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The Cheapest, Most Effective, Ear Openers You Can Own

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by kbauman, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Though this may seem like a very simple process, I am amazed at the number of taxidermists who do not utilize this massively simple and highly effective method. In fact, I spent about half of my 22 years in this trade, doing it with ear openers and a knife. I had blown out ears, numerous knife cuts, and an excesses amount of loose connective tissue left on my ear cartilages. I honestly can’t take credit for this method, so I must give credit to my good friend Joel Trammell of Madill, OK, who taught me the method many years ago.
    For the last few years, I have been utilizing the services of a split, turn, salt, and tan service, offer by one of the biggest tanneries in the nation. All my ears came back with several knife marks, small holes, and excessive connective tissue on the cartilage. I spoke to the manager of the tannery about turning ears with my method and he had never utilized it, but was truly interested in teaching his employees. I explained it to one of the employees at a show once, but I am not for sure how his experimentation turned out. Anyway, here is my current method of splitting and turning ears.
    This method is relatively a simple process involving a sharp knife and the ultimate set of ear openers, your thumbs. There is a much smaller chance of blowing the ears out, it is super fast, and it leaves the cartilage super clean. I have found this method works extremely well on all the deer species and most other medium-sized gameheads.
    Photo 1 shows the typical mule deer ear, a sharp boxing knife, and my ultimate ear openers (my thumbs).
     

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  2. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 2 shows me beginning to separate the muscle and cartilage tissue away from the ear butt.
     

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  3. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 3 shows me continuing the process past the ear butt, up onto the ear cartilage. Notice the red of the muscle tissue is changing into the white of the cartilage. You will also need to notice the loose connective tissue holding the skin to the muscle and cartilage. It looks membranous and kind of clear.
     

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  4. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 4 shows me starting to cleanly cut through the loose connective tissue, and partially into the cartilage. That piece of loose connective tissue has to be cleanly cut in a half moon circle across the blade of the ear cartilage. It goes from the leading edge of the cartilage to the bottom edge.
     

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  5. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 5 shows the clean cut through the loose connective tissue and partially into the cartilage. The loose connective tissue has been cleanly severed and freed from the cartilage. This is the trick to this method.
     

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  6. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 6 shows me starting to apply pressure at the cut, pushing/pulling in opposite directions with my thumbs. You will soon feel the loose connective tissue separate, leaving with the skin on the back of the ear. You should start to see clean white cartilage on the ear appearing
     

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  7. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 7 shows me continuing to apply a pushing/pulling pressure with my left thumb, while my right thumb stabilizes the cartilage and pushes it in an opposing direction.
     

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  8. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 8 shows the thumb being forced up into the upper half of the ear. Use your thumb and nail to lift and pull the loose connective tissue and skin away from the cartilage.
     

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  9. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 9 shows the thumb in the upper third of the ear. The same motion is used to take it nearly to the edges.
     

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  10. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 10 show the edges near, and care is used when pushing/ pulling thumbs in opposite direction. Blow outs are possible, but it seems you have a much better sense of the edges when you are using your thumbs.
     

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  11. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 11 shows the thumbs to the complete edges. It is very common to see mounts that have not been completely split to the edges. The use of the thumbs nearly eliminates this problem.
     

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  12. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Photo 12 shows the completely turned ear cartilage. Note how clean and white it is. There is no loose connective tissue clinging to it that will need to be eliminated later.

    This is a massively simple, fast, and effective way of turning ears. The results are outstanding. Now if I can just teach my tannery this trick, I will have it made.
     

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  13. justin_b

    justin_b Just sayin...

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    Good tip...one thing which also helps me when using the method you've shown, is to sprinkle a little salt into the pocket of the ear when you get close to the tips of the ear. It will give you a 75% increase in your ability to grip the green skin, resulting in no tears or rips.

    Thanks for posting!
     
  14. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Ken, I know you aren't an old fart, OBVIOUSLY, but if you ask a few of them, you'll find out that method was around a LONG time before ear openers were ever designed. After your method, we used short dowels or popsicle sticks, and then the huge oversized tongs came out. The first ones I saw were from Jonas but I'm sure someone else used them as well.

    PERSONALLY, I like the ear openers AND my fingers. I have my own home made openers with much shorter "tong" ends and I NEVER, EVER try to pry the ears apart. I set them in on their sides and spread them apart so that they work just like your thumbs instead of poking a hole up through the thinner center ear skin. The ears that I end up blowing are those from skins that have set outside and dried along the edges.
     
  15. kbauman

    kbauman Active Member

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    Justin, a little salt is part of the process. I just forgot to mention it. Thanks for adding it.
    George, I am sure this method is older than myself. I am just amazed at the number of individuals who fight ears, because they don't cleanly cut through the loose connective tissue clinging the ear skin to the cartilage. I haven't touched my ear openers in many years. I find no benefit in using them. I have absolutely no problem cleanly turning the ear in just a couple of minutes.
     
  16. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    Thanks for sharing. I continue to use ear openers, and rarley have a blowout because I sever the connective tissue just as you illustrate. My thumbs get extremely overworked during deer season, so I must resort to ear openers for that little additional leverage needed to separate the ear.
     
  17. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

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    Thanks for posting that Ken. I've done it that way since I was taught 30 years ago. I don't even OWN "ear openers".
     
  18. Jerry Huffaker

    Jerry Huffaker Well-Known Member

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    Very nice Ken, thanks for posting.
     
  19. This has really helprd me more than any video I've ever watched

    Thanks,
    Michael
     
  20. Thanks KBauman . I tried this on my last five deer and it worked great . Did not use my ear opener at all and did not have any blow outs and to me it was faster then using the opener . Gary