GH, This is a detailed post by Wissmiss on the topic that I saved from October 2010.
Re: Porcupines, Porcupines, and only Porcupines... - Fri Oct 01 2010 10:37 AM
The guard hair and the quills MUST be pulled out. If you cut them off at hide level, they will have NO value.
Here is some additional information about saleable parts on a porcupine.
Quills - need to be clean (no dirt or underfur mixed in). They need to be fresh and not rotten. Fresh quills are white - rotten quills are brownish. Any size quills are acceptable, but the ones that weigh up the fastest are the ones on the lower back and tail. The quills on the sides are very skinny.
Guard hair - must be at least 6 inches long. Well handled - all root ends going the same way. No under fur mixed in.
Here is some additional information about processing porcupines that you might find useful.
There are 3 types of 'stuff' take grow on porcupines - guard hair, quills, underfur.
The guard hair is the long hair that sticks up above the quills - usually yellow with black and/or white. If the guard hair is a dull brown color on the root ends - it came from a very old (rotten) porky and is of very little value.
The quills - that should be self explanitory - they are sharp and pointy. The quills are basically white with black on the tips. Again, if the quills are a dull brown all over - they came from a very old (rotten) porky and have essentially no value.
The underfur grows among the quills and is black and sort of fuzzy. There is no market at the present time for the underfur.
The quills are different sizes on different parts of the hide. You will find that the longest/fattest quills are on the mid to lower back. The quills near the head area and on the flanks are much thinner and you will find that it takes a lot of them to make an ounce - probably to the point that it isn't worth messing with them. There are several methods to remove the quills - and unfortunately none of them are fast. The method I prefer is to take a stiff piece of styrafoam (like the stuff they pack around computers) and give the porky a good swat. The quills will stick in the styrafoam and then you can pull them out and drop them into a coffee can or plastic tub or something like that. Then you start over - hit the porky, pull the quills. Repeat as often as necessary to remove most of the quills. It is a tedious process and when you consider how many quills it takes to make an ounce, it may not be worth your time. I know people in the west that hunt porkies full time in the summer and they have nothing better to do and sit around during the day and pull quills. If you decide to give the quills a try - just concentrate on the biggest ones, as they weigh up faster. If you thoroughly remove all the quills from an average porky - you should end up with 3-4 ounces.
Some people say you can pull the quills with a pliers - but I find that this damages the quills and I would not recommend it.
The guard hair is where the 'big / fast' money is at. Again, the guard hair is different lengths on different parts of the porky. Any hair that is under 5 inches is of essentially no value. The most desirable hair is 8 inches or longer. But I will buy anything that is say 6 inches and up - as long as there is a mixture of sizes. You don't have to measure each piece of hair (I sure don't). Just eyeball what you think is 6 inches and go from there. You will probably have a little bit of hair in there that is under 6 - but that is ok as long as most of the hair is over 6.
To pull the hair - just grab a few hairs by the end that is above the quills and give a sharp tug. Don't grab down too low, or you will get stuck by the quills. The hair will come loose from the hide. With a little bit of practice, you should be able to pluck an average porky of all the saleable hair in 5-6 minutes. Again - don't even bother with the really short hair.
As you pull each bundle of hair - lay it out neatly with all the root ends going the same direction. If you have a shoe box (preferably from kids or ladies shoes), that is a good way to store the hair. Keeps it all going in the same direction. You don't need to keep the hair from different porkies separate.
The key thing to remember about the hair is to keep it straight. Jumbled hair is almost impossible to straighten out and is of essentially no value.
Once the quills and hair have been removed from the porky, they should be left in open topped containers so they get some air circulation. When freshly pulled, they have some moisture in them and if you put them in a tightly sealed container - they will mold and become worthless.
I think that about covers it. If you have any questions, please let me know. Good luck plucking.
Basic Camera Gear: Canon EOS 50D with Canon EF 10-20mm, EF 28-135mm and EF 100-400mm lenses; Dutch Hill tripod with Wimberly Gimbal head.