Revolutionary fleshing device demonstrated by Island trapper

Grade 6 Lakeview School student Darci Debassige tries the fleshing machine showing that anyone, regardless of strength or skill, can use the new invention.

MANITOULIN—John Seabrook unveiled his fleshing device last weekend at a Manitoulin Trappers’ Association workshop in front of a large crowd of eager Island trappers.

The device features a built in chair and interchangeable forms for cleaning different types and parts of animals, making the task of fleshing animal hides easier for seasoned trappers and newbies alike.

“Everyone has to sign a waiver not to steal this idea,” joked Mr. Seabrook as he sat down at his machine with a freshly skinned beaver hide. “When I was 18 trapping in White River I invented this in my head. A few years ago I made my first one out of wood—it took me about a day. This one (which is metal and features a tractor seat) took me a bit longer and I’ve already planned my next model which will be more open so you will be able to do bear or deer hide.”

“The trick with this (device) is to leave as much (of the fat) as you can prior (to the skinning of an animal),” continued Mr. Seabrook. “I use two tools, each with a different angle.”

He explained he has different wooden forms which fit onto the machine for different sized animals, a small one for big beaver legs or to start a fisher on, a middle sized form that can be used on “pretty much anything” and a big form for raccoons and coyotes.

“The two big benefits of this machine are sitting and having it right in front of you so you can see what you’re doing,” continued Mr. Seabrook. “I was going to patent it until I found out it costs $7,500 just to talk to a guy and then another $100,000 by the time you are done (filing for the patent). I would like if someone more business minded than me approached me at making these, because I don’t really want to, but they are great and I could see them helping a lot of trappers. I wouldn’t even trap if I didn’t have one. Amazing trappers like Ian (Ian Anderson, who prior to Mr. Seabrook’s presentation demonstrated how to skin and flesh an otter using the traditional tools of a knife and a scrapper (to scrap the fat off the hide)) are clean skinners, but I’ve never been a clean skinner.”

Mr. Seabrook demonstrated how using the machine, which also features a foot controlled clamp which holds the hide in place, makes it so “anyone can flesh a hide.”

“It is so easy I could stop right now and anyone could do this,” said Mr. Seabrook. “I start everything on this little leg board (one of the interchangeable wood forms). It really takes no effort.”

He said the hand tools were modified from a log peeler he created when building his log home.

Grade 6 Lakeview Student Darci Debassige took Mr. Seabrook up on his offer and tried the machine for herself. Though her legs were a little too short to control the clamp, she was successfully able to use the tools to flesh the beaver hide.

“It’s pretty cool,” Darci told The Expositor. “I would definitely help my dad if we had one.”

“It’s quite the thing,” added Green Bay farmer and trapper Bruce Wood. “It’s nice that you can clean while sitting. He should go on Dragon’s Den.”

“It can do a really nice job,” said Mr. Anderson, noting that it would be a great machine for individuals who need help fleshing. “It works well.”