Fragile hides such as Fox and Antelope slip easily for 3 reasons:
- Thier hair has a high insulation factor which prevents the animal from cooling down after being killed. Antelope are especially a problem because of the warm temperatures in which they are normally killed.
- They both have very thin and fragile epidermis (the layer of skin to which the hair attaches)
- Fox, being carniverous have a tendency to spoil very quickly. There are large amounts of bacteria on the animal before it is killed.
The ideal situation in tanning a fragile skin would be to:
- Skin the animal as soon as possible.
- Remove the large pieces of meat, etc. from the hide.
- Turn the ears and lips, being careful not to over-flesh at this point as yourown body heat on the skin can cause bacterial growth and hair slippage. In other words, the best strategy here is to remove a majority of the meat and get it in the picle solution. After the pickling step is when the detailed shaving of the skin is done.
Mix up the following pickle:
- 5 gallons of water
- 5 pounds of salt
- 1 ounce of Basacryl NB (Bacteriacide)
- 1/2 pound of Aluminum Sulafate (Alum) or LutanF
- 1 Quart of white vinegar (5%)
Leave the raw, quick-fleshed skin in this solution overnight. Remove the skin and shave it. Next, rinse throughly in 1oz of baking soda per gallon of water. Tumble the skin in hardwood sawdust or towel dry until skin is in a damp dry state. Heat Liqua-Tan by immersing quart bottle in plastic container filled with hot water. Using a paint brush, paint skin with warm Liqua-Tan. If you wish to leave the cartilage in the ears, reverse ears and paint Liqua-Tan on the fur side of the cartilage to ensure good penetration. After applying Liqua-Tan to the hair side of the ears, invert them back to the skin side. Roll the hide up and leave at room temperature at least 8 hours, perferably overnight, then freeze or mount immediately.
- If you are tumbling in hardwood sawdust, it helps to towel the skin side of the hide before placing it in the tumbler. This removes the “stickiness” of the skin and cuts down on sawdust build-up on skin. After towling skin side, reverse the hide back to hair side and place in tumbler. It is important to get the moisture out of the epidermis layer of the skin.
- If you use the Bondo ear method, it is necessary to remove moisture and excess Liqua-Tan from the ears. This can easily be done by washing ears in solvent such as laquer thinner before starting the bondo method. You may also want to rough up the cartilage using a serrated knife such as a fish knife.