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

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Oh and I plan on keeping the skull. That will look awesome hanging above the Rocket Mass Heater in my future shop:)


--- Quote from: cynicalcyclist on March 22, 2015, 08:46:13 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

They have Brown Bear (aka Bruin) on the island?  If you want better meat, I would suggest fall hunting after they've been eating a lot of fruit and berries.  Good luck, I understand British Columbia has the largest Black Bear population in North America, and Vancouver Island has the densest population of Black Bear in the entire province.  Make sure to take lots of pictures and post them here.

We have the odd grizz that swims over from the mainland. Not in my neck of the woods though, always on the north end. If I don't fill this tag in the spring it is good for the fall hunt too, so I would go high again for blueberry bear. I certainly will post pics on here :)

You can get rugging videos from several taxidermy suppliers, other helpful info over at, rugging can be as simple or complicated as you want the finished product, Cedars tanning above is basically what all taxidermist do, most will use a tanning oil after it comes out of the acid pickle.

Tanning a hide is very easy, but can be a lot of work. My part time job is taxidermy with my father in law. I caped out a Blue Hawaiian ram today. Not too long ago I did Euro mounts on two black bear skulls and a grizzly skull. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm pretty sure I did a hide from one of those bears as well. If you want to do it the easiest way, you can order tanning concentrate from a taxidermy supplier like Van Dykes. We do not use sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. I can't imagine why anyone would use something that caustic and toxic when better options exist. You'll also need a plastic tub large enough to hold the hide, the tanning solution, and do so with the hide completely submerged. Use plastic bottles filled with water to hold the hide down, and mix the solution with a wooden utensil. There are other methods that don't require purchasing chemicals, like brain tanning or extracting tannin from acorns. I can't comment on those methods since we can't afford to ruin a customer's hide trying to figure out the right concentration/amounts.

I'm going to tell you in advance that a bear hide is pretty ambitious for a first project. You would do well to heed Cedar's advice on starting with hides from small game like rabbits. After skinning the animal, roll the hide up and freeze it if you're not going to work on it right away(and you probably won't, skinning and quartering a 250+ pound animal is a chore). Alternatively, you can salt the hide, roll it up, and elevate one end to allow it to drain, then freeze it. Use non iodized salt only. If I remember correctly, the iodized salt gives more chance for the hair to slip. When we pull a hide out of the freezer, it's allowed to thaw and then as much meat and fat as possible is cut off. After the initial fleshing, it's salted and rolled up, and generally the final fleshing is done the next day. Meat and fat can prevent the tanning solution from penetrating the hide, so it's important to remove as much as possible. If a small piece is missed, it won't hurt anything as long as it's just a thin(very thin) layer. With the pickling solution we use , the hide is left to soak for 24 hours, removed, and then rinsed thoroughly. This solution is not temperature sensitive as far as I am aware. I've put hides in it when temperatures were over 100 degrees. Then it's put on the drying rack. You can easily build one, it's nothing more than a frame large enough to stretch the hide taut and secure it while it drys. We paint tanning oil on the hide after it's stretched, and again a day or so later. After the hide is dry, it's pulled off the rack and sanded to remove any remaining fat/meat, and the hard "skin" layer. Once it's sanded, it gets thrown in an old dryer(non functional heating element) with a bunch of tennis shoes and run until the hide is supple. You can accomplish the same thing by just working the hide over a round post, but you'll be at it for a while.

Do yourself a favor and build a fleshing beam. If you build one that is capable of securing the hide and performing the usual function of a convenient work platform, it will make the job much, much easier. Good luck!


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