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Thread: Bearskin mattress

  1. #1
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Bearskin mattress

    Been on a lot of winter camping/hunting/trapping trips most of my life, and the warmest winter camping mattress I have ever used was a brown bear skin, sure beat the caribou skins we used to use on our earlier trips when I was younger. On almost every winter trip that I took over the years someone in our hunting party would bring their bearskin mattress, usually it was an elder hunter. Nowadays I see more and more of the men in my age group using bearskin mattresses, and for a good reason, they are warm. As far as I know only men who hunt bears use them. They don't usually let anyone borrow them either. My mattress came from an 8 ft bear that I shot during a spring hunt. We don't worry about the weight of our gear since we travel by snowmachine with our homemade plywood sleds towed behind us. For shelter we usually use an 8x10 ft white wall canvas tent with a homemade 6 or 12 gal woodstove made from an old metal boat gas container, 4 inch stove pipe works really well with this size of stove. This is the best way to camp if you are gonna be out for a week or so. First one up in the morning usually has to light the woodstove and make the coffee, the rest of us just sleep in until the tent is nice and warm and the coffee is ready to be poured.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    I've never slept on a bear hide, but I have slept on a buffalo hide. It was amazingly warm.

  3. #3
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default Bed roll

    Is it just a bed roll like a blanket or is it actually stuff with something? Any pictures that you could share with us?

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    My cousins have quite a few that they use when they go to the mountains in winter.
    They got most of theirs in spring then used them in a skin boat.
    As you say nothing warmer in winter.

  5. #5
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tboehm View Post
    Is it just a bed roll like a blanket or is it actually stuff with something? Any pictures that you could share with us?
    it is just a bearhide with the legs and head areas cut off, kinda cut into a rough rectangle

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default How are they tanned?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nukalpiaq View Post
    it is just a bearhide with the legs and head areas cut off, kinda cut into a rough rectangle
    Please don't tell me urine tanned! I had a pair of urine tanned mukluks once, and I could never bring then in a warm room without people complaining

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Untanned...

    We don't tan any of our sleeping hides. Been using moose hide in the wall tent, large enough for two. I tack them up on cabin wall after hunting season and then after they dry I mark out a rectangular shape and cut it out. One is on the floor here too where the computer is to add more insulation and keep my feet warmer.

    What's nice about the bear hides instead of caribou is they don't shed hairs like the caribou do. I'm still using a dall sheep hide (untanned) for my camping pad, is nearly twenty years old now and though it's shedding some hairs still in good shape. Really not sure, Steve, if tanned hides would be better than untanned for sleeping hides you may put right on the snow. Never seen anyone use tanned hides, most folks out this way use untanned caribou.

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default Thanks BR

    I've always expected that hide sleeping pads were untanned in days of yore, but thought that people might not do that anymore. I have always wanted to hunt black bear because I love the meat, but haven't wanted to waste the hide (which I can't afford to have made into a rug or wall mount). Now I know that I can hunt this spring in good conscience and not rely for the meat on my bear hunting friends who only wanted the hide.

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    Member KRS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nukalpiaq View Post
    ...someone in our hunting party would bring their bearskin mattress, usually it was an elder hunter. Nowadays I see more and more of the men in my age group using bearskin mattresses...
    Sounds to me like you're one of the 'seasoned' hunters now

  10. #10
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default That's...

    Quote Originally Posted by KRS View Post
    Sounds to me like you're one of the 'seasoned' hunters now
    ... why they call him "nukalpiaq".

  11. #11
    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRS View Post
    Sounds to me like you're one of the 'seasoned' hunters now
    Don't know how seasoned I am, but I have skinned and butchered a few animals in my time for my family's winter meat, just like most folk here in Alaska. And I can tell a hunting story now and again to keep my hunting buddies entertained.

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    Member kobuk's Avatar
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    i am very interested in the hide matress. so all i need to do is take a moose or bear hide and hang it up until it dries and the hair won't fall off? do i need to put anything on the skin like salt? what about fleshing, is that just taking the meat off the best you can or do you have to take it farther? i am tired of wasting our moose hides and i already have a bear rug but i would like my kids to be able to take a couple more black bears. how stiff are the hides after they are dry? can you roll them up? sorry about all of the questions, i am just real excited about trying it. thanks

  13. #13
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Kobuk, all you need to do is make sure the hide is fleshed so there is no meat or fat on it. Stretch it out and tack it up to dry. I usually nail to outside cabin wall, or you can make a stretcher with poles and then use cord to stretch it out and dry. Some flesh it after it's drying, I usually clean skin everything.

    After it is dry you can mark out a rectangle or whatever sleeping hide size you want then cut it out. It will be stiff but you can roll it real tight for traveling. That's about it. Over time it will soften up. Hairs shouldn't fall out unless you get it wet a bunch and it stays wet.
    Good luck, nice to put the moose hides especially to good use.

  14. #14
    Member kobuk's Avatar
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    thanks bushrat, what do you use to flesh the hides. it seems tricky to use a hunting knife and not nick the hide. any tricks or advice? thanks again for your help. where do you live? you sound like you might be pretty remote and have a lot of talent with hides and outdoor living. thanks for all of your posts.

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