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Newbie With Many Questions

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Alexsis, May 2, 2021.

  1. Alexsis

    Alexsis New Member

    Hi all, I have done a few small mammals several years ago (not very well) and have since improved my set up and equipment, purchased some better quality green skins, and am starting back up sort of learning from the internet and a few books that were loaned to me. I do have a Taxidermy mentor in Seattle, where I live, but it has been difficult lately to get a lot of one-on-one instruction. SO - I have a list of questions that I'd like to ask here. Please be gentle.

    1) How long can something stay refrigerated if it takes you a long time to flesh it? A few days? A week? I do have Stop-Rot available, if that changes things. I hate how little time I actually have to sit at the bench.

    2) I received this otter as a green skin. The measurements that were written on the bag are 16" girth, 25" tip to base, and 1" eye to nose. This definitely didn't seem like enough measurements, but I have read that most of the time you only get three. So -what else can I do to get an idea of the measurements about other parts of the body? Like, where to I make an elbow or a knee? How do I know where to put those things (once I am working on the form) to make them look most natural?

    3) I am having a hard time figuring out what kind of form to use for this river otter. I bought a huge box of wood excelsior in case I wanted to try a wrapped body, but alternatively, is there a good Mannikin that is recommended for this species? I worry that a wrapped body is going to look like shit since I am so new with this.

    4) I bought a pickle and tan kid from McKenzie's. I have zero experience with this, and the instructions aren't super easy to follow for me. I didn't realize until recently that the "ultimate acid" is part of the pickle. Has anyone used this set? Any tips?

    5) Hide paste. Always use? Sometimes use? What is the protocol with this? I know some people make their own. I do not have any yet, so not sure what to do here.

    I have a zillion more questions that I am sure I will post later, but this is all I could think of right now. Thanks for any help!
    Taiga72 likes this.
  2. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    1 nobody can really say cause we have no idea on how fresh, how long it was dead prior to you getting it, temp it was killed in . Way to many variables but using stop rot extends the time. the thing to remember if you don’t have the time to do it then don’t start work unless you know you can put forth the proper amount in.
    2 that is all that’s needed to get a form close or exactly to fit. Manikins already have or been sculpted to fit where the elbows etc are. You’ll know if it fits properly when you place the tanned skin over the form. Otherwise unless you’re doing a competition piece to which you’re sculpted the form or altering it’s nit needed as the skin will aid you.
    3 look in many of our suppliers and look for those measurements. That’s your job not ours . It’s also hard to wrap a body without having the body to take all those measurements so don’t waste time .
    4 not sure why you’re nit able to follow directions as it might be for or per gallon of water and foot an otter 2 gallon is plenty
    So if it says .5 or 1/2 oz per gallon for the pickle you’ll need 1 oz of pickle and a pound of salt. Soak for three days, drain, shave, degrease back in pickle overnight.
    Next day, drain, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 oz of salt to two gallon of water. Soak for 30 minutes, drain, apply the tan but make sure you mix up the bottle well. If you don’t you won’t tan it properly.
    5 is a given ALWAYS!! if someone says you don’t guess what they’re leading you down the wrong path!

  3. Alexsis

    Alexsis New Member

    Thanks for the response Mr. Kotula.

    Ok, so takeaway for #2 and #3 is to nix the idea of a wrapped body unless I have a carcass and just rely on a form.

    I guess I should rephrase #4. It's not that I'm "not able to follow directions". as much as it is that there were no directions provided for making the pickle with the given supplies other than a sheet that's called "typical scenario for tanning a hair on hide" and a formula sheet for Lutan-Fn. I also should have specified that the Lutan-Fn does have instructions but the pickle does not. The kit contains 1lb of lutan, 8oz of ultimate acid, a bag of sodium bicarb, some pH strips, and a bottle of leather oil. So really, no formula provided for the pickle.

    Thanks again.
  4. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Mix 1/2 fluid ounce of McKenzie Ultimate Acidand 1 pound of non-iodized salt for each gallon of water. Minimum batch size recommended is 5 gallons of pickle for each whitetail cape. (It is important to maintain the pH of the pickle solution between 1.0 and 2.0 at all times
    you can use the same formula I gave you
    On how to do it any other questions feel free to ask
  5. Alexsis

    Alexsis New Member

    Thank you!
    Frank E. Kotula likes this.
  6. Mandi

    Mandi Well-Known Member

    Don't forget to salt after fleshing before the pickle.
    1. Skin and split
    2. Salt and drain
    3. Pickle
    4. Shave and return to pickle
    5. Neutralize
    6. Brush on tan
    7. Rinse then freeze or mount
    Graybeard's Beetles and Alexsis like this.
  7. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Without a carcass for reference, you have zero chance of making an anatomically correct mount. Purchase a body that is slightly smaller than your measurements. Otters are tough. If you are in a air conditioned room, you have plenty of time to flesh them. Bag and refrigerate, but I would say 48 hours is maximum refrigeration time. Skins sweat inside of plastic bags. Lay out a dry towel, lay your skin on it, and roll it up and bag when refrigerating. You have way more flexibility with an otter than a fox, coyote or bobcat. They will slip much faster...especially foxes.
    Alexsis likes this.
  8. Genie

    Genie Member

    Second 2 Nature has a nice selection of otter forms. Prices are not bad either.
    Taiga72 and Alexsis like this.
  9. Alexsis

    Alexsis New Member

    Thank you!!
  10. Alexsis

    Alexsis New Member

    Awesome, thanks for the tip!
  11. Alexsis

    Alexsis New Member

    Yes, he’s still currently in salt. Not quite crispy from the salt yet. Do I need to wait for him to be totally dehydrated and crispy?
  12. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    No , 90% of the time I don’t salt small game . If I do it’s for a few hours , then into a salt brine and that’s just to get the blood out of hide , then cold water rinse squeeze out water and into the pickle . I never salt dry completely. Less it’s going to the tannery and that like never on small game and deer .
  13. Mandi

    Mandi Well-Known Member

    No don't let it dry, usually 24-48 hours depending on the hide.
    Alexsis likes this.
  14. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    Please tell me why you feel you have to salt ? I’m not saying your doing it wrong, I’m asking why you feel you must . I’ve been doing this longer then you’ve been alive lol and have done hundreds of small game . Never salting going straight into pickle. Point , Brian Hendrick’s , world class small game artist, thaws his fox , bobcat and such in a pickle, skins it fleshes it and back in pickle , never salting . Why salt to dehydrate , only to have to rehydrate . As I posted if your going to salt it , it should be to get the blood out and not to ruin your pickle , if you do salt , a couple hours is all that’s needed . Not busting or saying your wrong just informing and helping .
    Taiga72 likes this.
  15. Mandi

    Mandi Well-Known Member

    I was taught to do it that way and it's always worked well for me. I know a lot will throw into a pickle without salting but I was taught it helps set the hair and allows for a better penetration of pickle into the skin. Pulls nontannable fluids out of the hide.
    Alexsis likes this.