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John Marston skinning an animal in Red Dead Redemption.

Skinning is an activity featured in Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2. There are several achievements and challenges associated with skinning animals, in addition to the activity being a major source of income.


Red Dead Redemption

Skinning an animal is an action that can be done by the player after killing an animal of any kind, provided a carcass remains; attacking an animal with too powerful a weapon will obliterate it and leave nothing to skin. By skinning it, the player will gain items such as fur, pelts, meat, and hearts; these items are essentially currency, having no use of their own, and can be exchanged for money at any store in the game. Some items are guaranteed (such as pelts and meat), while others are awarded based on random chance (such as hearts and claws).

Skinning has several animations. Large animals, such as bears and horses, require an initial stabbing animation, then a second side-ways cut, and a third and final skinning animation. Large animals take 5–6 seconds to skin. Medium-sized animals, such as wolves and cougars, only require the initial stabbing animation, then the final animation. Small animals, such as rabbits and snakes, are the fastest to skin, needing only the finishing skinning animation. The player character can hold a maximum quantity of 99 skins or pelt of each animal at a time.

The skinning animation renders the player character invulnerable; predators, such as bears and cougars, will still try to attack, but cannot do damage until it is concluded. The player's horse, on the other hand, can still be killed during the skinning animation.

While Marston does not skin birds, he will bend down and retrieve one or more feathers from a bird carcass, for essentially the same effect. This animation is the same for all birds, regardless of their size or the number of feathers retrieved.

Before skinning/plucking an animal, the player must wait for its body to stop moving and begin to bleed; this is the same as when looting a dead body.

Wearing the Expert Hunter Outfit doubles the number of item drops from animals, except hearts which will still only drop at a maximum rate of one per animal.

Faster Skinning

  • There is a glitch that allows for instant skinning, removing animations and, therefore, saving time. To do this, ride a mount onto the animal so it is directly on the target. Then, dismount, and move until it says "Skin animal". When seeing that, press the "skin" button. The animal will look exactly the same (they will still have its fur, antlers, etc.), but you will gain all the items you would have if you actually 'skinned' it. The animal will, otherwise, function as an already-skinned animal.
    • This same glitch can be used to loot bodies. However, sometimes just standing directly on the bodies can cause this glitch to happen.
    • Sometimes, when trying this on large animals, the animation sequence still starts. When skinning the larger animals, one needs to be extra careful about positioning the horse. Try to get it to stand across the belly of the animal.
    • This exploit is especially useful when in areas where predatory animals (Cougars, Bears, Wolves, etc.) are present.
    • This glitch can also occur when you are near a horse, without actually riding it first. 

Red Dead Redemption 2

Introduced in the mission "The Aftermath of Genesis", hunting has been improved in Red Dead Redemption II, in terms of realism. With these new options, skinning has also been updated. The player character now has animations of themselves skinning the animal. Arthur/John skins animals differently depending on their size.

For small animals, such as rabbits or snakes, the player just rips the skin off with his hands, often without the need for a blade (depending on the animal). With larger animals, such as deer or bears, the player character makes a cut through the animal's abdomen. The player will then peel back the animal's skin. With animals such as deer, the skin will be rolled up, and planed flatly on the horse. However, with skin from large animals, such as moose or bears, the skin will be rolled in a large bundle, and will be carried that way on the back of the horse. The player character cannot carry the bodies of these large animals, nor can his horse carry them. If the player decides not to skin animals such as deer, or even if the animal is skinned, it can be carried on the back of a horse to sell, donate to the camp, or eat later. Smaller animals will be attached to the player's saddle. Animals will decay overtime, decreasing their quality and selling price. The quality of a skin will decrease depending on how the animal is skinned.


In Redemption

  • Skinning will often despawn animals behind Marston, but this cannot be relied upon.
  • After skinning, the camera will be rotated 180 degrees.
  • The tactic that Marston uses to skin involves slicing down the animal's torso, and turning the animal inside out by pulling its flesh out from underneath the skin.
  • If the player crouches before skinning, the animation will be seen at a higher angle. The animal still will not be seen. Very rarely, it will be possible to skin an animal without the camera zooming in, leaving the player performing the skinning animation with the screen behind him. With this, it is possible to see that the animal disappears during skinning and reappears as a "skinned" corpse. This was likely implemented to prevent lag.
  • John will occasionally make a disgusted comment while skinning a dead animal.
  • Jack will often comment about the time his father first taught him how to skin.

In Redemption 2

  • Animals like horses, cats or dogs cannot be skinned.
  • Skinning domestic animals that are found on ranches and rural settlements will lose the player Honor for Animal Cruelty.



The following Trophies/Achievements can be acquired through skinning animals:

Red Dead Redemption

Rdr bearly legal.jpg
5 gamerscoregamerscore
Bronze bronzebronze
Kill and skin 18 Grizzly Bears.


Rdr frontiersman.jpg
20 gamerscoregamerscore
Bronze bronzebronze
Obtain Legendary rank in any Single Player Ambient Challenge.

Red Dead Redemption 2

30 gamerscoregamerscore
Bronze bronzebronze
Skin every species of animal in Story Mode.

10 gamerscoregamerscore
Bronze bronzebronze
Red Dead Online: Sell 20 items to the butcher.


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