Preserving whole hide and gutless method

jnd1959

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I've always liked the feel of a young cow elk hide and wondered how they would hold up if tanned. I'm thinking of trying to skin the next suitable elk for tanning but still do the gutless quarters. Has anyone tried this? Does it even make sense? I'm very allergic to deer hair but don't seem to have the same problem with elk and would like to make something from one if possible.
Thanks
 

npaden

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I skinned my mountain goat for a lifesize taxidermy mount using the gutless method. I dorsal skinned him, but I've done plenty of deer with the initial cut on the belly. I think it would be pretty easy, just spend some time around the legs depending on how you plan to display it.
 

ntodwild

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I typically start and zip the hide at the spine (base of skull to tail) then peel the hide down toward the belly when I do the gutless method. This would not work for you.

You would have to risk puncturing the belly and have to zip the hide underneath the animal if your thinking of saving the hide. I am sure it could be done. Just need to be careful. Your gonna have to be extra careful in keeping the meat clean. My thoughts are give it a shot. If it doesn't work out just open the beast up and go old school. Regardless of how you do it your just gonna have to be careful and have several good knives. I have a few friends who have prepped and tanned an elk hide. I personally have never done it but there are tons of informative articles and I am sure someone has posted on the U tube somewhere?
 
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wllm1313

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I did the gutless method on a bear last week, the hardest part is going to be getting the elk in a suitable position to make your cuts. Probably not something I would do solo...maybe on a cow.

Essentially you are going to want to get the elk on it's back make the first incision from just below the chin all the way to the anus, then cuts from that center line to the end of each hoof, make sure all 4 of the cuts are symmetrical. Once you have the guiding cuts made I would get the elk back on it's side and do the gutless method like normal just skinning down from the hoof instead of from the spin. Skin one side get the meat off then flip the animal and do the other. The head will come off last.
 
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cahunter805

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Like stated you can do it just plan out your cuts like stated above. I’d also bring a small tarp or a piece of tyvek along. Can come in handy to keep things clean especially if you need to move things around a bit.
 

Slick307

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I would go talk to your taxidermist and get some tips from him as well.
 

hank4elk

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I have done several elk & deer .By myself. I have whole hair on hides of a Tule cow & a Inyo Mule deer hanging on back of couches.
Gotta be carefull with the belly skinning. Skin the hide back away from belly cut area & then all the way to backstraps,lay hide out like tarp & use paracord to hold legs(this is hard part by yourself). Cut out straps,cut off shoulder & hind quarters & neck meat off one side. Flip the now half weight carcass over onto loose hide like a tarp & do other side.
If you are really good & carefull you can get the whole ribroll off next from each side,with the tenderloins,heart & liver now accessable & easily removeable.
Disclaimer...I have popped a couple guts part way thru this process ...& a few have had gutsack punched by bullets that travel beyond the ribcage area,angled shots.
 

npaden

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I did the gutless method on a bear last week, the hardest part is going to be getting the elk in a suitable position to make your cuts. Probably not something I would do solo...maybe on a cow.

Essentially you are going to want to get the elk on it's back make the first incision from just below the chin all the way to the anus, then cuts from that center line to the end of each hoof, make sure all 4 of the cuts are symmetrical. Once you have the guiding cuts made I would get the elk back on it's side and do the gutless method like normal just skinning down from the hoof instead of from the spin. Skin one side get the meat off then flip the animal and do the other. The head will come off last.
Yeah, I guess I've done a couple bears using the gutless method and belly skinned them. Didn't even think of that. If anything it was easier because you just zip the cut right down to the foot and don't have to mess with tubing the legs like I did on my mountain goat.

I do the gutless method starting at the belly a lot of times. To me there is less hair getting on the meat that I want that way. Also the belly hair tends to be shorter.

Hopefully I will get to go through this process this fall with a bison.
 

wllm1313

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I do the gutless method starting at the belly a lot of times. To me there is less hair getting on the meat that I want that way. Also the belly hair tends to be shorter.
Exactly, that said bears are easier than ruminants to do the gutless method on because they don't tend to bloat as much. Do you keep the hooves for a full body goat/sheep mount?
 

jnd1959

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Thanks all for the ideas and suggestions. I always carry paracord but I probably wouldn't have thought of it until later. Tent stake makes sense and I may use that idea if we go for caribou in 20.
 

npaden

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Do you keep the hooves for a full body goat/sheep mount?
Yes. You skin all the way down to what would be our wrist and then cut it off at that joint. I took it to a taxidermist to actually work around the individual hooves. I need to get to where I can do that as well as turn the lips and ears. I've done a bobcat's paws before, it takes some patience but really isn't that hard.
 

Bambistew

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IMO, its just as easy,to get the skin off going up the inside as opposed to up the back. Just a bit more skinning on the belly. It also makes for cleaner working and less hair on the meat.

Get it on its back, make a cut from under the chin to the butthole, Ring the legs at the knee, but don't cut the legs off yet (use them for a handle/leverage), skin up the inside of the leg to the crotch/armpit to the initial cut. Peal it all off. With the hide off like this, you have a large clean area to work on. Try to keep it clean, and don't step on it. Roll it up as needed. The only downside is the blood can pool on the hide depending on the shot and how its laying. Not a big deal on elk/deer/bears, but on animals like antelope and sheep, the hair is hollow and will soak in and stain it, so wash it out and hang to dry ASAP.

I had a flat skin tanned off a winter caribou bull I shot a couple years ago. It turned out great, and was super easy to get off.

I've always wanted a nice elk flat skin as well. Those early winter coats are super soft.
 

1_pointer

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Just don't take too long taking pictures and a belly cut on an elk shouldn't be too hard (see bloat comment above).
 

jnd1959

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Thanks for the help. I'm not a big picture guy unfortunately. One and done usually although if it is my son or daughter's first elk I may take a couple. I always have intentions of taking a lot of pictures but never end up with many.
 

hank4elk

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Just don't take too long taking pictures and a belly cut on an elk shouldn't be too hard (see bloat comment above).
I have very few pics for this reason. Usually a as it lays & then hanging in shade in bags. They bloat very fast in any sunlight & in freezing temps.
 

RobG

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The advantage of gutless is that you don't get covered in blood by cleaning out the chest cavity. There should be no shame in slitting the belly and letting the stomach and intestines drop out, then cut out the tenderloins, then cut off the stomach "tube" at the diaphragm and intestine at the pelvis. In fact since it only takes a minute (and you have to get in there for the tenders anyway) it is pretty silly not to because it makes the whole process a lot easier and you don't risk inadvertently cutting into the nasties when stripping the meat.

While it is easier to split the hide at the spine, if you want the hide intact just skin it from the belly side, strip the meat, then flop it over and do the other side.
 

wllm1313

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The advantage of gutless is that you don't get covered in blood by cleaning out the chest cavity.
Also kinda depends on the animal, I always gut pronghorn because it's pretty easy to drag them to a nearby tree, hang them and then carefully peal off the hide before you remove the meat... with the hollow hair that blows everywhere this seems to be the cleanest method. Bears, I'm not sure why you would ever gut a bear as it's so easy to avoid poking the guts while breaking them down. Mule deer: meh it's a toss up I've done both. Elk: I can't imagine trying to gut a bull solo, I would be in blood up to my chin, not to mention trying to drag everything away from the carcass and getting into into position. Also all the bulls I've killed have been in the terrible spots side of a mountain where I had to tie it to a tree, middle of a river, steep hillside covered in willows...so maybe that colors my impression. I would imagine moose and buffalo would be similarly impossible to do any other way.

For me gutting v. gutless is less about getting bloody as efficiency and logistics.
 
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