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Fresh pheasant skin w feathers...how to treat/use

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4 replies to this topic

#1 LCinOH


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Posted 11 November 2010 - 12:36 PM

A good friend knew that I was getting into fly tying and was pheasant hunting in SD. He was nice enough to save one of the skins for me to use in my fumbling fly tying efforts.

Soooo, can anyone out there in the Blue Nowhere of this great forum give me some feedback on how to treat this fresh skin. I have it sltled well right now. What is next...dry it out and save the feathers ON the skin, or pluck it? Never had much hunting experience so not sure what to do next.


#2 Bryan Wright

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:39 PM

I got some pheasant capes as well this hunting season. What I have done with them is lay them out and put a good dusting of Borax on them to dry them out. From what I understand the next thing to do after I am sure the are completely dried out is to wash them (get all the borax out of the feathers) then dry them. I think you can use a hair dryer to spead up the drying process but you might want to hang them and leave them to dry in a garage or something for about a week. You then want to put them in a ziploc with some moth balls to kill any bugs that may be going a long for the ride. Keep them in the ziploc for a month before you add them to rest of your stock of feathers. You can leave the feathers on the skin. If you were to pluck all the feather out you would need to dry the skin.
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#3 utyer


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Posted 11 November 2010 - 05:24 PM

First you want to make sure the skins are as clean as possible. Make sure there are no fatty or fleshy deposits left on the skin side. If the flesh and meat has been left in the neck area, you want to clean that out or cut it off. The neck feathers are quite usefull, so you should make efforts to clean out the neck if you need to and save the feathers.

Saving the feathers on the skin is the way most of us would save a full skin. The wings if they are on the skin can be cut off, There is flesh and meat in the lower part of the wings that would need to be cleaned out. I usually just cut the wing quills off, and discard the rest of the wing.

The whole thing should be washed in a tub of soapy water. Then rince it out in clean water. Spread the skin out on a stack of newspapers FEATHER sice down. Use sea salt, or borax (OT Boraxo) as a driying agent. Sprinkle one or the other liberally on the skin side. Spread skin sidid out as you do this to cover all areas of the skin. Once you have your skin salted or coated with borax, then press several layers of newspaper on top of the skin side, and carefully turn the bird over. Now you can take the newspapers off the feathers. If your in a DRY climate and you have an area that is secure from scavengers you can air dry the skin. The salt or broaxo will draw the moisture from the skin as it drys. If your in a less dry area, you can use a hair dryer with out heat to help dry off the feathers. You should check the progress of your skin after a day or so, and if your drying agent (salt or borax) is soaked, then peal off the soaked newspapers and re apply.

Once your skin is dried out, then place in a zip log baggie with half a dozen mothballs (the kind that KILLS moths.) It doesn't hurt to give the hide a 15 second cooking in the microwave before baging it up. To that twice. I always store any game feathers or hides away from my other materials for at least a month.

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#4 zug buggin

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 06:44 PM

I got into trouble with fresh pheasnat capes, after I scraped all the meat/fat fron the inside of the skin I used borax to dry them after about a month I rinsed them after they dried I stored them happly in my large feather storage tupperware which has moth balls inside. About 3 months later I had a huge infestation of some kind of small worms, much smaller than maggots, some type of moth larva. Anyway since this experience I now freeze my capes after I borax and dry them. About 1 month in the deep freezer and I haven't had a problem since. I'm going to try utyer tip of microwaving them also. Also his tip on seperating the new feathers for a month is a great tip, it would have saved me many $ dollars on lost materials
"Fly Fishing Is Not A Team Sport"----Tom McGuane

The fisherman now is one who defies society, who rips lips, who drains the pool, who takes no prisoners, who is not to be confused with the sissy with the creel and bamboo rod. Granted, he releases what he catches, but in some cases, he strips the quarry of its perilous soul before tossing it back in the water. What was once a trout – cold, hard, spotted and beautiful – becomes “number seven.”
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Posted 04 December 2010 - 08:39 PM

Good advice!

After scraping/boraxing mine, they go in the freezer for a week or two then out to thaw for a couple days then back into the freezer again for a couple of weeks then back out and thaw then in an airtight container w/mothballs.....probably don't need to, but keep them separate from my other materials to play it safe.....