A beginner with a bear hide.

GekkoGeck0
Registered User
GekkoGeck0
Registered User
Joined: 10:07 PM - Oct 08, 2009

4:59 PM - Oct 09, 2009 #1

I was recently given a bear hide. It was going to be thrown out if someone didn't take it, so I did. It's been in the freezer since Spring of '08, salted and rolled up and definitely not fleshed.

I have been wanting to try my hand at tanning for a long time now, but I was hoping my first experiences with it would be doing some buckskin, not a full bear! However, I don't want the hide to go to waste and I know no one else who would be willing to take it and tan it, so I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm afraid it won't last long enough for me to have a go at the few deer hides I may be getting in late November, it might already have some freezer burn.

I've been reading here on the forums about the experiences of others tanning their black bear hides. I have access to a pressure washer and it sounds like this is good way to go for fleshing it but the rest I am a bit foggy on. Wash the hair and hide and then dry it? When do I brain? Do I smoke it?

What sorts of recommendations would you all make for a beginner with a bear hide?
Quote
Like
Share

Joanne2
Registered User
Joanne2
Registered User
Joined: 7:00 PM - Jun 25, 2009

10:06 PM - Oct 09, 2009 #2

You might have a problem with the skin being salted.. then rolled up..then frozen. Maybe maybe not.. sometimes just depends.

Can you get a power washer with a turbo nozzle? really the turbo nozzle is what does the deep cleaning.. still with bear it is just great to have a commercial degreaser at hand. Do you know how large of a bear it is? If it is a good size bear it will definately need to be shaven down to a tannable thickness at some point.. sometimes After a good pickling..

I think you should think about spending some time and money on this project or you will have a not very nicely tanned bear and perhaps one that may not 'take the tan' because of improper handling. They should be pickled and tanned.. trying to braintan a bear skin and one that has some thickness to it's head and neck for a beginner might not be such a good idea. I'm pretty hard headed and I've learned it all by trial and error!

If you decide to send it out to be tanned you can personally do all the 'prep' work..maybe not the shaving.. then again you could give it a shot.. thing to do might be to thaw it out.. long as it takes.. probably take it out let's say at night and start the next time you have a full day to devote to it.. and take your thawed skin and from the back feet fwd flesh.. you can do it over a beam with a bar too if you wish but it's just messier MUCH messier.. sometimes the bones are left in the paws and even the head too.. so those will require some time in skinnning out after thawed too. always flesh a bear towards the head and not from the head down as if it's a fall kill you can encourage roots to pull through to the flesh side.. unsightly more than anything and not too much you can do about it 'after the fact'. SO.......

After powerwashing there will still be an amount of grease deep in the skin. I don't think there is a dang thing out there besides taxi. chemicals that dissolve this.. HOWEVER you would only need a small amount if pwr washing..if not than you would most certainly need MORE and that stuff isn't real cheap.. if however you do decide to 'send it out to a tannery to be tanned after you prep it for tanning well most certainly what you ship off and what you get back will depend a lot on how good of a job you do 'cleaning it up'.

One can do a really nice job with Rittels products.. bruce rittel.. saftee acid to pickle and ez 100 to tan.. It could really use a tumbler to come out a bit nicer too and well really.. wash it up best ya can, that means remove ALL The flesh.. use a Good pair of scissors, scalpel knife around the lips.. leave some on the lips.. else it may shrink up, too unnaturally there.. don't cut off the ends of the whiskers or they'll come out.. and also take an exacto knife and remove the cartilage that's inside the ears.. bears aren't too difficult to remove.. BUT.. make SURE you keep the fur dry when doing this..I like to use a shop vac to dry like the bears fur after fleshing and washing.. and then I'll take the time that is required to really fully fully detail the ears, snout..etc.. when the hair is dry the skin's epidermal layer tightens around the hair follicles.. so it's less likely to 'slip' AND your bear might have a face that may REally want to slip.. so be REAL careful on washing that bears face.. after thawing out.. just test it a bit here and there by pulling on a few hairs.. if it's likely to slip.. it will regardless.. so the bear may indeed have been handled improperly by the salting rolling and freezing long time ago.. just hard to tell till ya get right into it.. anyway go for it.. if you skip steps or think it'll turn out great braintanning.. think again.. they're a whole different creature. IMO a greasy bear that is just smoked and worked to death..well might lack a lot.. like hair in places where there was hair at one time.. so.. being totally frugal is not something that would work real good for a first timer.. I don't mean to sound discouraging at all just giving you a slight heads up on what to think about or look for. You go on taxidermy.net and ask questions.. they will tell you to send it out for sure.. and probably take some time or lessons reading the archives on how to prep them for the tannery. some on there love the powerwashers.. some do not. I personally LOVE them and wouldn't do one anymore without one and if I could just prep, salt and wait till they're 80% dry to ship them off to a tannery.. I probably would myself.. I personally would LOVE to tan a huge grizzly someday! I love working on bears. One can thin the heads and necks with a bench grinder but it may certainly take some practice and one could lose some hairs here and there learning how to skimp there too but it's a shortcut and well frugality again! I can certainly understand lack of funds! hope this helps..
Quote
Like
Share

GekkoGeck0
Registered User
GekkoGeck0
Registered User
Joined: 10:07 PM - Oct 08, 2009

4:34 PM - Oct 13, 2009 #3

Well, this exercise certainly isn't about being frugal. I want to try it and if I ruin the skin, it doesn't really matter. It was going to be thrown out anyway and who knows? I might get lucky and do a decent enough job.

It was a 230 pound black bear, really not very big. I don't think there's any feet or a face on the hide. The hunter apparently took the claws, so I am assuming most of that is gone.

I have no desire to use chemicals, if I can avoid it. I know it can be done primitively and I'd prefer to try it that way. Like I said, no big deal if I ruin the hide. I'll learn something in the process, I am sure and that's what this is really about.
Quote
Like
Share

Hartung
Registered User
Hartung
Registered User
Joined: 12:45 AM - May 24, 2005

6:09 PM - Oct 13, 2009 #4

Did you ever flesh a fur on bear hide? That's the first problem…..

If you want to do it by your own and trying to avoid ruining the whole hide I'd try to unroll the hide without thawing it if possible. Than cut the four legs.

Start by trying to work one leg first, that is fleshing (be careful they are probably very thin) and tanning. See how it works, try to learn from the mistakes you made and only than start to work on the second leg and so on.

When you've done the four legs you could try the rest of the hide probably by trying to work on the whole hide although working an entire hide is different from just tanning leg hides.

Maybe cut the hide along the spine and work the two halfs separately. Or just cut out maybe quiver sized pieces and tan them. That could still make you a nice quiver instead of ruining or loosing the entire hide.

Good luck to you!
Quote
Like
Share

beardedhorse
Registered User
beardedhorse
Registered User
Joined: 6:35 AM - Mar 27, 2009

12:14 AM - Nov 03, 2009 #5

Got my bear at twenty yards in September. Warm weather necessitated immediate fleshing. Lots of fat and grease that later rendered down to great lard for pie crust. Dry salting shrinks hair follicles in to prevent slippage later. Framed and dried better than the unfleshed, rolled up, salted frozen hide. Super Solve from Jonas Taxidermy Supply in Colorado is $10.50 including tax when bought in pint size. I'm not pushing any product but this water base de greaser is safer than getting caught on fire using gasoline inside your domicile which is how a fellow tanner got a new name. I had no problem fleshing on a beam I made in hunting camp out of a very big and split pine log. Kept hide in bag and with ice while hunting and filling two doe antelope and two deer tags. Had to watch carefully while dealing with skull, bones. Meat taken care of right off. Bear can be surprisingly thin so go carefully and scrape lightly in thin areas. Grain is more open than deer. Warm brain solution rubed onto hide laid out flat on plastic tarp allows gravity to pool it. If stretched on frame after rehydrating, lay frame horizontal on ground when braining, not vertically. Staking tool used on framed hide. Care in using a staking post around nose, ear and eye areas which are a pain in the butt to flesh in cold weather. Good luck. If I had money I'd send out a bear pelt for a taxidermist or professional tanner to work on if not experienced in tanning fur on hides.
Quote
Like
Share

dacian
Registered User
dacian
Registered User
Joined: 7:04 PM - Nov 07, 2009

8:30 PM - Nov 11, 2009 #6

Just did my first bear and it turned out pretty well if you take your time to flesh, washed mine couple times in dawn dish soap till it gets rid of grease, flesh side only dried hair thouroughly and if your hell bent on doing it primitive brain, smoke, brain, smoke, brain, smoke, brain, smoke, brain, smoke, brain, smoke, till you like it is time consuming but pretty well worth it, good luck
Quote
Like
Share