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Tanning Small Game with Trubond 1000, and Trubond 1000B Paint-on tans

Here we go!

You will find these instructions very similar to the instructions I gave for tanning bears with these 2 products, so I will abbreviate a couple of things throughout this thread. In fact, you could most likely follow the bear instructions to a T, and get good results. Air dried skins will be you biggest pain in the rear. LOL

The most valuable information you will receive in this thread, will be coping with air dried skins of all kinds, and learning different little “quirks” of different species. In addition, some individual shaving tips will be offered. Questions are welcome, as always. I will start with fleshing-salting, then move to the rehydration, pickle, degreasing, neutralizing, then tanning.

As you already know, from previous threads, I try to be VERY through, and cover all bases.

FLESHING: First thing, remove ALL tail bones. On skins with long tails, if you lay the tail flat, on a hard surface, and roll it back and forth, with pressure, the length of the tail, you will find the bones come out much easier. As much as many Taxidermists don’t like to, it is ALWAYS best to split the entire tail. If not, you will usually always lose tail hair.

Always turn the ears, but stop just shy of a complete turn. Leave around 1/8 inch un-split on the tips and edge of the ears, if you own a sawdust drum. All the chemicals will penetrate, and this will prevent ears busting open in the drum.

You should sprinkle a LIGHT layer of salt over the entire skin, before starting to fleshing and splitting anything. This will buy you a little extra time before full salting, and help prevent any epidermis from “sloughing” off. Just the handling and splitting of some skins, will cause a little epidermal loss, on raw skins.

DRYING SKINS: This more important than most know! First off, DO NOT hang greasy skins out in the sun to dry! You are asking for a grease burn problem. Small game especially requires GOOD AIR CIRCULATION while drying. A cool, dry area is best. After salting, MAKE SURE skins are hung so they can drain off excess moisture. You DO NOT want skins lying in bloody water, while drying. Skins should be dried in air, circulated by a GOOD fan. If you can afford it, investing in a de-humidifier is a great move! The faster you remove that moisture from the skins, the better the end result.

Of course you want that skin side dried thoroughly, but what about the hair side? Also it is VERY important to dry as fast as possible. Skins shouldn’t be hung to dry on anything wider than 1 inch. 1/4 boards, ripped lengthways, would be a good choice for hang these small skins. A BAD choice would be lay skins out flat on a sheet of plywood to dry. The hair side needs to get as much air circulation as possible. The hair side of a skin, lying in moisture, will cause slip! Cased or tubed skins, require a little extra effort, for just this reason. Dry overnight after salting. Then turn the skin, hair-side-out, for a few hours, under a fan to dry the hair. Then turn the skin back to skin side out, to finish drying. If you don’t like sewing, and you want to avoid slip, this is a small price to pay.


Some small game skins are easy to rehydrate, and some are not.

The few skins I can think of, off the top of my head, that are EASY TO SLIP during the re-hydration, are these.

A. Grey fox B. Groundhog C. muskrat D. Prairie dog  E. rabbit  These skins need as short of a re-hydration bath as possible, and placed into the pickle, ASAP. The bear re-hydration formula will work well on ALL small game. Just remember, NO LONGER than necessary on these skins.

Some skins like beaver, can handle a good long, complete re-hydration bath, usually with no worries. Some beaver and otter, and mink skins are often covered with a “sticky” orange fat. After the re-hydration of these skins, it is a good move to go ahead and knock off some of this fat, BEFORE these skins enter the pickle. If the skins soften up enough, mid-way through the re-hydration bath, pull them and drain. Remove as much of this fat as possible, and put back in the re-hydration, for a few more hours. Maybe knock off a little thickness in the jaw areas also. Badger; hit the necks on larger skins, before the pickle.

There are so many variables on different skins, it is impossible for me to think of them all, without someone asking a specific question. I personally enjoy questions. The question you don’t ask, will be the one to bite you in the ass!

PICKLE: Pickling with the bear formulas and method, will yield a superior end result. Beavers and otter NEED to be thinned well on the shaving machine and pickled well, or you will get stiff skins.

To achieve great results, you really need to be able to shave small game. The VERY THIN skins, like red fox, etc, can be shaved, but only by a GOOD shaver. Connective tissue needs to be broken up somehow, to allow for COMPLETE grease removal. I have seen some folks accomplish this with a wire wheel, on skins too thin to shave. Just DON’T stay in one area too long, and build up heat in the skin! COMPLETE grease removal is the KEY to producing a good soft piece of small game.

TANNING, same as bears;  Trubond 1000 for skins to be mounted, Trubond 1000B for wall-hangers. If using Permatan 2000, again, same as bears.

Does anyone need me to go into the re-hydration of AIR DRIED small game?

Any questions, or anything to add, fire away!    Thanks, for reading, Aubrey

P.S. Even after tanning, tubed skins still require good air circulation on the hair side, while drying.

Any questions so far, let em rip!   Thanks for reading, Aubrey