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tangledup

Preserving Natural Materials

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All great info. And yes, I’m mainly considering freshly harvested animals that my son and I take of the species I listed before. The number a type of flies we tie right now are pretty limited so it honestly isn’t going to save me a ton of money (and definitely not time). To me it’s more the novelty and satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly I tied with materials from animals we harvested.

But thanks for all the great responses! Between this thread and others I’ve found I’m starting to get an idea of what i need to do. 

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Borax is good for bird skins, you need to degrease waterfowl first but for hair skins (small game)

1. skin - you should scrape all fat and tissue

2. wash and rinse - wash with teaspoon of dish detergent per gallon of water, rinse and wring the skin

3. preserve - immerse into a closed container of denatured alcohol for min of 48 hours followed by borax and water for 10 min. (4oz per gallon) then rinsed again, wring and dry. this will make a hard preserved skin for dubbing etc.

for zonkers you need to tan - after the alcohol you need to break the skin to allow the tanning solution to penetrate. solution in a gallon hot water dissolve  1/2 cup aluminum sulfate and I/2 cup of un iodized salt. cool solution soak hide in covered container until turns an even white color. after that rinse and soak in the borax solution for 10 min rinse and wring then rub and stretch until soft and  dry

large game skins

steps 1 & 2

break skin to remove elastic membrane tan (2 gallons hot water, 5 lbs. salt, 1 1/2 lbs. aluminum sulfate, 4 oz. borax) soak until white color is uniform (3 - 7 days) rinse allow to drip dry or tumble with cedar or other wood chips. cutting to smaller pieces makes it faster.

makes paying a few dollars for a skin sound much better,  it is a lot of work and you have not started dying colors yet.

 

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Ran across this post gonna put my $.02 in on tanning hides from old post on a duck page. 

Tanning is real simple but time consuming, stretch the cased hide on a pointed board sized for that animal, let dry (can put salt to help to scrape the flesh off), soak in strong solution of salt and alum for about 2 weeks (stirring ever couple of days), remove and wash (pop'em like popin a wet towel) then as they dry slowly work them with your hands to keep them pliable (apply naptha and saw dust to help get rid of the last traces of grease) and you can get perfect supple tanned hides (If they try to get stiff use neat's foot oil at any time). When you do this you gotta rip the legs and tails open though. If you want the leather, like buckskin, you gotta use lye/lime soaking and scrape the slippin hair. Soak in some boric acid to neutralize the lime and then do the salt/alum deal. Hope this helps. "

 

Deer are easy but big. You need to flesh it completely as it dries and salt is good if it's stretched/nailed to somethin/barn. If it's not stretched it can "get away" from you. Dull rounded knife is good for scraping so as not to cut a hole. Best to let it completely dry stretched/weeks sometimes. But you can start the salt alum soakin before if you want. Done correctly it'll be a supple and clean white hide your wife would let you wrap around her! The indians say every animal has enough brain to tan his own hide. They mash up the brain tissue and soak the hide in it and stretch it over a square frame scraping the hair off. Quite a job! Results in reddish tanned buckskin leather. Tannin takes lotta time, little effort erey day or so. Thin skinned critters like cats and foxes are even easier, come out nicer.

 

Predator Masters.com has got a fur handling forum that offers other methods and some kits. Buy alum at the drug store, salt, saw dust, naptha, neats foot oil are about easy as you can get.

 





 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

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A friend of mine just handed me a few small zip lock bags full of mallard flank feathers. No pelt. So these just need a simple cleaning with Dawn, or the whole borax/vinegar treatment? And thanks in advance. 

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I wouldn’t wet the feathers again just debug.   Unless matted or bloody but fluff dry to keep from matting up.  Maybe  if put in mesh bag like I wash and dry my suspenders in.   I never try to keep waterlogged  duck feathers but prolly would clean and dry just like when dying them.  The feather dyers will chime in on that for you.   Have boraxed/salted the skins but just chickens.  Have Rit dyed a couple of necks but never loose or oily duck feathers.   Got some CDC but still natural state.   Don’t forget to collect your CDC off your ducks.   Here’s a woody’s cul de conard.

 

 

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@MontanaTrouter

Clean and dry definitely, if they have not been already. For me, I would then stick them in a zip-lock with enough borax to cover some, but not so much that they can't move around, turn the bag every few days for a week or two.  That's what I do when I get loose feathers.  

May be overkill,  but better safe than sorry.  

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Always- better safe than sorry- you can clean, dry, then borax & freeze,  need to kill any remaining mites and little buggers that want to eat your collection. Use caution before storing any home or friend processed items with the rest of your tying material. 

I wash loose feathers, into a old panty hose leg, wash in dish soap and water, rinse wash with clear water, dry in hose I use my wife's hair drier on low blow it into the open leg end secured with a rubber band. I do it when she is not around to see her hair drier being used unless she is understanding 😇 then into a zip-lock with some borax toss and freeze for a week or so. I still isolate and inspect before finale storage.  sounds like overkill until some little buggy bastards eats a neck or ? I learned the hard way a long time ago thank God they where inexpensive import necks in a travel kit.

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Flank Feathers I put in Maxwell House coffee cans with a squirt of Dawn and some borax.  Shake the hell out of them and let them soak for an hour and shake them again! Let sit for 1/2 hr.  then use a strainer and rinse.  Squeeze between paper towels then put in an old pillow case put a knot in it and throw it in the dryer on air dry and dry them.  

If you're going to dye them keep them soaking wet the dye will take better.  If it wasn't for the folks who sent them to me I never would have learned to dye them!! 

Never much believed in putting anything in the freezer - If they can live on a live animal in the cold -30 wind chills here in Vermont they can survive a freezer!!  I've always used the dawn and borax and I keep new stuff in a quarantine box for at least 90 days and I haven't gotten any bugs yet so I'm doing something right!  and I learned all this stuff on here and other Forums.  

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Anyone know if there are problems with tanning an old pelt? I ran across a groundhog hide I bought a couple years ago and forgot about. It was dried when I bought it and it’s been kept in the garage where the temp and humidity are stable. Planning to rehydrate it, pickle, and then tan with a paint-on product.

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On 10/31/2020 at 12:55 AM, dflanagan said:

It was dried

Salted ? or borax? does it smell or does the hair slip? I have worked older hides (deer) that I have stored raw in a freezer (no problems noted after 2 years), but they where used for buckskin and I slipped the hair with hardwood ash prior to brain tanning. I would give it a shot with your current plan.

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Pretty sure it was dried with salt. No hair slipping yet. I just put it in a couple gallons of saltwater to rehydrate last night. After a couple hours it was still pretty hard but the hair is still holding tight. Hoping when I get home this morning it’s still together. 

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