Every day possum, rabbit, coon, deer, and squirrel fall victim to car's tires. Why leave them there to just rot on the roadside? Why waste them? Possum pot pie, coon skin caps, deer skin leggings, lucky rabbit foot key chains, squirrel steaks, and preserved hides. It's time to go roadkill hunting!
(it's NOT RECOMMENDED that you eat any roadkill that you may find, unless you are a serious redneck, even then it's not recommended)
Note: If you get get queasy over a little blood and guts, roadkill huntin' ain't for you, and I recommend you stay away from this instructable, and leave it for the real men to handle.
Step 1: The Hunt Begins
The hunt begins, now you've gotta find yourself an animal. The best way to do this is to drive rural highways, and look on the sides of the road. It takes time to find what your looking for so just turn on the radio, sit back, and be patient. After a while of driving, I spotted this little squirrel. I parked my car and walked up to one unlucky squirrel, this little guy had his spine completely broken in half. I reached out and touched him. He was still warm! This was the ideal roadkill find! Finding animals still warm on the side of the road is uncommon, but this will make taking the skin off so much easier than if it were cold. Now if ya do find an animal, and its cold, (most likely it will be) it's ok! The skin will still come off fine, it'll just be a little harder to work with. Do give it a smell check, and if it smell like rot, then leave em' there, if it don't stink, or just stink a little, then pick em' up and bring em' home!
Step 2: Picking Em' Up
Now it's time to pick up your animal. You'll want to make sure and bring trash bags to carry em' out in, sometimes they'll be bloody or smelly. Put your hands inside the trash bag, and pick up the animal then, turn the bag inside out so the animals inside, and you never had to touch it. It's not a good idea to pick it up bare handed, it's always better to have gloves on, or a trash bag covering your hands. Load em' up and move em' out! Head on home and get to the good part!
Step 3: Skin Em'
Now for the goods! Go ahead and put on a pair of gloves, as it gets a little messy, but more than that, you don't want to pick up any bacteria from the gut of the animal. Make sure your knife is good and sharp, dull knives are only asking for you to get cut. I started out skinning this squirrel with my SOG Seal Pup but that turned out to be a bit overkill, so I switched over to my pocket knife, and that worked alot better. There's a bunch of ways people skin animals, but this way seems to work well, and the pelt is a nicely shaped in the end. First cut around both ankles, try and just cut through the skin, not all the way to the bone. Then lay the squirrel belly side up, and cut up the inside of both back legs, stop when you get to the squirrel's privates. Once you've cut up the back legs, cut a circle around it's privates (the fur from around that area is not anything you'll want on a finished product). At this point you can either cut the tail off, and forget about it, or you can slowly and carefully cut down the tail, and peel the skin off of it. I did get the fur off my tail, but it ripped in half and I had to sew it back together. After dealing with the tail, start peeling the skin away from the back legs, and progressively cut up along the stomach until you reach the base of the neck. Once your through with that, cut around both of the front legs, and then cut along the inside of the front legs until you reach the incision you made along the stomach. Once you've done that, peel the skin off the front legs. Now grab a hold of the pelt, and pull it until it peels all the way to the base of the neck. Don't worry about getting the fur off the head, just cut it off at the base of the neck. There ya have it, squirrel skin roadkill style! When your making the cuts on the squirrel do not cut too deep, cause then you'll end up getting fat and muscle on the pelt. Just cut through the skin no deeper. I added a diagram of the way I'm skinning for clarity.
Step 4: Salt Em'
Unfortunately our roadkill huntin' adventure is about to come to a close. Preserving the fur is the last step, after salting it the pelt is preserved. Salting draws the moisture out of the skin, helping it to dry out. After salting it it will be stiff, but preserved. Spread the pelt, furry side down, on a flat surface, and cover it in a quarter inch of salt. Let it sit for 24 hours, shake the old salt off, and apply a fresh layer of salt. Let it sit for several days before taking the salt off. When it's done salting, most of the salt will just shake off, but finer salt particles tend to stick. The easiest way to clean the rest of the salt off is to just brush it clean with your hand. But for those salty chunks that just won't let go, get a butter knife and gently scrape those tough spots off. If you want the skin to be floppy, and not stiff, you can pick up tanning cream from Bass Pro, and just follow the directions on the bottle. And that's it folks, first roadkill hunt down! That squirrel skin will look real nice hanging above your bed!