December marks the opening of fur-bearer season in Oklahoma, offering outdoorsmen the chance to hone their outdoor skills, harvest a variety of game species and perhaps earn some extra cash in the process.
It’s hard to believe, but what happens in Russia and China impacts fur prices here more than any other issue. With Russia in a depression the last couple of years, the market has been somewhat unstable. Last year was a better year for fur sales and European demand seems to be higher. But this year the COVID situation has really slowed down production and sales of furs.
Fur prices are worse than last year, but again that market really fluctuates. Oklahoma fur brought a wide range of prices last year, bobcats did not sell well last year as the market was flooded, but they have bounced back and there should be buyers, with prices at about $40 for Oklahoma cats. Coyotes are in demand and were selling at about $15 depending on quality. Raccoons are one of the animals that the market has fallen and if you can even find a buyer, the price is less than $1, that is nearly $20 off of last year price. Other prices include badger $5- $10; beaver $2-$8; and fox $5-$12.
Companies will also buy claws and teeth from certain fur-bearers, so this may be a way of supplementing your sell.
European buyers have always sought U.S. pelts for use in that area of the world. And with a little looking, a buyer can be found. Moscow Hide and Fur is a large buyer that has bought furs and antlers for over 34-years. Based out of Idaho, their website furbuyer.com, offers prices, and tips for preparing furs to be sold.
Fur-bearing animals include raccoons, minks, badgers, muskrats, opossums, weasels, bobcats, beavers, skunks, river otters and gray and red foxes to name a few, and many hunters and trappers harvest these fur-bearers and sell their pelts. Check the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for requirements on tagging, selling and possessing fur-bearing wildlife. The Wildlife Department’s website also has a list of Oklahoma Fur Dealers and Bobcat tagging stations.
There are three styles of furs that are typically sold — stretched, green and carcass. Groenewold Fur & Wool Company has some good information on the current fur demand and gives these tips for preparing a fur for market:
Stretched and Dried
•All pelts must be scraped free of excess fat. (Raccoon, otter & beaver must be scraped perfectly clean).
•Stretch on proper wire or wood stretchers (beaver should be stretched in an oval pattern).
•Raccoon, grey fox, otter, muskrat, mink, opossum, and squirrel are stretched fur-side IN.
•Red fox, coyote and fisher are stretched fur-side OUT.
•The tail bone should always be removed from all skinned raccoon.
•Always dry animals in the carcass completely before skinning.
•When skinning, cut from back foot to back foot. Then case out like a rabbit. (Except beaver, which is skinned up the belly).
•Skinned fur must be sold immediately or quick-frozen.
•Always freeze the fur Flat, fur-side out, with no exposed flesh.
•Never roll furs. Never freeze or thaw furs in plastic.
•Thaw larger animals with heavy flesh (coyote, raccoon, beaver, badger) 5-6 hours in a cool room or until partially thawed before selling.
•Never thaw so long that grease melts or skins become slimy. Keep them cold. Keep them away from sunlight.
•Muskrats should be frozen flat and not thawed before seeing the buyer.
•Always err on the side of selling something too frozen rather than too thawed.
Selling in the Carcass
•Buyers will not buy opossum or skunk in the carcass.
•Coyote — Only fully furred coyote will have value in the carcass.
•Buyers will not purchase muskrat in the carcass, except in the northern 1/2 of Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, and Nebraska.
•Clean the dirt, blood and burrs from the fur.
•Always hang carcass by rear feet in a cool, dark area, away from livestock. Livestock generate heat and bacteria.
•If the weather is warm, freezing may be required. If frozen, thaw only the feet.
There is also a market for deer hides. Here are some tips for hunters wanting to get into that market.
•Skins may be sold fresh, frozen or salted, with NO heads or legs. By law, buyers cannot buy deer hides with head or legs.
•Fresh means within a day or two of skinning the deer. Do not let the leather side dry out. Keep folded with skin side in.
•Salted hides must have large chunks of fat removed and must be heavily salted with fine salt. Shake hides of excess salt before arriving at the seller.
•Frozen hides should be folded skin side in and rolled tightly. Allow to thaw only slightly before arriving at the seller.
KanOkla Fur Company will buy furs each Sunday in Woodward or Alva. Woodward sell is Sundays in December and January at 10:00am at 102 E Madison, 3 blocks west of the sell barn.
To hunt fur-bearers in Oklahoma – Hunters must possess a resident hunting license and a fur license. If fur-bearers will be trapped then a trapper’s license is also required. Lifetime hunting license holders are exempt from the hunting and fur-bearer license.
Season is open December 1-February 28 for bobcat, badger, gray fox, red fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, river otter and weasel. Beaver, coyote, nutria, raccoon and striped skunk are open year-round. Seasons are currently closed for swift fox, spotted skunk and ringtail cat.
Consult the Oklahoma Hunting Guide, page 72-73, for regulations for the taking of fur-bearers.