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Before Taxidermy - Fresh Hide Care

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by xOEDragonx, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. xOEDragonx

    xOEDragonx New Member

    Right off the bat, I'm an aspiring taxidermist with no hands on experience with tanning/preserving/mounting/etc. I am hoping to self teach myself all of this over time. I have a job and want to learn taxidermy on the side as a hint and maybe a potential small hobby business in the future. But for now, I want to first and foremost learn it as a hobby.

    I've been a hunter my whole life and have skinned out many animals. I love working hands on with skin, bone, and meat cutting. I'm also an amateur artist with at least some talent in that field. I have a degree in wildlife and fisheries so I know and am willing to learn extensive biology and anatomy of any animal specimen. Add that all together, and taxidermy certainly sounds like a hobby right up my alley.

    My first step and where I am now is collecting as much knowledge and as many resources as I can before I commit to buying equipment/tools/etc to begin my projects. I've been watching many free videos online and on YouTube to see different people's methods. I'm thinking about getting some actual taxidermy DVDs to get some better up-close shots of what's going on and more clear step-by-step instruction vs individuals on YouTube jumping around in their explanations. Any recommendations for good starter books, DVDs, videos would be much appreciated. I like having access to a variety of knowledge. I'll sort out which methods will work for me after I see and understand them better.

    One thing that I rarely see touched upon though is hide preparation, care and storage before starting the tanning process at all. Aside from a handful of taxidermists having "field care" tabs in their websites which aren't always thorough, I've had great difficulty searching this topic. With most of my own hunting seasons coming up in the very near future, I'd like to potentially save any hides I get this year for practicing on. And as I likely won't have all the tools and resources I'd like before I have a dead deer or coyote in hand, I'd like to know how to deal with prepping those hides for storage until I can get to them.

    I've got the skinning parts down. Do I need to do any fleshing or other skin work before freezing the skin to improve my later results? Should I put anything on the hide at all, or just freeze it plain? What is the best material bag to put the hide in to protect it from freezer burn? Should I fold it a certain way? Those are the kinds of questions that I'm really having to dig to get answers for and as with most other things in taxidermy, I see people recommending doing things different ways. So what do YOU recommend? If you were new and just starting out with nothing, how would you store/freeze your hides until you had all the tools and time on hand to try actual teaching the hide?

    Thank you for humoring me!
  2. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    If you skin and place immediately I the freezer. , there is no need to treat the skin with anything

    I’d recommend removing sizable chunks of meat before freezing...total fleshing isn’t necessary.

    Roll or fold skin and place in an airtight as possible plastic bag prevents freezer burn for a year or two

  3. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    I would also add that to freeze the hide you should lay flat in the freezer till it’s ice cold. Then ( I personally fold) from tail to head. Never head first as that can and will be the last to freeze . This helps in bacteria growth to a minimal so you may not have slippage.