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Taxidermy "How to"

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Wondering how hard this is to do. I shot two the otherday and one has a beautiful hide on her. How hard is it to tan a hide?

If it is a pain in the rear to do who around Nashville does this for a living? What can I expect on price?



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I used to own a taxidermy shop. Deer hides are so easy to tan it would blow your mind! I made good money at it too. Use "non" iadized salt (curing salt), to salt down your hide. For a really soft hide, DO NOT salt it, but freeze it until your chemicals come in. Go to www.vandykestaxidermy.com and order SAFTEE ACID, EZ-TAN 100 and a Quart of PROTAL...follow the directions. Very very easy to do. Any questions..send me a PM..Will do what I can to help!


Edited by wd-40
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"Rough Fleshing" is the first stage. That is basically removing only the large pieces of fat and meat. Final fleshing will be done at a later time. If the moderators will allow me to do so, I will post instructions later on today (I'm getting ready for work at the moment). Just remove enough meat and fat for your salt to penetrate.


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The following instructions are the techniques I used in my shop, and continue to use today. The chemicals listed give excellent results, and will work well for the begining tanner.

I use "Saftee Acid", "EZ Tan 100" and "Protal Tanning Oil". I pruchase mine from VanDyke Taxidermy supply, but I'm sure it is available at other supply houses.

You will need plenty of NON IODIZED salt. I use meat curing salt purchased at my local farmers co-op. Non Iodized salt is also available at your local grocery. You will need salt for your hide (3-5 lbs) Plus salt for your pickle and tan solutions. Amounts will be given in the instructions that come with your supplies.

I am writing these instructions assuming you are wishing to tan a deer rug.

Please send me an e-mail or PM if you have any questions.

1. After skinning the animal, lay the hide out on a flat smooth surface (garage floor or plywood) and remove the large and thick pieces of flesh, meat and fat, using a sharp knife. You do not need to remove ALL fat and flesh at this time. It will remove easier later on. Just the large thick pieces. We need to be able to get salt to all parts of the skin.

2. After "rough fleshing" is complete, leave the hide layed out and apply NON Iodized salt. Apply a layer of salt to every square inch of the hide. Rub in well and apply all the way to the very edges. Most deer hides will require between 3 and 5 pounds of salt. YOU CANNOT USE TOO MUCH SALT!

3. Fold the hide flesh to flesh (the side you just salted) length wise, and roll the hide up. The hair side will be on the outside now. Place on a sloped surface (a piece of wood propped up on a brick works well) and allow to drain for about 24 hours. BEWARE....place a pan or something under the hide, or you will have blood and liquid every where...NO CARPET PLEASE!! Out side is OK as the hide will not freeze.

4. After 24 hours, unroll the hide and shake the salt off. Watch your eyes! Lay the hide out flat, and while using a sharp knife, flesh all remaining fat and flesh from the hide. It is helpfull at times to place a piece of 2x4 or 2x6 under the parts of the hide you are working on. Fleshing is much easier now and you must get every bit off the hide. When finnished, you should have nothing but a smooth clean skin.

5. If you are tanning a bear, boar, beaver or raccoon, degrease at this point.

6. If you are making leather or buckskin, dehair at this time.

7. Mix your Saftee Acid (or other pickle) at this time, following the manufacturers instructions. An average deer hide will take about 10 gallons.

8. Leave in the pickle until pickling is complete. Usually 24-48 hours.

9. Remove from the pickle after the required time (stated in the instructions), hang and allow to drain. Save the pickle, it can be used again. Inspect the hide, and remove any flesh or fat that you may have missed earlier.

10. Place 5 gallons of cool water into a container, and add 1/2 box of BAKING SODA and mix well. Submerge hide and allow to remain for 30 minutes. Stirring often.

11. Remove the hide and allow to drain.

12. While your wife is away, place the hide in the kitchen sink or bath tub and rinse well under cool running water.

13. Hang and allow the hide to drain. While it is draining, mix your tanning chemical (or freeze hide until a later date). It will take about 10 gallons of tan.

14. Follow the instructions given with your tan.

15. When tanning is complete (usually in 12 to 24 hours), remove and rinse well (as before).

16. Stretch out hide, flesh side up (tacking it to a piece of plywood works really well) and when almost dry, apply your "Protal" tanning oil. Apply plenty. A quart of Protal will do a couple of hides, so use plenty. Allow the oil to soak in a bit. Take the hide down.

17. This is most important! The more a hide is worked, and the slower it is dried...the softer it will be! Work the hide over a beam, table edge, saw horse or anything else you may have that has an edge. Work the hide in all directions. Work it a little bit, then roll it up and put it away for awhile. Do this several times a day until it is dry and as soft as you want it. If you have to leave the hide for a couple of days, roll it up and place it in a trash bag so it doesn't dry out. If it drys too fast or is not as soft as you would like, re-oil it and work it some more. DO NOT FOLD THE HIDE!!

When dried, trim nice and even on all sides and hang on wall, back of couch or the floor as a rug! Enjoy!

I hope this helps anyone out who wishes to tan a hide!

Dave (WD)

Edited by wd-40
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Thank you!

I just finished salting the hide today. I guess I'll have to freeze it until my chemicals come.

I ordered 1 lb of ez-tan, 1 quart of protal, and 1 quart of saftee acid.

Ended up being about 20 bucks.

Edited by Mike
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Guest Jcochran88

Nothing special to keep the fur on. Man I thought it was a lot moe complicated than that! Thanks for the post hopefully I can try it out on a coyote in a few weeks!

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Coyotes actually tan up very very nice. Main thing is, make sure you split the tail and get all the bone out. It could rot on you if you don't. Split the tail out and salt it as well. Then when you're "breaking" the hide over the table edge (or whatever you are using), you will be softening it also.


Edited by wd-40
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Coyotes actually tan up very very nice. Main thing is, make sure you split the tail and get all the bone out. It could rot on you if you don't. Split the tail out and salt it as well. Then when you're "breaking" the hide over the table edge (or whatever you are using), you will be softening it also.


Just a question on breaking the hide.

Will it get hard as the tanning process goes on? I've salted mine and so far the hide is still very soft and flexible.

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Guest Jcochran88
Coyotes actually tan up very very nice. Main thing is, make sure you split the tail and get all the bone out. It could rot on you if you don't. Split the tail out and salt it as well. Then when you're "breaking" the hide over the table edge (or whatever you are using), you will be softening it also.


Sweet! Didn't even think about the tail and removing the bone thanks!

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This thread should be a sticky.

I have thought about it. Didn't know so many people might be interested in doing this. It is now a sticky. This thread has a lot of great info in it. WD-40 again great info and I will be coming back to this thread when I start on my bobcat hide.

Edited by Hunting101
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