The Pre-Smoking Method: page 2
Storing the Hide
If you are not going to go ahead with the tanning process then you
will want to store the hide. Ideally, freezing it is the best way to go.
If you are only doing one or two then you can fold the hide, flesh side to
flesh side, roll it up tightly, tie it and stick it in a plastic bag and
put it in the freezer until you can get to it. In fact any time during the tanning process, if you are interupted and can not work on the hide for a few hours or days you can freeze it without damage to the hide or the tanning process.
SaltingYou can salt the hide and it will keep
for quite a while like that. Keep in mind that if you have many salted hides and have them stacked up on top of one another, there will be heat generated within the pile that could cause the hides to rot (ed. note: while this is possible it is not typically a problem, storing salted hides stacked is common practice).
You can also hang the hides to dry AFTER they have been fleshed. If you leave meat and especially fat on the hide and dry the hide, it can get what we call grease burned and when you go through the process of tanning the hide will fall apart. If the hide has been fleshed well, then it can be hung and dried and will keep for years as long as bugs don't get at it. Joe lost over a hundred hides a few years back due to little burrowing bugs.
We usually buy hides twenty or more at a time, some are salted but most are fresh. We try to get as many fleshed and dehaired as possible then they can be rolled up small and frozen or pre-brained as we most often do to them. We'll discuss this later.
(For more on hide storage, see the braintan.com tutorial Storing Hides
De-hairing the Hide
After the hide has been fleshed and you decide to continue the
process, place the hide in a plastic garbage can half filled with water.
Stir it once or twice to make sure all surfaces are in contact with water.
Weigh the hide down with a cinder block or stump to keep the hide totally
underwater. Even in cold weather the hide is most often ready to be
de-haired the next day. The idea here is not to slip the hair but to
thicken the grain enough so that when it is removed, the hair comes off
Place the hide on the PVC pipe so that the neck is closest to you as
you will want to scrape the hair off in the direction it lays naturally.
You should use old clothing and water proof gloves. Joe takes a large
garbage bag and cuts the end out, than slips it on like a skirt. This way it
can be thrown away after a few uses instead of hosing rain-gear off. The hair
on the neck is always more difficult to remove than the rest of the hide.
Once you get past the neck the rest of the hide will be relatively easier.
You can recognise the grain as a brown/pinkish layer at the roots of
the hair. It is important to remove as much as possible but not necessary
to get 100 percent of it.
The neck, down the back and the hips are the thickest
part of the hide. As you get toward the sides of the hide, the hide gets
thinner and you won't want to press as hard as it is easier to put a hole in the hide.
MembraningOnce the hide has been de-haired, we flip it
over and pass over the flesh side again, more of the membrane will come off
because the hide is not padded by the hair still being on like it was in
the fleshing step.
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