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My First Hide Skinning Experience

Anthonio Akkermans

Today right now, I am skinning my first animal. I felt a bit sick at first, but I coped, and it got better. I really started to get a feel for the rabbit, it was showing me where to cut, and where to pull instead.

The problem is that a hunter shot this rabbit, then froze it, then defrosted it, and froze it again. It is not the actual skinning that is bad, just the feeling of cold squishy stuff inside...

I have decided not to use a knife, or manufactured tools, so am just using obsidian.

Here the rabbit is hung up, ready to be skinned.
The first cuts have been made, and I am starting to peel the skin off. Note that I have started from partway up one of the rear legs.
Cuts have now been made up both rear legs as well as along the center of the animal's belly.
The main part of the pelt has now been peeled off the front of the rabbit.
And here the skin has been peeled off of the back.
Here's a side view of this stage of peeling.
Here the skin has been peeled away far enough to show the area where it had been shot. Here is where I started to have trouble completing the job....
The worst part came just now, and I had to stop and throw up in the toilet.

It is the area where it was shot. On one side is just blood. This is hard, but I can cope, However, on the other side, it's kinda brownish thick rotten something, and I just had to quit for a bit, and get away from it!

I don't know if I can deal with finishing it now. The bad area is right around the head, and the smell is awful. 

I am trying to feel that it was way worse for the animal when it got shot, but it doesn't help! I think I might throw a bucket of water over it, so the brown stuff goes away.

If I can handle it, I will try and get the sinew, and whatever else I can cope with taking of the animal.

So... here I had to stop for awhile. After discussing my experience with a friend, I continued with the project.

Here are some of my thoughts as I wrestled with and got through the revulsion that I felt:

There are bound to have been times, when you were alone in the forest for an extended period of time especially in the beginning, where you felt you had to leave because you felt alone. You may know that little demon I am talking about. It takes a BIG battle to actually defeat that demon! After you do, only then can you enjoy life in the wilderness. While the demon is still there it consumes all thoughts and experiences, so that all you think about is wanting to leave in order to meet someone, hear someone's voice, etc...

Know what I am talking about? Good!

Now, This was the first time an opportunity came up for me to experience skinning and brain-tanning. Here in Europe laws regarding touching dead stuff are ridiculous!!! And it's impossible to get your hands on anything organic (like sinew, etc).

So, anyway, I got this rabbit, and felt nervous and scared about it to start with. As I got on with the task of skinning the rabbit, it felt like my revulsion was something that was trying to pry me away from this learning experience. A demon, if you will, trying to block my progress as an Earth child. Most of the time in the beginning it was a battle, but after I spoke about this with a friend, I went back down and finished the skinning part. And know what? The revulsion went away! Sure, I still felt a bit queasy the odd time, but it was fine. I could enjoy looking at the inside of this rabbit, its muscles. etc. I even managed to remove the brain without a feeling of revulsion, just exploration and reverence.

The next day, after a good night's sleep, it was bright daylight again. I took the skin and fleshed it in my lap! It looked repulsive at first, but it didn't bother me in the least. The smells were fine with me too! It was all just interesting, and new to me. The hide has now been fleshed and racked up, and it's nearly dry.

Here the pelt has been completely removed from the rabbit.
Here I am starting to flesh the hide (ie, remove the flesh from the inside of it).
Here is a close up of the part of the hide showing the trauma.
This photo shows the use of a stone tool to scrape the flesh off of the hide.

Almost done. This picture shows the hide partly fleshed.


Completely fleshed hide, drying prior to racking.

The hide has been "racked" - tied tightly to a square rack, in preparation for scraping.
The hide has to dry first, as I have chosen to "dry scrape" it.
Here I am shown scraping the hide, using a stone tool. 
Text and Photographs Copyright Anthonio Akkermans