I trapped six otter this season, could have trapped a lot more but I have always dreaded putting them up. I froze the skins in order to do them at the end of the season. Well, I've found the ultimate fleshing system for otter. I've owned a fleshing machine (the kind tanneries or taxidermists use) for a few years. It works great on skins that have been salted or pickled, the salting proccess really firms up the flesh making it very easy to slice away with the fleshing machine. I always thought that it wouldn't work on fresh skins because they are too pliable and soft. But this year I decided to try it anyway. I was to some degree correct in my assumtion, but I found that with a little care, especially around areas with loose skin (like the front leg holes) the fleshing machine works great. I put a couple of small nicks near the front arm pits on a couple of skins, but not a big deal. The soft skin of a fresh pelt wants to get sucked in a little by the fleshing wheel so you have to be a little carefull and keep a sharp wheel. I can now flesh an XL otter in about 10 minutes, and these are huge SE Alaska otters with a lot of fat/flesh/gristle. I think I'll even be able to get faster at it. I think one huge advantage to using the flehing machine is that you are not putting any pressure on the fur as you would on a beam. This greeatly reduces the chance of trapper induced singe. Not one of my otter show any sign of singe. Of course you still want to keep the fur a little damp. Any of you other guys ever try this method?
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