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Bear Paws/Pads and shrinkage

Discussion in 'Lifesize Mammals' started by WilliamHansen, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. What do you bear guys do with shrinkage on your pads? I always seem to loose an inch or so after tanning. I realize on a lot of mounts they don't show but the front ones sometimes do. I do get them dry tanned and I leave a gap and rebuild with epoxy. Is a wet tan the answer or is there another trick? Don't do a ton but have a nine- footer coming that the customer wants standing and I want the paws to be properly impressive.
  2. dcooper

    dcooper Member

    Every bear I do for a mount, whether it's a life size, half, etc. I'll get a wet tan. Never had a problem with shrinkage and I've found that the pads still have some stretch to them. When I skin the foot out for these, I'll usually make the incision to and possibly around the pad, not cutting through it if possible. If I'm doing a rug, then I'll do a dry tan - paws shrink up every time and when I rehydrate the foot, the pads are still tough but I don't have to worry about them because they get cut off.

  3. dcooper

    dcooper Member

    After I sent my initial reply to your question, I mounted a half life size black bear this afternoon. I decided to take photos of the front paws - before sewing and a closer view after sewing to let you see exactly what the pads look like. The hide was initially frozen for 4 months before my customer brought it to me. I had the hide wet tanned at the WG and it sat in my freezer for another 2 years before he decided what he wanted to do. I did nothing with the paws/legs except fill the toes with clay, etc. (I took these photos just as I finished sewing, so nothing else was done to form the toes, brushing, etc.) After 2 years, I couldn't tell any difference in the tan from the day I initially put it in the freezer. Since most outfitters don't want to skin out the paws, I usually try not cutting through the pad. Not that it's a big deal to finish off the seam in the pad, but it saves me time and I know my sewn seam is tight, whereas stitches through a pad can be a pain. Hope the photos help to show the actual condition of the pad after it's wet tanned.

    Attached Files:

  4. Paul B

    Paul B Active Member

    Mine look the same even with a dry tan. Most of the time the pads are loose and need a clay buildup under them.
  5. catman

    catman Active Member

    With Large bears, I find it nearly impossible to reproduce the correct size when the incision circumvents the pad. It not only creates more work, but also makes it tough to recreate a good looking foot. There are very few people on the planet that can mount a good bear foot . I am not one of them. Dave Dunn is the best I have seen. When we skinned a number of brown bears we killed together, we split the pads. His best in world Grizzly had cast pads.
  6. A lot of the bears I do Pad is split down the middle. I sew up, use apoxy sculpt then texture with wire bristle brush. Looks fine to me for commercial work and no one has ever complained.