Since we had our first black bear of the season down last weekend, I figured this would be a good opportunity to show how to properly field-skin a bear. Although I didn’t video the entire process (we were pretty groggy at that point), if you follow a few basic steps, you won’t get any more eye rolls from your taxidermist when you drop your hide off. This is a good, quick method of getting the hide off so you can get the bear out of the field and to a place where you can later skin the feet and head.
The initial cuts are probably the most critical part for a proper skinning job, especially if you plan to make a rug out of your hide. I make my first cut from inside the anus, straight up the middle of the belly to the throat, where the neck meets the skull. Next, I cut from the back of the pad on the hind feet straight down the back of the leg to the anus. I usually stay just on the inside of the back edge where the natural part in the hair is, so that not too much hide is left on the side or the back of the legs when it’s spread out. Finally, I cut from the center chest cut I already made out to the elbow. I usually cut a straight line from the elbow to the chest (making sure not to get down into the armpit). Then, I continue the cut from the elbow to the bottom of the front pad, right down the middle of the leg. Now you are ready to start peeling some skin.
This part involves skinning and disjointing the feet. The skinning part is straightforward. Just peel the hide back on both sides and begin skinning around the legs. Once you get most of the leg skinned, you will expose the ankle joints. Leave the bone saw at home; it’s much easier to use a sharp knife to cut the tendons and remove the foot at the joint, leaving it in the hide. Once you get all four feet off and the legs skinned and finish skinning the hide off the back, just pull the hide up past the bear’s head until you expose the neck joint. Again, with a sharp knife, you can cut the head off right at the atlas joint (no saw needed) and you are ready to throw the hide in your pack!
Curious about the hunt for this black bear? Watch all the action from the recurve bowhunt here.