any action. Avoid unnecessary movements or noise that could alert the animals to your presence. Stay focused and ready for the perfect shot when your prey arrives.

Spot and Stalk

Spot and stalk is a hunting technique that involves spotting animals from a distance and then carefully closing the gap before making a shot. It requires good observation skills, knowledge of the hunting area, and efficient movement. Here are some key tips for a successful spot and stalk hunt:

  • Optics: Invest in quality binoculars or spotting scopes to help you spot animals from a distance. Scan the landscape slowly and thoroughly, focusing on areas with good visibility and potential animal activity.
  • Planning: Before starting your stalk, plan your route carefully, considering wind direction, available cover, and potential escape routes for the animals. Avoid skyline positions that could expose your silhouette.
  • Movement: When stalking, move slowly and cautiously, taking advantage of any available cover to hide your approach. Use natural features like trees, rocks, or gullies to break your outline and move undetected.
  • Shot Placement: As you close in on your prey, be mindful of your shot placement. Aim for vital organs to ensure a quick and ethical kill. Practice shooting from various positions and distances to improve your accuracy.


Calling is a hunting technique where hunters imitate the sounds animals make to attract or provoke a response from their prey. It can be an effective method to lure animals within range. Here are some tips for successful calling:

  • Research: Study the specific sounds and vocalizations of the animal you are hunting. Learn to replicate their calls using calls, rattles, or electronic devices. Understanding the animal’s behavior and vocalizations will help you make convincing and realistic calls.
  • Timing: Timing is crucial when it comes to calling. Research the peak breeding or rutting seasons for the animal you are hunting, as this is when they are most responsive to calls. Plan your hunting trips accordingly.
  • Patience: After making a call, be patient and wait for a response. Give the animal enough time to approach your location or make a move. Avoid calling too frequently, as this can make the animal suspicious or cautious.
  • Variety: Experiment with different types of calls and techniques to increase your chances of success. Vary the pitch, cadence, and duration of your calls to imitate different situations or emotional states of the animals.

These hunting techniques can greatly enhance your chances of success in the field. Remember to always hunt responsibly, follow local hunting regulations, and prioritize safety above all. Happy hunting!

Animal Skinning

When it comes to hunting, learning how to properly handle and process animal skins is an essential skill for any hunter. Skinning an animal is the first step in preserving its hide, and it involves carefully removing the skin while minimizing damage and ensuring it remains in good condition. In this article, we will guide you through the process of animal skinning, including field dressing, removing the hide, and preserving the skin.

Field Dressing

Field dressing is the initial step in preparing an animal for skinning. It involves removing the internal organs and other unwanted parts of the animal to ensure that the skin remains intact and free from contamination. Here are some important tips to follow when field dressing an animal:

  1. Start by placing the animal on its back and making a shallow cut from the base of the sternum (breastbone) to the anus.
  2. Carefully cut around the anus, being cautious not to puncture the intestines or bladder.
  3. Slowly open the abdominal cavity by cutting through the diaphragm.
  4. Remove the organs one by one, being careful not to puncture them and avoiding any contact between the organs and the skin.
  5. Once the organs are removed, thoroughly rinse the cavity with clean water to remove any blood or debris.
  6. Allow the cavity to dry before proceeding to remove the hide.

Removing the Hide

After field dressing the animal, the next step is to remove the hide. This requires precision and patience to ensure that the hide remains intact and suitable for further processing or tanning. Here are the steps to follow when removing the hide:

  1. Begin by making a small incision along the back of the animal, from the base of the tail to the neck.
  2. Using a sharp knife or skinning tool, carefully separate the skin from the underlying meat and tissue.
  3. Gradually work your way around the animal, taking care not to cut too deeply and avoiding any unnecessary damage to the hide.
  4. Pay special attention to areas with thicker skin, such as the neck, legs, and shoulders, as they may require additional effort and precision to skin properly.
  5. Once the hide is completely separated from the animal, gently pull it away, making sure to remove any remaining tissue or fat.
  6. Inspect the hide for any holes or tears, as these may affect its quality and usability.

Preserving the Skin

Preserving the skin is crucial to ensure its longevity and usability for various purposes such as taxidermy or leatherwork. Here are some effective methods to preserve animal skins:

  1. Salt Cure: After removing the hide, immediately cover both sides of the skin with a generous amount of non-iodized salt. Rub the salt into the flesh side of the hide, ensuring it is thoroughly coated. Fold the hide in half, flesh side in, and stack it to allow excess moisture to drain. Leave the hide in a cool, dry place for at least 24 hours, then shake off the excess salt and repeat the process with fresh salt. This method helps draw out moisture, preventing bacterial growth and preserving the skin.
  2. Chemical Tanning: Chemical tanning involves the use of commercial tanning agents that chemically treat the hide to preserve it. Follow the instructions provided with the tanning agent carefully, as the process may vary depending on the specific product.
  3. Natural Tanning: Natural tanning methods involve the use of natural substances such as plant extracts or animal brains to preserve the hide. These methods are often time-consuming and require specific knowledge, so it is advisable to seek guidance from experienced tanners or resources dedicated to natural tanning techniques.

By following these steps for field dressing, removing the hide, and preserving the skin, you can ensure that the animal skins you obtain from hunting are of high quality and suitable for various uses. Remember to always prioritize safety and ethical hunting practices to respect the animal and make the most out of your hunting experience.

Skinning Tools and Techniques

Skinning Knives

When it comes to skinning animals, having the right tools is essential for a successful and efficient process. Skinning knives are specifically designed for this purpose and can make the task much easier. These knives usually have a sharp, narrow, and curved blade that allows for precise cuts while minimizing the risk of damaging the hide.

When selecting a skinning knife, look for one with a comfortable handle that provides a secure grip. This will help prevent accidents and ensure better control during the skinning process. Additionally, consider the blade material – stainless steel blades are popular due to their durability and resistance to corrosion.

To use a skinning knife effectively, start by making a small incision on the animal’s hide, preferably in an inconspicuous area. Gradually work your way through the skin, using smooth and controlled movements. It’s important to avoid cutting too deeply to prevent puncturing the hide or damaging the underlying tissues.

Fleshing Tools

Once the animal has been skinned, the next step is to remove any remaining flesh and fat from the hide. This process, known as fleshing, helps prepare the skin for tanning and prevents the growth of bacteria or mold.

Fleshing tools come in various forms, including fleshing knives and fleshing beams. Fleshing knives have a sharp, slightly curved blade that allows for precise removal of flesh. They are particularly useful for small or intricate areas where a larger tool might be impractical.

On the other hand, fleshing beams are long, flat boards used to stretch the hide and scrape off the remaining flesh. By securing the hide to the beam, you can apply pressure with a fleshing knife or scraper to effectively remove any flesh or fat.

When using fleshing tools, it’s important to work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the hide. Take your time to remove all traces of flesh, ensuring a clean and smooth surface for the tanning process.

Stretching and Drying

After the skin has been properly fleshed, it needs to be stretched and dried to prevent shrinking and maintain its shape. This step is crucial for preserving the quality of the hide and ensuring it remains usable for various purposes.

To stretch the hide, start by attaching it to a sturdy frame or stretching board. Secure the edges of the hide using tacks or clips, ensuring it is taut but not overly stretched. This will help maintain the natural shape and size of the skin.

Next, place the stretched hide in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or excessive heat. Proper air circulation is crucial for the drying process, as it helps prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.

Allow the skin to dry slowly over a period of several days or weeks, depending on the size and thickness of the hide. Avoid using artificial heat sources or high temperatures, as this can cause the hide to become brittle or shrink.

Regularly check the hide during the drying process to ensure it is drying evenly and not developing any mold or other issues. Once fully dried, the skin is ready for further processing, such as tanning or crafting into various animal skin products.

By following these techniques and using the right tools, you can effectively handle and process animal skins, ensuring high-quality results for your hunting endeavors. Remember to prioritize safety and precision throughout the skinning, fleshing, and drying processes to achieve the best outcome.

Processing Animal Skins

Fleshing the Hide

Fleshing the hide is a crucial step in processing animal skins. This process involves removing any residual flesh and fat from the skin to ensure it is clean and ready for tanning. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when fleshing the hide:

  1. Use a fleshing knife or a sharp blade to carefully scrape off any remaining flesh from the inner side of the skin.
  2. Work in small sections and apply gentle pressure to avoid damaging the skin.
  3. Pay extra attention to areas with thicker layers of flesh, such as the neck and belly.
  4. After fleshing, rinse the hide thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining debris.

Tanning Methods

Once the hide is properly fleshed, it is ready for the tanning process. Tanning is a method used to preserve the skin and make it more durable. There are various tanning methods available, each with its own advantages and considerations. Here are a few popular tanning methods you can choose from:

  1. Vegetable Tanning: This method uses natural tannins found in tree barks and fruits. It is known for producing a high-quality, flexible leather that ages beautifully over time.
  2. Chrome Tanning: Chrome tanning is a quicker and more cost-effective method. It utilizes chromium salts to tan the skin, resulting in a soft and supple leather.
  3. Brain Tanning: Brain tanning is an ancient method that utilizes animal brains to tan the hide. It produces a soft and breathable leather that is often used for making garments.

Before selecting a tanning method, consider the intended use of the animal skin and the desired qualities of the finished product. Research each method thoroughly and follow the appropriate instructions for the best results.

Softening and Finishing

After the tanning process, the animal skin needs to be softened and finished to achieve the desired texture and appearance. Here are some steps to follow for softening and finishing:

  1. Stretching: Stretch the tanned hide to even out the leather and remove any wrinkles. This can be done by attaching the skin to a frame or using weighted clips.
  2. Breaking: Breaking is the process of flexing and working the leather to make it more pliable. This can be done by folding, rolling, and bending the leather repeatedly.
  3. Conditioning: Apply a leather conditioner or oil to moisturize the leather and prevent it from becoming dry and brittle over time. This step also enhances the leather’s natural shine.
  4. Dyeing and Staining: If desired, you can dye or stain the leather to achieve a specific color or pattern. Follow the instructions provided by the dye manufacturer for best results.
  5. Sealing: Finally, seal the leather with a leather finish or sealant to protect it from moisture, dirt, and UV rays. This step will help maintain the leather’s appearance and prolong its lifespan.

By following these steps and techniques, you can effectively handle and process animal skins, turning them into beautiful and functional leather products. Remember to always prioritize safety and proper handling techniques throughout the entire process.

In conclusion, understanding how to handle and process animal skins is essential for anyone involved in animal hunting. By following these tips, hunters can ensure that they are handling the skins in a safe and efficient manner, preserving the quality of the skins for future use. From proper skinning techniques to effective methods of tanning and storing the skins, hunters can make the most out of their hunting experience and create beautiful and durable products. By taking the time to learn and implement these tips, hunters can not only enhance their skills but also contribute to the sustainable and responsible practice of animal hunting.