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98   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

"Now turn the skin back and carefully pull it off the body. Use a knife to start the skin if it does not come off easily, but be careful not to cut the pelt. Skin so that as little flesh and fat adhere to the skin as possible. When the front legs are reached, skin around them near the body and then push them backward out of the skin—turn them inside out, as we might say. Skin out the legs to the paws in the case of mink, keeping them on the skin; for the other animals cut off the legs at the first joint. Skin care-fully around the head, pushing the skull back through the skin until the ears are reached; these should be cut off as near the skull as possible, so that they remain attached to the skin. Then care-fully skin around the eyes, not cutting the eyelids, and when the mouth and .:ose are reached use care also. Do not pull the skin off the head, but remove carefully, for the heads of some animals are used in manufacturing the furs, and all skins have a better appearance if the head is skinned out with care."

Skunks and raccoons present some special problems. They fatten in the fall and go to their dens in cold weather. Therefore, those de-signed for slaughter must be segregated from the breeders before cold weather sets in or they cannot be captured without disturbing the nest. After skinning, also, a large quantity of fat adheres to the skin. This must be scraped off or it may heat and decompose the skin. Skunk fat should be kept and rendered into oil. In baled shipments, also, the grease of these skins is liable to injure other skins in the same pack. They should be specially wrapped in burlap and, because of their odour, it may be advisable to box the skunk skins separately.

The flesh and fat are removed from skins by a dull knife or hatchet. The skin is slipped on a fleshing board with dulled corners, having one end in a grease pan and the other against the skinner's chest. The fat is pushed off the skin towards the tail. Much scraping of the skin is injurious, it being necessary to remove only the fat and loose flesh. The tail may give trouble if it is not split and scraped. Sometimes salt is dropped into it to prevent decomposition; but in no case is salt nor any other preservative, applied to any other part of the skin. Often the tip of the tail is cut off to allow circulation of air inside and to drain out the fat.

Open skinning presents no difficulty. The legs are cut off at the first joint and split up the inside to the slit which is cut along the belly from the lower jaw to the vent. The tail is cut open to extract the bone.

The cased skins are stretched on a wedge-shaped board, fur
Stretching side inwards. The edges of the stretching board are along
the sides of the pelt, the dorsal surface of the pelt being


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