Mathews Inc.
Bear Hide Tanning Preparation?
Contributors to this thread:
smarba 14-Jun-23
wildwilderness 14-Jun-23
KsRancher 14-Jun-23
Catscratch 14-Jun-23
Smtn10PT 14-Jun-23
molsonarcher 14-Jun-23
butcherboy 14-Jun-23
smarba 14-Jun-23
Mike B 14-Jun-23
butcherboy 15-Jun-23
From: smarba
I have a frozen black bear hide I need to figure out how to get tanned for a rug or hide display (not taxidermy mount). Skull has been removed, but no head/face prep.

Many have recommended Moyles; however, their website indicates skins must be thoroughly fleshed and salt dried before shipping.

I've fleshed and salt dried coyotes for tanning, and I have butchered plenty of animals so I know enough to be dangerous LOL. I've searched online videos but haven't found anything with enough detail.

First and easiest, any recommendations for a tannery I could ship frozen hide to (possibly not feasible with the need for overnight shipping $$$)? The one tannery I checked with about shipping a frozen raw hide, the prep and tanning cost was extremely cost prohibitive.

Second, if I were to flesh, salt and dry myself, what do I do with feet/pads/paws/claws? I think I can figure out splitting lips and turning ears, but what about nose? For the hide itself, pretty straight forward, just trim/scrape/flesh the fat and muscle to get to white hide, but anything else I should know?

I'm certain if I had someone to show me once, I am capable of doing it, but it's the little details I'm just not sure of.

Finally, I also have a mountain lion hide in the freezer...probably very similar process, although a little easier to deal with, since much smaller and thinner hide, plus no fat. Anything else to add?

Video links would be helpful!

Thx, Carl

Youtube is your friend.

It's not a big deal and if you don't get it all just put on more salt. The tannery (moyles) will scrape it anyway. Paws are not that hard once you start skinning.

From: KsRancher
I don't know if he still does it or not. But a guy on here with the handle "Franklin" used to tan hides.

From: Catscratch
You might check with local deer processors or taxidermist. Someone might just flesh it out for you at a reasonable price.

From: Smtn10PT
I prep 6-12 bear hides per year for tanning. If youve ever fleshed anything out its the same process with bears. As far as the feet I cut up the side of the paw almost to the claw on the shortest toe (I do this instead of splitting the pads right up the middle which you could also do) Then skin around the individual toes until you get to the last knuckle and cut off the toe there leaving the toenail on the hide. Dont agonize over putting small nicks in the feet because after tanning you arent going to even notice. once you get the paws off take a scalpel and cut the fat deposits off the main pads. Fill the paw with salt and let it dry.

Turn the ears and split/trim down the lips. Remove as much cartlidge from the nose as you can.

From: molsonarcher
If you have a local fur buyer, give them a call. Most of them would be happy to do what you need for a small fee, and would know exactly what needed done. They might even be willing to show you. Ive learned a ton from my buyer, and he was going to do exactly what you asked for my father and I on our bears from this spring. We both decided to have mounts done instead, so we didnt go that route.

FYI, to prep the hide and have it tanned for a wall hanger was going to be around $500-$600

From: butcherboy
I always split the pad down the middle. I have done it many times down the side of the pad but I preferred down the middle. Cut off all the fat off from the underside of the pad and be sure to skin the foot all the way out to the last toe joint on each toe. The ears will need to be turned by hand and not with an ear turner tool. Remove most if not all of the nose cartilage. I still like to split the nose cartilage in half and then take each side out like I would an elk or deer. Don’t forget to split and turn the eyes as well. If the feet are still in then it will help your skinning if you hang the hide by the exposed part of the foot. Gravity will help pull it down while you skin so you don’t have to keep pulling it off. Good luck, I hated fleshing bears until I discovered the power wash method. I could flesh a whole bear under 10 minutes not including the turning of the face and paws.

From: smarba

smarba's Link

BTW I found this video, which is very well done and comprehensive.

From: Mike B

Mike B's Link
I would give these folks a call...

From: butcherboy
Once I learned how to flesh with a power washer it was a game changer for me. You need to use a rotary tip and around a 3000 psi washer. Put the hide on a piece of plywood with the wood propped up at an angle away from you. Use the power washer at an angle to the hide and start at the bottom and work your way up. You can even go right over holes with no issues. Be careful of really thin areas because the water can make a hole there if it’s kept at one spot for too long. Once done, squeeze out excess water and hang to drip for about 5-10 minutes. Lay out and salt heavily. Come back in a day or two and rub the salt in a little more. By day 3 or 4 pick the hide up and hang to air dry for an hour or so or until it doesn’t feel as moist. Fold it up with the face inside and and the skin side out and just let it dry hard before shipping to a tannery. Some tanneries won’t take hides unless it’s from a taxidermist. Tanneries assign a code to each taxidermist that is punched into the hide upon check in.

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