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Tanning tips

2008/12/16 10:37
Posts: 2
Friday I shot a small doe of course the deer was at that stage of life between fawn and deer (hair was real mangy) but good eatin' So I scraped the hide but saved the tail.

Anyway, I was just scouring the internet and found this great write up I thought was worth sharing. Any other past experiences you may have had or tips on tanning for later tying would be appreicated. I'm gonna try the method below for the tail.

I love to get my own materials the old fashioned way, with a 30/30. I love deer and turkey season in Kentucky. Everyone I know is calling wanting to get rid of a hide or a fan. i love it. I can stock up a lifetime's worth of deer and feathers in just a week! But the question is, how do you tan all of those hides. The answer is very simple. use the Eskimo Method.

This is a great way to tan hides for the sole purpose of keeping the hair/fur from falling out, and to keep the pelt from rotting. It is quick, easy, non-messy, uses NO chemicals at all, and preserves a pelt for eternity. I first came across this method in a book, the title escapes me now, but the article was by the famous womanizing outdoorsman, Jacques Herter. Herter claims to have learned this method from an Inuit guide he used regularly. Here's how you do it:

1. First remove all the tissue and sinew from the hide. I use a skinning blade made from a flat peice of pig iron. It scrapes more than it cuts and minimizes the risk of cutting through the hide. This requires a little elbow grease, but it easier to do if the pelt is cold, or has been refrigerated, but not frozen.

2. After removing all the visceral tissue, use Morton's Pickling salt, and salt the hell out of it. The salt dries the hide and helps to emulsify any fatty residue on the hide. Lay the hide out flat in a dry, cool place....garages work nicely. After a few days, the hide will be dry, although you should check it every few hours to drain off any excess liquid and re-salt.

3. Once the hide is dry, you are ready to tan it. Scrape the hide again to remove the salt and to help soften the hide. Once the salt is removed, mix your tanning solution.....flour and water. That's right, flour and water. Mix it into a large bowl. The consistency should be that of pancake batter. Thickly apply the mixture to the flesh side of the hide. Allow it to dry, and it should look kinda like plaster of Paris. Now, lay the hide flat, hair side down, in the same cool, dry place you dried it. Wait two days for the mixture to harden. once it's hardened, remove the flour by scraping the hide. Now, a word of caution. It can be a bit challengeing, as the flour will sometimes set up hard as concrete, but a spritz of water can soften it enough to remove.

4. Once you have srcaped the hide, what you should have is a very soft, very white pelt. You may have to work it a little with your hands to soften it, but for a tiers' tanning, soften doesn't count for much.

This method works great on any hide, but especially deer, elk, and bear. The point is to preserve the hide, keep the hide from rotting, and to keep the hair intact. If you should later want to dye a hide tanned this way, you simply dye it, drain it, and tan it the same way, once the piece is dried.

I love tanning like this and have used this method for years. It only takes a few days;it's cheap, and you don't have to worry about chemical solutions. I was simply amazed the first time I tried it. You will be too!!!

Posted on: 2009/10/18 23:34
Hot and Dangerous if your one of us then roll with us.............

Re: Tanning tips

2009/10/5 18:50
From PA
Posts: 9
Nice read.

Posted on: 2009/10/19 9:16

Re: Tanning tips

2008/12/16 10:37
Posts: 2
Just a quick update and my tail is on day 3 of the flour and water step. The edges are drying well I believe in another 2-3 days it will be complete.

I talked to my local taxadermist and he also said this method should work well. I plan on doing complete squirrel, rabbit and game birds if I am able to harvest this season.

Good luck to all this hunting season. I was hoping more would have an interest in doing this in hopes of sharing there material with others, local TU chapters etc...

Posted on: 2009/10/22 14:42
Hot and Dangerous if your one of us then roll with us.............

Re: Tanning tips

2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
Posts: 53
My idiot friend shot a deer and gave me the tail. I asked him if it was treated, and he grunted something that sounded like "yeah". It was a cold winter, and we didn't use the heat more than enough to keep the pipes freezing that year.

The smell that march was unimaginable.

Posted on: 2009/10/22 14:46

Re: Tanning tips

2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
Posts: 5
In one of Geirachs books he does a few pages about hides and tanning/preserving hair and feathers. Actual tanning , not just salting and preserving , but actual tanning , resulting in a hide that is flexible and plyant , removes alot of natural oils that add to the buoyancy of fur you intend to use for dry flies , deer hair too , if your intent is to use the deer hair on dry flies you are better off just salting , drying and preserving it vs. actually tanning it. A can of Para-moth crystals , used to keep the bugs away , will overpower any offensive odor. Keep everything sealed up in containers or zip-locks , defeats the bugs and the odor.

Posted on: 2009/10/24 7:12

Re: Tanning tips

2008/3/20 16:37
Posts: 1
Have to agree with ospery. I do all with salt- deer, squirrel, rabbits, muscrats and mink. I lay the skins fir down on plywood and nail in the sides. As I nail them in I pull on the hides to get them as tight as I can. Don't have to bear down to do this, Just want them flat. Salt them and let them sit till they dry. Somethime they need more salt- mink and deer usually do.

I have a good supply so I just let them go for about five months. Then I scrap off the salt-very well- making sure to get All it off ending with a nice clean skin. After that they go into a ziploc back with a moth ball. The skin is flat making it very easy to cut the hair right down to the skin. Been doing this way for 29 years.

Author of, "Spring Creek Strategies

Posted on: 2009/11/19 14:24

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