Monday, February 14, 2011

tan your hide

I killed a fox a few weeks ago.

I think that killing predators is probably a reality of keeping livestock. We can debate the morality of it, but if you intend to raise animals for food or livelihood, protecting them from human and non-human invaders is just part of the package. I keep a shotgun by the door. One morning when the chickens and the dogs were all raising a ruckus, I had occasion to use it.

It took me over an hour to skin. I wanted the face -- the ears, the nose. The pieces that make it unmistakably fox. Working outside in the bitter cold, I decided that I didn't want the paws enough to spend another hour coaxing them out. But what to do with it now? The dogs showed no interest in eating it whatsoever, disturbed, perhaps, by a fellow canine. We ended up mixing some pieces of meat into a stew with other ingredients. I can't stand to waste it, even though the consensus of most of the people I've spoken with is that fox meat is for vultures, not for people, or even dogs.

Now I'm left with a very nice, thick red pelt. And I have to say, I've haven't yet figured out a method for tanning that I consider to be reliable. I'd rather experiment techniques with something less rare than a winter red fox. So for now, I've just salted it. This is the same method I used on a coyote skin about six years ago, and that skin seems to be holding up well. It has very little smell to it, and has not rotted. The only drawback to the salting is that it remains hard and brittle -- not something you'd want to make mittens out of. But for something that will probably just hang on the wall and look cool, like this fox, it's fine. Just make sure you use plenty of salt.


  1. Okay, so speaking as someone who happily grew up in Los Angeles, I have always wanted to own a farm and sort of try the whole "country" life. That said, I do not think I could hack it when it comes to killing cute little foxes. I would be a wreck. But good for you, that's pretty cool :)