'Brain-tanning furs', an illustrated four page article by George Michaud
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Brain tanning Furs:    page 4

Smoking

After the skin is softened you will want to smoke it. The smoking doesn't make the fur water proof, what it does do is make it so that if it gets wet all you have to do is rub it between your hands when it is dry and it will be as soft as the day you tanned it. It also prevents decay and bugs from devouring it.

The easiest way to smoke the skin is to turn it fur side out and sew an 18 to 24 inch canvas skirt on it. This is sewed to the bottom of the skin so that it is slightly funnel shaped sloping up to the skin. One other thing: sew the leg holes closed as the smoke will discolor the fur anywhere it escapes.
the smoking hole Next dig a hole about 12 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep (a post hole digger works great for this). Build a fire in the hole and let it burn down to coals, now put the punky wood on the coals and have some water handy to put out any flames that break out. All you want is smoke and not heat because high heat will damage the fur.
Build a simple tri-pod over the hole to hang the skin from by a cord through the nose. Spread the skirt that you sewed on the skin over the hole and place rocks on it to hold it down. Stay right with the skin checking frequently to make sure the wood doesn't catch fire. I smoke my furs for about 30 minutes.

Parting Thoughts

With this method you can tan several skins with one brain and for under two bucks. This is a safe way to tan furs around children and pets. The tanned furs will be as soft as the finest fur dress if you put a little work into them. If the wife catches you using the kitchen appliances just tell her that you were doing it for her new fur coat.
George Michaud traps, runs his own dog sleds, and teaches trapping and the brain tanning of furs. He guides trips through the Tetons on his dog sleds. To learn more his dog-sled tours, check out his website at www.angelfire.com/biz/4pawpower/



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