Once you have caught an animal, it is your responsibility to see that the animal is taken care of properly. Remember, conservation means wise use of our natural resources. Letting an animal spoil from lack of attention would be a waste of the resource and an irresponsible act.
The fur or skins of furbearing animals are commonly called pelts. There are several options for preparing and marketing pelts of the animals you catch.
When a fur buyer purchases the whole animal or a skinned out pelt from a trapper, he usually offers a lower price to allow for the time and effort it will take to finish the pelt.
Selling the whole animal is sometimes called selling “on the carcass” or “in the round.” If you live close to a fur buyer, you could sell the animals you catch at the end of each day. Another option is to freeze the animals whole and store them until you can take them to a fur buyer. The advantage in selling animals whole is you do not have to skin them.
There are several disadvantages in selling animals whole. You have to live very close to a fur buyer if you are going to sell your animals at the end of each day. You must be able to freeze and store animals whole. (Whole animals take up a lot of room in a freezer.) Finally, when a fur buyer buys an animal whole, he must complete all the steps to get the animal ready for market. Since this involves a considerable amount of work, the fur buyer will offer less money for animals bought whole.
Another option for handling the animals you catch is to skin them and sell the undried pelts. Undried pelts are often called “green” pelts. These pelts can be stored in a freezer for later delivery to a fur buyer. This can be better than freezing whole animals because the pelts take up much less room in a freezer. The advantage in this method is you do not have to flesh, stretch, and dry the pelts. However, a fur buyer will pay less for a green pelt because of the work left to finish the pelt.
Finished pelts will give you maximum value from the animals you harvest. There are four steps involved in processing a furbearer to get a finished pelt: skinning, fleshing, stretching, and drying.
There are several advantages in marketing finished pelts. These pelts require no further processing, and a buyer will be able to give you full value for the pelts. Drying a pelt temporarily preserves it. You do not need a freezer to store these pelts during the cool weather of trapping season. You have many more options for marketing dried pelts. Frozen animals or green pelts must be sold locally, and they must be sold promptly once they are removed from the freezer. Dried pelts can be held for sale at any time. Also, dried pelts can be shipped to a fur buying company or to an auction company. This cannot be done with green pelts.
You can use a freezer to store an animal or an undried pelt. To do this, put the animal or pelt in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer. The plastic bag will help to prevent “freezer burn” which occurs when the animal or pelt dries out while it is in the freezer. It will also keep the animals or pelts from soiling the inside of the freezer.
The easiest way to find a fur buyer in your area is to ask your local Conservation Agent. Conservation Agents inspect fur buyers on a regular basis and always have an updated list of all the fur buyers in your county.
The best way for a beginning trapper to learn about handling fur is to seek guidance and assistance from someone who is experienced in the process. Often, local fur buyers are willing to offer advice to a beginning trapper. It is to their advantage to see that the pelts they buy from you are properly handled. You might also seek help from an experienced trapper in your area.