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Tan Your Pelts With Nature's Tools:    page 2
the pelt tacked  out
Fleshing a pelt, tacked out on a plywood board


To simplify your first project, slice the hide open all the way up the belly to the hair of the chinny-chin-chin. (Sorry, it's an old butchers saying.) Now, throw it over a very smooth log or tack it out flat on a piece of plywood (see photo). Buffaloes I stake out right on the ground. Definitely not a good beginners project! You can use a fairly crescent shaped knife held at a 90 degree angle to the pelt. I also use the same scraper used on buffalo.

Now push and scrape. Remove all the fat, meat and membrane until you begin to see the pores of the skin. Sometimes hair will pull back through the underside of the skin. This is usually from animals killed during the summer or early fall. Just move on to the next area and keep scraping. The membrane on the head or mask is the toughest to get off, so take your time.

Of course if the animal was struck by a car and has Good Year stamped in the facial fur, you may want to cut the mask off entirely. The tails generally have a lot of fat on them. Clean them well (soap and water?) but go gently, they can break fairly easily. Fortunately they're so fluffy they can be sewn back together without a sign of the disaster.

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