Curing Skins

This department of the trapper's art is one of the most important

and necessary, as affecting pecuniary profits. The value of a skin

in the fur market depends entirely upon the care with which it

is taken from the animal and afterward prepared, and without a

knowledge on this subject the young trapper will in vain seek for

high prices for his furs. Large quantities of valuable skins are

sent to our markets annually by
nexperienced amateur trappers,

and in many cases rare and beautiful furs have been almost spoiled

by want of care in skinning and curing. The rules are simple and

easily followed, a little care being all that is necessary to insure

most perfect success. In every case the skin should be removed

shortly after death, or at least before it has become tainted with

decay. Great pains should be taken in skinning. Avoid the adherence

of flesh or fat to the skin, and guard against cutting through the

hide, as a pierced skin is much injured in value. The parts about

the eyes, legs and ears should be carefully removed. The various

methods of skinning are described in our section on trapping, and

in all cases the furs should be allowed to dry in a cool, airy

place, free from the rays of the sun or the heat of a fire, and

protected from rain.

Astringent preparations of various kinds are used by many trappers,

but they are by no means necessary. The most common dressing consists

of equal parts of rock salt and alum dissolved in water. Into this

a sufficient amount of coarse flour or wheat bran is stirred to give

the mixture the consistency of batter, after which it is spread

thickly over the skin and allowed to dry.

It is afterwards scraped off, and in some cases a second application

is made. This preparation is much used in dressing beaver, otter,

mink and muskrat skins, but as many of our most successful and

experienced trappers do without it, we fail to see the advantage of

using it, as it is only an extra trouble. The simplest and surest

way is to stretch the skin and to submit it to a gradual process

of natural drying without any artificial heat or application of

astringents to hasten the result.

A very common mode of stretching skins consists in tacking them to

a board, with the fur inwards, and allowing them to dry as already


This method does very well for small skins, but for general purposes

the stretchers are the only means by which a pelt may be properly

cured and prepared.