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How to skin a gator

Article was added on Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Lauren Lurz

Above: Passerby Lauren Lurz, a Charlotte resident, pulled over and stopped at The Skinning Shed to get a closer look at another 12-footer that Stone and company had received for processing last fall.

 

By WALTER ALLREAD

In South Carolina, gators are unwelcome guests, whether you're talking about those of the Southeastern Conference variety or the ancient reptiles who have inhabited our waterways for countless millenia.

For help with the latter (for help with the former, see one Steve Spurrier), Santee Electric Cooperative member Randy Stone, owner of The Skinning Shed in Johnsonville, is your man. A long-time hunter and guide licensed by the state to trap nuisance gators, Stone added processing alligators to his list of skills when legal alligator hunting resumed in South Carolina in 2008.

The month-long alligator season, which in 2012 runs from Sept. 8 to Oct. 13, has been a huge success with hunters statewide. According to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, 6,400 people from 42 states and Canada applied for licenses in 2011 for 1,200 permits, which was up 70 percent from 2010. The record length for an alligator caught in South Carolina is 13 feet, six inches, and Stone says his shop has processed a similar monster since it opened three years ago.

"We had a 13-footer come to us [in 2010]," says the 63-year-old Stone, who was born and raised on a farm about a mile from his store, a converted gas station located at 441 Kingsburg Hwy.

Stone says skinning a gator, despite the obvious differences in skin and anatomy, isn't much different from that of other popular game.

"Really, it's the same as skinning a deer or hog," Stone says. "You slit them down the back and peel them out, gut them, hang in the cooler and process in the same way."

In fact, skinning a gator is the easy part, according to Stone.

"The draw tag is so hard to get in the first place, very few people get them," he says. "Then, if you get lucky enough to get pulled, it's $100 for a tag. And then you have to go find a gator!"

If you do, Stone has you covered. The Skinning Shed, he says, can handle all your processing needs for gators or just about any wild game.

Stone notes, "The Skinning Shed is state-licensed and inspected. We strive to offer the best service available to our customers. For nearly four generations the trait has been in our family. Our facility is the best around the area, due to it being so modern, clean, and last but not least the quality. Each processed item is vacuum packed to guarantee freshness."

More than  gators

The Skinning Shed offers processing, mounting-even kayak rentals The Skinning Shed processes a variety of wild game, ranging from deer to wild hogs, buffalo (and cows) as well as rabbits, waterfowl, turkeys, quail, alligator and any fish. Owner Randy Stone says The Skinning Shed can also help with mountings. "European mounts are completed on site in a timely manner," he says. Stone also offers a range of two-man hunting towers. He adds, "We assist with any nuisance animal problems you may have." Swamp fox kayak and canoe rentals are available daily. To learn more, call (843) 386-2000 or visit TheSkinningShed.com.


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