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Thread: Beginner Black Bear Tanning.

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    Default Beginner Black Bear Tanning.

    I am black bear hunting in two weeks and would like to tan the hide myself. Does anybody know of a good video that goes over the process from field to finished product?

  2. #2
    Sponsor JuliW's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Palmer, Alaska, United States


    Hi Brent,

    I don't know of many videos that cover tanning a black bear, specifically. But there are many options for tanning. I recommend, if you don't already know, that you learn how to correctly skin, flesh, and prep the face, before tanning commences. I also recommend you do a google search on home tanned black bear hides, to learn what NOT to do. Many people get halfway into tanning a bear, only to realize it is not quite the same is tanning a fox or small fur bearer. It is a bit more work to do by hand. Though I think a worthy venture for someone willing to give it a go.

    Black bears are very greasy - so the hide must be degreased. It also should be pickled, neutralized, tanned, and 'broken'. You will need a kitchen scale and ph strips to properly pickle and tan your bear. (As well as a large enough container to put him in - plastic barrel, or such)

    I will say this - if you do happen to shoot a really nice bear - one you KNOW you want to keep for a long period of time - I recommend you have it professionally tanned. If you don't have the funds for tanning at the moment, at the very minimum you could have it fleshed and salted to store until you do. Once you start the tanning process at home, there is no going back. In the end, you get what you get - and that is ok if you are willing to accept that you may not end up with something that looks like it was professionally done.

    Good luck on your hunt and future tanning adventure!
    Taxidermy IS art!
    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Check out VanDykes taxidermy supply, they have a lot of good reading on the options available and their prices are reasonable.

    After doing a couple caribou hides I can tell you the toughest part is breaking them once they are tanned. I wasn't all that concerned about it in my case because they are just hanging in my wall, but I put a lot o manual labor into it and didn't come close to what a commercial tannery can do.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Member FullCryHounds's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011


    Do a small bear that you wont be too upset if it doesn't turn out like you expected it to. If you are doing this to save money, don't waste your time. Send it to a good tannery and end up with a hide that will last your lifetime. If you have no experience tanning, bears are not the best hide to start with.

  5. #5
    Sponsor protaxidermy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    There are a few things that are such a pain in the butt that it is best to leave them for the professionals.

    Musk Ox, Bear skins, Moose, & Bison.

    These do & can need special equipment to PROPERLY thin the skins.

    Plus the Softening of the skins or (STAKING) Breaking over as a lot of folks call it, should be done by an Undershot Buffer to keep it even & soft.

    Anouther thing is Cleaning & Degreasing the long fur.

    I use a Special Degreaser that is not sold to the public or taxidermists, ( Only Tanneries can purchase it )

    We also use special Fur brightners in our LARGE Tumblers that cleans & shines the fur as it tumbles in the drum.

    You CAN tan a Bear your self, Not saying you cant, But you will get a better, softer , Cleaner job if you have a Competant taxidermist do it.

    RJ Simington
    PRO Taxidermy Fairbanks
    Custom Taxidermy, Experience the difference !!


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