With alligator hunting season coming to a close throughout much of the Southern United States, it’s a good time to go over some of the basic steps to skin and flesh out one of these lizard kings.
We turn to long-time alligator hunter Robert Arrington for detailed instruction and expert advice on this one as he runs through the basic steps on video.
Start with a sharp knife
Whenever you skin anything, having a good sharp knife is not only critical to making the job easier but also keeping you safe. You’re more likely to cut yourself on a dull knife than a sharp one. It’s a good idea to also keep on hand a steel sharpening plate.
Use a razor blade
For skinning the gator you’ll want to use a typical hunting knife, but for cutting off the tough scoots that line the top of the animal you’re going to want to use a razor blade or box cutter.
Use compressed air
Alligator skin is a little more attached to the flesh than you might find in say a deer. Using compressed air with a nozzle inserted at the gator’s wrist is a good way to partially separate the hide from the flesh making it easier to skin. Once it’s inflated you can more easily insert your knife.
Cut around the scoots
Next use the razor blade to cut around the top of the scoots and down each of the legs. Now you’re ready to start skinning.
Using a sharp hunting knife, begin to slowly cut the skin away from the flesh, barely using any pressure toward the hide being careful not to nick it. With experience you’ll begin to know which parts of the hide requires extra sensitivity.
It’s a good idea too to know which parts of the hide are most sought after. The belly skin is the most utilized portion of the hide for leather goods with the skin directly under the chin as the most valuable. Pay extra attention to cut these sections away cleanly without any nicks.
Flesh out the meat
Now that the skin has been completely removed, it’s time to salvage some meat. The best meat you’ll find on a gator is in the tail and the jaw. Meat around the tail can be removed similar to the way you would a backstrap on a deer, running your knife down along the bone.
Watch the video for a detailed demonstration…
Photo credit: Dreamstime.com