How To Skin A Bear
a. 2 – 3” to 5” blade skinning knives
b. 1 – 6” to 8” hunting knife
c. 1 sharpening steel and 2” parachute cord
Step 1 – The Incision
You will need to start at the vent under the tail and cut forward towards the bear’s head, staying right in the middle of the chest and belly. You should make the cut all the way up through the animal’s neck and stop approximately in line with the mouth’s corner. If the bear you have caught is a male you should cut around the genitals area by leaving them attached to one side. It is very important not to remove any evidence of sex because this is required by the Fish & Game. In addition, don’t cut too deep because it will cause excessive bleeding and also don’t cut too close so that you will avoid putting holes in the hide.
Step 2 – Cutting The Front Legs
This step should be started at the paw by making a cut down the bear’s leg right until you will reach the point of the elbow. Afterwards, aim your cut towards the armpit’s center. Once you have reached the center, you will need to aim your cut towards the chest’s center by angling slightly upwards. You will need to make sure that each arm cut will meet at the exact same place in the chest’s center.
Begin this step at the paws, starting at the point of the heel and make the cut down the back side of the bear’s legs. Now look towards the vent under the tail and aim your cut 3 finger widths above the anus area as this will give you plenty of skin on the side of the bear and rear end of the animal in order to make a top quality rug. The cuts you will make will directly affect the shape of the bear rug so be very careful and don’t cut the inside of the leg.
Step 4 – Beginning To Skin The Body. Skinning The Head, Eye Sockets, Ears
Start with the rear paws, continue with the tail and work the skin forward towards the bear’s head. Skinning the head should start with the mouth as this will help later in the skinning process. What you need to do is to cut the lips away from the lower and upper gum line and skin back towards the animal’s eyes. Next, cut through the nose cartilage and afterwards pull the nose back towards the eyes. Remember to loosen the skin around the bear’s muzzle as far back as possible. Moving on to the eyes, you must use your finger to feel around the inside of the animal’s eyes orbit in order to familiarize with the lower and upper eye lid.
When you decide to start cutting, always remember to cut against the bone and into the eye socket. It is recommended not to skin around the eye openings. Most of the mistakes are made around the eyes so pay attention. Moving on the ears, both of them must be turned inside out. First thing to do is to remove the ear butt muscle from the cartilage and then insert the prop (it is advisable to have some type of slender prop or sharpening steel) into the ear and force the skin downward over the prop while very carefully cutting. This should be done very slowly and stop 1/8” from the edge of the ear.
The bear’s lips should be opened in order to allow the salt to infiltrate into the flesh. While holding the lip skin in one of your hands you must begin cutting with the other one. You must start at the gum line by cutting downward into the thickness of the lips. It is advisable to use your thumb to hold the skin open as you cut, doing this all the way around the lower and upper lips. In order to split open the nose cartilage you must split the center septum of the animal’s nose. You will also need to cut into the surrounding flesh of the bear’s nose so that the salt will penetrate.
Step 6 – Removing The Toe Bones, Tail Bone
Skin under each pad and split between each of the toe bones to separate from each other. You must take a piece of parachute cord or a string and tie a slip knot on one end. Tie the other end to something very sturdy. You must remove all the joints. In order to remove the tail bone you must cut on the underside of the tail.
Step 7 – Fleshing The Hide, Salting The Skin, Storing The Skin First you must remove all fat and all the meat from the skin. Next, salt the skin by pouring on the flesh side of the skin and spreading salt around the nose, ears, lips and face. It is advisable to rub it very good and check the edges of the skin in order to make sure it hasn’t stuck to itself. The deepness of the salt should be around 3/8”. Next, fold the skin, flesh to flesh and afterwards, roll it up. After a day or so, shake off the salt. After doing so, put it in a breathable bag and hang it up in order to drip. After 24 hours have passed, add more salt and keep it in a dry and cool place.