I send several coyote,fox and bear out every year,I know I prep them correctly, however, they always come back with some epidermal slippage around the eyes and ears, I never have this problem when I tan them myself, is there anything more I can do on my end to cure this?
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Personally, I would call my tannery and ask them if there was a particular reason for the slippage.
If they tell you it's normal, or pass you off, maybe you should call another tannery and ask them the same question.
Or maybe tan them yourself.
I also had this problem recently with a fox. I have read alot here
about fox ears being really bad about slipping and tried to be
extra careful with them. Sent it off, had it tanned, and it came
back looking good. Then...when gluing in the first earliner a piece
about the size of a quarter on the back of the ear near the tip
came off in my hand. After muttering under my breath for a bit
I CAREFULLY started the other ear and...well, you know what
happened. I hope someone knows the right voodoo chant to prevent
All the canines are bad about this and I'm almost positive that it comes form field care of the specimen. The thin membrane of the ear means that the hair follicle is very close to the surface to start with. Most hunters case out their mounts and leave the ear butts alone during the process. They leave the cape inverted without turning the ears quickly and residual heat from the butts, spoils the epidermis of the ear. When it goes to the tannery, they have a bomb waiting to explode and it usually does.
I refuse "road kills in good shape" for this exact reason. At the risk of having a hex put on me, that's also the reason that all my small game commercial work gets DP. No muss, no fuss, now time lost risking increased hair being lost. ( I can hardly wait for Dave's reply.)
I seem to be having better results with red foxes. I am no longer afraid to tan them myself now , if time allows. I just tanned 5 recently and only one had an ear slip, and that was a trapped fox that had started mange ( it was on his tail mostly). The other 4 had no ear slip, and one was a roadkill that had sat all morning and into the afternoon before i picked it up, and it was not below freezing that day. Of the other 3 , 2 were trapped, 1 was shot, and none were skinned right away after killing. I used some alum sulphate as well as Rittels bactericide in the soak up, then they were washed and pickled in safety acid with PH of 1- 1.5. The mange fox started slipping in the soak, so it was damamge already done before salting. All 5 fox were salt dried good and hard dry.
As for ones sent to tanners, I know of at least one tanner in CA that supposedly put skins in a high PH mix prior to shaving to really plump skins up, they shave foxes too. The high PH can cause slippage in itself, and every fox i ever sent to them had ear slips. The last foxes i sent to East Coast Tannery had no slip and were tight, both were roadkills! So I think your tanner is to blame Dan, send somewhere else or do them yourself if you can since you said you had good results. As for bear ears, thats a field care problem more than anything, no bear i ever sent to a tanner ever had ear slip. Also on fox, best to not freeze at all, skin fresh, if buggy spray inside of garbage bag with good bug killer spray, lay fox in it 10-15 minutes, take out and skin, prep, and salt. When drying, if its humid run a fan on the skins. Get them very dry!
Are you getting your hides dressed (dried)? Although I tend to do a home tan on all my small mammals I often send them out to a tannery when I get backed up, but I only get wet tans on these specimens. It seems that dressed fox/mammals tend to be more fragile when re-hydrated. I have NEVER had a problem with the wet tanned specimens.
We've discussed it many times in the past. Don't spend a lot of time turning the ears, rough turn then finish when you get them back. The heat from you hands is a disaster for thin skinned ears. Don't use borax for a "gripper" it shoots the P H up way too high. Salt them for a couple days, then hang to dry, and get them dry as quick as possible.
Ear problems will virtually disappear if you do these simple things. Look at all the pelts dressed for fur. Quickly air dried and not even turned (no hand heat) seldom any slippage.
Conclusion.........don't blame the tanner