DP and Old Wives Tales

Submitted by George on 10/26/01. ( georoof@aol.com )

As most of the regulars know, DP has caused more than a few blood lettings on this forum and I'm about to start another. So before we start, go get your methiolate and band aids.

Yesterday, I read a post from one of the suppliers reps that fell back on that tired old wives tale that "DP may work in southern climates, but the norther climates are too harsh to use it." Horesefeathers.

Most people badmouthing DP have never tried it, and those that have just don't like the results. For deer capes especially, I love the oil smells, the pliability of the leather and the silky feel of the hair given to a tanned hide PERIOD. DP is harsh and CAN lead to drumming and cracks around eyes, noses, and lips, but it's not the fault of DP. It's the failure of taxidermists to use a good adhesive to hold the hide in place PERIOD. A good tanned hide will drum in a heartbeat if it's not glued down or nailed down or carded and IF it gets wet, it'll change posture just as quickly as a DP hide can.

I have mounts that are 30 years old in my home (in Delaware where it does get cold in winter and hot in summer) that were DP'ed. Guess what? They look just as good (or bad) as the talent I had then as compared to the tanned hides I've mounted in the last 10 or 15 years. I know of a very reputable and nationally aclaimed taxidermist who mounted 3 capes (one raw, one DP, and one tanned) about 25 years ago just to see how they would fare. Some of the "icons" here won't like to hear he reports that from across the room, he can't seen any difference in any of the three mounts.

Now if there was an ounce of validity in latitude playing a factor on DP's viability, why wouldn't all the birds that are mounted in Michigan, South Dakota, Alaska, and Canada be falling apart? No one really believes in tanning bird skins. It's all DP'd or mounted raw. Why would a whitetails eyelid crack sooner than a woodduck skin? Remember, bird skins are seldom glued down on their mannikens. Temperatures have little effect on mounts if you take humidity out of the equation. Mounts in Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas done with DP have a much greater risk of problems due to varying degrees of humidity. Using the old wives tale, northern tier deer would stand a better chance with DP (which is constantly trying to remove water from the hide). DP also provides more stretch in a hide than can ever be replicated with the best of tans. Since the hide is mounted in almost a raw state, the cells structure is more flexible and too much stretch is often as big a problem as anything else with a DP hide.

"MOST" reputable taxidermists used tanned hides because of the softness in appearance it gives the animals as well as the luster it imparts on the hide. I don't know why the geographical tendency toward using DP is more prevalent in the southen US, but I suspect it came from ages ago when the fur trade was centered in the northern tier and people tanned everything. They never had to resort to other methods. I won't ever mount big game with anything BUT a quality tan, but small game and birds will continue to get DP in my shop.

I've heard that DP hides stink. Again, not true. DP'ed hides have absolutely no smell if they are cleaned and prepped properly. It's not the method of preservation causing the problem. It's the lack of proper care.

DP is just another tool. You must decide if you want to use it or not and only you can decide if it does or doesn't meet your standard. Painting a big scarlet DP on a mount, however, doesn't get it and continuation of old wives tales serves absolutely no purpose in the industry. I would remind you that even a tanned hide won't make a bad taxidermist better. Lack of talent can't be corrected with technology.

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This response submitted by CUR on 10/26/01. ( WILDART@prodigy.net )

What George said.

DP was invented by a Yanqui. During my lifetime I have had the pleasure of living on three continents and in eleven states which ranged from east to west and north to south. I have used DP in the boggy southern climates and in Chicago (Little Siberia)during the time I was held prisoner there by a herd of blue coats. I used it near the equator in Vietnam, matter of fact. Commercial DP's and borax is used all around the globe and has been an accepted practice for longer than I have been alive.

As George pointed out, there are drawbacks and advantages to every conceivable practice and procedure. I have used tanned skins and capes over the years and have had good results. I have also accomplished some serious DP work, to include several life-sized deer and other larger species without personal or end user complaint. All this petty talk about "drumming" and "fit" are largely industry measures in any event. (Some elitist class of bozos deciding how many sections they could split from a hair to narrow the judging corridors in competition by finding new terminology to hang on old problems.) As George stated, drumming can take place with the finest tanned hide if arranged on a mannikin in a wet state without adhesive. Drumming is the result of poor workmanship, not the result of process.

No matter the field, it seems that all "experts" are split into two or more camps with members of each believing that "their" process is better than that employed by other. The elitist proponents of one process or the other are constantly dreaming up grounds, examples and considerations in to support their personal stand. Frankly, how something was mounted has little import on the final, overall effect.

An "outstanding" mount is usually so judged because of its' visual effect and impact on the viewer's emotions, and not because of a tactile sense. It is the eye and mind's acceptance that separates good from great, and seldom the process by which the final effect is measured. The ability to impart the fleeting effervescence of life or potential energy to a mount is what makes it seem real. No amount of skin preparation can lend effort to that final goal. It is the eye and mind and hand of the preparator coupled with his or her knowledge and experience, and not the conditional status of a skin's cells, that allows taxidermists to rekindle the memory of life in our subjects.

DP, when used correctly, and following proper skin preparation, will produce a lasting mount. It will work from zero to the highest humidity and from slightly above freezing to the upper limits of human endurance. I can remember the days when a mount was judged by how it appeared, and not how it felt, or by which process it was achieved.

It sickens me to see someone state that any process is not a valid one, or that one particular set of parameters is better than another. There are many protocols available in the taxidermy field. Any crusade to eliminate one is preliminary to a crusade to self-elimination as new techniques and procedures emerge.

I personally would rather have a well prepared green skin to DP process than the junk I have seen some tanneries produce. Mind you, I am not stating a personal opinion here as a particular proponent of DP over tanning. I firmly believe, however, that both tanned skins and dry preserved, green hides produce quality mounts if protocols are followed and the skills of the users equal. To state firmly and absolutely that one method is better than another over the whole of potential application is foolhardy in my estimate.

Let the proponents of each go at it tooth and nail. Me? Now that I have added fire to George's rabble rousing fire, I'm a goin' huntin'....See ya.

I guess I misspoke...........

This response submitted by Dave B. on 10/26/01. ( dave.belanger@cabelas.com )

For me to say that DP does not have any place in the Taxidermy industry would be absolutely rediculas!The Gentleman was talking about a "Deer Shoulder mount" and I was directing my attention to that particular subject.
DP has been around for ages and was far easier to use over brain tanning and had/has its degree of good results.Obviously, the industry seen the need for something better. Along came Alun tans and Lutan-F, Ez-100 Tannit AGS and Syn Tans like Liqua tan, Synoil Tan, Quick-N-EZE and so on.The need for Pickling was noticed, and so the industry evolves.
I was born and raised in the far North and have owned mounts that DP was used.I witnessed for myself what the skin does with the change of the seasons.Heck....a deer can be mounted with nothing on the skin at all, and if bugs dont get to it, it too can look great for years. The Dp is just drawing the moisture out of the skin at a speeded rate.
Why is there a 2 week "Slipage" period a DP skin through? And I have to say, I chuckle every time a DP user get on here and SLAMS the spray tans!

Again, I will never say that DP has "No Place" in the industry.But with all the moder day taning products out on the market why use it for the bigger projects?

To all, have a good day,


This response submitted by Dave Toms on 10/26/01. ( )

Yea and duct tape has been used to hold all kinds of things together so why not duct tape the horns to the head instead of screwing it down? Why not explain both process to your customers and see what they perfer? Too bad we can not send an info sheet on both processes to all the customers in the US and ask which one they perfer, maybe that would gives us some better results. As for me and my house... we will tan our hides. This questions will never be resolved. Use what you believe in and make your customers happy, that is what it is all about anyway.


This about that

This response submitted by Tony Finazzo on 10/26/01. ( finazducks@aol.com )

Climate can be the enemy of any method of preservation. Humid conditions can cause a tanned hide to acid rot. especially if it is wet than dry and that repeats many times. Every area has it's problems. I have a problem with things drying out befor I'm done fleshing or mounting. I guess it makes me work faster LOL> And how this helps with the question I have no idea!

Good George

This response submitted by Bob on 10/26/01. ( tax43@hotmail.com )

I enjoyed reading your post very much George and Cur. I think the best
point you made was that basically to each his own. I have used DP for
20+ years and I like the fact that it seems to work well and I don't
have to wait months to get a hide back from the tannery.
I used DP on a hide 20 years ago on a deer neck mount. I got the
hide from a friend and decided to use DP. I put it on the form, the deer
was cut all the way up the back of the neck, so I only put in 3 nails per
side so I could open it from time to time. Well it has hung outside and inside my
shop in all kinds of weather & temeratures over the years, it has been it extreme heat
and cold. It still looks fine, (inside and out). Well let me say with 3 nails
per side holding the hide together it doesn't look good as in a good mount but
that was not the purpose, the purpose was to see how long the hide would hold up .
Anyway it was a great post George. I don't comment very often on here but I had
to comment on this one. I enjoyed it very much, Thanks.

hey Dave B.

This response submitted by Tina Barber on 10/26/01. ( crittergedder@yahoo.com )

Hey Dave...just wanted to say hi!


This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 10/27/01. ( stephen.rogers@home.com )

George, George, George,
What happened between last year and this year that would begin to make you wax poetic about the philosophical variences of tanning vs. dry preservative. Just one year ago in a posting concerning hairslippage you were adamant regarding the necessity of actual tanning vs. Dry preservative. I had posted one of my first Gaither-like observations on dry preserve vs. tanning vs. nothing at all. See www.taxidermy.net/forums/DeerTaxiArticles/00/i/00A5709F5B.html
I never actually stated my preference in mounting a museum quality taxidermy piece, and I should perhaps do it for posterity.
Dry preservative works adequate if the hide in question is not full of fat, and has been shaved down and thoroughly fleshed to the thin-ness (not a word - I know) of a fox or rabbit skin, and superior hide paste is utilized. But for better long term preservation, especially if the hide has not been shaved down paper thin, tanning is the only way to go. Tanning does not prevent the breakdown of hide material, at least the techniques used a hundred years ago to twenty years ago. Visit a fur vault in any major museum in the US and you will see much deterioration. The tans of today are, of cource, thought to be far superior to those of the past, but ask me in twenty years after some controlled studies are done.
Tanned dressed hides make superior mounts in my opinion, but I would state that the quality of the taxidermist is more important. An average taxidermist with the best tanned deer hide in the world probably wouldn't stand up to a raw hide prepared or dry preserve mount by Mr. Yox or other taxidermists of that caliber.
The average longevity of a commercial taxidermy piece is probably under 40 years whereupon one of three things probably happen. 1)The wife finally says to GET IT OUT OF THIS HOUSE and it goes to deer camp where mice eat the ears and it is tossed.
2)The kids who just inherited the piece from the parents are now city slickers and throw it out.
3)The horns are so nice it is sold on E-bay and someone puts a new cape on it.
In any event, tanning or dry preservative are adequate. But I would doubt very many Museum Taxidermists around the world, who expect the longevity of a mount to last at least 100 years would mount life size large mammals with a rub on dry preserve.


This response submitted by Michael S on 10/27/01. ( )

who sells dry preservatives and he will tell you it works wonders,
ask the guy who sells chemical tans and he will tell you it works wonders.
ask both which one is better and they will have an argument!
to each their own, as long as the proper prep work is done and done right, i guess they are both okay. you can not control what the customer does with the mount once they get it home, nor can you control where they put it. both have an effect on the life of the mount no matter what procedure is used. (god, i sound good)LOL:)


This response submitted by Jim Tucker on 10/28/01. ( )

This debate reminds me of the smokers who tell me "my Uncle smoked 3 packs a day and lived till he was 90!" Funny that when I worked in the Hospital for 17 years ALL the people with lung problems were smokers. Yes, DP can work, but in my 20 years of experience, tanned furs and hides look better, are easier to work with AND last longer. If DP works for you GREAT!

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