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PostPosted: 05 Nov 2013, 21:02 
Professional Trapper
Professional Trapper
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Joined: 24 Dec 2009, 15:09
Posts: 3757
Location: Eastern S. Dakota
There’s been several posts about if a coyote is tough to skin or not. For me, I use my knife a lot on most things because most of the critters I’ve skinned are cold. Just the way it usually works out. I haven’t skinned dozens and dozens of yotes but I’ve done more than a couple. Everything takes me time.

I want to tell a story about a really “cold” coyote skinning escapade one winter. One of the towns I went to college in is Vermillion, SD. This town is on the Missouri River (or at least it used to be until the great ice dam flood of 1881 where after the river moved 2.5 miles to the south, leaving Vermillion high and dry for steamboat traffic). Anyway, the Missouri valley in South Dakota is where the last glacier stopped, leaving the rolling drift and till plains north of town and the flat river bottoms south. I like to shoot squirrels (we have only red fox squirrels here—probably one of the few South Dakotans that has and will eat squirrel [in a pheasant crazy world noses get turned up at cottontails and squirrels pretty fast]). During my time at Vermillion I developed a road route that went by a good number of nice shelterbelts that were away from houses and any squirrels seen were in my free fire zone of rim fire action.

One weekend day, probably late Jan. or into Feb. (our squirrel season ends Feb. 28), I was tooling along on this route and went by a country place that had seen its better days and outside was a pile of coyotes stacked up like cord wood. Being curious, I stopped by and asked what the deal was (in a nice curious way). The guy who answered said he belonged to a group of guys that did mobile coyote drives and the dead yotes were the results from a good number of these drives.

What these “coyotes drives” do are similar to what folks used to do with jackrabbits, surround a section (1 square mile) and push towards the middle on foot with shotguns and blast the hares as the circle collapses. What the modern yote drives for the locals in small town se SD equates to is to surround a section with a pick-up on each township road or section line trail around the section (4 trucks), send another rig to rouse up the doggies, use radios, and then run-n-gun down the roads blazing away if a yoter gets pushed out. I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing, only that it happens, and if outsiders tried it, the law would be called, but because its locals…

Anyway, I asked when they started doing their drives and he said “December” so 6-10 weeks before the day I showed up. The yotes on the bottom were truly starting to show their slow decomposing age but there were a few “fresh” ones up top (probably at least 20 critters in the pile, perhaps more). I asked him what they were going to do with them, and he said “sell ‘em some time”. Well, I didn’t think they stood much of a chance with a good number of them but so be it. I had done some home tanning and so asked him if he would take $10 for one of the newer ones on the pile. He agreed. I asked how long back he thought it had been shot, and he didn’t know for sure but the last drive had been over a week before. So I paid him and threw the big male in my trunk.

I must have gone home to my parents' house that day or the next because that’s where I skinned this critter out. My mother was pretty forgiving for a lot of dead animals/taxidermy projects in her basement but I knew not to push the issue with this sucker so I did the Happy Trapper method in the back yard. Even with cold, mostly freezing temps at night, to say this thing was “green belly” is an understatement. And I think there was even a bit of gut shot involved (such as a quartering shot) if I remember. Well, I got past the stink even outdoors in the fresh air and was pretty happy that the hide, besides being green belly, was in pretty good shape. There was certainly no easy pulling on this thing. In the end, the green belly didn’t tan too bad, showing a darker color (if I remember right) than the rest of the skin but it stretched alright. I can’t remember what I did with the skin—sold it for a 20 spot maybe or gave it away.

But, as I’ve gotten older, I think I would pass up on a 10 day old coyote to skin out, especially if I had to do it in my own garage… ;--)

"And God said, Let us make man in our image …and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, …the fowl of the air…and all the creatures that move along the ground.
Genesis 1:26

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