How many people know when to use salt, what kind of salt to use, how to apply it, and how much they need?
Salt is necessary to keep bacteria from destroying the hair follicles on a hide or cape. Essentially it prevents or prohibits greatly bacterial growth.
If you are going afield for more than 7-8 days - and you are looking to have a mount done of your trophy - take salt.
Don't take rock salt or water softener salt. Take plain salt/table salt -
Rock salt does not provide adequate coverage...Think of the salt like a blanket - you want it covering the hide completely...Using rock salt would be similar to you trying to stay warm with a bunch of small pillows on top of you. LOL!
a couple of cups will be fine for a small cape (sheep or deer).
Any animal in which you are taking the whole hide back with you will require about 10-25 lb salt - 10 for a small bear, or wolf, and 30 for something the size of a moose or very large brown bear.
If you are going for a weekend hunt, don't bring salt.
If you are going in the middle of winter when it is 20 below, don't bring salt
If you are going where it is 60 degrees or warmer - even on a short hunt - bring salt
After skinning your critter, take the big chunks of fat and flesh off the skin - salt won't penetrate through the flesh into the skin. Lay the skin out, hair side down, and work the salt into the skin, all the way to the edges (be aware of creases and folds and make sure to get them too). A thin layer is all you need for the short term, but make sure it is distributed over the entire skin.
Then fold the legs in, fold the skin in half lengthwise and roll up loosely, then placed in a game bag (cotton or other, but NOT plastic) PLEASE don't let your skin become DRY - if the skin air dries it will not be able to be properly fleshed and you run the risk of the hide souring if there are large chunks of fat and flesh still on it (more than 1/4" thick).
After a day, you can take the hide out of the bag and drain it...then check for spots you might have missed, apply salt, and re-roll and store in a clean bag.
Also - if you are going to leave the head and feet in for your taxidermist to skin - make sure the head is COOLED out before rolling the hide up. The head is the warmest part of the body and will retain heat for a long time, especially if it is rolled inside the skin.
Take to your taxidermist or get it fleshed out yourself within 2-3 days. A note to those who do their own fleshing. Generally trying to flesh a hide with a knife suffices until you can take the hide to your taxidermist but isn't adequate for actual preparation for the tannery. I have had a very very small number of hides the hunter thought they fleshed properly that didn't need for me to flesh them again. (maybe 10 out of 300)
It is ok to put a salted hide in the freezer for a short period of time. By short I mean less than a couple of weeks. In the freezer salt continues to 'jerkify' the meat and fat and skin - and when it is time to take it out and flesh/prep it for tanning, it becomes impossible to work with.
Then when it is thawed there is no way to get the 'jerky' off in order to get salt into the hide. You also run the risk of the fats in the skin becoming rancid which leads to a grease burnt skin (leaving the hide yellowed and discolored, and also much weaker). Also, unless the hide is in a very cold freezer, salt will prevent the hide from freezing completely. I have worked on hides that were salted and left in the freezer for several months - they are always marginal to poor in quality.
There is also the new 'non salt' preservative. I have fleshed and worked on several skins that have been treated with it. It is weird to work with, and I prefer salt, but seems to do an adequate job.
Oh yeah, PLEASE don't lay your hide, flesh side down, on dirt, rocks, gravel, or silt for pictures or ???? . It really makes it difficult to flesh properly and takes YEARS of the life expectancy of the fleshing knife!