I've tanned several hides using several methods. Murphy's Oil won't work.
I've used Krowtann for hair on tanning for mounting ---don't use it if you're creating a soft, flexible hide. Some argue its not a real tan anyway, that its just a pickle.
I've used eggs (similar to a brain tan) for a hair off buckskin tan - works OK.
I've used Saftee acid and Rittel's EZtan for hair on tanning - works pretty good
I'm a hack when it comes to this stuff but I've tried a few different things. If you just want a nice tanned hide, try Rittel's EZtan way. The biggest trick is in breaking the hide and continually stretching it while it dries. That becomes a tiring pain in the rear end. I did a couple of deer that turned out OK and I thought I knew what I was doing and I tried a buffalo--REAL pain in the arse.
The professionals tumble their hides for hours and hours to get them to break and to soften them up.
The only thing I have done is a squirrel hide. All I did was skin it and take all the flesh off the skin, then I covered it in salt and changed the salt every two days for like a week. It turned out great. The challenge is making it soft. I had to roll it and bend it for a while. I also put some neats foot oil on it and now the thing is perfect.
My first was a coyote using the Gander Mountain kit. Not bad.
I then used the Lutan F kit from VanDykes. More cost effective if doing a bunch of hides. Did one deer, and it came out just fine. Just did a bunch of smaller hides (skunk, woodchuck, mink, muskrat, squirrel, and coon) with it. Everything has worked well.
before tanning anything bigger, then try a small deer you don't care about much if you want to do a hair on tan. I tried some, and learned really quickly that paying a place like www.kandktannery.com who has done some 5 deer for me, and each hide seems to have come out better than the last one. K&K did a coyote for me that I thought was little better than road kill and it turned out great.
Can't promise that for everyone, but a taxi that does decent work showed me a bcat pelt he thought was a good job, and I know that K&K would never have allowed it to leave its shop. Looked like a relative version of that electrified turkey mount that everyone has seen on AT...anyway, I don't really see the point if I have to work like heck for something that is really not close to what a relatively small amount of money gets me. All the K&K hides I have are either on beds as covers, hanging up as displays, or proudly given as gifts. In short, I really ended up using them.
Now if I was tanning buckskin, maybe I would take the hair off and then take the time to break it down, but...after trying some of this myself I found that $40 would get me a great job from www.uberglove.com. Uber has done 7 deer at least, and I used up birthday and Christmas money and Uber made an incredible custom jacket, $600, but worth every single penny. I first wanted a slinky dress for SWMNBI but Uber rightly waived me off that, saying deer hide won't stretch back after wearing, like cow hide, so it won't work, so I got me a jacket. Really cool to wear what you shot...
All in all, take a shot, but give yourself the freedom to say "this is a mess and
I am going to chuck it all and pay somebody". I did, and I have not a regret and I do have great hides to enjoy and share.
I have tanned a few hides and they turned out a lot better then I thought I could produce. No hair slipping, nice supple feel. Its not that hard, but it does take some practice, especially cleaning all the fat off.
I would head on over to Vandykes, or to cabelas and buy some Vandykes lutan-f. It is pretty good and wont break the bank.
Start small! You dont want to ruin a big deer hide right off the bat. I started on a few squirrels and coons and then jumped to a deer hide.
Also, dont skimp on the pickling process! You will pay for it later if you try to cut corners.
If you want more info, PM me and I will try to help you out.
I've tanned several deer, antelope, coyote and elk capes with Lutan F. It is a real tan when finished. As mentioned, to make a hide soft and pliable it takes working it to break the fibers. Without a tumbler, this will take some work, but it is possible. You could make a tumbler like I did. I used a plastic barrel set on a frame with castor wheels under it to roll on. Hooked up a motor to one side and cut a door in the other. I screwed 2x2s with the edges sanded down, lengthwise inside the barrel to keep the hides lifting out of the sawdust. Works like a charm.
Basically, all you will need to have to use Lutan F, is a non-metal tub big enough to hold the hide with enough water to cover it. Tanning with Lutan F is not a piece of cake either though. There is a pickling process, where periodically, you have to take the skin out and reflesh it to make sure the tan completely penetrates.
It depends on what you are doing it for whether it will be worth all the work or not, but sending a cape in to a tannery isn't too expensive either, if all else fails.
Try doing it yourself and see if it is what you want to do.
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