II have researched skinning a bear for a rug ad nauseam but am still confused as to how the back legs should be cut. I figure it far wiser to ask the people that do rugs than to ask outfitters/fellow hunters.
The natural position of the legs of a bear lying on its stomach is for the front pads to be down and the rear pads to be up.
How best to skin the back legs so they lay flat with the pads down while maintaining leg symmetry.
Do you split down the inside (thinnest hair) to the center of the pad or down the back of the leg to the back edge of the pad?
The best reference I have come across is at http://www.outdoorsdirectory.com/magazine/blbcare.htm but even it is not entirely clear.
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But I skin bears MANY ways. If I have an upright, I dorsal cut it. If I have a lifesize standing on all fours I decide if I want to dorsal or ventral cut it. If I ventral cut it, I cut it up the back of the legs where the hair's the thickest in order to hide that crappy stitching of mine. If I'm going to make a rug, however, Its down that inner leg. Pretend you drop the bear off a building and it attempts to land on all fours. The "splat effect" will splay those legs instead of folding them out in front and in back. A rug is a splat effect. I always split the pad down the center regardless. On rugs, the pads are removed anyway. On lifesize, I staple the pads back on the forms and after it dries, I retexture the pad. Fancy cuts around the pad often tend to form whorls where the stitche pull.
There are as many ways to skin a bear for a rug, as there are Taxidermist that do them. Rarely does a customer, or Outfitter skin one the way I prefer to have them. even the ones I have shown seem to forget in a week. The rear legs should be cut from the heal to between the tail, and the rectum. in a nice straight line. By doing this you are putting the excess hide between the body and rear leg, rather than out the back of the hide where it will need to be trimmed. when you do your relief pleat, you can take the thinnest portion out. same on the front legs. when you get to where the legs meet the body, go slightly upward, rather than straight across. this way you do not have points between the head, and the legs. The excess here can be pleated in. both These actions give the rug a wider body appearance.
I can't believe how quickly you guys responded.
I was just on my way out & thought I would check for responses.
Thanks guys. You make me feel that my question was not all that stupid after all!
......Provided I have the choice, that is if the hunter/outfitter hasn't already created more work for me!
Back legs, from the heel to a point 2" IN FRONT of the vent. If I get to educate the hunter before he skins the bear I tell them to stop 2" in front of the vent(ass for those of you who need the sceintific term) when they gut the animal. This leaves you with a STRAIGHT edge on the back edge of the finished rug. AND that extra 2" left there would just be trimmed anyway because it would be a flap on the outside of the rear legs. Always emphasize to make the cut from the heel in, NOT out to the heel. If you don't emphasize this. you'll get a bear that has feet cut on the side that will need sewing.
Front legs, this is a bit more difficult to explain. Imagine your hand is extended in front of you to shake hands, thumb up. Now if that were the bears forearm, I start my cut in the center of the front pad(larger pad) and cut through the center of it TO and THROUGH the center of the small pad. That puts you right at the lower edge of the forearm where the hair flows together. I then cut at the very bottom edge of the forearm to the elbow(you can feel it on your arm and on a bear. From that point I angle forward to theupper chest. That cut on the forearm will leave you with a bear rug that has the hair laying out to the front and to the rear. Miss that line and the hair on the back edge of your rug will point forward and leave you with a raw leather edge exposed.
Here's a good explanation by one of our local Alaskan taxidermists:
Great Job! I was about to post about how to do a bear rug, but looks like it was taken care of already! Again, great job.