Fur Handling & Hide Care




Choke Pole

Small Caliber behind ear/behind shoulder


Bullet Placement

Prefer- Ribs- Chest; easiest areas to fix…

                              waxed dental floss works best for sewing.

                              Trim any jagged edges and bullet burns with a sharp knife.  

                              Try to trim  hole oval shaped and slightly pointed,

Avoid- Hip, neck, shoulder, head….. bones drastically disrupt bullet behavior…holes in these areas are difficult or impossible to fix.


Pics and video are fine….keep in your on circle of friends (very hard to do) ….be mindful to keep pics rated PG and tasteful…those less than tasteful pics are not helpful from a PR perspective for our industry.   However regardless of how careful you think you are… pics you share invariably find there way into the hands of individuals who would use them against us to further infringe on our rights….basically you are providing ammunition for your opponent.

FIELD TO TRUCK:  Note:…I know I’ve preached cutting front legs off for a long time but we’re going to discontinue that practice for now…I’m going to try and skin and process about a thousand or so with feet on to explore a different marketing strategy.

Cut artery on inside front leg at elbow…we are finding this to be an excellent method of bleeding out a coyote and increasing your odds of preserving your harvest…especially in mild weather scenarios. (Refrain from this practice with any odd/off colored specimens…We might be able to sell into taxidermy market)

Avoid long drags especially on dry ground.  Prefer animal carried….skinned in field….use a drag mat?

damage to guard hair occurs surprisingly quick especially  soft coyotes on dry ground.


If mild weather?….get out of sun ASAP

Cut artery inside front leg at elbow…allows coyote to bleed out.

      A soft heavy warm coyote bouncing around in bed of pick up in direct sunlight can spoil or be well on the way in 8-10 hours.

If bitter cold?… avoid freezing down to pick up bed….lay animal on  pallet…plywood…or cardboard;  If the animal freezes down?… use warm/ hot water and lift    slowly.


                   HANG THEM!  HANG THEM! HANG THEM!

Location……Back of the coolest, well ventilated building on your place…preferably windowless…at no time during day should sun come in contact with animal.

Avoid hanging against walls….

      inhibits good air circulation and mice will find them.

Method:    Two back legs preferred…..settles the guts in the ribcage and allows the coyote to bleed out…..dry out….and cool out.

                    Remove front legs at elbow….they are lighter and pack in our trailers better.  (Refrain from this practice with off colored animals…may be able to use in taxidermy market)

                    My favorite hanging method is using long nose welding vice grips….clamp legs together  and wire legs over the top of a 2×4 or pipe.

*If swelling in the abdomen occurs…one small vertical cut (with the muscle grain to let out trapped gases) will buy you a couple of days.   


Average Temperatures for Carcass Storage…. Rule of thumb only!!!… hanging by  two back legs…front legs removed at elbow…good air circulation…good spacing between animals…absolutely no contact with sun.

      If average temp is…

20-25 degrees or below you can store all winter   60-70 days

                      26-30 degrees   You can store 2-4 weeks

                      31-35 degrees    Sell Weekly!!!

                      36-40 degrees and above   Buy a Freezer!!!  or skin,  but you still have to freeze.   (15-25 sq ft   $500-$700)

                      Used freezers are certainly less.

     Don’t be tempted to hang grease animal by nose for extended period of time as face will dry out and you will sacrifice length.   You can hang a grease animal through eye a little longer but it  will still dry out eventually.

    Don’t be tempted to lay on concrete….it is still at least ground temperature underneath…develops moisture between animal and concrete and will promote bacteria/mold.


Hang by the two back legs overnight to cool out, bleed out, and dry out …settles guts in rib cage (easier on your freezer….clean and dry coyotes won’t freeze to each other or the sides of the freezer.

The other benefit of settling guts in the rib cage is when we are thawing out at processing plant it cuts down considerably on slippage …especially in the belly.

              Still recommend lining freezer with cardboard…..frozen condensation still attaches to fur.

Remove front legs at the elbow…(refrain from this on off colored specimens…we may be able to use in taxidermy market)

Hanging forms the animal into a torpedo shape…allows you to  stack like chord wood

One layer at a time… front leg removal takes up less room


     In a perfect world you have your own freezer specifically for fur…in this scenario you can avoid plastic bags and freeze flat….remember to take care when freezing multiple animals…only add a layer after first is successfully frozen.

Not a fan of plastic bags.   If you have to use them…..

Let the animal cool first

Make sure fur is dry

Freeze in layers

Freeze flat if possible

When thawing remove from plastic bags

Once the animal starts to thaw it creates a “greenhouse” effect.   Bacteria quickly  becomes prolific.    

     Freezing flat allows skin to freeze/thaw more uniformly.  



               (This section redundant I know but needs to be reinforced.)

Benefits of Freezing and Hanging them?

Guts settle in ribcage…we  have less spoilage in belly while thawing long enough to allow skinning.

Allows animal to bleed out, cool out and dry out

Hang by the two back legs, remove front legs at elbow uses less room in the freezer

Forms animal in torpedo shape

Keeps moisture from developing

Harder for mice to get at


Wood or Wire???   

                        DON’T CARE….can do a good job with either.

                        BIGGER CONCERN IS FAT REMOVAL!!’

Common mistake on wood/wire?… remember to take time to re-hook after turning

Don’t leave on wire stretcher fur out for more than 48 hours especially at high drying room temps.  (this can  create a wire burn….won’t dress)….remove stretcher and let animal hang and finish drying that way….note…before hanging stretcher free….skin has to be dry enough to maintain shape.  When using wire don’t forget to use a shim board to enable good air circulation….an old mink board ripped length wise in half is sufficient.

Don’t be tempted to stretch a coyote or fox or cat for that matter without drying for a short time skin out first.

 Use of borax is ok in moderation….if never used borax before will definitely dry faster…pay attention…..if animal gets too dry?…don’t panic…wrap in damp towel….soften….and try again.

SIZE:  Dimension for stretching

6 ½” – 7”  at shoulder>

7” – 8” at flank

Benefits of a little  narrower stretch?….Makes coyote feel heavier…. can take a semi to a semi plus….can take a semi plus to a heavy….. less mediums…on larger coyotes don’t over stretch….they will shrink up a little and consolidate fur and make them appear heavier.


In our experience…. mature healthy animals only  (Pups…unhealthy animals  and females with late litters take 2-3 weeks longer)   Lynx cats are about a month later

              7000 ft    Canadian Border      Oct 15th

               6000 ft   Williston ND              Oct 20th.                 

               5000 ft    I 94 to Glendive       Oct 25th

               ND and SD line                          Oct 30th

                I90 to Rapid City SD                 Nov 5th

                   NE/ SD State Line                       Nov 10th

                I 80                                                 Nov 15th

               KS/ NE State Line                        Nov 20th

               I 70                                                    Nov 25th

               KS/OK State Line                           Dec 1st

#1 Factor for progression of priming process is…. LENGTH OF DAYS.

Cloudy weather in late August/Sept/Oct accelerates process…Wet weather accelerates even more.   Cloudy/Wet conditions in  late August Sept and Oct  move up 7-14 days.      Dry/Sunny mild weather in Sept/Oct  slows down the priming process.   

                 ****Still takes cold weather to finish the priming process. ***

Downside of priming early is they also wear out early.   Harvest windows generally the same.   30-60 days.   

      Soft Coyotes in heavy abrasive  vegetation  with low prey base might only last  30 days.  


No good answer as there are too many variables. 

Major reason wild fur struggles to compete with ranch

Too much damage

Wide array of animals coming into or going out (past) prime

Majority of the industry prefers pelts  “coming into” prime as opposed to past prime.  Thus it is important to focus efforts on front half of harvest window.

Damaged pelts not helpful


Weak necks

Weak shoulders

Worn out or weak flanks

Rubbed out hips

Past prime in general. 

  • These specimens are PLAQUE in the pipeline and the major reason manufactures shy away from wild fur.

Advantages Ranch Fur have over wild fur….

Large volumes of specimens harvested within most optimal window

Large volumes of specimens that are easy to match

Large variety of different colors to choose from.

Almost no damage on leather


Ranch fur has easy accurate point of origin info

     A recent development in last couple years (and is going to become common place) is the requirement of a signed traceability document.  Primarily questions are geared toward assurances that fur harvesters  are following all established laws and regulations in their  state and that animals are being dispatched as quickly and humanely as possible.  Questions also touch on if we are being good and ethical stewards of the land and resource as well as respectful and helpful to the landowner.  

     For the most part for now all these documents are doing is helping put the end users mind at ease that what we are doing at the production level is humane…sustainable and ethical.
The latest development with traceability is a chip or tag with pertinent information….still working out the bugs but rest assured something along these lines is coming down the pipe.


No Right Answer….. too many variables?

Majority of soft silky coyotes have some degree of troubles by Jan 1st. 

The softest coyote in undesirable habitat won’t make it fully intact to Thanks giving. 

This is one plausible reason these selects bring so much money?….there just aren’t that many clean, undamaged, heavy, silky coyotes out there.

         Factors that contribute to fur damage

Fur Texture: soft coyotes break down quicker

              On the other hand darker, coarser “carhart coyotes” last substantially longer.

Terrain, habitat, prey base density…

Habitat Profiles associated with fur damage:  

Heavy Brush

Plumb Brush

Sage Brush



Sloughs (cattails)

Leafy Spurge

Factors that slow down fur damage

Snow!! Early and Often!

Knocks down vegetation 

After crust develops animals are able to travel above vegetation

High Prey Base Density

Less Travel to find food leads to…

Less contact with vegetation which leads to less damage

Open Prairie soft grass have longer harvest windows

             Down side to snow…..hip damage due to coyote sitting down and having guard hair  freeze to surface doing damage.On snow…no doubt there is more hip damage but is usually relegated to area low down on hips…….still lots of useable square inches

  •       CANINE PECKING ORDER (theory only)

Dominant males/females seem to control best hunting areas or grocery stores if you will.

Best hunting areas equal less travel and less damage

Juvenile Animals….inexperienced foragers

Deteriorate faster because they occupy fringes …less desirable hunting habitat

Still growing and burning more energy. 

Vicious cycle:  still Growing….always hungry…more travel equals more damage.

                Imagine how many trips your teenager made or makes to the fridge.


       Trappers and shooters…be mindful of damage caused by sun….don’t drag too far…don’t let freeze to truck bed.

        Shooters…. bullet placement….chest/ribs best…dental floss is best sewing material.

        If skinning???…great!!! proper fleshing way more important than wood or wire. …don’t forget to remove tail bone

        If storing in carcass?  Hang them! Hang them! Hang them.  out of sun ASAP remove front legs at elbow

hang by two back legs….settles guts in rib cage…allows animal to bleed out…cool out..dry out….easier to handle…packs in freezer or Furbuyer trailer better.

        If storing/freezing in grease?….if possible don’t roll…lay flat…freezes and thaws more uniformly….avoid plastic bags if possible

If serious?… buy freezer…if not serious?…buy a  freezer…a spoiled animal is just as useless as a  past prime damaged coyote.

Watch average temps?  If average temps above 35 degrees ….no recourse but to skin…find a Furbuyer immediately or buy a freezer.


 Harvest windows

generally 30-60 days

Substantial snow cover will lengthen harvest window

heavy vegetation in low prey base areas will shorten HW

above average cloud cover in late August, Sept, and October hastens priming process…wet even more so…dry sunny and mild weather in that same time frame slows down priming process…in both cases no more than 1-2 weeks.


Start times or onset of harvest windows varies any where from early to mid October on Canadian border to the first week in December on Kansas Oklahoma border.  Other start times between Oklahoma and Canada or somewhere in between.  Know your harvest windows and plan accordingly.

For best results as far as quality…focus majority of effort on the front half of your harvest  window.

Any animals caught in the latter half of your window will have to be examined closely to identify excessive damage….any animals caught after conclusion of your 60 day window will need even more scrutiny.  

        The exception to 60 day harvest window would be heavy snow cover and can lengthen harvest window substantially.

Remember!…animals with excessive damage are plaque in the pipeline and one of the major reasons manufactures are hesitant to use wild fur…..my point being?…every animal you take does not have value…leave the obvious damage in field and out of your collection……

        If you can learn to identify damage successfully your marketing experience will be more enjoyable and predictable.   




Presenting and Selling Your Fur

On the Carcass

“On the carcass”  means selling the whole animal without any type of skinning.  Taking good care of your carcass animals after harvest is very important, and will result in measurably higher averages over the season.

Heat, sunlight, and plastic bags are your enemies. As soon as you get home clean up your animals. Brush out any blood, mud, or dirt.  Your local dollar store is a good place to find inexpensive hair brushes, and they do a fine job.

Using cord, twine, or bailing wire, hang your animals up by two  back feet.  Hang them in an unheated outbuilding, old barn/chicken coop/car port/ etc.,  Just make sure no direct sunlight can hit them, and they have good air circulation.

Green Skinned

Also known as  “In the Grease”  green skinned refers to pelts that are just skinned without any other fleshing or stretching.   After skinning turn the pelt fur side out and freeze flat for short term storage (1 to 3 months).

Don’t over load your freezer, freeze one layer at a time.  Too many layers of fur placed in the freezer at one time can insulate each other and result in the middle layers spoiling.  (please do not roll your furs or place in plastic bags without first properly cooling).  It is acceptable to  bring  your fur to us frozen.

Finished Fur

“Finished”  fur refers to furs skinned, fleshed, stretched and dried to the  accepted industry dimensions.  Proper fleshing is by far the most important aspect of the processing steps.  There are numerous sources of information on the proper methods for finishing your fur.  All most all of them show and describe the methods in a much better manner than is possible here.

Hands on experience is the best way to learn. If you can find an established fur harvester in your region  or attend your local fur harvesters convention you will shorten your learning  curve considerably.

Join your State Trappers Association.  Not only do they need your voting power, but also  have a convention every year. There’s always someone putting on a fur handling demonstration at these conventions.  You can ask  questions and see exactly what you’ve been reading about. These are friendly, informal, and designed specifically  for newcomers to the industry.

Heat, sunlight, and plastic bags jeapordize your fur. 
Freezers,  Cold weather, shade, and good air circulation preserve your fur.

For questions or info please call

Greg Petska

Deer Hides

Greg Petska

When it comes to deer hides  there’s no glory,  no glamor, but they’re  always worth a buck or two.

Petska Fur is  happy to trade gloves or cash for your deer hides.

The best way to present your deer hides is in one of  three conditions: salted, frozen, or fresh.

Salted is preferred, and we pay $1 dollar extra for salted hides. Salted means a liberal coating of fine salt.  A good rule of thumb is one 50 lb. bag of salt will do 7 -8 Deerhides…3-5 decent sized elk hides.  Ask for “Stock” or “Mix”  (not rock…not fine) salt at your local feed store or Tractor Supply type store. Work it in good, and make sure you get it covered all the way out to the edges.  Shake the excess off when you get ready to go to the fur buyer and save this excess for the next time.

Frozen is also good, fold them in half skin to skin and freeze.  If they thaw on the way  to the fur stop that’s no problem.

Fresh is just fine, if you skin your deer a couple days before the the fur buyer gets there, fold it skin to skin, and keep in the shade. Cool and well ventilated is the key.   Don’t let the skin side dry out.

Please call for pricing on large collections.
We no longer take in beef hides, buffalo hides.
Greg Petska 308-750-0700

***Deer Hides with the following issues will be heavily discounted, if not rejected.

Stinky rotting Skins.
Skins with excessive knife scars and cuts
Skins with heads, and legs still attached.

The most important thing to remember when selling or trading your deer hides is to keep them fresh and pliable.
Buyer can’t use them if they are hard little wrinkled dried out rocks of rawhide.
Buyer can’t  use them if they are green, slimy, stinky messes.
Buyer won’t take them if they still have heads, and or legs attached.