Introduction: How to Skin a Badger

Picture of How to Skin a Badger

Drive to Burning Man. Hit a badger on the road on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation.
It ran in front of us so fast I didn't know whether to turn left or right. I just yelled really loud and woke Star up. I didn't turn at all. we ran right over it. We pulled over and stopped. I thought the animal would be a mess, but it looked great. We put it in the back of the truck and kept going.

This is the first part of the Badger Trilogy, "Skinning".
It continues with "Badger Stew"
and will finish with "Tan a Badger Hide".

Step 1: Delight the Authorities With a Dead Badger

Picture of Delight the Authorities With a Dead Badger

We joined the line of cars slowly creeping into Black Rock City. A drunk fratboy was walking down the line of cars, asking "Can I hide in your truck?". He wanted to get in without paying for a ticket. Probably it wouldn't work, since he was in clear view of the greeters.

When we got to the front of the line the greeters gave us the welcome, and took a quick look to see if we were smuggling fratboys. "Naked Bob", our greeter, was thrilled about our dead badger. He called over to another greeter. "Hey I think I found something, come tell me what you think." She came over and was delighted to find a dead badger instead of a drunk fratboy. The joy spread to the adjoining vehicles. When we pulled over inside the gates to stretch our legs, people stopped to see the badger.
It was truly a beautiful animal.

Step 2: Set Up the Skinning Workstation

Picture of Set Up the Skinning Workstation

We found Blue-haired-rachel's camp and parked our truck. She was asleep so
we went looking for our pal Victor Brar. He's known for his skill in odd situations. We found him in mere minutes, which is unusual at Burningman.
We went back and hung up the badger by its hind legs so gravity would help us skin it.

Step 3: Start Skinning

Picture of Start Skinning

Rachel's camp is known for it's leather-clad tattooed roadwarrior looking residents. Hardcore Bay area artists and degenerates. What better place to skin a badger? Passersby stopped and offered advice and assistance, helping pull and cut on the skin. One was a veternarian. Another was a taxidermist who had skinned badgers before. He said he'd put badger fat on his boots and they never leaked again. He suggested tanning the hide with battery acid. We skinned the badger's anus and started on the legs, but before we got any further various zombie goths, steampunk vampires, and hippies came out from the camp and begged us to do our thing somewhere else. They said, "This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen at Burningman" and "We're vegetarians".

Speaking of anus, badgers are really clean animals. I couldn't believe it. We'd run right over this guy, and his butthole didn't smell at all!! We invited all and sundry to smell it, and sure enough, all agreed there was no smell!! Each time I failed to smell it I'd say something like "If I ever get run over and some badger eats me, he's going to have to put up with my stinky butthole."

People would look at the animal and say "that smells", and we'd say, "really? what smell?" and then they'd pay attention and say "oh, you're right! It doesn't smell!"

Step 4: Moving Camp

Picture of Moving Camp

We were no longer welcome among the Bay area's most degenerate and openminded artists, so we drove over to Victor's camp with the badger hanging off the back of the truck. A throng of joyful normal people surrounded us and beckoned their fellows to bask in the beauty of one of God's perfect creations being skinned.

They said "This is the weirdest think we've seen at burningman! We love it!"

Step 5: Skinning Open Vs. Cased

Picture of Skinning Open Vs. Cased

There was some controversy about the best skinning method. I had mostly skinnned rabbits and squirrels. You do those "cased", which means skin around the anus and extend that cut with slits along the hind legs. Pull out the legs, step on them and then peel the rest of the skin off "like skinning the rabbit". You end up with a fur sock sort of thing with little inside-out leg skins hanging off it. Stretch the skin by shoving a board shaped like a gothic window into it.

The other method, "open". That's used for bigger animals. It starts the same, cutting around the anus and slitting up the hind legs, but then you cut the skin down the belly and out along the front legs to make a skin that lays flat. Then you peel it off around the animal and down the head. Stretch it by nailing it flat to a board or "the back of the barn". Or thongs through holes in the edge to stakes pounded in the ground.

The book "Wildwood Wisdom" has good diagrams of both methods.

Step 6: Skinning and Skinning

Picture of Skinning and Skinning

And so the shadows lengthened and the sun rose higher. We carefully pulled and cut the skin away from the body. The badger has lots of fat, and it can be tricky to skin it. If you see hair follicles on the inside of the skin you're about to cut through.

The veterinarian warned us that the badger might have rabies, and that you can contract it by getting in contact with the blood, alone. That only one person has ever survived rabies.

We discovered the badger's cause of death in the course of skinning it. It had a snapped spine, cracked ribs, and a broken leg.

At some point, we accidentally poked through the abdominal wall, and a bunch of guts came spilling out. We were really careful not to knife the intestines, which would have ruined the meat.

Step 7: Doing the Hump

Picture of Doing the Hump

Finally the skin was off. The carcass looked pretty grotesque with it's guts hanging out. I still had Digital Underground's hit "The Humpty Dance" stuck in my head. I bounced the carcass around like a marionette while singing the song. "Doing the hump, sexy sexy!" It was an incredible sight. I just about died laughing. My scalp hurt.

Step 8: Ta Daa!

Picture of Ta Daa!

That's it, the badger is skinned! What do you do next?

For now, stretch the skin out as much as possible, and if you can, peg it to a board so that it dries stretched out. Rub it down with a pound of salt to keep the fat from rotting the pelt.

If you're actually at burningman and you don't have any salt, you'll notice that there are no flies or decomposers at all, and the alkali dust gets everywhere to dry out the skin, so it'll dry just fine and not rot. In fact, even the badger will turn into jerky-on-the-bone, and not smell in the least, should you need to wait a few days before cooking it.

Up next, instructables on Badger Stew and Badger Hide Tanning!


mjmh13 (author)2013-11-15

Haven't you noticed? It is not nice to murder animals

antioch (author)mjmh13 2016-01-27

Have you noticed that talking trash gives a bad reputation to people caring for animals?

KiranP2 (author)mjmh13 2015-07-12

It ran in front of his car??? He didn't kill it on purpose

thecrittercloset (author)2011-06-05

you should have just buried it and gave it the respect it deserved as one of Gods creatures.

asteidl (author)thecrittercloset2011-08-12

Don't ya think it'd show more respect to make its death worth something? Like food, in a desert? I believe in God, but I also believe God gave us animals for our use. Badgers, well, they don't serve much purpose in our lives, generally, but it was killed, so better to use God's gift than throw it in a hole in the ground.

thecrittercloset (author)asteidl2011-08-18

oh yea....oops.....i killed it......oh well lets skin and eat it.......yea thats real respectable.....if you accidently killed your child or a family member, what would you do? all Gods living things deserve respect whether it be animal or human. PERIOD.

no123 (author)thecrittercloset2015-01-09

notice U said living things.... this things dead... if your really worried, read Gen 1v28-30...enjoy?

bobbycox (author)2014-11-20

I was looking for an instructable on tanning when I came across this. Pretty interesting, Like some of the other comments, I admire the attitude of using what you have at hand and not wasting anything. Some of you are very negative out there, I did not realize hippies were so judgemental! I could not find your Tanning 'ible if it's out there, please let me know where I can find it. Thank you and good job!

ngng (author)2010-09-24

Human is dangerous to all things on earth.

ArtisanEclectic (author)ngng2014-06-11

No one is forcing you to live here.

x3n0c1dal (author)ngng2012-05-19

It is also dangerous to Earth.

mjmh13 (author)2013-11-15

That is not nice to do to animals

tammypritchard73 (author)2013-11-02

You are obviously not from England then, where the badger is a much loved rural animal.

This is one of the first instructables I ever stumbled across and to this day it is still probably my favorite!

emo kitty (author)2013-03-24


badjer1 (author)2012-12-03

Put some clothes on in your next instructable! Make a hat out of this and wear it to a Wisc Badgers game.

geoslim13 (author)2010-12-20

when will the tanning instructable be out. My parents and I don't hunt or trap, even though I want to, but I am big in survival, primitive living, and making stuff. I have a lot of PDF's on my computer on tanning skins and preparing game, and would like to add to my collection. Next year I turn 18, though because I am home schooled and going really slow, I am still a sophomore technically, I probably won't graduate till I am 19:( But when I do graduate, my grandmother's friend who owns a cabin not to far from where I currently live is going to let me stay there if I take care of the land for him since he lives in York PA and the camp is here in WV, either in Wheeling or Moundsville. I am also hoping that he will teach me how to hunt.

studleylee (author)geoslim132012-11-02

I'm more interested in tanning people. Both ambiguous meanings meant. Happy Halloween aaaaahhhhahahahhahahhahahahahahhahaha :-)

I don't think animals were put on earth for people to use( mentioned above )
I think animals are just as privileged as humans to inhabit the planet. Ted Nugent is a great guitarist, but he does give me the creeps.

studleylee (author)2012-03-28

Can these techniques be used with politicians?

knexinventer (author)studleylee2012-11-02

hhhmmmmm yes

blhack (author)2012-03-27

>They said, "This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen at Burningman" and "We're vegetarians".

I laughed out loud. I've heard that vegetarianism is no longer valid on the playa, and even the most hard core vegans will eat bacon.

asteidl (author)2011-08-12

Wow, some claws on it! Me being from Wisconsin, I love badgers, never skinned one though! Maybe some day, if the worst should happen and I run one over, now I'll have some idea how to skin it. Thanks.

Vynash (author)2011-03-26

Why is he in his undies?

vshourt (author)Vynash2011-08-08

Because it's Burning Man!

Vynash (author)vshourt2011-08-11

Haha, it just gives me laughter everytime I see it! :)

Vynash (author)2011-03-26

I, am disturbed.


Scarred for life.

spearairsoft_bravo (author)2010-10-19

I met a guy at my hunter's safety program who had the hide of pretty much anything you could want

Why on earth would u skin a badger?

Mr. Potato Head (author)2010-09-21

What a poser!

mibz man (author)2010-08-21

what could you possibially want with badger skin?!?

stasterisk (author)2010-03-14

Hmm -- both of those details are in the instructable, are you sure you read the whole thing?   See step 6 on rabies, and step 3 and 5 for "pure skinning" information.

geoper2 (author)2010-02-14

there is only one thing for sure ... i wasnt expecting to see something like this on this site the community should at least take down the pictures this is cruel the pictures posted and the whole instructable offends me

Jyssa (author)geoper22010-03-14

If you don't like it, don't look: the title is VERY clear that this is about skinning a badger!

The pictures are educational. An instructable isn't very instructive without pictures.

It is in no way whatsoever 'cruel' to skin and utilize a DEAD animal. It's dead. Cruel would be to hit it and not even stop to check if it was still half alive. Cruel is skinning snakes alive for the amusement of restaurant-goers. Go complain about that, instead of people making the best of an unfortunate situation.

(BTW that is a very handsome badger! We don't have them in NZ so I've never really seen one before.)

To the Author/s: kudos for using the grand beast, and not wasting it. Hope the meat was good! What are your plans for its' fur?

stasterisk (author)Jyssa2010-03-14

The fur sat tanning in battery acid for.. 2 years?  And then was finished with a softening tumble-dry in a dryer.  I think it came out pretty well!

bassclarinet23 (author)2010-03-01

VERY..................................unusual. :)

~Aeronous~ (author)2010-02-15


ex_mo (author)2010-01-17

 Haha.  Star is wearing a Birth Advocate t-shirt from my doula days!  Glad it came in handy :)  I'm sure my co-doula, Gia Schultz, who designed it, would be proud to hear it was featured in a Burning-Man-badger-skinning.

.happy.hippie. (author)2009-11-26

who cares!!! the dude didn't get rabies! lets leave it at that!

keikothemeowmeow (author)2009-10-23

Can't help but sing the badger song.

Madrigorne (author)2009-08-31

I have seen you Minnesotans at the Halloween on State Street - and we all got teargassed... Alas poor Bucky...

Javin007 (author)2009-07-23

Yeah, and as a previous Vet running the facility at Fort Drum, NY, and having to deal with bite cases (I am on record for sending the first positive rabies specimens for testing in the history of upstate NY) I can only say that this sincerely frightens me. I'm sure by now there's nothing left of the badger's brain tissue to send in for testing, and were
I in any position of authority on this one, I would strongly, strongly recommend that any people who came into contact with the badger, or consumed any part of it, be started on post-exposure treatment immediately.

This is not being "overly cautious." Badgers are carnivores, and tend to be exposed to rabies much more often than other animals. Other more common (and non carnivorous) animals that are highly dangerous: Raccoons, Skunks, Bats, etc. Bats are particularly bad, as they remain infective much longer than most mammals. Some never die from it. There are some colonies that are estimated to be as much as 85% infected.

Yes, they're probably safe, but as Nevada (home of the Burning Man) has one of the highest rates of rabies in the U.S. (since 1926) I don't think I would even CONSIDER messing with an animal I just watched dart out into the road. For all they know, it was chasing an imaginary rabbit, or was very angry at a tree. Eating an animal that darted into the road without first having had a chance to properly observe it (when hunting, for example) is nothing but playing Russian Roulette, only instead of instant death, you get agony and slow on-and-off insanity over the span of a week.

In April of '04, 7 people died in China from rabies due to badger bites. Rabies is a horrible, horrible way to go, first losing control of your muscles, then slowly losing your mind, becoming insane while your consciousness still is fully awake. When in military veterinary school, I had to watch a video from the 60's of a young child dying of rabies. He was given a glass of water and tried to be a "good boy" and drink it (while his arms flailed uncontrollably) but his brain had already hit the hydrophobia stage and would cause him to gag and choke on anything liquid. Imagine being deathly afraid of water, and still knowing there's no reason for you to be. Being insanely angry but also knowing it's just the virus that's killing you that makes you this way. People have been interviewed as they died of rabies, and believe me, that's no way for any living thing to die. Imagine spouts of insanity that last longer and longer as you die, then spouts of completely clarity, remembering everything you did and said while you were insane, and knowing that each moment of clarity will be shorter than the last.

I say again, the symptoms can be as simple as a sore back, or a headache, and once you're symptomatic, look forward to an agonizing death within the next 7 days. Period. You don't survive rabies.

Currently, there is only one person (Jeanna Giese) in history that has ever "survived" rabies. This was because her doctor invented the "Milwaukee Protocol" on the fly, wherein the patient is induced into a severe, very deep, very dangerous coma in the hopes that the body will produce antibodies before it dies.

Today, Jeanna is still relearning everything she knew from childhood, including how to talk, walk, etc.

I've been out of the Army for 10 years now, and I still get my rabies titer checked, and booster shots when necessary. As an avid camper and outdoorsman, there's little out there as dangerous as a disease that can take up to 6 months to show any symptoms, and once it does, you die no matter what.

*phew* *steps off his soap box*

Sorry to hijack like this, but I'm just utterly dumbfounded that someone would do this, much less recommend anyone else do it.

Noninimicus (author)2009-01-17

Seriously? Why did you even click on the link if you didn't want to see it? I think it's very concise and informative to those who want to view it.

rlawrence (author)Noninimicus2009-01-17

because maybe i am studying badgers, i am soooo bringing this up on my report. it is animal cruelty

NRen2k5 (author)rlawrence2009-07-02

How in the world is doing anything to a DEAD badger cruelty??

sailor-tweek (author)rlawrence2009-02-05

You do realize that in the description of this instructional, the badger was accidentally hit by a car, right? I see no animal cruelty happening here. And I find it an evironmental bonus that these folks took the dead creature and essentially put it to good use rather than have it rot and waste away on the side of the road. Remember to actually take the time to read the description. Then you make a choice on whether to look at the potentially graphic photos. And then you think long and hard on your comments before letting your fingers fly across the keyboard.

static (author)sailor-tweek2009-04-01

Actually in any event the badger wasn't going to waste. Even in the ditch the cycle of life would have went one. I'm reminded of my "pet" bangers when I was driving an oil field tank truck.

itsalladream (author)static2009-04-26

If it was left by the road, another animal could have been hit by a car while snacking on it.

Noninimicus (author)rlawrence2009-01-21

I'm sure the badger's soooo glad! You have fun, now! _

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi! I'm Star Simpson! I'm a real me! See more at []. photo by [ ... More »
More by stasterisk:Loft Beds in tEpHow to Pack: Shipping Big ScienceStylish and Practical Lamp
Add instructable to: