How to Skin and Stretch Mink Skins
Take a small, sharp, thin, narrow-bladed knife, and slit down, where the fur comes together on the inner part of the leg, from heel to anus. Now take thumb and forefinger and peel the hide off the legs; take knife and slit from anus to end of tail. With your thumb and fingers loosen tailbone from skin. Some only open tail one inch from anus and then take two flat, notched sticks, fitting around the tailbone, which grasp firmly in one hand and pull skin off bone" with the other. Now proceed to further remove skin from rear legs, scarcely using the knife. Pull skin over body, using your thumb and hands. When at fore legs continue to use fingers and pull forelegs out. Another pull will bring you to the ears when a knife should be used in cutting them off close to the skull. A slight pull will bring the skin off body and the knife should be used for the last time in cutting off the nose and trimming around the lips.
Stretching mink skins and making them look nice and fine is more important than skinning, and in fact, next to trapping the animal itself. Three-piece stretchers are used exclusively by me, unless in a pinch I use a one-board stretcher with a small wedge on top to take up the slack and to assist in removing the skin from the stretcher. The belly and back part of the animal should be on opposite sides and exactly even. Stretch out legs and ears, but do not tack permanently until skin is scraped.
Take a dull case knife and remove all surplus fat and meat. If there is too much meat on a skin, it cannot be stretched right. After you have removed surplus fat and meat, start to stretch the skin permanently. Use pains in stretching out all parts of the skin, especially legs and tail. Take especial pains with the tail so that same is stretched, or use coarse, hollow straw, which insert so as to permit the tail to dry. Now take a dull case-knife and scrape off all fat. Don't let fat run on the fur. Wipe it off with a rag. If fat has a tendency to run in the grain of the skin, cut close with a sharp knife. Having removed all fat take a sponge or woolen rag, dampen with water, and proceed to work all grease out of the skin. All large filaments, which present a rough and ragged appearance should be removed. After skin is cleaned, put in a shady place to dry; never close to a stove, neither pile one skin on top of another. If you have occasion to force drying, put the skin in a warm room where there is good circulation of air.
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