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tiercel

SKINNING RABBITS

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    hello,

     

    noob here. just looking at gutting and skinning some rabbits and i've got to say this thread is fantastic! extremely helpful chaps.

    i wanted to ask though about the liver spots and other signs i should be looking for that the rabbit isn't edible?

    doesn't the liver spots show mixi?

     

    thanks

    pete

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    Yeah,any discolouration on the liver or cheeks is a BAD sign, commonly mixy. I would leave that rabbit well alone!

     

    Anyone have a hot smoker? i just did some Rabbit/Pigeon/Pheasant(last years frozen pheasant, leagally shot) smoking and it is sooooooooooo gorgeous! the rabbit isnt as good as the others though, however, add some mashed hearts, livers and kidneys as a topping and that really tastes good. Also SALMON/TROUT is good.

    Fillet them and then leave them in a cure (will post recipe later) for four days then hot smoke on ALDER or HICKORY chips for 10-18 mins. GORGEOUS!!!

     

    As for curing skin,

     

    thoroughly rinse the hide in more cold water to finish cooling it as quickly as possible. Don't worry about any remaining fat and tissue at this point . . . rather, apply your effort to washing away all the blood left in the skin, since any that's not removed will leave permanent brown stains in the leather after tanning. (Soap or detergent is really unnecessary, but if you do use such a cleanser, be sure that all traces of that are rinsed out before you proceed, too.) With the rinsing done, carefully squeeze (never wring!) the excess water from the pelt.

     

    As an alternative, you can clean skins in your washer (use the delicate cycle, if your machine has one), but there is a possibility that bits of fat and hair will plug up the drain hose. To avoid this problem, I prefer to handwash the pelts (which also gives me a chance to examine the furs closely).

     

    Thoroughly cleaned hides can be preserved for later processing by freezing; drying on a stretcher, or salting and drying. I store my pelts in the freezer if I have more than I can comfortably work on at one time. Before freezing them, though, I make sure that all the body heat is cooled from the skins, and that the excess water has been pressed out . . . then I wrap the hides in freezer paper — or store them in airtight containers — to prevent dehydration and freezer burn.

     

    (A hide can be opened up — that is, split from head to tail along the belly's midline — at any time during the tanning operation, but I prefer to wait until the process is complete to do this.)

     

    THE FIRST TANNING SOLUTION

     

    When the pelts are clean and cooled (or have been defrosted, if you've been sidetracked for a while), you're ready to begin tanning. You'll first need to round up a four- to six-gallon plastic container (a wastebasket or bucket will work fine). Then pour two gallons of room-temperature (about 70°F) water into the pail, and add either — but not both — of the following recipes. (Each formula will be adequate to tan six to nine medium-sized pelts.)

     

    TANNING RECIPE NO. 1:

    SALT/ALUM

     

    1 cup of coarse or granulated salt ( not iodized)

    1 cup of common alum (aluminum sulfate or any of several similar double sulfates), powdered or granulated

     

    TANNING RECIPE NO. 2:

    SALT/ACID

     

    1 pound of coarse or granulated salt (about 1-3/4 cups)

    1 ounce of full-strength sulfuric acid, or 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of battery acid (dilute sulfuric acid)

     

    You can buy a five-pound sack of the necessary salt at almost any grocery store (look for noniodized pickling salt) for about $1.00. And larger quantities (usually 100-pound sacks) are available from chemical companies and other sources at "bargain" bulk prices.

     

    Alum is stocked by biological supply companies, handicraft and leather shops, chemical suppliers, pharmacies, and feed stores. It comes in both a commercial and a medicinal grade (for tanning purposes it makes no difference which you use) and generally costs between $1.00 and $3.00 per pound.

     

    Battery acid (electrolyte) is available from auto supply houses for about $1.00 per gallon (128 ounces) and is usually sold in five-gallon containers. (I've never worked with full-strength sulfuric acid, because I feel it's too dangerous.)

     

    Both recipes work well and take approximately the same amount of time. I prefer the somewhat more expensive alum mixture because it produces a whiter, softer leather with the feel of fine suede.

     

    Once you've determined which method you're going to use, add the chemicals to the water (don't let them splash) . . . and make sure the powders are completely dissolved before you add the pelts. Be certain to show respect for your chemicals and to handle them properly. (Wear rubber gloves if you're working with sulfuric acid.)

     

    Now, drop each skin into the pickle (as the tanning mix is called) and swish it around with a wooden stick or spoon (or use your glove-sheathed hands) to work the solution into the fur and skin. Allow the pelts to remain in the brine — at room temperature (65-70°F) — for 48 hours, stirring them at least twice a day. If the pelts tend to float to the top of the solution, weigh them down . . . using a glass jug filled with water or a clean rock.

     

    After the two full days have passed, squeeze the excess brine from the skins (save the solution . . . you'll reuse it later) and rinse them in cold water.

     

    FLESHING

     

    Fleshing is the process of removing the fatty tissue and flesh to expose the actual leather (or derma) to chemical action. Rabbits have a clearly defined undertissue which, after the first chemical soaking, can be peeled off in one piece (if you're careful). Since the flesh separates most readily at the rump section, I usually start there and peel toward the neck. A steak knife can be used to scrape and loosen the difficult areas you'll likely encounter on the belly and around the legs. Be careful not to peel too deep and expose the root hairs, but do try to get off as much fatty tissue as possible.

     

    When you're finished, rinse the fleshed hides in cool water and then squeeze out the excess liquid.

     

    THE SECOND TANNING SOLUTION

     

    Now, go back to the recipe you chose before, add the same amount of salt/alum or salt/acid as you used in the first soaking solution to the reserved brine . . . and follow the same mixing procedure. Put the pelts in the liquid, one at a time, working each hide thoroughly to coat it with the pickle. Keep the skins soaking at room temperature for seven days, stirring them at least twice a day.

     

    You can test for tanning "doneness" after the week's up by simply boiling a small piece of hide for a few minutes in water. If the leather curls up and becomes hard and rubbery, return the pelt to the solution . . . because a well-tanned skin will show little or no change in boiling water.

     

    DRYING AND FLUFFING

     

    After one pelt has tested "done", remove all of them from the solution and squeeze out the excess pickle. The tanning brine will likely be pretty much used up if you've soaked the recommended number of skins, but any liquid that does remain should be dumped out. Take care to discard the mixture where farm animals can't drink it and the chemicals won't contaminate drinking water. (Although it's not poisonous to handle, the brew might be fatal if taken internally.) I generally pour any leftover solution along pathways to keep them free of weeds.

     

    Next, wash each pelt thoroughly with a mild detergent. I use an inexpensive cologne-scented shampoo that leaves the fur soft, fluffy, clean, and sweet smelling. Then rinse the hide several times in lukewarm water and squeeze out the excess liquid. Hang the pelts in the shade to dry (I usually put them on a temporary clothesline suspended over the bathtub). It'll take from six hours to two days for the skins to become fully dried, depending on the temperature, the humidity, and the thickness of the leather. (Don't ever put wet hides in direct sun or near a heat source, as they'll quickly shrink and become brittle as they dry.)

     

    When the pelts are just barely damp, toss them in an electric dryer, with no heat, for 15 to 45 minutes. This step can be omitted . . . but the machine fluffing does make the fur easier to work with and the next procedure less difficult.

     

    WORKING THE LEATHER

     

    Ever since animal hides were first turned into leather, they've been pounded, rubbed, chewed, and beaten — and often annointed with grease or oils — to make (and keep) them flexible and soft. I stretch partially dried hides to soften the leather, using a process known as breaking the skin .

     

    Pull the skin of your damp pelt in all directions, working only a small area at a time. The leather will begin to turn soft and white. The trick is to catch the hide while it's still slightly wet and limp. If it becomes too dry and turns hard, resoak it with a wet sponge (this is called damping back ) until it's pliable enough to stretch again. Be firm as you pull the leather, but don't use too much force, or you might tear it. Keep up the skin-breaking procedure as long as necessary . . , until the pelt remains soft as it dries. ("Broken" hides may be tacked to a board or frame to encourage them to dry flat.)

     

    FINISHING AND STORAGE

     

    After the hide has dried and is sufficiently soft, give the fur a good brushing with a small hairbrush. Then massage mink oil (I buy it at shoe stores . . . where an eight-ounce container, which is enough for several dozen pelts, costs about $2.00) into the skin side of the hide with your fingers. (You'll be glad to know that mink oil is a wonderful hand conditioner.) As a final — optional — step, try buffing the leather with pumice or fine sandpaper to give it a soft, velvety feel.

     

    Rabbit fur, like all leathers, breathes . . . that is, it contains microscopic spaces for air circulation. Therefore, it's best not to store rabbit pelts (or any other fur or leather) in airtight containers (except, of course, when you're freezing them before tanning). I keep my finished hides in a cardboard box with a bar of sweet-smelling soap, which repels insects and helps to scent the furs.

     

    SEWING RABBIT FUR

     

    Working with thin leather — such as rabbit skin — isn't all that different from working with thick cloth. Therefore, any person who sews should have no great difficulty making the transition from fabric to fur.

     

    The following list should serve to give you an idea of the variety of items an ingenious homesteader can craft with rabbit pelts: bedspreads, coverlets, robes, cushion covers, pillows, handbags, toys, hats, caps, hoods, mittens, baby bootees, vests, coats, capes . . . in short, the scope of your furs-titching projects is limited only by your imagination!

     

    The first step in constructing any article of rabbit hide is to make (or buy) a full-sized pattern for each piece to be cut (the jacket shown in the accompanying photos was made from a purchased pattern). If you're not sure about the fit of the finished product, sew a muslin dummy and make any necessary adjustments to the sections before cutting into the pelts.

     

    After you're satisfied with the size and shape of the pattern pieces, organize them on the skin side of the pelt. (For some articles you'll need to sew several pelts together to get a large enough section of "fabric". To do so, cut the pelts to be used into one or more squares or rectangles and stitch the blocks together. You can either make a large sheet of fur to accommodate all the pattern pieces, or combine just enough squares to fit one part of the pattern at a time.) You may need to rearrange the pieces several times to avoid objectionable bare spots and to make efficient use of the best sections of the pelt. Keep in mind that the thickest fur is found around the neck and in a band down the back.

     

    Always lay your pattern with the grain (the direction in which the hair grows) so that the fur of the finished article will run in the same direction as it did when it was on the animal. (In the case of rabbits, the grain runs from neck to rump.)

     

    Using tape, long pins, or small dots of rubber cement, attach the pattern to the hide. Trace the outline of each section with a ballpoint or felt-tip pen, or simply cut around each pattern piece. A razor blade or a utility knife might prove useful, since it won't snip as many hairs as will scissors. However, you can use sharp shears if you take care to avoid cutting more than just the skin.

     

    Most soft leathers, including rabbit, can be sewn by hand using a glover's, leather, or furrier's needle . . . waxed nylon, linen, or heavy carpet-weight thread . . . and a running stitch, whipstitch, or cross-stitch. (Most good leatherworking books and sewing guides will include instructions for making these stitches if you're unfamiliar with them.) To hold the pieces together for sewing, use thin quilting pins, paper clips, or spring clips.

     

    If you prefer, rabbit pelts can be stitched on a good sewing machine fitted with a No. 16 to 19 needle (some manufacturers market needles designed for leather) and all-purpose thread. The machine should be set to produce seven to nine stitches per inch.

     

    Do follow the directions for assembly that come with the commercial pattern, whether you decide on hand or machine sewing. (Of course, you'll probably already know how best to assemble a project of your own design.) To flatten seams and hem edges, place a warm, damp cloth over the seam/hem line on the skin side, and pound the leather with a wooden mallet or hammer.

     

    To finish your creation, brush the fur side well with a small hairbrush, paying particular attention to the seams (you may need to use a sharp object, such as a long needle, to pull out hairs that are caught in the stitching.

     

    And what about the scraps? Well, find a use for them. You might try piecing odd bits of similar weight together to achieve a crazy-quilt effect. Or turn the leftovers into small pouches, flaps for purses and jackets, and other novelties. (For instance, I make little catnip-filled toys for my cats.)

     

    Sewing with rabbit fur is an enjoyable, and often profitable, handicraft. In fact, I've actually discovered that the sale and barter of my fur items more than pays the cost of raising the rabbits . . . so the meat I get is free!

     

    PREVENTING FAILURES

     

    Although the procedure itself is simple enough, really successful pelt tanning is usually the result of ingenuity and perseverance. The secret is not so much the chemicals used as it is the elbow grease that you apply to make the hides soft and supple.

     

    Keep in mind that each piece of leather is different. And even among hides that were all tanned in the same batch of solution, something will occasionally go wrong with one or more of the skins.

     

    The problem I encounter most often is hairslip : bare patches that appear as the fur pulls or slips off the leather. This condition, which is also called taint , results from the growth of bacteria on the outer skin (decay) and usually occurs in folds and wrinkles, where the surface wasn't exposed to the tanning solution. It can be prevented if you stir the pelts around in the solution frequently and make sure that the liquid comes in contact with all parts of each hide. Take care, too, that the brine ingredients are dissolved and mixed well before adding the skins. Finally, don't store the pelts in the solution at temperatures over 80°. If hairslip does afflict a pelt or two, however, you can trim away the damaged sections when constructing garments or other articles.

     

     

     

    This article came for: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/1983_Ja...an_Rabbit_Hides

     

    Probably takes more effort to read this than to acctually do it lol!!!

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    Hello There

    I skinned my first rabbit tonight,and it stinks.My question is about gutting it,I cut off the feet and head with an axe,unzipped its skin and pulled most of the guts out,but right at the end when I was rinsing it in the sink I noticed I had left its poochute in,right under the tail,along with those really stinky green glands.How does that bit come out???????

    MARK

    Hello Mark,

    It probably stinks because you left it to long, get the guts out in the field as soon after the kill as possible, you just need to make an incision about 3 inches long and the guts will drop out, you can leave kidneys heart and lungs until you are skinning at home.

    When dressing them out, after you get the skin off, take your big knife cut either side of the bowel breaking the pelvic bones then remove the bowel (poochute) and bone in one go.

    I have never seen any green glands and think they must be droppings still in the bowel, unless you`ve had it a really long time and something has gone rotten

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    As an x taxidermist i have found that if you mix bi carbonate of soda with diesel (yes DIESEL) till you get a smooth paste and paint it on your pegged out skin ,leave for a couple of days and repeat .After another couple of days nick a piece of skin and it should be white in colour.This means that it is done and all you have to do is stretch it to soften it and no it wont smell of diesel cos the bi carb neautralises it .This method will work up to a deer size pelt.

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    noobie here... I see all these different ways to tan a pelt... what exactly is it that we are trying to accomplish by tanning the pelt. I was taught to just take it off, pin it out fur side down and cover it in regular table salt and let it sit til the salt hardens. Then take a razor knife and slide if along the side up to scrape teh salt off. Repeat salting if the pelt still has moisture in it. This method yields a thick and stiff pelt, but all I do with them is hang them.

    I guess these are my questions:

    Why do you tan with the method you choose?

    What do you do with your pelt after it's tanned?

     

    Thanks in advance from a noobie.

     

    (i MOVED THIS TO ITS OWN THREAD- THANKS!)

    Edited by ray299

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    i always seem to have problems skinning a rabbit.the skin always seems to be stuck solid and i have to keep cutting it off. if i hold the carcase and try pulling it off i can feel the ribs cracking! what am i doing wrong???

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    i always seem to have problems skinning a rabbit.the skin always seems to be stuck solid and i have to keep cutting it off. if i hold the carcase and try pulling it off i can feel the ribs cracking! what am i doing wrong???

    an old rabbit usually mate ,

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    Hello There

    I skinned my first rabbit tonight,and it stinks.My question is about gutting it,I cut off the feet and head with an axe,unzipped its skin and pulled most of the guts out,but right at the end when I was rinsing it in the sink I noticed I had left its poochute in,right under the tail,along with those really stinky green glands.How does that bit come out?:good:???

    MARK

     

    I find it best to gut the rabbit out in the field as soon as you've shot him. saves any nasty smells indoors!! :good:

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    Hello There

    I skinned my first rabbit tonight,and it stinks.My question is about gutting it,I cut off the feet and head with an axe,unzipped its skin and pulled most of the guts out,but right at the end when I was rinsing it in the sink I noticed I had left its poochute in,right under the tail,along with those really stinky green glands.How does that bit come out?:welcomeani:???

    MARK

    Hi M8

    I always put a knife over the pelvic bone poochute lol bang on it and break the bone then take the bone out and clean. this way you dont end up with currents in your rabbit stew

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    Hello There

    I skinned my first rabbit tonight,and it stinks.My question is about gutting it,I cut off the feet and head with an axe,unzipped its skin and pulled most of the guts out,but right at the end when I was rinsing it in the sink I noticed I had left its poochute in,right under the tail,along with those really stinky green glands.How does that bit come out?:welcomeani:???

    MARK

    PS i find it easyer when gutting to open up the belly when out in the field. hold the rabbit belly down and shake it so the guts hang out. hold the rabbit by the back legs and flick it hard in the oposite direction. most of them should fly out inc s?it bag (smelly part if cut). pop your hand in and just pull out the rest if any.

    if your giving the rabbit to some1 else ask if they want the liver etc heart leaving or taking out.

    the liver is the big red part. kidneys are stuck on the underside of there back. if you put your fingers inside the rabbit towards the head they is a thin membrain the hert is just behind that.

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    My method for gutting in the field:

     

    Stand up and hold the rabbit belly up with it's head in your palm and your thumb round it's front legs. Let the rabbit hang down and this will naturally push the chest up towards you. Stick the point of the knife into the sternum (stops the knife going straight through), then angle the knife down parallel to the skin and slice down to open it up.

     

    Put index and middle finger in between the liver and stomach and pull down, the stomach and intestines should all come away in one go and can be discarded. Leave the liver and kidneys in for now.

     

    Check the liver for spots, this is a sign of liver fluke, if present discard the rabbit.

     

    My method for skinning: -

     

    Cut off all four feet and the head then with the gutted rabbit laying on it's back, work your fingers between the flesh and skin near the back legs. Use both thumbs to work more skin away from the leg area until you can pop the leg through, carry on with your thumbs working over the back of the rabbit until you can get the other leg out. Make two small cuts into the flesh on the rabbits back on either side of the tailbone.

     

    Hold the tail and twist and pull, this should bring out any remaining poop shoot, now hold the rabbit by the back legs with one hand, get a good grip on the loose fur with the other and pull.

     

    My method for cleaning:

     

    Wash the rabbit throughly, making sure you clean out the pelvis, remove kidneys and liver.

     

    Lay the liver down and look for a small sack (will often look like a small rabbit dropping but can sometimes be clear). Look at where this attaches to the liver and pinch it at this point then pull it out. This is the rabbits gall bladder and will make the liver taste sour and bitter if left in.

     

    Poke your fingers up inside the rabbits chest cavity and break through the diaphragm to remove the lungs and heart. Discard the lungs but the heart is worth keeping (I add a bit of minced heart, kidney and liver to my bunny burgers, it helps them stay together while cooking so I don't need to add egg or rusk).

     

    Soak the rabbit for a few hours (or overnight) in salted water, this will soften the meat and draw out the blood (equivalent to hanging).

     

     

     

    Once your rabbits have soaked you can freeze them whole or do either of these:

     

    My method for preparing:

     

    Method 1 - Boiling

     

    Put the rabbits into a large pan of boiling water and simmer for a few hours, you'll know when they're done as the rabbit will be literally falling apart. When they get to this stage, drain them and allow them to cool slightly, then strip the meat off and place in a bag with a little olive oil. You can freeze this for using whenever now.

     

    Method 2 - Filleting - http://www.youtube.com/user/ferretWhitehea.../12/b8OO2vAwzQY and http://www.youtube.com/user/ferretWhitehea.../11/PMtUSMbHrtE

     

    Place the rabbit belly down on a chopping board, using a good sharp knife, cut though the flesh from the tail bone following the line of the leg muscle and cut all the way round. Now you can see the leg joint, gently press the tip of the knife into the joint and give it a small twist, this should dislocate the leg so it can be removed. Do the same with the other back leg.

     

    The front legs don't have a joint as such so just need cutting around and they'll come away.

     

    To remove the saddle cut from the shoulders down to the hips, placing the knife just to the side of the spine (not on it), when you get past the ribs make sure you're going all the way through the flesh. When you get to the hips, turn the knife out to the side of the rabbit. You should now be able to just lift the saddle off in one piece.

     

    To bone out the legs, lay it with the inner thigh facing up and cut the flesh to expose the lower leg bone. Get your thumb and forefinger underneath the bone to create a gap to get the tip of the knife into and cut out to the end of the leg to release the meat. Now hold the exposed bone so it's pointing straight up and cut down to release the leg meat.

    Edited by Colster

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    i have been reading though that and have found it all useful but was wondering if someone could post come images about removing the pelvic bone from the rabbit

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    I wouldnt remove it, Just buy yourself some new garden shears the pruning ones and like a pair of scissors push the bottom blade through the pelvis and cut ,then it will split right open ! Or use a knife but be carfull and be awear that its likely to take the edge off your blade ! :lol:

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