Miss Outdoors: Gritty Pageantry

2008 winner brings muskrat skinning to outdoor competition
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2008 winner brings muskrat skinning to outdoor competition

We aren't familiar with the logistics of a Miss Outdoors pageant, but we'd expect the winner to possess great skills—for example pitching a tent in hurricane-like conditions or catching a trout dinner with nothing but a carabiner and a Clif Bar. The 2008 Miss Outdoors winner did indeed have a talent rougher than baton twirling--she wowed the crowds with her skills in muskrat skinning.

Seventeen-year-old Dakota Abbott became the first woman to win both the pageant and a muskrat skinning contest this weekend in Dorchester County, Maryland. While we do think it's kind of a strange accomplishment, we have to admire a girl who can wear a silver crown and evening gown one night and then be wrist-deep in a muskrat the next. Abbott, who skinned her first muskrat at 14, told the LA Times it's all in a day's work: "You get bloody, but I don't mind. I mean, I work in a butcher shop in deer season."

That sure is different from a rehearsed speech about world peace, but then so is the work of other contestants whose talents range from singing country cliches to plucking a chicken onstage.

Apparently, the oversized rodent meat is somewhat of a staple in Dorchester local dishes—muskrat salsa and muskrat dumplings are popular foods at backyard barbecues. Skinning competition judge Morgan Bennett, who loves his muskrats baked, said, "Muskrat is a real delicacy."

As far as outdoor dishes go, we'll stick to yummy fake burritos. And the next time we see a muskrat swimming around a pond, we'll think of our young outdoor diva who can strip their hides off with one pop of her well-manicured fingers.

--Morgan Keys

Miss Outdoors' talent? Skinning muskrats (LA Times)

Image credit: mandj98