Preserving Road Kill Raccoon Tail


Steve Cole - Nisqually and Adjacent Environs
This AM I stopped after I saw a smushed raccoon at the side of the road that was not there yesterday. The trunk and legs of the animal were just a wreck but the tail was intact so I removed it and disposed of the rest of it. I have used roadkill bird feathers in the past but have never taken animal parts. I know I need to do something with it to deal with the fleshy part and so I have rubbed the stub in salt. Is there something more I can do to take care of the remaining flesh? Thanks all.


Hope is that Thing with Feathers..

Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
Congratulations, you are not a weenie when it comes to dead animals.

The longer an animal is dead the harder it is to skin. Therefore you need to do the following ASAP. You need to try to remove the tailbone and associated tissue from inside the tail. There is more than enough tissue on the tail of a raccoon to cause rot, if this happens you are going to have to throw the thing out. With a knife or razor blade slit the skin at the stub end of the tail, about 1/2 inch. The goal is to expose enough of the tail vertebrae to get a grip on it with pliers. Vise Grip pliers work well here. Adjust the pliers to get a firm grip on the tailbone. Clamp or secure the vise grips to a bench surface or other immoveable object. Now, grip the skin with your fingers or with a pair of pliers in each hand and pull it back towards the tail tip, turning the tail inside out. Remove all or as much of the tail as you can. You will now have an inside-out tail tube. After you separate the tail from the skin and before you turn the skin right side out again apply a liberal coating of salt or Borax. If this does not work, your other alternative is to slit the skin along its length with a razor blade or exacto knife and separate the tailbone from the skin. The inside out method is the most desirable as it yields a tail that is most like the original.

Once you have separated bone and tissue from skin using either method, you need to get rid of the remaining moisture. Salt works pretty well and has the added advantage of creating a hostile environment for many bacteria that cause rot but it leaves the skin hard and stiff. Borax works better for absorbing moisture and leaves the skin pliable. Once the moisture is gone, it will not rot.
Do not use Boraxo. Boraxo is a mixture of Borax and detergents. Read the label. Straight Borax can be found in most grocery stores. Coat the skin side with a very liberal amount of salt or borax, rub it into the skin and let it sit for a day. Come back the next day, remove the salt/borax, and replace with a fresh batch. Continue doing this every few days until it no longer seems to be absorbing moisture. All of this should be done in the driest environment you have.

Good luck and do this ASAP.


There is a great little book on this subject titled, From Field To Fly. The Fly Tiers Guide to Skinning and Preserving Wild Game by Scott J. Seymour. Published by Frank Amato Publications Inc


Active Member
yuck!!!! I think I would rather spend 5 bucks at the fly shop.

~Patrick ><>

Faith is nothing until it is everything!
Use lots of Borax and use some thumb tacks to stretch it on a piece of plywood. after a month or so you can use some allum to soften the hide by rubbing it into the skin (not the fur side). By all means make real sure that you get ALL meat or fat off of birds or game fur (road kill or otherwise) and I put all furs/feathers in my barn (out of the reach of the barn cats) until ready to go into the microwave.
Oh yeah, you don't want to even think about bringing roadkill into your tying space without debugging it. 15 seconds works great. I've got some really funny stories about that (my wife got a new microwave because of it).

Buck Tails are notorious for Ticks. I got a bunch in my lunch box one day and have used store bought since.
Calf Tails, Roosters, Turkeys, Pheasant,Grouse, Ducks and Peacocks I do myself.
A.K. Best has a great book out but, beware this is a whole new world of fly tying (making your own dyed materials the colors that YOU want). It can become rather involved and takes up space.


Steve Cole - Nisqually and Adjacent Environs
Thanks for the assistance, guys. The two "wimmin" in the house made me do the work off in the woods but I got the tail "boned" and scraped all of the fat and meat away from the skin and it has been salted.

I have Mr. Best's dying book and you are right, it's involved. I tried to convince my partner to let me use the kitchen for some experimentation as I have a couple of containers of Veniard dyes that I am just itching to try out. Nix on the kitchen so I am going to have to set up my own dying station.

Thanks again.

After you Borax, bone, scrape and salt it, I like to saute' it with some butter, garlic and fresh chives. Heat internally to about 250 degrees and serve warm over a nice crisp, romaine. Add roasted pinenuts and a few tomato wedges to garnish. Great for summertime get togethers and a sure hit with the kids!!

Good Luck,

Martha Stewart
Prisoner 755630981-A
NYC State Correctional Facility