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Home taxidermy- how do I make a black bear rug?

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cynicalcyclist:
Finally after soooo many years of wanting to, I will be buying a bear tag for the spring season here in Vancouver Island. I am very excited to get out there and see what my friends and I can find, and put some great meat in the freezer. As a guy who like DIY and saving $, I was thinking about preserving a bear hide. Not interested in keeping the face or paws on it, just the hide. Is this easy to do? I certainly want a nice hide to display and for my soon to be born baby to lay on. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated!

Cedar:
I would keep the head too, but that is just me.

My tanning solution is:
2 gallons of water
2 pounds cheap salt
8 oz sulfuric acid

Probably one of the most unorganic things I do, but I have my hands still after 38 years. You can buy it at NAPA. It was not expensive the last time I bought it. You might have to make a double batch for a bear hide. DO NOT USE METAL! It will cause the hair to slip. Also do not let the solution get over 70F.

Soak the hide 24 hours. Keep it covered in the solution, with a large hide I will rotate it a couple times. I do not use gloves, but if you have any slight cuts on your hand, the salt will let you know it.

Next day starting at the tail end, start removing the membrane. You can tell as it will be slippery/slimy.. and when you get it off to the leather, the leather will feel like wet leather. I usually work it on a sheet of plywood. Make sure to get ALL of the membrane off. Sometimes there is meat attached to the membrane as well, it will come off when the membrane does. DO NOT USE A KNIFE (if you can help it... try to keep the knife in another building so you actually have to get up to get it, which puts off the temptation of using a knife).

Stick it back in the solution after all the membrane is off for another 24 hours.

Then you start to tan it. Tanning is the stretching and breaking of the fibers, which will make it soft. They say not to use heat, but honestly I have used a blow dryer for years until it finally died after 30 years of abuse. If you do not get it dry and stretch it, it will stay hard.. like a board. So dry and stretch and when you stretch it will look wet again.. and do this for quite a few hours. I also like doing it on a hot breezy day, hang it over a rack out of the sun and come back and stretch. I do not like using a frame, and my hides come out where professional guys comment on how nice they are. The solution also makes the leather side white.

Have fun, do pics when you get the bear done,.. BUT.....

I highly suggest tanning at least 10 rabbit hides before you attempt another species of hide. Bear is going to have a thick hide. You might want to try other species first, so you really know what you are getting into before you start, or you might change your mind and send it out to have professionally done.

AFTER is it done.. actually you might start now too,.. look at fabric remnant stores. Find felt or other backing for it. I like 2 colors of felt. I likely will do a red and a black for my beaver pelt I am doing this late spring/early summer, and not sure what I am going to use for the bobcat. I plan on using pinking shears and doing the first layer about an inch out and then maybe 3/4" on the second.

Cedar

nelson96:

--- Quote from: cynicalcyclist on March 22, 2015, 07:14:01 AM ---put some great meat in the freezer.
--- End quote ---

As an avid hunter and lover of game meat, I still have to say ewwwww.  I'm not a fan of bear, but especially "spring" bear. . . .  My dislike for it is not so much the taste, but for what they eat.

Cedar:
I have only had it as 'slab of jerky' once, so it tasted like jerky to me.

Cedar

cynicalcyclist:
Thanks Cedar. Very helpful insights. I am sure that I will make it work. We don't have many fur bearing critters around here. No squirrel hunting and few feral rabbits so my hide options are very limited. My hunting partner is also interested so we can work it together. I saw somewhere that using alum works too?

I am interested in the meat quality. We will be hunting high where the bruins will be on grass so hopefully the meat quality will be good. I have many pounds of pork fat around to mix in for sausage too. I will share results on the boards:)

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