Skinning is an activity featured in Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption II. There are several achievements and challenges associated with skinning animals in addition to the activity being a major source of income throughout the game.
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. Small animals, such as rabbits and snakes, are the fastest to skin, needing only the finishing skinning animation. Medium-sized animals, like wolves, or coyotes, require an initial stabbing, then the final animation. Finally, large animals, which consist of buffalo, horses, bears, and cows, require the initial stabbing, a sideways cut, then the final animation. Large animals take 5–6 seconds to skin. The skinning animation renders the player character invulnerable; bears, cougars, coyotes, and wolves etc., 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 an animal, the player must wait for its ragdoll 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.
- 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 gain all the items would've gotten if being 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.
- Skinning will often despawn animals behind Marston, but this cannot be relied upon.
- After skinning, the camera will be rotated a hundred and eighty degrees.
- The tactic 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.
- John will occasionally make a disgusted comment while skinning a dead animal.
- 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.
- Jack Marston will often comment about the time his father first taught him how to skin.
The following Trophies/Achievements can be acquired through skinning animals:
Kill and skin 18 Grizzly Bears.
Obtain Legendary rank in any Single Player Ambient Challenge.