As you may have known, the Montana Trappers Association hosted a fur handling clinic this past Saturday in Deer Lodge. There was a great group of people at the clinic, and, as always, I left the event with more knowledge about putting up fur than I had when I arrived. There was a variety of animals there including a skunk, porcupine, marten fox and even a wolf. I was particularly interested in learning how to properly skin, flesh and stretch the skunk, as we have one (which ended up bringing a fox to the same trap he was in) in our freezer that we need to skin out and flesh so we can get it tanned.
Bob Sheppard demonstrated how to skin, flesh and stretch the skunk. Being that skunks are members of the cat family, they are fairly delicate animals, and even though trappers are used to smelling like the lures we use, we definitely want to avoid puncturing the skunk essence sac, which is the image pictured in the plastic bag on the MORS Facebook page, during the skinning process. However, you do want to take it out and save it, as pure skunk essence is worth approximately $25 an ounce these days.
Don’t puncture the skunk essence sac…
Denny Schutz educated the group on how to properly skin, flesh and stretch a fox. For those of you interested in putting up foxes, there is no better person to learn from than Denny. A lot of people don’t take the time to properly put up their fur after all of the time, energy and money they invest in actually trapping their animals, which is unfortunate. Denny has personally seen people turn in fur to NAFA that was not properly fleshed or stretched, and those trappers ended up losing as much as hundreds of dollars just for not taking the time to flesh and stretch the fur properly. Denny is pictured below on the tail end (pun intended) of his fox demonstration.
Another topic discussed at the clinic involved what you do with your fur after it is skinned, stretched and fleshed. Brian Stoner talked about what a difference something as simple as brushing out your fur can make…especially when you plan to sell it. As you can see below, one of the coyote hides is brushed and fluffed (on the left), while the other one is untouched by a comb. Washing your fleshed hide in a washing machine with regular detergent and simply brushing your hide before presenting it can make a huge difference to furbuyers. Make sure you take the time to appreciate the fur you have and ensure that it smells and looks good! The fluffier, the better!
As the District 2 Director of the MTA, I was so thrilled to see such an awesome turnout at the fur handling clinic, and it was also good to see the handful of youngsters that came with their folks, too. I definitely encourage everybody who can to attend trapper education classes and fur handling clinics when they are held, as it is a good time to learn from lifelong trappers and to get any questions you may have answered. It’s also a great time to visit with friends and meet new fellow trappers and supporters of trapping.
There was much more covered at the clinic, just not enough time in the day to write about it all. Thank you so much to the instructors who take the time to demonstrate proper skinning, fleshing and stretching techniques, and thank you to all who showed up at the clinic. We look forward to seeing everybody at the upcoming trapper education class in Missoula next month. Follow the Montana Trappers Association on Facebook for more information on upcoming events, and be sure to look for the MTA booth after you visit the MORS booth at the Great Rockies Sportshow in Helena next month. For those of you interested in becoming a member of the Montana Trappers Association, you can become a member and get more information online at www.montanatrappers.org.