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Tan Your Pelts with Nature's Tools:    page 4
softening the pelt
Working the hide over a straight edge

Softening

The following morning uncover and begin to stretch your hide (see photo). Pull side to side and head to tail. The back of an old wooden chair works well for this. Pull the pelt down over it, stretching and buffing over the full length of the pelt. Take breaks whenever needed, but continue to stretch until dry.

 

A Note From the Editor

While some pelts do come out soft with the first braining, you should expect your pelt not to do this. If it does consider yourself lucky.

If you are softening and you notice that the pelt is getting unacceptably stiff (anywhere besides the edges)and you can't work that stiffness out...its time to re-apply the brains. If you wait until the hide is totally dry before re-braining, it won't absorb the brains as well and won't soften up as soft. You can continue this re-braining, re-softening cycle until the hide is as soft as you want it to be.

If for some reason the pelt dries tough in some spots, mix another solution of brains and re-apply, let it soak
in and stretch until dry. If you do enough tanning you will get some tough ones. Take it as a lesson from mother nature and keep trying. The fibers in the skin
are a lot like a baby diaper, crossing and overlapping each other. Applying oil to these fibers and rubbing them together fluffs them up making them soft and airy.

Smoking

When the pelt is dry and no longer cool to the touch, it's ready to be smoked in the teepee. The skin can be hung at the top and rotten wood placed on the fire to smolder and smoke. At the campfire the pelt can be suspended on sticks downwind but out of reach from a possible wild flame. Remember you want smoke not fire. Moths like tanned pelts of any kind. but smoking deters them allowing you to enjoy them year round.

So clear out a corner of the garage and brain-tan those pelts. A beautiful and respectful momento from the hunt or a well earned reward for salvaging a road kill.

Hey, honey, stop the car. I think I saw something back there.


 
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