1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Why All The Fear Of Tanning Bears?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Roddy, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. This maybe a fiercely debated subject but I would like to get to the bottom of it.

    There are several experienced people here nearly mandating sending your bear out to get tanned professionally.

    This leads me to think that there is no way to properly degrease the bear at home.

    This sadly disappoints me because tanning the hides is part of why I do my own taxidermy. I have done my own deer mounts over the last 20 years and have tanned all my hides successfully.

    I have 3 bears to do now. Two are salted and ready to start the tan process or be shipped out to a tannery.....

    Can't I just degrease the crap out of it? Is there no hope for a successful home bear tan?? Is the fear based of hassle, time or are there no chemicals good enough for a home degrease? Kemal 4 or Tannery Degreaser are not sufficient?

    By the way...how the heck to tannerys degrease?? What do they use and why is their process? Why can't I do that at home?

    My process:
    1. Rehydrate
    2. Pickle 3 days
    3. Shave
    4. Degrease, degrease and degrease
    5. Pickle again
    6. ParaTan
    7. Basification (neutralize)
    8. Oil

    Thanks everyone!
  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    It is not a fear of tanning bears, I have done my share, it is more than that. Myself, I only tan critters up to coyote size, in house, the rest get sent out. I can just spend my time doing other things and not have to deal with all of those steps needed to produce a quality tanned bear hide, such as pickling, draining, shaving, degreasing, neutralizing, tanning, oiling, and tumbling. The process takes up too much time and space for my small shop any more. That and many if not all wholesale ruggers require the hide be tanned by a professional tannery.
    joeym likes this.

  3. Thanks 3bear, so if I am a proficient hobbyist, and do have time and space to do all those steps, and degrease thoroughly, then I should be able to produce a quality hide with no smell or grease issues?

    Do you have any suggestions for degreaser? I was going to use Knobloch's products because I am familiar with them like, Kemal 4 but the product called Rinehart Supply Tannery Degreaser looks really good. I assume it is compatible with the synthetic ParaTan by Knolbochs that I am using.

    Thanks 3bear!
  4. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Yes, it is possible to do so, given time and space. I'm sure those degreasers that you mentioned will do the job as will others, as far as compatibility goes, I can't say but ask the supplier that you buy your supplies from, they should know. On a side note Dawn works great on birds but is about useless on bears, I learned that one the hard way.
  5. DFJ

    DFJ Active Member

    Actually Roddy, pretty good post and questions.

    Ive tanned the majority of my bears for years and wondered what all the hype and fear about tanning them came from.
    I tan exactly the same for both for life size and rugs.
    Very soft, clean, stretchable, loft of fur/hair and most important longevity.
    I'm not familiar with your tanning process as I'm a Lutan F guy and am similar with the exception of buffering ( neutralizing) at the end.
    My process for bears isn't much different than other species other than the degreasing so in reality it takes no more time or difficulty.
    Actually on a side note, I use degreaser in different amounts in ALL my tanning regardless of specie.

    Here's what I find makes a big difference.

    #1. Get them done quick!! Don't let them sit around. No matter how well you flesh and salt they will all grease burn.
    I start all my bears within a week or two of salting. Makes a huge difference.
    Make sure you soak and then wash, then into your pickle.
    Never straight into the pickle from salt.

    #2 Use degreaser in every solution. Soak, pickle, tan. It won't change ph enough to worry about.
    Note: I still do a separate degreasing also after shaving.

    There's a lot of good degreasers on the market. Knoblocks has some.
    Tannery degreaser from Mc Kenzie is a good one also.
    Forget dawn ect.

    Pretty much it.
    Again I find the amount of degreaser I use is the only difference in tanning bears.
    All else is the same.

    Sorry after relooking at your post I see you also buffer at the end.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  6. Thanks
    Thanks! You are the second guy that has told me to degrease in every bath, from rehydrate to pickle to tan. And I will do a separate degrease after shave! Thanks, confidence is rising!
  7. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I have heard that citric acid is particularly useful as a pickle for bears due to a mild degreasing it does as it pickles. I have never used it, but it was suggested on here a time or two when discussing bear tanning.
  8. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    It's just too easy for me to ship them off. Most black bear I do cost around $300 to fully tan. This includes shipping to and from the tannery. They come back soft and clean. My customers pay for the tanning, not me. I don't want to spend a day of my life fooling with a greasy bear. My rug-maker charges around $400 for a 6' bear. My customer pays $1200 for the finished rug. I have around 4 hours of time in skinning out the feet, skull, pressure washing, turning the face, salting, drying and boxing. So, I make $500 for 4 hours of time in a finished bear rug...I don't ever planning on tanning a bear.
    msestak and BrookeSFD16 like this.
  9. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Yes any knowledgeable tanner can do them with the proper degreasers
    Pro1 trubond knoblochs etc sell degreasers for bears. You could get away with Kemal 4 but I need a bit stronger degreaser .
    The use of citric acid aids in the start of the pickling and degreasing process.
    Now you need a properly shaved hide and a week soak in the pickle ( the longer the better for bears) never rush them!
    Then shave and in a bath of warm water 104 no more with degreasers added and salt soak for two hours agitating ever so often , then drain and back in again.
    Feeling the skin will tell you if you need to degrease again or not. It could take 3-4 degreasing to have it done correctly.
    This is why we say send it out, it takes time and knowledge to get them right. You may think you did good but in a year or two the areas that still hold grease will rot rot out and smell, fall apart etc.
    it’s not rocket science but skill and knowledge to understand this.
    It took me years before I ventured into bears but before I did I spoke with tanneries and chemists on doing it.
    In plain words it’s a pain and a process to do them that’s all.
  10. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    This is why my first bear lived in the barn storage room for 10 years before it stopped smelling each summer. It didn't fall apart, but it sure did stink up the place when it got heated up. It finally stopped stinking after 10 years enough to put it in the shop. The only reason I kept it is because it is my first bear and first bear mount.
    Frank E. Kotula likes this.