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Tanning With Deer Hunter's & Trappers.

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by SterlingFoxCreations, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. I've been using Deer Hunter's & Trappers hide tanning formula to learn how to tan. However, after breaking the hides (squirrels) as they dry (hides completely white), they still end up as stiff as a board. What am I doing wrong? I want to tan hides so that they are really soft and flexible (fur on). Here's a more in-depth description of what I did...

    1) Skinned and washed with dishsoap
    2) Salted and let dry for 2-3 days
    3) Placed into Citric Acid pickle. Maintained at a PH of 1.5. (1lb of salt for each gallon of water)
    4) Removed from pickle after 2-3 days. Finished fleshing by hand with spoon. (able to remove 80-90% of the membrane.)
    5) Returned to pickle for several days until ready to tan.
    6) Removed from pickle and left to sit in room temp tap water for 15-20 min (to neutralize)
    7) Warmed bottle of tanning solution in bowl with hot water.
    8) Dried skin until damp and applied tanning solution to skin side. (perhaps a bit liberally).
    9) Noticed tanning solution in fur and was worried it wouldn't come out, so after letting the tanning solution sit skin to skin side overnight to soak in, I rewashed the hide in soap and water to clean solution out of fur.
    10) Worried that tanning solution would have been too diluted by the washing, I applied another coat to the skin side (very carefully this time to not get it on the fur).
    11) Let sit for another overnight and worked to break the skin until white.
    12) Came back later to find that even after breaking, when fully dry the hide has a thick paper-like consistency and is stiff as a board.
    13) When rehydrated with water (sponged until slightly damp) the skin quickly softens up, but even after more working while it is damp again, it goes back to being quite hard (though not as much as before)

    What are your thoughts about what I should do next time to make the hide softer as a finished product?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2020
  2. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    Break after it dries or as drying , not while wet , every time you wet it your taking it back to a stiff state .

  3. I tried working it while it was damp until it was dry and the dry result was hard and stiff.
  4. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    Buy a softening oil , dampen hide again and apply then break again
    msestak likes this.
  5. Did you rehydrate the pelt in plain water after salt drying for 2-3 days, before placing in the pickle? Hides don't rehydrate well with the high salt content of a pickle, and if it never got fully rehydrated (soft as it was right after skinning) in the pickle, that could be contributing to your problem.
    Also, pickled hides can't be neutralized with plain tap water, you need to add baking soda to neutralize the acid. The hide not being properly neutralized could be another factor as well.
    My biggest suggestion though would be to toss that Deer Hunter's and Trapper's formula and get yourself a high quality synthetic tan, such as Trubond or Rittels. Trubond has a kit that will come with instructions if you want to try it before buying the larger bottles of everything. I have used the deer hunter's stuff and never got good results with it, and neither have the countless folks who have come to me asking for advice after trying it lol. I've seen some speculation on here that it isn't actually a tan at all, and I'm inclined to agree based on my experience with it.
    msestak likes this.
  6. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Ok not to be a PR here but throw that junk in the garbage.
    Now your steps aren’t bad it’s mainly that tan.
    Go to Tru-bonds website and buy some tru-bond 1000b. It’s one of the best rub on tans for this industry. It carries the tan and tanning oils all in one.
    As your skin dries just pull on the skin to start stretching the fibers. You’ll be surprised on how soft you’ll get these skins compared to what you’ve been using.
    you can also hydrate those skins you’ve already tried to tan and rub this product on and do the same as stated above.
    Also you will find good info on the site
    Happier Tanning
    drob, cyclone, 3bears and 1 other person like this.
  7. Thanks for your suggestions! No I didn't think to rehydrate in water after salting, I put them straight into the pickle. If I were to use Trubond, would I need to buy a whole kit or could I still use the same process (salting ,pickling, etc) and then just replace the tanning solution?
  8. Thank you for the suggestion! I've been struggling to find a good tanning solution since there seems to be 1000 and 1 ways to tan hides. I'll definitely give this stuff a try!
  9. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Yes it’s a simple process
    On those small critters flesh do a simple overnight salt, then hydrate in plain water till it’s fully hydrated.
    Then in the pickle for 3 days , shave back in overnight.
    Drain, neutralize, apply your tan, fold. Next day, hang, and as you see the skin changing colors start pulling on it to stretch the fibers85% dry. I’ll become soft the more you do this as it dries.
    SterlingFoxCreations likes this.
  10. Good method.
    SterlingFoxCreations likes this.
  11. Thanks, I'm definitely going to get some and try it on my next critters!
  12. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    Hey Frank, what is that formula made of? What tan does it produce?
    It seems many of the "easy-solution" tanning formulas and kits are nothing more than alum which doesn't actually tan the hide.

    I've heard nothing but bad news with it as well, but I've always been curious on what type of tanning it is (if it even tans at all to begin with)/
  13. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Ok as far as trappers Dan stuff or anybody else tanning chemicals are their secrets and there or anybody not bound to say. If folks wanna know you need a msda sheets so your fire department should know so if there’s a fire they know what they are dealing with.
    Now as far as tanning with alum your so wrong! It’s been around since the beginning and will provide you with a good tan. Are there drawbacks? Yes but with proper care it’ll last a lifetime
    I’ll always say stick to what tanneries use if you really want to learn on how to tan. In today’s industry it’s becoming a quick and how quick can I do this anymore instead of learning proper techniques.
    There’s plenty I here to learn tanning and what it really is .
    notbuffalobill likes this.
  14. You are confused, if the skin is still stiff you did not break it. As the skin dries and you can see this pull it work it the skin will go from hard and white to a lot softer and even more white in color.
  15. As the skin was drying (damp but not wet) I began stretching it and it was turning from a grey color to a white in the areas I stretched. I did this until there were no more areas that were grey and the whole skin was white. However, even after doing this I came back to the hide and found that after it was completely dry it was still white where I'd 'broken' it, but the whole thing was hard as a rock.
  16. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    It probably needs to be oiled with an oil designed for swobbing on after tanning.
  17. I've never had any good experiences with that brand of tanning stuff. I use Tru-Bond.
  18. I got some Tru-bond 1000b and put it to the test against the Deer Hunter's and Trappers formula. This time I was careful to rehydrate after salting and properly neutralize before applying. I put True-bond on one half of the squirrel and Deer Hunter's and Trappers formula on the other to test them side by side.

    The DH&T formula wasn't as hard as a rock this time after working and was a bit more flexible but still papery and dry, still not what I'd consider a 'soft' tan. I think DH&T formula might work a little better on hides that aren't quite so thin (they seem to dry too fast) but I haven't tested it to see.

    The Tru-Bond worked like a charm, (though I'm sure many of you already knew it would.) Much softer and supplier without even needing to use very much of it. It's a bit more expensive but it's definitely worth its weight. I even tried rehydrating some of the skins I'd tanned with DH&T and applying the Tru-bond to them and it softened them right up! Thanks for everyone's suggestions, I definitely know what I'm going to be using in the future.
    Frank E. Kotula likes this.
  19. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Lol it’s a bit more expensive is because as you found out ITS NOT JUNK!
    Glad you liked it as those chemicals are made for the home tanners with proper chemicals in it.
    Enjoy and thanks for letting us know