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Thread: Capes - Beware Using a Salt Substitute

  1. #1
    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Capes - Beware Using a Salt Substitute

    I just got bad news from my bou hunt partner. He and I shot a couple nice bou bulls in late August and caped them for mounts this winter. He received our capes back from the tannery over the weekend. His bou cape is fine, but mine is missing a bunch of hair.

    We both shot the two bulls the same day within minutes of each other, fleshed and salted the hides side by side, and shipped them to the tannery in the same package. The ONLY difference was on his cape he used common non-iodized salt and on my cape I used a salt substitute (PM me if you want the product name), every other variable was the same.

    I guess the only good news is I lost only a bou cape which I can replace fairly easily when I go after them again in 2010.

    Lesson learned: In the future I will use only non-iodized salt on my capes!

  2. #2
    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Default More info

    I thought I should add a few more details, more food for thought:

    My hunt partner has been preparing hides and doing his own taxidermy work for 15 years, so I am confident our prep work on the hides was not the problem.

    After I applied the salt substitute to my bou cape and my partner applied the common salt to his bou cape, my partner observed the salt substitute was drying my cape faster than the common salt was drying his.

    My partner also prepped a whole bou hide on this hunt, but ran short of common salt. For the second salting of his whole bou hide I gave him some of the salt substitute, he used it, and the hair ended up slipping so badly my partner chose not to have the hide tanned.

    The field condition of the hides on all three bou bulls prior to our prep work was excellent with no sign of poorly developed hair, loose hair, or bald patches. The condition of both capes prior to shipment to the tannery was also excellent.

    These are simply the facts, you can judge for yourself. I know I learned a hard lesson and will use only non-iodized salt in the future.

    cheers

  3. #3
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    Default

    I had an opposite experience using a salt substitute. My wife and I each took a gallon jug with the intentions of taking a bear and wolf each on last year's hunt in the SE. We ended up only taking one bear and one wolf and used one jug. I took the hides to the tannery about a week and a half after we returned from our trip, so about two weeks total with the salt substitute on them. I got them back from the tannery last month and all of the hair is intact.

    The tanner mentioned he didn't like the salt substitute because it dries the hide quicker and if the hide is too thick it will only dry a crust while leaving the inside of the hide fresh. My wife and I spent a lot of time fleshing both hides and the tanner noted they dried all the way.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    bear and wolf have thinner leather than the caribou, sounds like the caribou may have dried to fast....
    hard to reinvent the wheel sometimes, i'll always use the salt...
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    Member JustinW's Avatar
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    Default

    May i ask why you would use a salt substitute anyhow? I've never used anything but salt and never thought about using a substitute. Just curious what the appeal is, I know nothing about it.

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    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Default JustinW

    the appeal: less salt substitute is required to dry a cape compared to non-iodized salt, so the salt substitute lowers total gear weight for a fly-in float hunt and/or backpack hunt.

  7. #7
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default TTC Salt Substitute

    Hi Berto,

    Dunno if you are talking about TTC or another product, but it has been discussed here before. HERE'S A LINK to one of the threads. You might do a search for others.

    If I remember correctly, the reviews were mixed. Seems that many hunters liked it because of the weight difference, but many with taxidermy experience did not care for it. One of the most respected taxidermists in the Anchorage area is Russell Knight, owner of Knight's Taxidermy. I asked Russell about TTC last year and he had nothing good to say about it, and recommends using salt. Of course, Russell isn't concerned about hauling a 50# sack of salt in a Super Cub either, so...

    At any rate, I was interested in the weight reduction for flyout trips, but after hearing what the taxidermists had to say, I'm sticking with salt.

    Having said that, your story is the first I've heard of the product failing to the point of hair slippage. If I didn't know better I would say that it was not used properly. But you are saying that you had someone with you who knows proper hide care, so this becomes much more interesting. The most common complaints about TTC were that it dries the hide too fast and too hard, to the point where it becomes very difficult for a taxidermist to work with it. But this is the first time I've heard of slippage. Interesting.

    Challenging the "old ways" of doing things has resulted in the birth of many fine products and improvements, however it sometimes becomes a religion unto itself; an addiction that can lead to costly mistakes. Hard to find a balance in these things sometimes.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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  8. #8

    Default

    we beat this with a stick a while back... you all know im NOT a fan of the stuff.

  9. #9
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Yessir!

    Quote Originally Posted by harterstaxidermy View Post
    we beat this with a stick a while back... you all know im NOT a fan of the stuff.
    Hart,

    We're getting new folks in here all the time; probably the guy was not aware of the discussion. I have not used it, but from what I'm hearing I would not be comfortable experimenting with it on a client's animal.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  10. #10

    Default

    I'll be using it next fall hopefully on a couple of sheep. 1 bad report isn't going to sway me from using it and I know several people that have used it with very good results. YMMV.

  11. #11
    Member sharksinthesalsa's Avatar
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    Default bottom line

    there is no substitute for salt......i'd rather use old wet stinky salt from fishy brown bear than any of the products used to replace salt.....and do not i repeat do not use rock salt..your better off scraping the snot out of your hides and air drying them....but dont do that either...not with trophy capes and hides anyway.....
    "early to bed, early to rise, fish like hell, and make up lies"

  12. #12
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    for those who don't know shark works in a taxidermy shop here in the valley...looks like i'll be packin' some wet stinky fish bear salt on my next trip!! I'd be listening to his advice on how to handle some skins.
    shark, have you guys gotten hides in that have been treated with that new salt substitute?
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
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  13. #13

    Default

    I don't understand why air drying them would be bad? Trappers have done it for years.

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default air drying hides

    Quote Originally Posted by Kusko View Post
    I don't understand why air drying them would be bad? Trappers have done it for years.
    Kusko,

    I think the issues are temperature and hide thickness. Most trapping is done in cold months where spoilage takes longer, and most fur animals have much thinner hides than most big-game critters. As a result, big-game hides just cannot dry fast enough before the pores start to open up and hair slips. The remedy is salt, because it causes the hide to contract dramatically.

    I would not mind trying a salt substitute on one of my own hides, as an experiment, but based on what I'm hearing from respected professional taxidermists, no way would I take a chance on it with a client's animal. Bottom line? I KNOW salt works. Some serious questions have been raised about the substitutes.

    That said, I have heard that the original compound was actually produced by a taxidermist... so go figure. Just goes to show that there are indeed two sides to this coin.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  15. #15
    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default hair slippage

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Kusko,

    big-game hides just cannot dry fast enough before the pores start to open up and hair slips. The remedy is salt, because it causes the hide to contract dramatically.

    -Mike
    Mike,

    I am not sure if the pores open up I never heard that before, as best I have always known slippage is caused from bacteria & the warm moist un-salted hides are a perfect breeding grounds for such things. The contraction theory is interesting as well. Can any tanners or taxidermists tell us more on this? I ran across a hair slippage article
    http://www.hidetanning.net/HairSlipTanning.html seems to offer some opinions on the subject.

    good topic BTW

  16. #16
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    Default TCC and Salt

    I just got back from my taxidermist here in Portland. I had to drop off a godzilla sized skunk to add to my collection of full mount small game... I know it is an illness I have.

    I shot two caribou in late August. One cape I used salt on and one cape I used TCC. Both capes sat covered, cool, dry for about 5 days before leaving the bush, then another couple before reaching the taxidermist.

    Today he said he just got them both back from the tannery in California and that both were in perfect condition. I asked him if there was any difference between the two and he said "No".

    I have used TCC once before and had no problem with that cape either. I prefer salt due to cost, but if weight is an issue TCC has worked well for me.

    That is my $.02 worth of information.

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