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Home Tanning Incident

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Kydeerhunter03, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Both pickles mixed using the same proportions, similar containers, the only difference I see is two different deer capes.
    In order to determine if it were the pickle solutions she'd have to cut both hides equally down the middle and pickle in separate vats..

    Most likely you'd see that the cape that slipped would have slipped in both pickles. Success with one and failure with another....Since we don't know the history of either cape our first suspicion must be towards the care and health of the capes...

    Deer hides are like snow flakes...
  2. Kydeerhunter03

    Kydeerhunter03 New Member

    I use the Mckenzie Tanning products, havent had an issue until this. Always salt for 12-24 hours like the directions say, usually the hides arent crispy brick hard, but they are stiff and not very pliable. I re-hydrate until they become flexible enough to put into the bucket without having pieces of dry hide hanging out of the pickle. Then I rinse the majority of blood and dirt off the hide and plop into the tan.

    I check my PH and flip and stir the hides every day, and each hide always has its own separate container and pickle. It might just be coincidence I had two bad hides back to back, or maybe its something else. I am looking into some new products and going to give them a try just to see if it helps things.

  3. duxdown

    duxdown New Member

    Well I for one have not been super impressed either with service or tan from several reputable tannerys. I still send out bears,buffalo and such stuff. But small animals like deer and bobcats for instance I will keep in house till I get bigger than I want to be. Then I may just get help works for my friend across town he does in the neighborhood of 150 deer alone never mind the smaller stuff. All in shop tanned with help. He sent 30 to a tannery last year as a test and 10 slipped. All were fresh capes when he got them. So 1 out of 3 humm so guess who is so anti big tannery now he would give you a cussing just for suggesting it. Rofl.
  4. Steve Rotramel

    Steve Rotramel We got some radical rebels in this county!

    Jenna did a great job describing what happened after the skins went into the pickle. However, as cyclone said, whatever caused this loss of the hide and the previous one happened before the skins went into the pickle.

    An iffy hide that has substantial bacterial growth will still pickle and tan regardless of whether it holds the hair or not; albeit not as well. SO the issue in this case is with the hide itself, not with bacteria growth.

    Some taxidermists will routinely dust a hide with dry preservative as they are skinning and fleshing to make the hide easier to handle.

    Although I had a discussion with someone once who seemed VERY knowledgeable in which he contended the opposite opinion, I have never never been successful tanning a hide that ever had dry preservative on it. They act exactly as Jenna described.
  5. boarhunter67

    boarhunter67 Well-Known Member

    As was stated too many variables, but I agree with the advice already given especially about the 50 gallon drum. I tanned all my own hides for years with almost no issues. When I switched to a tannery it was mostly because I didn't have the time to do my own tanning anymore. I used one tannery, but they kept having hides slip or fall apart. I used a different one last year and they lost 3 of my hides even though I zip tie a plastic tag to the hide through the ear canal and also punch a number into the hide. The point is, anyone who says a "real" taxidermist has to have a chemistry degree or that sending to a tannery is always going to be safer just doesn't know much. Anytime a hide is out of your control, anything can happen and you're still responsible for it.
  6. I can't answer the question at hand, but I will put my two cents in on this "beginners shouldn't tan at home" non sense. As a teaching forum, I don't think anybody should be discouraging a beginner from trying anything that has to do with taxidermy. Tanning is a part of taxidermy....a pretty essential part in my eyes. I honestly can't justify in my head why anyone would tell a beginner to not try it...to just send it off for someone else to do, and never learn it. We are BEGINNERS, people! We are in no way concerned with "growing our business"....some of us don't even know if we're any good at putting an animal back together yet, much less if we want to start taking in 800 heads this winter. So I think it's pretty safe to say that we DO in fact have the time to tan or own capes, learn the process, so when it comes to posts like this, we might have a clue as to what we're even talking about. When people tell me to skip learning tanning, I just shake my head and ignore it. I WANT to tan...heck, I was into brain tanning back hides before I even started thinking about mounting skins...there's nothing wrong with wanting to learn to tan. And I certainly don't believe that learning to tan will take your focus away from learning to mount. That's absolutely absurd.

    Jenna, I hope you find out what went wrong, and never stop home tanning if that's what you like to do. Sheesh.
  7. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    One thing I will add. I do believe that beginner tanners should at least see and handle a properly wet tanned hide or cape of the animal(s) they are wanting to work with. It will give you all a heads up on what your finished product should emulate..
  8. Fogvalley

    Fogvalley New Member

    I didn't see an answer the very first question assuming he and I are asking the same the same question. Same container? Not were the two hides where one was ok in the same container, but the one you lost prior and the one you recenently lost, the 2 that slipped were they in the same container? I don't tan in house. Don't know anything about chemestry but I can troubleshoot like a boss. If you lose 2 capes in couple weeks and the process didnt change, but they were done in the same container I'd be at least considering that sucker rather then doing another and trying to figure out why a third went bad. Now could the actual container cause a problem? Hell if I know but the way this is described it could be the only commonality. Assuming all prep was done proper and your process was followed. What's left? What's a home tanners process for washing these containers? Do you folks wash them? This may be way off base. Just throwing this out there.
  9. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

    You need to fully rehydrate, until the skins are limp as a dish rag, if not you may have hard spots that will not let the pickle into the skin. Fresh water soak and agitation will help rehydrate the skins, the fibers need to be opened back up after the salt wicked out the enzymes and un-tanable liquids.
  10. duxdown

    duxdown New Member

    T I tend to disagree a tad I will wash if it's dirty cape but if not I go straight to the pickle. But I do t get carried away. But then I have a very soft water source my pickle.is usually 1 to 1.5
  11. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Fog, Your questions are most valid, unfortunately only the OP can answer them. I to was confused by the wording. Was it two hides in the same vat or in succession in the same vat? It is equally unfortunate that it is quite difficult to troubleshoot methods when incomplete information is provided.. This is quite often the case in these forums.
  12. duxdown

    duxdown New Member

    Guys she had two separate containers. Both pickles measured the same. One hide took one stayed raw in spots in the pickle like it didn't take in spots the way I read it
  13. Fogvalley

    Fogvalley New Member

    Did you read my post? I know this time, but she lost another cape a couple weeks ago. Was that cape and this recent one in the same container? If so were any done in between the two lost capes in the container? Is there a method for washing these containers?
  14. boarhunter67

    boarhunter67 Well-Known Member

    I think, Franklin, you're wrong again on several points. As a part timer I have no desire, nor would it be financially feasible for me to become a part timer. Also, it costs me much more to send my hides to a tannery now than it used to for me to do them completely myself when I was less busy. I only send them out now because I'm too busy to do them all myself. I used to be able to prep and tan a hide myself for under $20. This isn't counting all the tools I already have. I use 50 gallon drums for my pickle so they last all year. It currently costs me about $100 a hide for deer, and $150 a hide for bobcat, fox, pig, etc. and more for bear. Last year the tannery lost 3 of my hides for over 6 months and only found 1 so I was out the money for 2 hides and the money for the mounts. I still send out my hides because I can't afford the time to do them myself, but your saying it's cheaper to send them out only is true as far as time.
  15. duxdown

    duxdown New Member

    Ok if a shop is rolling and I mean busy it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out in house tanning takes up valuable mounting/finishing time. But let's examine something shall we. How long does it take you to cape,turn,salt till dry,box and ship. And lord don't get me started on shipping cost to ship 30 dried hides at a time.
    Point im making is you have already spent alot of time getting the hide ready for the tannery. It doesn't take that much longer to actually tan as far as actual hands on if and I mean if you get good at shaveing and the finish stuff. I'm fair handling time after a pickle is in the 2 or 3 hour range and that's being honest and im picky and slow to be honest. I hear of guys capeing a deer head in 3 min and under pffft it would look like Hannibal Lector got at it if i tried that.
  16. Justin P.

    Justin P. Active Member

    I love doing my own tanning and some tanning for others. That's the way it is in my shop.
  17. Steve Rotramel

    Steve Rotramel We got some radical rebels in this county!

    Back to square one.

    Jenna, I hope there was some helpful information in here for you. Probably safe to say that the consensus of experience is that whatever happened to your capes happened before they went into the pickle. My strong sense is some sort of chemical contamination that can easily happen depending on how the cape is handled and processed up to that point.

    It is common for there to be differences of opinion in cases like this. It is also common on this forum to find lots of experienced advice and people who are interested in helping anyone get to the bottom of a problem.

    It's not as common to get ridiculous musings based on ignorance that do nothing to help. I hope you haven't been discouraged by this.

    I started out working for a taxidermist who told me tanning was a dark and complicated science. Leave it to professionals. Also that "birds are too hard to mount well and it takes years of experience to paint a fish. Stick to doing deerheads like I showed you." And "it's a tough business world out there that you don't know anything about - you'd get ate alive trying it on your own."

    This is common for the owners of the big shops so that their people are less likely to open their own shops. Keep them specialized and in the dark.

    Apparently Franklin still believes it.

    Franklin, the reason your figures and logic are flawed is that in your $42 figure you are not adding in the manhour costs of getting it to that point that you do include for shop tanning. And shipping is a significant expense.

    Starting with a cape freshly skinned - split everything, flesh well, trim and pare, salt and hang - 30 to 40 minutes. After one day, shake off and salt again - 10 minutes. After 2 weeks, box and ship - 10 minutes per cape includes filling out paperwork, labels etc. When the cape comes back from tannery, receive, check, log in. Another 10 minutes. Soak up, stretching, paring around eyes, ears, nostrils - another 20 minutes. Ready to mount.

    All this is at least 1.5 hour, $42 cost and $6 to $10 for shipping. By your figures that is $89.50 per cape.

    Tanning my own starting with a freshly skinned cape - split everything, rough flesh, mix my tan, put it in my machine. 20 minutes. (note no fleshing yet) Run 2 hours. Pull from the machine, flesh and shave on fleshing machine. Pare around eyes, and nose. 40 minutes on a slow day. Back in the machine with the oil. Run 2 hours. Pull from the machine, quick hit the thick spots on the fleshing machine and tumble. 20 minutes. Ready to mount.

    Same 1.5 hours that you spent. $37.50. As far as material costs I have no idea where the heck you got $18 per cape. That's crazy talk. If I spend $4 on materials per cape to tan I would be very surprised. Probably closer to 3.

    (Someone has asked me to expand on material cost) Aluminum Sulfate on ebay is $56.50 for 50 pounds. I pay $29. But lets just say 1 dollar per pound. Salt is $12 for 50 pounds (outrageous!). So that's 50 cents for 8 oz alum, 12 cents for 8 oz salt, and around 10 cents for sodium carbonate. 72 cents total. Two or three dollars at most for oil unless you buy 50 gallon drums.

    SO I tan a cape for under $45 including everything, and can mount it the same day I skinned it. Full professional quality wet tan. I saved $5.000 in real money the first year I started tanning. No trade off. Money in my pocket. Bought a truck as I remember - paid cash.
  18. Fogvalley

    Fogvalley New Member

    I don't want to experience the learning curve associated with shaving. Tried it with my education and never wish to go to that place again personally. I have a lot of respect for those that do it. As a taxidermist I sew enough don't need to do anymore than neccasary. But as one who sends everything out I have to disagree with you Franklin we can not send them out for what they can be done in house. I'm paying 45 plus shipping back and forth ain't no way you use 45 in materials to tan in house. As you said many steps included as part of taxidermy process, in or out of house. Tanning isn't for everyone and some who do probably shouldn't, but to say the cost between the two is even close is completely obscure. As far as time I got mounts that would be drying that are at the tanner as we speak. But like I said tanning is not for me, but I also wouldn't deny or dismiss it and deffenitly don't see it costing more money.
  19. Franklin

    Franklin Guest

    Fogvalley you have touched on the most important part of the discussion, one`s TIME.

    You said "no way you use $45 in material to tan in house". No one said they did, I said about $18-20 in material. The part most of those involved in this discussion is they conviently leave out the labor hours.

    What is with this industry not putting value on their TIME. Just about EVERY part timer leaves out "value of their time" or "cost and overhead".

    Years ago McKenzie gave a business seminar at a large show trying to show how a taxidermists can make $45 a hour based on a $435 deer mount. They were laughed off the stage. Then this was followed by a well known taxidermist with his "4 hour deer mount" and he too was laughed off the stage and discredited.

    This is exactly the point I am expressing. When discussing these topics you cannot conviently leave key elements out to bolster ones opinion. It`s not fair.

    A good businessman always finds the most cost effective ways to do their work, including shipping. Proper shipping techniques limit the costs to mere dollars per cape.
  20. Well Franklin I'll play your TIME cost game. You didn't answer MY question. I'm fairly new to this so say I started filing a P&L every month. Which line item would you file the labor I listed as, tanning expense or taxidermy? The tanning process CAN'T happen without those steps wether you did it in-house or sent it out.