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Thread: Bear skins shrinking

  1. #1

    Default Bear skins shrinking

    Wife and I just got our black bear's back that we got in Sept. I already have a rug so we decided to just have these tanned. WOW! I knew they would shrink some but had no idea how much. Mine was a little over 6' and he now looks like a cub. Wife's, well I hate to even say what it looks like. My question is, dont you stretch the hides out before they make a rug? Is there any sugestions on how to stretch these out or should I get my taxidermist here to do it. I am not expecting them to be same size they were when we skinned them but a little closer would be nice.

  2. #2
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    The tanned hides get rehydrated before the mounting process. They will then approach their actual size. If you soak these hides out and stretch them, they will lose the soft, pliable characteristic that they now have.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  3. #3
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Shrinkage...

    Salted, unstretched bear pelts can easily shrink a foot. Thats what "sets the hair", preventing hair loss during the tanning process.
    When I measure bears for clients or friends I really attempt to be accurate. An 8'9" brown bear is just that, not a 9 footer.
    When that 8'9" brown bear is processed into a completed rug, it will measure about 4 inches less. Black bears rugs seem to lose about two inches.
    But be aware, there are those that believe the rugs lose more than I do, and those that say the completed rug stretches out to the original (true) size.
    ...just my observations...

    Dennis
    AK True Adventure Guide Svs

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    Member Montana Native's Avatar
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    Talking Shrinkage...

    I too have woes about shrinkage. This year, my "field judging" was a tad off. The sow I shot appeared to have a large head, ears seemed small and spaced farther apart. Bottom line after a "thorough" review, I opted to shoot. Upon location of kill, ground shrinkage hit home.
    At this point I figured she'd be around 5-5 1/2... WRONG! I hate it when the tape tells the truth! Anyway, she's a 4' 8" gal, beautiful coat and the blondest face markings I have ever seen. F&G biologist aged her at 4 1/2 yrs. I guess it's common for sows to retain their petite size, not the best for a rug, but she'll be pretty none the less! Due to the size and consideration for additional shrinkage, I elected the rug with ears up, mouth closed for a non-threatening posture. Can't have a lil critter like that all hyped up, teeth showing looking menacing. If I did that, might as well spay paint a white dimond on the back and call it a wolverine!
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Griz I shot in '01 was an even 10' paw to paw and an even 9' nose to tail (squaring an honest 9 1/2 feet). I went back and forth on the option of a live mount and decided to get it wet-tanned and it sat in the freezer for four years (dont know if that had anything to do with it shrinking). I decided it would be way easier (and much cheaper) in the long run to just rug it. After I got it back from the taxi rugged, its exactly 8 feet each way. Go figure, but I'm happy with it!

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    It still reads 9.5' sitting in the #11 all time spot

  7. #7

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    I have a buddy who shot an 8 1/2 footer that came back as a 7 footer. It appears that the taxi didn't rehydrate the hide and stretch it. It has wrinkles all over it. Very disappointing.

  8. #8
    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    It still reads 9.5' sitting in the #11 all time spot
    Naw, 26 10/16

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    The taxidermist you used must not charge by the foot cause if you get charged by the foot hides usually come back bigger than you remember.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    seems like i figured a 14 percent loss in size for brown bear rugs once...seemed pretty standard, also the cut they use for the rug is sometimes different than the way you lay the hide to measure and good ol' just getting smaller....can't fight it much on rugs, lifesize you can stretch it and keep it that way, butnot with rugs.
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
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  11. #11

    Default tanned hides

    Thanks for everyones input so far. I still think there is something really odd. I do have one that is made into a rug from a few years ago. Yes it shrunk a little but it sill looks like a normal bear. The two tanned hides we just got back are so small we wont let anyone see them. I am not kidding. They look like little cubs. Shoot, wifes looks like a racoon! Can these be stretched out?

  12. #12
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Shrinkage

    I do believe bear hides tanner a year or more ago, especially that one that was tanned four years ago, will lose some size. Bear hide is thick and tough and older hides do not completely stretch out. The reason a fresh hide loses a few inches is due to the "mounted hear". When we correctly measure them, the head is "empty and stretched out". Then, when processed into a rug, the head is mounted and "full size", so the measured rug will be a few inches less than the accurate size of a raw, completely and properly fleshed (but unsalted), squared bear hide/pelt.
    A full size, full body mount will again be quite a bit smaller that the squared hide/pelt, just like a dead bear "in the round" (prior to skinning) will always be a lot smaller-if you can obtain all the measurements- than the unsalted, fleshed, raw hide/pelt. Note that it is often really hard to measure a big brown bear "in the round", dead on the grown. They are just big and heavy, and seldom die in the "bear-rug-position".

    Hopefully an experienced taxidermist will contribute his/her observations to this thread.

    Thanks for you thoughts, BRWNBR, but I am surprised at the 14% loss...(but brother, I do recognize and respect your experience).

    ... perhaps that other bear guide on the forum, wantj, will see this. He has some experience with this topic.

    Dennis
    AK TAGS

  13. #13
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Are you certain that you received your hides? I mark my green hides with a series of strategically placed holes when I drop them off at the tannery. You can soak the hides out, stretch them out, and tack or staple them to a sheet of plywood or two. Once they dry they will not be soft and supple like they are now, but they will be bigger.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  14. #14
    Member ollie's Avatar
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    Most tanned hides will stretch back to their original size once they have been properly rehydrated. A lot depends on how the hide was prepped, type of tan, etc. Bottom line is a hide that is properly tanned will stretch to it original size. Keep in mind mind that some tans will offer a whole lot more stretch than others also.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    Are you certain that you received your hides? I mark my green hides with a series of strategically placed holes when I drop them off at the tannery. You can soak the hides out, stretch them out, and tack or staple them to a sheet of plywood or two. Once they dry they will not be soft and supple like they are now, but they will be bigger.
    I plan on putting some "strategically placed" holes in the hide while the animal is still wearing it

  16. #16

    Default Air him out!

    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I plan on putting some "strategically placed" holes in the hide while the animal is still wearing it
    I like that!

  17. #17

    Default locking tags

    Quote Originally Posted by spoiled one View Post
    Are you certain that you received your hides? I mark my green hides with a series of strategically placed holes when I drop them off at the tannery. You can soak the hides out, stretch them out, and tack or staple them to a sheet of plywood or two. Once they dry they will not be soft and supple like they are now, but they will be bigger.
    That was the first thing I thought but they still have our tags on them. I think we will try to soak them and stretch them. Or we could just make a coon skin cap out of wifes.

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    Member 8x57 Mauser's Avatar
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    Wink

    You have other options, too.

  19. #19
    Member Montana Native's Avatar
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    Default Did the math...

    Quote Originally Posted by 8x57 Mauser View Post
    You have other options, too.
    Here's a quote from the link:
    "The hatmakers purchase between 50 and 100 black bear skins each year at a cost of about £650 each."

    Thatís $ 1,276.0786 USD! That covers taxidermy fees for next years bear!
    Respect what you do not own but are privleged to enjoy, Mother Earth thanks you...

  20. #20
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex View Post
    That was the first thing I thought but they still have our tags on them. I think we will try to soak them and stretch them. Or we could just make a coon skin cap out of wifes.
    How about a pair of slippers?
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

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