Squirrel skin bag tutorial

Alan H
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Alan H
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Joined: August 5th, 2010, 1:30 am

December 8th, 2011, 8:52 pm #1

After I posted the squirrel skin bag I made a few months ago I got lots of requests for a tutorial. I finally got round to shooting a squirrel a few weeks back....so here's the long awaited tutorial.

Firstly, as you'll be making a bag from the skin, you want as few holes in it as possible. I use blunts so there's no holes to worry about. This is a time consuming project, with lots of finnicky work so don't rush it or its going to end in tears! If you need a rest, just place the squirrel in the freezer and finish another day.
So, you'll need the following;
1 x squirrel or other critter.
A sharp knife and pair of scissors for skinning. I mostly use scissors on small animals.
A pvc pipe with end cap on to use as a fleshing beam
Brains or egg yolk and olive oil (I used eggs for this one)
Small piece of leather
Artificial sinew/thread
Beads or small bone to keep finished bag closed
Some method of smoking the hide.


Take the squirrel and make a cut across the throat to about in line with the shoulders and then make a second cut from the middle of the first cut up to the bottom jaw, like an upside down T.


Next carefully skin the head and peel the skin back.



Next push your fingers down the back and chest, its easier than using a knife and you're not going to make holes in it. Then slowly skining down the shoulders and legs all the way to the wrist joints.


Now cut through the wrist joints, and carry on down to the hind legs.



Do the same with the hind legs as you did with the arms, cut them off at the ankle joints and skin a short way into the tail.



Now you have two choices. You can carry on carefully skinning the tail to keep it as a tube ( more difficlut when it comes to tanning) or you can cut through the tail bone and (as I did here) then pull it out through the neck opening. 



Then make a cut down the entire length of the tail and very carefully and slowly remove the tail bone. Do not be tempted to just rip the tail bone out or the end tuft will come off with the bone and you'll end up with a short tail with a v- shaped  end. This is the part where the tears come in.


Now turn the skin inside out agian and remove as much of the writs and ankle bones as possible. Don't worry about the finger bones, they'll dry out on their own. I find with theses small hides they are starting to dry out by this time, so i normally give them a quick rinse in warm water and some sort of dishwashing liquid like Dawn. It also helps to remove some of the fat etc. Now place the hide over the pvc pipe and flesh it to remove all the fat, muscle and junk thats still attached to the skin. Once thats done, give it another rinse in warm (not hot) water and Dawn.


The end cap of the pvc pipe works well for doing the head.


Now rub in the egg/oil mix andleave to dry for about 20 - 30 min.


Once it starts to dry I use the end of the pvc pipe to soften the skin. It is important that you pull the legs through before the skin dries too much, it shrinks as it dries and it can be a real problem to get them the right way out once the skin is dry.


Keep on at it until the whole skin has turned white.


Now its time to smoke the skin. My set up for small skins consists of a bamboo tripod, a large tin can for the coals and the leg of an old pair of jeans. For small hides I just put the entire thing inside the jeans leg and they do quite fine. Keep an eye on it to make sure there are no flare ups. It was -14 C today so I did'nt smoke it for too long, about 10 min, but it seems to have worked.


I then glue a small piece of leater inside the chest for strength as the bone to close the bag will be tied off here.


I then used one of the squirrel leg bones which I tied on the front of the skin. This will go through the eyes and keep the bag closed. You can also use beads through the eyes (like I did with the first one) to keep it closed.


Here is the completed bag with the original one.


Its as easy as that. You can use this method for any small animal, so lets see what you all can come up with.

Alan
Last edited by Alan H on December 22nd, 2015, 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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StalkingWind
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Joined: November 6th, 2011, 1:44 am

December 9th, 2011, 1:08 am #2

Thanks partner, next squirrel I get will definitely give this a shot. What kind of tree rat is that?



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Alan H
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Alan H
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December 9th, 2011, 6:00 am #3

No worries, post a pic when its done, those were both Red Squirrels.
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StalkingWind
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December 9th, 2011, 4:36 pm #4

That is what I thought... We've just got the Gray Squirrels here. Will do with the pictures, excited to try it out.



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Forager
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Joined: October 22nd, 2010, 11:42 pm

February 13th, 2012, 1:09 am #5

Very cool. How many egg yolks and how much olive oil? Doesn't look like much would be needed, so I'm more curious about the ratio of yolk to oil. Thanks!
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Alan H
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Alan H
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February 18th, 2012, 3:58 am #6

I used one egg yolk and a tea spoon of oil for this one and still had a fair amount left over.
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Forager
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February 18th, 2012, 4:11 am #7

Thanks very much Alan.
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Tyrannocaster
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Tyrannocaster
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November 28th, 2015, 1:08 pm #8

Sure wish the photos showed up!
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Tyrannocaster
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November 28th, 2015, 5:20 pm #9

Since the pix are dead, how big is the PVC pipe? It must not be bigger than the squirrel, so maybe one inch pipe?

Darn, I wish Paleotube's problems could be fixed but it doesn't look likely. So many of these older articles have dead pix. :-(
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Alan H
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Alan H
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December 15th, 2015, 5:37 am #10

I used a 50 mm pic pipe with an end cap attached. I have the pics saved on a memory stick somewhere. I'll try and find them and repost them.
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Tyrannocaster
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Tyrannocaster
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December 15th, 2015, 8:47 am #11

Okay, so a two inch pipe and cap. I really want to make one of these bags.

I have been having good luck posting photos using postimage.org and it's much easier than Photobucket, too.

EDIT: Here is a tutorial on how to use Postimage, although it isn't ahrd and you probably don't need one: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/ ... -Postimage
Last edited by Tyrannocaster on December 15th, 2015, 1:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tyrannocaster
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Tyrannocaster
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December 21st, 2015, 10:54 pm #12

I tried this and I could not get the hide to dry out, period. See this thread for a description of what I went through. I would really like to know how you were able to do this, because if I had not given in and slit the skin up the center I would have ended up with a hide that was glued to itself - or to the fleshing beam. Since the moisture couldn't evaporate from the cased hide, it would have rotted. Once I split the stomach skin things started working the way I expected them to. I would suggest to anybody that until this tutorial gets updated (and hopefully has pictures again) if you wanbt to make a bag, go ahead and do this, but split the skin, don't just case skin it. I wasted a lot of time waiting for things to move along when there really was now ay they could, at least until I split the stomach. You could split it anywhere, of course.

Still, Alan, thanks for the inspiration. I will post pix of my bag when it is done. If I am really lucky, I will still have the head all there - I did a very careful job on it and the whole face is still there.
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Alan H
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Alan H
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December 21st, 2015, 11:43 pm #13

I've made quite a few bags out of various animals using the method I described and have never had any problems with the skin not drying. How much egg yolk and oil did you put on it? It normally takes me less than 2 hrs to tan a squirrel hide, it sounds like you've put too much oil/yolk mix on. I put just enough mixture on to cover the skin and they start drying quite fast. When I said push the legs back in its just enough so that you can grab onto them and pull them through once you've finished tanning the skin. You need to keep the hide inside out the entire time. Hope that helps.
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