How to Skin an Animal

Once you get a kill in the wild, there’s still some prep work to do. Specifically, you need to skin the animal to access all its edible parts. This should be done quickly. Otherwise, the animal will begin to decay and its meat will no longer be safe to eat. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to skin an animal. First we’ll talk about how to skin larger animals (like deer), followed by talk about how to skin smaller animals (like squirrels). Let’s get started.

Pro Tip – Don’t Skin at Your Campsite

As a general rule of thumb, you should never skin an animal at your campsite. Do it at least 50 yards away from where you sleep. The reason is because you’ll attract dangerous predators to your campsite- bears, mountain lions, etc. They’ll smell the kill and immediately head in your direction. This is a common mistake that even a very experienced survivalists have made.

Skinning a Larger Animal

When learning how to skin an animal, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Hang the large animal by its hind limbs.
  • Step 2: Cut deeply across its neck and allow the blood to drain away.
  • Step 3: Cut along the dotted lines to prepare for skin removal (refer to picture).
  • Step 4: Remove the animal’s genitals to prevent infection.
  • Step 5: Begin removing the skin, cutting away the intestines, and empty the body cavity.

While it’s possible to drink deer blood, it’s not recommended due to risk of infection. Only in extreme survival situations should you consider it. Also know that deer have scent glands located behind the knee that, when you cut through them, can release a terrible smell. This is normal. But you can avoid it by cutting around the knee rather than through it.

How to Skin an Animal

Once you learn how to skin an animal like a deer, know that you can eat many parts of the animal: the lungs, knuckles, etc. Avoid eating the hooves, bones, skin, and liver since these can be toxic. Finally, don’t throw away large bones (ones larger than a small dog). Bones can be used for making a variety of survival tools, so never throw those out. Now that we’ve talked about how to skin larger animals, let’s talk about how to skin smaller ones.

Skinning a Smaller Animal

Skinning a smaller animal will take a lot less time to do. Here are the steps:

  • Step 1: Make a cut (no deeper than the skin) across the back of the animal.
  • Step 2: Using your fingers, grab two sides of the hide and pull it outward.
  • Step 3: Once you hit the paws, slice it off with a survival knife.
  • Step 4: Remove the meat.

And…that’s it! Learning how to skin an animal like a squirrel definitely takes less time than learning how to skin a deer. Remember that small mammals don’t need to be bled if you’re going to roast them whole next to a fire (which is how I recommend cooking them). The picture below will give you a better idea about how to do it.

How to Skin an Animal

A Good Survival Knife Will Make Your Job Easier

Survival KnifeI don’t recommend learning how to skin an animal without a good survival knife. A dull knife will make this process much more difficult than it needs to be. For something that’s sharp, durable, and cost-friendly, I recommend the Bear Grylls Survival Knife. I own one and I can tell you from firsthand experience that they’re awesome. As a side note, you should never enter the woods without a good survival knife. Make it a habit to have one with you every time you enter the wild.

Bear Grylls Survival Knife

How to Skin an Animal – Bottom Line

Learning how to skin an animal is a fundamental skill to know if you plan to thrive in the wilderness. Additionally, I don’t condone the senseless killing of wild animals. If you’re going to kill something, do it because you’re starving- not because you want to show off to family and friends. Be sure to read my article 17 Bow Hunting Tips for Beginners. It will teach you how to kill wild game with a bow even if you don’t have much experience

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