Skinning and Tanning a Hide

Most hunters at one time or another think about tanning the hide of the animal they have shot. I used to tan quite a few bunnies back in the day but have since forgotten the recipe and method i used. I do know it took a few goes trying different things and finally came across a good recipe and method that allowed me to get the skins to a point where i could peel of the membrane with my figures then continue the tanning process.
Recently I have been tanning a few Roo skins and foxes. Like the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat so I would be very interested in other peoples experiences.

Mostly I have been skinning the animal with the common slit down the tummy from between the legs to under the chin with cross cuts up the inside of the legs. Once I did a cut up the side of the roo as I wanted to get the nice soft underside skin of the tummy. Also I have done a few special cuts on the boys and made the silk purse with varying degrees of success. One of the hardest jobs used to be the fleshing of the skin or in the case of rabbits the membrane. On foxes, Roos and Deer I have been using the high pressure washer to remove the left over bits of meet and fat. The saddle which is a bit of meat that is attached to the skin and fat is also removed with the washer. i have used the turbo head but that has ripped holes in the thinner skin so I am now using just one of the narrower spay patterns it take a bit longer but less chance of ripping the skin. Make sure you clean up all of the edges the fat tends to peel off.

For the bunnies sock skin them cutting basically down each back leg to the bum and around it then peel forward turning it inside out as you go then I would cut it at the neck. This skin was then placed on a pulled out coat hanger and hung to dry. After at least a week it was then re hydrated in a salt solution and the membrane could be peeled of with your figures after starting it with a knife. once the membrane was off it was salted and left for 24 hours then that was repeated. Then it was put in the tanning solution of Alum and Salt, Washing Soda. Then rinsed in the Borax solution soaked for an hour then rinsed in water. I then cut it so it could be laid flat and oiled or creamed.

So far I have used the commercial Ledders tanning solution and leather cream that works very well if you follow the instructions. Turning the skin is very important. The other solution i have used so far is a mixture of Alum and Salt and washing soda. The washing soda can be made from Baking Soda by putting it in an oven spread out at 400F until it reaches that temp stir occasionally. Mix 500g of Alum in 4L of water in another 1/2 l of warm water dissolve 1 cup of salt and 150gm of the washing soda then add to the rest and mix. Then add the skins make enough of the mix to cover the skins well. skins should tan in 2 to 4 days. you can tell when a skin is tanned by placing a bit of skin in boiling water if tanned it will not curl and change colour. Then remove the skin stretch it out on a board flesh up let it drain for a while but not dry out. While still wet rub in or pour over and spread neats foot oil not too much or it will be oily. this may need to be repeated as the skin drys. I then normally change from the neats foot to a saddle mixture like jayel which is a bees wax product then the skin is not left oily. Anyway that’s how I have been doing it but I still have a lot to learn so would like to hear how other do it.

I forgot I had downloaded this youtube series on skinning and prepping a fox this guy really makes it look easy with easy to follow steps look for Coon Creek Outdoors Professional fur Handling Red Fox. he also sock skins foxes.

Thanks for that dungaree. I tried the alum and salt recipe often quoted on the www recently. It seemed to leave a bit desired. But it did do the job, just.

I’ll try your recipe next. Will get some washing soda next visit to the shops.

Any pics you can up load?

OB I am not sure how much better the washing soda makes the process from what I can tell its mainly a water softener.
There are a couple of other recipes I am thinking about doing the first uses oxalic acid which is mainly used for washing down decks and can be bought for that. I also found it in the hammer shop in the plumbing aisle it is used for rust removal (Diggers Rust And Stain Cleaner 2 Kg Oxalic Acid) . Much cheaper to buy it like that. i found this when I was looking to use it for cleaning a deck. The other uses sulfuric acid.
4L water, 2 cups of salt, 60ml of oxalic acid.
4l water, 500gm Salt(2 cups),15ml sulfuric acid (depends on strength)
The Leders solution is a Chrome based reciepe not sure where you would get the chromium potassium sulfate
All these when done should be rinsed and soaked for an hour in a solution of 4l water and 30g of Borax

I’ve only ever done this one goat skin, I used the recipe @Oldbloke shared above.
I don’t have any to compare to but I was happy with how it turned out.
And yes I know its a shocking skinning job!

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Mate you are not the only one. its something that you can only learn from experience to an extent. The modern world of youtube helps :grinning: I have spent ages on my first few roos and deer. Still takes me ages but i think it is getting easier and better each time.

For cheap supplies Oldbloke found a good source of Alum at the Hammer Shop in the form of pool Flocculent for $11.85
I paid more than that for 500grams :disappointed_relieved:

When I went to purchase that I saw a 25 kg bag of Salt for $7.90 a bargain too good to pass up.


Although this salt is very course and not fit for the purpose in its current state. I had an idea of grinding into a finer consistency. I thought of my hand grinder that I use to grind grains down for brewing I have already made this grinder into a motor driven mode using the lathe.


The grinder I bought on ebay for $26.59

I ground some salt the other day and it was very successful it made the course rock salt into a very fine almost flaky rather than grainy or even a powdery consistency. Anyway a very good consistency to spread evenly and finely over a hide.

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You just reminded me i have two got skins pinned out… not sure I’m looking forward to check
ing how the cure went! :astonished: