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Any tips on pulling porcupine quills?

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  • Any tips on pulling porcupine quills?

    I was thinking about buying a dried porcupine hide and pulling the quills for some quill projects. Does anybody have any helpful tips on doing this?
    One thing at a time...

  • #2

    might answer your question.

    Christy Ann Hensler's "Guide to Indian Quillworking" (Hancock House 1989) has a page on the subject, so does Jean Heinbuch in her "Quillwork Companion" (Eagle View Publ. 1990).

    Cathy Smith, a quillworker from Santa Fe, also tells how to pluck the quills from the hide -- you'll find her tips in volume 3 of "Book of Buckskinning."

    Just my two cents: even with this help, plucking quills is still a lousy job, and if you have pets in your house, or a baby toddler crawling around, find a place where your quills do no harm.

    [This message has been edited by Nightherder (edited December 13, 2000).]


    • #3
      the quills from salted dried hides are as good (and as greasy) as quills from a fresh hide. and, next to roadkill, is the most affordable way of getting quills. Of course you have to do all the plucking-sorting-cleaning yourself! :-)

      The quills are definately cemented-in more on a dried hide than a fresh hide. But I wouldnt recommend pulling them out with pliers, that tends to crack and damage the quills.

      There are a couple of ways to make pulling the quills 'by hand' a bit easier. Stretch and nail the hide (or a piece of the hide) flat to a board. You can also soak the hide in warm water for several hours before nailing it down. Wearing a light weight rubber glove when plucking gives you a little better grip on the quills.

      (If you do get stuck with a quill, slice the quill to 'let the air out of it' before you pull it out, it will come out easier.)

      As a p.s. I heard that porkies, in Michigan anyway, have been known to carry hepatitis... anyone else heard that?



      • #4
        Wow thanks for the advice I'll check out those books.
        One thing at a time...


        • #5
          Instructions courtesy of Don Hibbard:

          Cut the Porky hide into 1.5 inch squares.
          Wrap hair with rubberbands starting near base and working up to create a ponytail effect. (This saves and collects the hair.) Using a razor blade, carefully slice the quills away from the hide. (your only cutting a tine connecting hair folicle). Drop quills into a plastic bag and rinse with water and detergent to wash away excess oils. Strongly recommend against using teeth for anything here or softening quills in mouth (even if it is the old way). There are diseases and bad bacteria which you could get from doing that. The quills will soften just fine in a cup of water. You wouldn't suck on a road kill, would you? LOL
          Don also has nice design for an adjustable frame to use when doing wrap quill work if anyone is interested.


          • #6

            One thing I've learned..... "pretty mid-length nails and quills don't mix". Thanks powwowbum49!

            SHAKE IT!!!!


            • #7
              I picked up a roadkill in Montana in 95. It was all bloated and about the size of a horse. I wore a thick leather work glove (didnt want to get stuck and end up with some sort of Montana disease) and in a petting motion grabbed quills with the side of my thumb and fore finger. I got about 20 or 30 with each pull. I was amazed at how many are on a hide. I ended up with a shoebox full nice quills. Oh...I forgot to mention the best part!!! I picked it up and put it in the car to work on at my campsite and when I took it back out and placed it on the ground.....IT GROWLED!!! I jumped back about 10 feet. It turns out that it had bloated SOOOO much that it finally (excuse the pun) "busted a gut". OH BOY DID IT SMELL!!!! There was probably twice as many quills as I got but I was on the verge of throwing up.
              The brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.


              • #8
                Saliva is much, much better for soaking quills than water -- water makes them brittle.

                Some quillworkers put a bunch of quillls into their mouth (they even talk with them or drink coke but I'd never do that.

                I will not be too graphic about how to get saliva onto a saucer or plate . But do that and soak the quills there.


                • #9
                  Growling Roadkill. I doesn't get much better than this!!!!!



                  • #10
                    I would prefer a road kill procupine to pull the quills out of. I don't like the thought that hunters and trapers kill them for profit. I have never seen any porcupine's here in the midwest or on the side of the road. There always plenty of road kill raccoons if anyone wants to trade.

                    I think if a road kill that I put in my car growled at least one of us would need cleaned.

                    [This message has been edited by wyat (edited December 14, 2000).]
                    One thing at a time...


                    • #11
                      wyat: Why are you against hunters and trappers killing porcupines and then selling the hides? Porcupines are not at all threatened or endangered. I they were I would be agreeing with you. There may not be very many where you are at, there aren't many where I live either. But there are plenty of them across the country and they aren't threatened at all. There probably aren't but a few hundred killed each year for quillwork anyway.

                      I see no difference between buying a legally killed porcupine and buying say, buckskin that came from a deer. I doubt that it came from a road killed deer. Anyway, I guess what I'm getting at is that wise management and controlled harvest of wildlife benefits the wild animals.

                      During most of the 1900's the River Otter was extinct in Kansas. In the 1980's, The Kansas Wildlife and Parks along with the Kansas Fur Harvesters, re-introduced the River Otter. They are making a slow comeback, but it is directly from the money of the trappers and hunters license fees, taxes on ammunition, etc... that brought the river otter back to Kansas. No money came from The Sierra Club, PETA, The Humane Society, Etc.... The wildlife is mostly affected by the people who are the closest to them.

                      Game departments set seasons and limits on many different factors. They study the population levels, food supply, cover availability, and winter weather in determining how many animals will be harvested. Then they set resonable limits and seasons. This ensures a healthy population of game. Contrary to the movie BAMBI they do not allow hunting or trapping during the summer when the young are dependent upon their mothers. One of the most important factors is the winter kill aspect. By removing surplus animals the remaining population has a better chance of surviving the severe winter season.

                      I appologize for this long post but just wanted to allow some thought on wise game management.


                      PS I think that very few porcupines are killed at all, and not very many people are making a lot of money from selling them.

                      I appologize for this long letter, but I just would like for people to think about the wise use of wildlife.



                      • #12
                        Thank you for the use of the soap box!!!!!



                        • #13
                          An Old man told me that the best way to get quills is find a porcupine and throw a big wooly blanket over it. Beat it up a little and let it go. You'll have all the quills you want. Of course then you have to pluck the blanket. But it doesn't growl.


                          • #14
                            Larry Belitz has a good trick for pulling a porky quill that is embedded in you or your pet. Give it a twist and it will come right out. He says don't ever pull the quill.
                            I have never tried his trick, so i can't speak from first hand experience.


                            • #15
                              Whirlwind: You said exactly what I wanted to say myself ... I just would like to add that I seriously doubt if all the Big Macs and Cheeseburgers come from roadkills ... just applying wyat's logic

                              Originally posted by Louis Garcia:
                              I have never tried his trick, so i can't speak from first hand experience.
                              Why not a self test? So you know if it works!
                              Thanx though for this tip, Louis!

                              Raptor: Now tell that blanket trick to someone who wants the hair for his roach???


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