Tired of the effort and mess involved in skinning animals like deer at the end of a hunt? There’s a more efficient alternative to hacking out chunks of perfectly good meat and having your hands cramp from all the effort: Use an air compressor to separate the hide from the flesh, inflating the deer like a balloon before you ever cut into it. Just follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way!
1. Suspend the Deer
Tie cords around the deer’s hind legs or antlers so you can reach around all of it comfortably. When using an air compressor, it doesn’t really matter which you choose, so we’ll assume it’s hanging from its back legs for these instructions.
2. Make a Small Hole
Cut a hole big enough to insert the air compressor’s nozzle in the deer’s inner thigh. Use a sharp knife so you can be precise. If the hole is too big, you’ll need to plug it up for the next step. Best to start small and cut a little more if the nozzle won’t fit.
3. Seal the Hole Around the Nozzle
The goal is to insert the air compressor nozzle as snugly into the hole as possible, using cloth or tape as needed to create an air-tight seal. This forces the air under the deer’s pelt instead of out the hole.
4. Activate the Compressor
Forced out of the nozzle with nowhere else to go, the air will spread under the skin, separating it cleanly from muscle tissue as the pressure builds. Be sure to angle the nozzle in a few different directions to make the most of that hole, so you don’t have to make many more.
5. Repeat Steps 2-4 as Needed
You might get lucky and get it all on the first go, but there are times when the skin, particularly near joints, will still be sticking to the meat. Walk around the animal feeling its skin. If you find anywhere that isn’t sagging, cut a new hole and use the air compressor to loosen that part.
6. Skin The Deer
Once you feel the skin is loose all over, you can cut along the top of your deer – in this case, the back legs – and start peeling the skin down around the animal. It should all come off quite easily, but in case it doesn’t, bringing your knife down between the skin and muscle as you peel should cut through any pesky membrane, allowing you to bring the hide right off the bottom when you’re done.
That’s all it takes to cleanly skin a deer with minimal effort and absolutely no waste, a practical – and admittedly fun – way to combine power tools and hunting. Looking for more resources on air skinning? Try some hunting forums and tutorial videos with everything you need to get started.