My first tanned bear hide

Submitted by Steve on 10/14/05 at 10:16 PM. ( ) 216.197.230.37

So I tanned my first bear hide for a rug. On here I read countless post on how I should send it to a tannery. The bear turned out fine, its plenty soft and does not smell, like i was told it would. four out of five say send it to a tannery. It was not difficult at all, just took some time. but for my first bear it wasnt bad (9 hours i spent working on it from fleshing to tumbling) I saved the $200 it would have cost me to have tanned. while i did not make a huge hourly rate on it, it will come faster for me overtime. My question is what am i missing here? why all the fuss about only tannerys for bear rugs? thanks.

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No you didn't

This response submitted by George on 10/14/05 at 11:14 PM. ( georoof@aol.com ) 64.12.116.130

And your saying that will lead other beginners into believing it's just a walk in the park. That's the farthest thing from the truth you can find.

First off, most tanneries charge between $100 and $130 for a medium sized black bear. Now lets look at the $200 you "saved". You spent 9 hours on it you say, but all of us know that it took more than 9 hours. Unless you were using a pressure tanner and an alum tan which would be the LAST thing I'd ever recommend for a rug tan, you had to check and recheck the pH throughout the couple days it took to tan. (If you used the pressure tanner, you didn't include the cost of that unit in your savings either). Unless you have a very big tumbler, a hide will never get to be as soft without breaking it by hand and big tumblers cost big money.

Discounting all that lets just use your figures. You "saved" $200, but at $25 an hour which is what I consider my time worth, you wasted $225 worth of shop time that could have been spent mount 2 whitetails that would have grossed you between $800 and $900 if you're charging a decent price. My time is worth more to me than that.

Now I admire anyone who tackles such a job. I think EVERYONE should at one point in time tan a bear and a buffalo just to gain respect for the job at hand. You obviously don't appreciate what effort a bear CAN take and just as soon as you get one of those lovely late spring or early fall bears that are just begging for someone to take them for granted as you seem to, you come back here and tell us what the "big deal" is all about. Also when you have 75 whitetails and 10 black bears to do along with a couple dozen ducks, some fish, and some small game, tell me what a breeze it is to make such easy money.


No you didn't

This response submitted by George on 10/14/05 at 11:15 PM. ( georoof@aol.com ) 64.12.116.130

And your saying that will lead other beginners into believing it's just a walk in the park. That's the farthest thing from the truth you can find.

First off, most tanneries charge between $100 and $130 for a medium sized black bear. Now lets look at the $200 you "saved". You spent 9 hours on it you say, but all of us know that it took more than 9 hours. Unless you were using a pressure tanner and an alum tan which would be the LAST thing I'd ever recommend for a rug tan, you had to check and recheck the pH throughout the couple days it took to tan. (If you used the pressure tanner, you didn't include the cost of that unit in your savings either). Unless you have a very big tumbler, a hide will never get to be as soft without breaking it by hand and big tumblers cost big money.

Discounting all that lets just use your figures. You "saved" $200, but at $25 an hour which is what I consider my time worth, you wasted $225 worth of shop time that could have been spent mount 2 whitetails that would have grossed you between $800 and $900 if you're charging a decent price. My time is worth more to me than that.

Now I admire anyone who tackles such a job. I think EVERYONE should at one point in time tan a bear and a buffalo just to gain respect for the job at hand. You obviously don't appreciate what effort a bear CAN take and just as soon as you get one of those lovely late spring or early fall bears that are just begging for someone to take them for granted as you seem to, you come back here and tell us what the "big deal" is all about. Also when you have 75 whitetails and 10 black bears to do along with a couple dozen ducks, some fish, and some small game, tell me what a breeze it is to make such easy money.


50/50

This response submitted by Mr.T on 10/14/05 at 11:40 PM. ( ) 64.31.6.251

Steve, you had half a chance that the bear could have came out bad. Then what would be saying right now if you failed? So you did one. The next one might bite you back.


sheesh

This response submitted by steve on 10/15/05 at 12:03 AM. ( ) 142.165.115.104

OK you 2 calm down and dont take my post as an insult. Are we calm now? I did not write it to boast or poke fun. I just said it turned out very well. I do not have alot of taxidermy experience so I was turning to you guys to fill me in on what I may have missed when I tanned this bear or what problems I could have come up with or will encounter next time, and george 9 hours was what it took. The PH stayed the same and no adding was needed. The price of 200 was the price a local tannery charges to do the whole job (fleshing salting tanning). As for the tumbler, I built my own (out of materials I already had). I never said it was a breeze, I am just starting out in taxidermy and enjoy it alot so if I make less of a hourly wage tanning a bear then I would on a deer head, well thats fine cause im not overloaded with work and its as much a fun thing as it is a job to me. Now can you please tell me what are the most commom problems a home tanner will find with tanning bears and what to watch out for.


Yes you DID

This response submitted by George on 10/15/05 at 9:03 AM. ( ) 64.12.116.130

The English language is one that I'm quite comfortable with and unless what you wrote was written by an interpreter, that's just what you did. "So I tanned my first bear hide for a rug.", " what am i missing here?", and "why all the fuss about only tannerys for bear rugs?". Now explain to me just what part of those three phrases wasn't boastful and mocking? What you fail to realize is that most of us older taxidermists have been right where you are with a gasoline ass and high intentions. I've even stated here that this isn't rocket science, however, YOU are inviting an early burn out. You play down your pricing. Did you bother to figure out if your prices stay low, you don't add in all the "materials I had on hand" and the time it took you to accomplish something, then you're inviting work overload and burnout. (I still can't figure out how you did a bear from start to finish in 9 hours total, but there's a lot of products out there attractive to gasoline asses.)

The problem with home tanning bears, buffalo, elk, moose along with the canids and the cats is CONTROL. You may claim to have better control of the work process, but seldom do you have control of the chemical process. With pH's fluctuating and manually agitating the hides, slippage on the big guys is always not only a possibility, it's a probability. You still didn't explain how this hide got SOFT. I know that you couldn't possibly have tumbled it soft in a regular tumbler. Hides have to "drop" to be "broken" (at least 6 to 8 feet) or they have to be hand broken. Braking one by hand will break your hands as well. Even coating of oil and saturation of the oil is something that can be quite tedious.

I still think it's great you actually tanned the hide, however. But just remember, a blind pig will sometimes find an acorn. You were fortunate this one turned out that way and, who knows, you may never have one slip, BUT if you do, you'll know what we're talking about. Even the best tanneries can't guarantee a hide won't slip. Slipping begins in the field, seldom in the taxidermy shop or the tannery.


The shaving will-

This response submitted by oldshaver on 10/15/05 at 10:53 PM. ( ) 68.221.118.123

probablly be the thing that bites you first, along with tumbling. Bears vary a great deal from bear to bear, as far as shaving and tumbling times. Its hard to explain, but individual bear skins have their own special needs when it it comes to shaving them, and you have to be able to recognize them at a glance. If you were able to get all your bears from one certain area, in one state, you might do alright. Take black bears for instance. Different requirements exist for a successful finished product, depending on what part of North America it was killed, and also the time of year it was killed. There is also a big difference between spring and fall bears. Trial and error out the wazzoo.


who would tan

This response submitted by mike on 10/23/05 at 12:59 AM. ( ) 12.179.226.95

hey george, if everyone sent there work off to have the profesionals do it(as i did till i realized i could not CONTROL the holes and slippage from 2 different profesional tanneries) who would be tanning in 50 years since us non profesionals should not even attempt these type of jobs? seems strange, bit since i've started tanning my own i dont encounter none of the CONTROL problems i had before!


oh yeah

This response submitted by mike on 10/23/05 at 1:03 AM. ( ) 12.179.226.95

oh yeah-good job steve. hopefully your experience with this bear allows you to do even better job on the next one, the next one, the next one, and so on! as my father said, experience is the best teacher in life.


Tanning Bear Hide

This response submitted by Marc Theiler on 11/2/05 at 2:27 PM. ( marctheiler@alaskacaribouhunting.net ) 209.112.176.253


I have a grizzly hide that's been given to me. It's a bit old and I don't even know if it can be saved. I would like to try and tan it myself since there will be nothing to lose. Please give me all necessary information on doing a home tan. Thanks a lot for the time and help

Marc Theiler


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