How to Skin Your Bear Rug
Three quick steps to getting your new rug ready.
June 05, 2009
Most of the hunters I hang out with are pretty good at peeling the hide off a deer, but put a furry 300-pound black bear down on the ground in front of them and they'll step back, scratch their heads and ask, "Uh, now what?" Actually, skinning out your rug isn't hard at all. With our quick and easy three-step plan you'll have your hide ready for the taxidermist in less than an hour.
The Main Incision
Roll the bear onto its back and lay it spread-eagle. A buddy or two holding and stretching the legs is a big help, or you might tie a couple of outstretched paws to trees. With a sharp knife, make an incision in the hide near the short tail. Insert your blade and cut all way up and over the belly to the bottom of the bear's head and jaws.
TIP: Stick your forefinger and middle fingers into the incision and just under the hide, and use them to guide your knife as you work toward the head.
At the underside of the front legs, cut straight out from the body incision and stop at the "elbows." At the hind legs, start at the bottom of the main cut inches from the anus and slit straight out to the back "knees."
The Leg Cuts
Top Saskatchewan bear outfitter Grant Kuypers taught me this trick: At the point where your leg cuts end, cut and work through all four joints with your knife (or a small saw) and leave the lower leg bones in the hide with the feet, paws and claws. "A lot of taxidermists like that because it gives them something to hold onto as they skin out the lower legs to the claws," says Kuypers.
The Main Body
Next roll, lift and turn the bear as you skin the bear's torso. Simply pull the hide, skin with your knife, tug and skin some more until you peel the entire hide free from the body and legs. Skin and pull the hide up as tight as you can to the back of the bear's head.
The Head Skinning
"Skinning a bear's head is just like caping a deer, except that it's easier because you don't have to work around antlers with a knife or screwdriver," says Kuypers. Remember one rule and you'll do fine: Go slowly and methodically and cut as closely to the skull as you can. Run your blade under the hide and right along bone and you can't go wrong.
Skin up and over the back of the big, wide noggin until you come to the ears. Simply lop the ears off whole tight to the skull. Continue working down to the eyes.