I am confussed you say in most cases you salt a hide and forget the pickle unless the hide is smelling or full of maggots? You then tan and mount? Is this a practice you use on large game or for small game only? Very interesting this could if it works save lots of time.
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Lots of things here. First, I seldom tan anything but deer. The "big game" goes to the commercial tanneries and the small game gets DP.
Secondly, I use a topical tan. In my case, I use John Rineharts Tanning Solution (JRTS) and it's a lot like Liqua-Tan and McKenzie Tan. Those last two encourage a pickle, JRTS does not. MY TAKE and MY TAKE ONLY is that a pickle serves no useful purpose on a fresh hide. I view it as putting the hide in strong acid, neutralizing it, and then entering it into a milder acid. So I don't bother. Pickles invariably shrink hides. Sometimes that stretch can be restored, sometimes not. So I don't bother. When I get a questionable hide, however, that I must do, I pickle it to further lock in the hair. With Glen Conley's Stop Rot, that might very well go away also. I like the stretch I get on an un-pickled hide.
And before I start getting low browed for MY OPINIONS, I want someone to give me an explicit, definitive explanation of what a "tan" is. You can find a thousand different definitions and none of them have a common core. "Brain tan", "vegetable tan", "chrome tan", even, God help me, Krotann. So obviously, tanning has no common threads and before all this began, there were BUNCHES of the worlds best taxidermists who did "pickle tans" (no, it wasn't a two step process, either.)
Now that Cur is back, maybe he can enlighten this only knot-head.
I Have another question, I use Rittles ez tan. I like it but hate pickling, but do it. It is hard on knives fleshers and hurts in cuts. Do you think ez-tan 100 will work without the pickle process? Also do you soak your whitetail skins in a salt brine solution at anytime to help control the bacteria? I never have, I just salt well and let drain and then pickle etc.
Paul, I have been tanning every hide I mounted sense day one and one thing, that is hard to get, Is two people to agree on the best or only way to tan.
Now believe me, I know what I'm talking about;.... always wanted to say that, because it bunches up my undies when I hear it .........is,,,,,
The prep work is more important then the tan.
I love Bruce Rittel and he's just one great, stand-up sort of guy. I posed your question to him a few years back and I still laugh at his response. Now I'm paraphrasing, of course, but he said EXACTLY the same thing the Liqua-Tan and McKenzie tans people did: "Well, I guess you COULD, but I just wouldn't recommend it." I'm not an expert in many things and tanning has to be way up the list as well. Like Wilson implied, this is one you're going to have to reach your own decision on.