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Some fun for the experienced taxidermists...

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by SouthrnChrmer450, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. I am merely a budding taxidermist. I currently have three unfleshed squirrel skins in the freezer. Just a couple days ago, I received my "squirrel mounting beginner's kit" and my Ellzey squirrel form from McKenzie. That's literally how far along I am. I've been slowly researching here and there about taxidermy, braintanning, and everything, but with some extra time the past couple weeks (hunting season ended ;)), I've really been getting into it. I've gone through 8 pages of the Beginner's forum on here, and I wanted to start a post that I think would be beneficial to myself, and hopefully other beginners. A lot of terms have been used that I just can't wrap my head around. If anyone could answer these for me, just to clear it all up and help me understand this amazing art better, it would be greatly appreciated! Keep in mind I'm looking to do strictly mammals...both mounting them, and tanned skins.....no fish, no reptiles.

    What is Dry Preserve (e.g., ingredients, when it is preferred over other preservation methods?)

    Dry Tan vs Wet Tan? (What do these terms mean? Different ingredients used? Each one used in certain situations?)

    What exactly is a pickle, and at what point in the tanning/preservation process is it used? What's its purpose?

    When splitting lips, are you actually removing the outer layer of the lip WITH flesh? (If this is something I'll have to figure out hands-on, just let me know)!

    Preservation question: Can an unfleshed hide be salted to work on later? Or will the flesh still rot and ruin the hide? (In which case, freezing is preferred?)

    Mounting question: Squirrels: Can this size animal be safely mounted with the toe bones still inside the feet and forepaws? Or is it best for me to figure out how to remove those as well?

    THANK YOU in advance for ANY advice!!!!! It is much appreciated! ;D ;D ;D
     
  2. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    What is Dry Preserve (e.g., ingredients, when it is preferred over other preservation methods?) Dry preserve is a powder (I don't recall all the ingredients) that dries the skin out and preserves it. Borax (20 Mule Team Borax) can be used but dry preservative from the suppliers is said to be more complete. Dry preserve is great for birds and small mammals. Advantage is you can mount immediately after fleshing. Dry preserve on a mammal leaves lots of stretch to the skin but it also becomes rather porous during the drying process and should not be handled much or groomed until it is dry or you risk losing hair. Dry preserve skins are notorious for a LOT of shrinkage and must be tended to daily during the drying process to watch for drumming and misalignment or distortion of eyes, nose, lips, etc.

    Dry Tan vs Wet Tan? (What do these terms mean? Different ingredients used? Each one used in certain situations?) Dry tan is a hide or cape that has been "broken" and is soft and supple like leather. No refrigeration is required for storage. Dry tans do need to be rehydrated to mount. Wet tans are hides that are tanned but not dried and "broken." If allowed to dry they will turn as hard a s a rock. Typically these are frozen until you are ready to mount them.

    What exactly is a pickle, and at what point in the tanning/preservation process is it used? What's its purpose? A pickle is an acidic solution/mix that prepares a hide or cape to receive the tanning chemicals. The skin must be fleshed, salted, rinsed and then pickled (usually for several days). Final fleshing and shaving can be done during this process as the pickle plumps up the skin and makes it easier to shave. The hide is then neutralized and then tanning solution is applied.

    When splitting lips, are you actually removing the outer layer of the lip WITH flesh? (If this is something I'll have to figure out hands-on, just let me know)! In splitting the eyelids, lips, ears and nose you are separating the outer skin from the inner skin and removing the thin layer of flesh in between. Lips for example are split and the inner skin folded out flat even with the outer skin.

    Preservation question: Can an unfleshed hide be salted to work on later? Or will the flesh still rot and ruin the hide? (In which case, freezing is preferred?) NO! Flesh it and salt it or freeze it until you can.

    Mounting question: Squirrels: Can this size animal be safely mounted with the toe bones still inside the feet and forepaws? Or is it best for me to figure out how to remove those as well? Learn to skin them completely and cut as much out as you can. I have left nubs of bone, but you have to remove all flesh or it will rot on you.
     

  3. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    May I suggest a squirrel mounting dvd and a tanning dvd. Research Mannikins has a some great squirrel mounting dvds by the squirrel man himself, John David Ellzey. There are several companies out there that have tanning dvds. Research has one for pickle and paint on tan as well as Taxidermy Training Unlimited.com. Ordering a tanning kit will get you everything you need, except salt and baking soda, and will have full instructions. The squirrel dvds from Research use dry preserve to do them. I've used d.p. on some and tanned others. Both worked great.
     
  4. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Good response MLP. Dry preservative is generally a combination of puffed Borax, talc, and alum. Each supplier has their own recipe. Some contain black pepper, crushed moth balls and other proprietary ingredients.
     
  5. Amazing, you guys are awesome! Lots of clarity now. I feel like I just walked out of the taxidermy fog and into some "clearness"! Thanks so much!

    I just received my Squirrel Skinning and Mountinf book by John David Ellzey, and it's pretty much going to be my bible for the upcoming weeks, until I get this first tree rat mounted!

    Again, thanks a TON for all the advice/clarification!!!
     
  6. PsychoJr

    PsychoJr New Member

    I cut squirrel paws off at the wrist and about half way down the foot. I then inject the feet with balmex before mounting and haven't had any problems. Coons I go to the toes.