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Proper Pelt Care

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Check it out babypops, you went to all the trouble of preparing your traps and then trapping your furbearing animal, and now what. Here are a few things I do and the way I do it.
Proper Pelt Care
Care should be taken when removing animals from traps especially if they are frozen. Simply prying an animal out of a trap may remove portions of fur and damage pelts. If furbearers are completely frozen in traps, it would be wise to take the furbearer still in the trap to your camp or fur shed and remove it after it has thawed.
Furbearers should be transported in clean burlap or nylon bags (feed sacks) to ensure that they remain clean and that blood or dirt from one animal is not transferred to another. Never place wet furbearers directly onto metal racks of ATV's or snowmobiles or the box of a pickup truck in freezing weather. They will become badly frozen on and difficult to remove without doing major damage to the fur.
In general, ideally furbearers should dry before pelting. Furbearers should be brushed lightly before pelting to remove burrs, mats and dirt, which may stain the fur, and cause cuts in the pelting process. If animals are badly soiled, they should be washed lightly with clean water and allowed to dry before pelting commences. If you cannot skin animals shortly after harvesting, or if you choose to rough skin pelts and flesh at a later date, they should be frozen to preserve quality. Place furbearers or pelts in plastic bags and remove as much air as possible. Tie tightly and place in a freezer. Pelts that are to be frozen should be rolled nose to tail, leather in. Thaw slowly to prevent hair slip before pelting or fleshing. After fleshing and drying, pelts should be shipped to market as soon as possible. If you must store pelts for long periods they should be placed in a freezer. For short periods of storage, keep in a dark, cool dry room. Pelts may be wrapped lightly in newsprint, stored in burlap or nylon bags or hung from hooks or rafters. Ship to market in clean bags or cardboard boxes, never in plastic bags.
While it is never wise to over-stretch fur, there are times when pelts will be on the borderline between two sizes when they are placed on the board. Pelts shrink slightly in length during drying, so it may be to the trapper's advantage to stretch these borderline pelts just a little more to bring them up to the next largest size. To accommodate this, having the pelt sizes marked on your boards for each species may be helpful.

Should pelts be open skinned or cased?
Beaver: Open skinned.
Mink: Cased and fur in - it is recommended that saddle be left on but remove all grease from under the saddle.
Otter: Cased and fur in.
Marten: Cased and fur out.
Fisher: Cased and fur out.
Bobcat: Cased and fur out.
Muskrat: Cased and fur in - do not over scrape, remove all surface grease but leave saddle on.
Raccoon: Cased and fur in.
Fox: Cased and fur out.
Coyote: Cased and fur out.
Squirrel & Weasel: Cased and fur in.
Skunk: Cased and fur in.
Opossum: Cased and fur in.
Badger: Cased and fur in.

Hope this helps you.

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