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PETE: And let that kind of set in there, there is a little bit of a fattier stuff there and it takes a little while to dry.
ADAM: End of January and we're starting to make our transition from deer season to preparing for future deer seasons.
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ADAM: Although we just recently closed down deer season, we still have a few days of trapping season left so we can remove some predators. When you're using a foothold trap, there's a good possibility, being this close to the house, you'll catch a dog or even a cat, but we're using the Duke cage trap. We're able to remove predators and still keep it safe.
ADAM: Another great example here is you don’t have to have a large track of land; you can have just a few cage traps and a couple acres and still remove predators.
ADAM: My gosh. 15 pounder.
BRIAN: This is another great example of what a proper setup can do for you. As you can probably hear, I've got the creek running behind me, there's a good drainage coming down off the hill, there's a trail right along the road, so we placed the Duke cage right on the trail and it was only two days before we had a raccoon.
BRIAN: We get a lot of questions about what we do with the predator after we trap ‘em, so we're gonna go visit our good buddy, Pete, and let him show you how he prepares the pelt.
ADAM: So most people, once they learn the technique of skinning, can skin their own animals, but Pete here is a lot faster and a lot better at it than I am, so we're gonna show you his technique.
ADAM: There's basically three main steps when preparing for the tannery – we have skinning, fleshing, and salting.
ADAM: He's gonna cut right along through here, here. Line up through here, right up each leg.
PETE: We're gonna go right up through here.
PETE: And I, you know the thing about a coon compared to most animals is, is, is getting’ down on these little, these toes.
PETE: But, um, you don’t have to skin that all the way because that will cure on out…
ADAM: Oh, okay.
PETE: …when it goes through tannery. And what I usually do is when I get about to this point…
PETE: …is I cut that one…
PETE: … and then I cut this one, but they will tan on out.
ADAM: Okay. Yeah.
ADAM: There you go.
PETE: And, and we're gonna split this tail plum out so that we can get plenty of salt down in there to it and uh, and cure it to where it, they can go on to the tannery with it. And that works really good. See that?
ADAM: Ta da. Now that you've completed the task of skinning, we step up to fleshing.
PETE: Whacha wanta do is get most of this fatty stuff, like off this coon, then you can, you can just kind of lay the knife over and, and just get the feel of the knife. Fleshing is just pulling all the fat and the meat away from the hide. You got to be real careful right here, ‘cause you got these whiskers right in there, and if you, and if you cut them, they'll, they'll come out.
PETE: But what I do, is I, I put quite a bit of salt on here, uh…
PETE: Uh, yeah, I just kind of get in the middle. And then, and then I, I just kind of work it out here to the edges and make sure I get this, cause if you get a place that's folded over…
PETE: …then, then it doesn't get salted. It can rot. Where this tail section is – and that's why we split this, cause it's, it's extremely hard to get that salt down in there, and if you split ‘em, they, then then you can get it in there and then your tail won't – it can be done by leaving the tail together, but if you don't get some salt down in there, and you get a lot of grease, and moisture down in there, then you, the bottom end of this tail will slip and then, and it will lose hair. And she's ready to start drying.
ADAM: So we've officially walked ‘em all the way through trapping the predator, now we bring it here, you skin it out…
ADAM: ….you fleshed it out, now we salted it, let it salt for a few days, get all the moisture out. Once we do that, then we ship it to a tannery and they basically sand it and soften it up…
ADAM: … to where it's almost like a garment. Very soft.
PETE: Yeah, very soft.
ADAM: People make coats, or blankets, or even …
ADAM: … rugs on a floor, and that's pretty much our goal.
ADAM: When the tannery is finished, we have a beautiful pelt ready to hang on the wall or to give away as a gift.
GRANT: It's constant work to have a balance between the predator and prey populations. Another coyote on the trap line, here at The Proving Grounds. As we continue trapping, hopefully a few more fawns will survive. But it's just as important that we continue all the habitat work we've been doing because without habitat, we don't have predators or prey.
GRANT: Trapping's a great way to get out and learn more about your property, cause it forces you to read sign on a very small scale. This is a beautiful pelt that will either be enjoyed by my family, or whoever I end up giving it to. So, don't worry about trapping a few coyotes. As a matter of fact, consider it a conservation movement, especially if the deer herd has been suppressed, like it has here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Trapping's not only a time honored technique that literally helped fund the foundation of America, it's also a great way to get out and interact with Creation. I find that trappers know more about sign and reading sign than any other group of sportsmen.
GRANT: Look at this. Probably a two-year old. Look how long that hair is. Multi colored hair.
GRANT: Could tie some flies out of that stuff. Look at that.
ADAM: Beautiful 25 pound coyote and that means more fawns this spring.
ADAM: So we certain-we got a possibility having one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight food plots. We're here at the southernmost part of The Proving Grounds and unlike The Proving Grounds you see us hunting and filming at throughout the fall, and years past at GrowingDeer.tv, this part has been almost untouched and unmanaged.
AJ: Yeah, we're coming in. It is a blank slate. There's not a single food plot on this piece. Uh, I think one treestand.
ADAM: One treestand.
AJ: And so we're gonna be applying what we do to, to clients all across the country, to our own chunk of land and, and uh, hopefully we can have a successful fall out here.
ADAM: I think we run a fire through here, that'll get most of this out of here. Here at The Proving Grounds, most of our big management projects aren't completed during hunting season for fear of disturbing the deer, and ultimately, making them more nocturnal.
ADAM: Look at that. He, he spent a little time on that one. One of my favorite things about stepping on a new piece of property or property I haven't been on a whole lot, like this property, is trying to put all the pieces together and, and figure out where the deer are moving, and where I need to hang, and where I need to put a food plot, and where the wind's gonna swirl, where it's gonna be constant, and this is just one of those pieces that uh, you try and put to the puzzle and, and figure it all out. Walk along the edge of this little clearing, find this nice scrape, reminds me of why I love walking around in the woods this time of year. All the signs still fresh, it's still visible. You can find the trails that were there throughout the hunting season. The scrapes, the rubs, it's all there for you to find and put those pieces together so you can capitalize on it this fall.
AJ: Now one of the best things that we like about this property is this little roadway that comes right through the center, and there's already some pre-established little openings that, you know, a little sweat, a little elbow grease…
ADAM: And even better, we've already started picking our stand locations out. We've already picked a little cedar over here, southeast corner, west wind. Oh buddy. After we finished our tour, we headed back to the office, jumped on our computers, and started mapping out our plans.
ADAM: Whether you're chasing predators this week, or beginning your off season management projects, remember to do it all in the Glory of God. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv.
BRIAN: As we have a coon, in one of our Duke cages. He went after my hand, didn't he? (Laughter)
ADAM: What do we do with the pelts? Gosh. Ahhhh.
ADAM: I don’t like it.
BRIAN: Didn't like it.
ADAM: Then we are, at, removing..what?
BRIAN: Way more faster.
ADAM: Did I say that? Way more faster. (Laugher) Oh my gosh. I had peanut butter in my mouth.