Bear Skinning Guide


Senior Member
Mar 31, 2017
So I've watched a couple of videos and read a few taxidermist pages on how to skin a bear for a mount. I will either want to do a rug or some sort of shoulder mount with front paws. The sketch at the link below does a pretty good job of explaining things, along with the words on another one of their pages. Diagram 2.jpg

I get confused about the front arms. Some things I've read says to cut to the elbow and the armpit, others say to stay away from the elbow and armpit.

I'd imagine for a rug, you would just try to go down the complete bottom side center of the arm.

1. Go from the center of the wrist (below pad) to the center of the INSIDE of the elbow joint.
2. Then you need to go below the white patch on the chest (if present).
3. The connecting cut from below the white patch to the center of the inside of the elbow confuses me. Do you:
a. Go from the center of the inside of the elbow to the armpit and then below the white spot, or
b. Continue from the center of the inside of the elbow, across the center of the bicep towards the shoulder, and then
across below the white spot?

I guess I cant visualize where the white spot will be on the animal and where to go if there is no white spot.

If I get a rarer bear, I might want to do a shoulder mount that incorporates the front paws. I guess then I should cut it as shown in the picture "head mount to save the rest of the hide". Would it be OK to skin it this way regardless and then just have the taxidermist cut it how he sees fit if I'd decide to do a rug? It seems like the front arm cuts might go too far towards the outside of the elbow to do a rug with this method.

Thanks for the help!

black dawg

Senior Member
Jan 17, 2017
sw mt
If you know what taxidermist you are going to use, I would ask them. Seems like everybody likes things done a little different.


Senior Member
Feb 16, 2016
The reality is for full body stuff, on your 1st question, it doesn't matter much how you do it. Bears have a lot of hair, and all of those cuts underneath the bear can be hidden.

On a rug, I was always taught to err on the side of leaving more hide back on the front legs. Never cut from the paw to point of elbow (back of elbow). You end up losing a lot of hide to trimming. Most people don't know this but rugs do having sewing on them in the arm pit area, a diagonal stitch on each side. With more hide back, when stitched, the rug looks "fuller". Most rugs are trimmed so there isn't much hide in front of the front legs, except for right around the shoulders of the bear (this is where white usually comes out and looks nice). I would go with something closer to you option B, because of this. (option A puts more hide forward). Keep in mind that the key element on a rug is making both sides even. The more even everything is, the less hide you lose to trimming. White spots can be an issue, because you almost always want them forward, even if they are large. The sewing in the armpit area can distort the look of the spot if you cut in front of the spot (or middle, etc...)

On your second question, yes you can do that. You can also just "tube" a bear (just the rear leg cuts to vent, skin down from there). You will realize in the field, that unless you have a couple handy guys with you, this is easier said than done.


Senior Member
May 13, 2015
Your drawing for a rug is good. Keep in mind that on a rug you can cut off the pads, since they are not a part of a rur, the claws are though.

On a frontal body mount, I'd leave more of the back and belly then your drawing indicates, more is always better. Additionally, if you want to include the legs, you will need to tube them, not cut down them. The cuts you make, where you make them are extremely important. If you make you cuts on the inside of the legs, ofr example, where the hair is thinnest, or even non existant, (as indicated in your drawing), it can always be trimmed back to where there is hair, making for a better rug. If you cut in the wrong places, well, it is highly likley the sewn job will be noticable.