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First Pelt Ever, Its A Bear, Im In Way Over My Head

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by bear newbie, Nov 24, 2022 at 8:33 PM.

  1. Hey everyone. Complete newbie here. I know that bear hides are not a hide to start out with as a first project, but my neighbour shot a bear and was going to just throw out the hide so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. I am trying to just preserved the hide to hang on the wall or as a rug/small blanket. There were no head or paws attached to the hide. I have researched a bunch and got conflicting information so this is what has happened so far:
    1. Went in the freezer within hours of being skinned. Frozen about two weeks.
    2. Thawed slowly then fleshed, albeit poorly. My set up was awful and I couldn’t finish. I had to travel for a family issue that had come up and didn’t know what to do to preserve the hide, so I salted it twice, left for about 4 days (thinking I could always go back and flesh more). It leaked a bunch of fluid.
    3. Shook off salt and tried to flesh some more. Probably ruined my fleshing knife by trying to cut through the salt.
    4. Pickled with salt water about 16 hours.
    5. Washed and rinsed twice with dawn dish soap.
    6. Hung to dry overnight.
    Now I am trying to flesh it again, thinking it has been rehydrated properly, and my fleshing knife is either going too deep (to where I can see follicles) or barely getting anything off. There are also spots around the edge where it seems a super thin layer of skin holding the hair on is splitting/peeling off. Is there anything I can do at this point to save this hide? Can I rehydrate it? Am I screwed?

    Any tips are appreciated, thanks

    I have attached two photos. 1st one is what it looks like over all. It's pretty dirty. 2nd photo shows a hole (where the arrow went in) but also where the membrane is splitting from the skin with the hair on it, on the edge. bear1.jpg bear2.jpg
  2. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    1. Rather than rush the fleshing process and jumping into the salting, you should have just bagged it and put it back into the freezer. For future projects just keep in mind you can re-freeze and thaw later to work on.
    2. You could have rinsed the salt off to finish fleshing - and salt water is not a “pickle”; you need an acidic pickling agent. There are a number available from the taxidermy suppliers. Once pickled, it needs to be neutralized and then tanned.
    3. At this point, you have a raw hide that has been salted, which helps draw out some of the fluids from the hide, and fleshed some. That top layer you are referring to that is peeling off is called slippage. (Slipping) There is bacteria that has begun to eat away at the raw hide and you either need to get it into a true pickle ASAP or stretch it out and just let it air dry. It will dry and harden but it may save the hide. It is likely it is a lost cause at this point.
    4. You could bag it and freeze it until you have the proper chemicals to proceed. Using a bacteriacide, or coating it with Stop-Rot would sure help (also sold at taxidermy supply companies).
    5. Read up on proper home tanning methods and make sure you have all the supplies, the process you want to use laid out, and the time necessary to complete each step of the process.
    6. Personally, I use Krowtan for all my home tanning projects. You might salvage the hide using Krowtan, but you need to get it frozen again ASAP to prevent further slippage.

    I hope that helps some. A bear is about the worst possible hide you could have possibly chosen as a first tanning project, but under the circumstances and don’t blame you for trying. Good luck!
    bear newbie likes this.

  3. I really appreciate the time you took for a reply. The hide is in the freezer.

    I will head to the nearest taxidermy shop and see what they have .

    According to the Krowtann website, it seems like I can try fleshing a bit more after it has been properly pickled. Judging by the pictures, do you think I got enough of the fat off? And the areas with the black spots (hair follicles), is that too thin and just going to disintegrate?

    I did buy a tanning agent; Trappers and Hunters Hide Tanning Formula (in the orange bottle). Even those instructions say just a salt bath is fine.

    Again, thanks. I'm sure I sound annoying to those with experience.
  4. Mike Powell

    Mike Powell Well-Known Member

    You didn’t get it too thin, but close. It seems you got most of the flesh material off it’s just very uneven. You can flesh again after you get it in the Krowtan for a few days or some other true pickle.
    The orange stuff is not something you want to use unless you want to keep getting the same results. Read up on several different home tanning products and their procedures. You’ll find some common steps to most all of these processes and you’ll begin to understand steps necessary.
    Look up any of the taxidermy supply companies that are listed on this site - I think on the “links” page. There you will find the resources you need. You can call or order on line. There are also videos on tanning on YouTube ( some better than others - just view several before following any one set process )
    We’ve all been where you are - it’s tough trying to sort through and learn what you need to know for the projects as a beginner and no matter how much you study up, experience is the best teacher and you will inevitably fail several times before you really get the hand of it. Hang in there and keep at it and you will figure it out.
    bear newbie and joeym like this.

  5. Thanks again for the kind words!! The bear was in my dreams last night LOL