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Fox Tail Falling Apart

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by OfSoulandSin, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. OfSoulandSin

    OfSoulandSin Member

    58
    17
    Montana
    I am hoping someone can help me out. I checked the archives, but all I could find was foxes slipping and tearing pre/during tanning. I am very much a beginner in taxidermy and have only done a handful of small practice mounts when I get spare time, and decided to move on to some foxes I have (from ones I have trapped and a few ranch ones) . All were prepped and salt dried by me, and were dry tanned for taxidermy by WLG a year or so ago. I wanted to rehydrate half of them to freeze and extend shelf life since I wasn't getting to them in a decent time frame. I spot rehydrated them in a few places and stretched, and all took it well, so rehydrated in water with salt (about 1 cup to 5 gallon lukewarm if that- water) about 15 minutes, checked them, and noses, ears, and feet were still hard, so gave them another 10 and seemed to do the trick. Gently rung them out, let hang about 15 minutes more to drip dry, then rolled in towel to get all excess water out before rolling up and placing in a ziploc bag to sweat overnight in the fridge before freezing tomorrow.

    They all did excellent minus one ranch fox, who after hanging to drip dry, the tail just started falling apart towards the tip--tears like paper with little to no force even needed. Base to mid of tail is perfectly fine with fantastic stretch. So my question is 2 fold:

    1.) Is this something I caused with my technique and can it be avoided? --It was an expensive fox to have fall apart, and I have two more ranch ones to rehydrate and really don't want them falling apart.

    2.) Is there a trick to mounting it like that? I saved the pieces of the tail that I could, and think I could patch it together, but highly doubt I will be able to sew the tissue paper like leather. Is there a way to get around this? I really don't want to waste this fox, and it's a unique enough pattern on the tail that I do not think I can just switch out a tail.

    Any and all help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Was really looking forward to mounting this fox, so would really like to make it work out.

    Thanks so much!
     
  2. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    I don’t think it is your rehydration process, it seems to be correct. The tails can be delicate and may have been thinned too much, or it could be acid rot if in the dry tanning process it was not neutralized enough. I have seen dry tanned hides that deteriorate over time. Personally, I have all skins that I intend to mount wet tanned and then I keep them in the freezer until ready to mount. For me a dry tanned hide is a lot more hassle and can present more complications like the one you are now facing.
     

  3. OfSoulandSin

    OfSoulandSin Member

    58
    17
    Montana
    Thanks for the reply, Mike. Glad it isn't my technique, and that may be the case-it had a really thick fluffy tail so perhaps the neutralizing didn't reach through the fur there. Half the tail where the skin is thick near the base is just fine and stretches great. It's about halfway through where it's just a thin strip of leather that's falling apart. I'm really surprised because the wild foxes with paper-thin skin are just fine. I have two more ranch fox to rehydrate that I absolutely want to use for taxidermy (paid too much for a certain color to just hang on a wall); is there a way I can rehydrate those two and avoid this? I.e. just not soak as long or should I just test that tail area before rehydrating? In the future I will either just go with wet, or rehydrate immediately so it doesn't have time to acid rot for sure. Too much of a downer to lose a nice hide.
     
  4. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    I would try barely rehydrating the tail - just enough to mount get it wrapped around your wire or tail form. Try rehydrating the tail with stop-rot (if you have any on hand) or with some tanning oil rather than water.
     
  5. bob wendt

    bob wendt indiana, wyoming and kansas

    7,607
    148
    one upside, ranch fox of all colors are the new possum/nutria of the fur market. they havn`t been worth raising for quite a few years now. you could probably buy any ranch fox on earth now for $50, or less, maybe a lot less. there is a terrible over supply on the market now. the fur auctions can`t even get a bid on most of them. you can buy a whole fox for the price of a tail now. as to why the ranch tail slipped or fell apart, whatever, their fur is so heavy they just never dry or "cure" without pinning the skin open and splitting the tail all the way to the tip. just taking the bone ourt isn`t enough. maybe I misunderstood and the cause is chemical and not handling of the raw hide. ranch fox skin is extremely thin and delicate no matter how handled, about one notch tougher than wet toilet paper
     
  6. OfSoulandSin

    OfSoulandSin Member

    58
    17
    Montana
    Thanks Mike. I do have stop rot on hand from my trapping days, so I will give it a try. Do you think I can still freeze it down with that and unthaw to mount when I'm ready?
     
  7. OfSoulandSin

    OfSoulandSin Member

    58
    17
    Montana

    Yes, definitely see the drop fur market wise, which drove wild reds up a bit from when I had to quit trapping, but the ranch available as whole for taxidermy still seem to be up there. I'd also like to try to get out of these ranch what I spent on them too. I put the fox up minus one came put up(haven't rehydrated it yet), and definitely split and salted the tails and I ziptie the tail and feet open so they dry well. Zero slipping. They came back from WLG looking great, everything still attached and only a few thinning nicks or something, because I know I put zero nicks in them during prep. I think it was the neutralizing part like mike said because these fox had huge barrel tails, and perhaps the thin tip didn't get penetrated and neutralize, because all my wild reds with even thinner skin and also thinner tails did great. But I agree Bob, the way the leather on the tail tore and fell apart really was like wet toilet paper haha
     
  8. bob wendt

    bob wendt indiana, wyoming and kansas

    7,607
    148
    wild red fox are same as no value now. at the recent large international auctions 10`s of thousands were with drawn due to no interest, i.e. no one willing to buy them at any price. tough times, except hi end western coyotes and bobcats. the lesser southern and eastern cats are like red fox now, low or no value.