24 June 2007
Preparing a Bear Hide for Taxidermy
After returning from my recent Alaska Bear Hunt, I realized I need to be better prepared to care for my game. I watched my guide skin and cape my bear without a clue how to help him or how to do it myself. I started doing some internet searches to learn a little more about how to do this yourself (and most importantly do it right).
I found a couple resources that were helpful and several good tips. It seems that a lot of hunters fail when it comes to proper hide preparation.
One of the main mistakes many hunters make is using too large of a knife. I was admittedly shocked to see my Alaskan guide , Chad Poppe, skinning and caping my bear with a small paring knife. After a little research, I learned that this is the best type of knife to use. It will hold an edge better and gives much more control.
While the hide is still fresh, excess fat and tissue should be removed. Blood should be rinsed off the trophy as it attracts bacteria and can cause the hair to fall out. Then, never put a hide in a plastic bag. Use a game bag or burlap bag. You should always keep one of these with you when you are hunting with the possibility of wanting to keep a hide. If you can’t get the hide to the taxidermist within a couple days of harvest, then you should freeze the hide ASAP.
If you are being dropped off for a hunt for an extended period and will not have access to a freezer, make sure and take enough salt with you to properly salt the hide. You should pack salt around the face, ears, nose, lips, muzzle, feet, toes, and tail. Take at least 20 lbs of salt for a black bear and 40 lbs for a brownie.
I found a helpful article which included several tips from the Alasa Taxidermist that is tanning my bear hide - Mike Nizich of Rug and Rack Taxidermy in Juneau Alaska. It is entitled Taxidermists’ Tips For Better Trophies.
Another helpful article is found on the Alaska Fish & Game Website and includes a diagram for skinning bears. It is simply titled ‘Skinning Bears’.
I found a post entitled Hair-On-Tanning on the Skinnymoose blog site which led me to the Fox Valley Leather Company website where they have information on caring for and shipping hides. They tan deer hides (hair-on) for $85. I don’t know if they will tan bear hides or not, but it might be worth checking.