View Poll Results: Do you salt PWS black bear hides?

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  • Yes. I always salt.

    30 44.12%
  • Maybe. I salt depending on conditions and time.

    26 38.24%
  • No. I never salt and have never had problems.

    11 16.18%
  • I did not salt, but my hide was damaged and I'll salt in the future.

    1 1.47%
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Thread: To salt or not to salt??

  1. #1
    Member Ripper's Avatar
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    Default To salt or not to salt??

    First, a poll: For guys that have taken a black bear in PWS on a 3-4 day boat hunt, have you salted your hides and what have been your results?

    I still haven't made up my mind on when it is necessary to salt a hide. Much of what is on the web regarding big game trophy care recommends heavy salting, and I understand why. However, I have a friend who is native and does a bunch of craftwork and has never salted a hide. She just tacks it to an inclined piece of plywood and lets it air dry. Her stuff looks great. Also, I didn't think that trappers salted their hides, but I'm not sure about that.

    My difficulty comes in deciding when a hide must be salted. I realize that if you shoot a bear two days into a ten day hunt, salting is required in the field. However, what if I am on a weekend PWS black bear hunt...say 3 days afield. Is it necessary to bring salt along? If the hide is properly fleshed, feet out, and ears/lips taken care of, does it need to be salted in the field? I assume early May temps don't pose a problem, but rain could. But rain will also wash of the salt unless doing this under a tarp. So here are my questions:

    1) Is salting always required for big game, even when you can get the hide home and dry it properly?

    2) In cloudy weather, with temps less than 60 degrees, about how much time will the hide keep without being salted, assuming it is properly fleshed and hanging over a line or rolled up in a game bag?

  2. #2
    Sponsor Hoytguy's Avatar
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    Default Wanna Gamble?

    Ripper, while you make legitimate points in your arguement, I wouldnt gamble with the odds..Here are a few legit points..

    Since you are already (taking care) of everything as you stated such as the eyes, lips.. etc.. Why skip the next most important process? Salt is cheap, 5 bucks at costco for a 25lb bag.. (plenty to salt a bear hide)..

    Their are many what if's?.. No body can give you an exact time at the temps you requested.. However I hunt PWS everyspring and no two are alike.. some years its warm, sunny and lamost 70, the other years like last it never hit 40 and their was 10' of snow..

    If you are already spending the time to remove the feet, toe bones, split the lips, and turn the ears.. Put the salt on it.. Roll it up, put it in a game bag and let air circulate around it..

    Hoytguy

  3. #3
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Default

    there is always a discussion on this and my practice is that ... if i can get it home and in the freezer soon enough i will not salt it...

    it is important to have all the fleshing done, lips etc before you do. if your a few days out you need to work on this... most importanly... i hang mine to cool. get them into the breeze and cool them down for a while as soon as it is off the animal. i have never had hair slip by not salting but was REALLY concerned about my grizz last year as it was in the high 70's by the time i got home. Terry pissed a fit the entire time he fleshed it for me. said it was like jerky.. nearly 8 hours of fleshing into it. i got MOST of the meat off. but had to get it in and out of freezer to keep it cool.

    i am good at pulling the head but have always let the taxi do the feet, lips, and ears, i think i will take a stab at it this year with a few of the lil blackies we will wind up with...the taxi's i talk to also recommend that i wait on the salt until all of that is done.


    NO plastic bag, boxes, or coolers unless they are laid on ice in a game bags. do not put the hide INSIDE your pack... game bag it and strap to out side.. keep it cool... hang it hang it hang it hang it hang it hang it....let the air through it..


    did i mention to spread it out and HANG THE HIDE UP?
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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  4. #4
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    The taxidermist I use in Ketchikan does not want me to salt it. I typically go out for 5 days on an air drop. He says to flesh it reasonably well, roll it up, and keep it out of the sun. In his experience, and he does a lot every year, in 4 days it will be fine and he says the salt sets the hair and dries it out making his final fleshing that much harder. I used to take about 25lb of salt with me, now I don't bother.

    The first one I salted and brought it home to flesh myself. After a couple freeze thaw cycles because I just couldn't get to it after thawing I ultimately lost it to slippage. Now I just roll it up and take it to him. He sends me back a tanned hide.

  5. #5

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    you can salt any thing you want at any time you want if your going to flesh it properly and turn every thing, if you plan on just throwing some salt on a freshly skinned bear over top of fat and meat its not going to do you any thing. I see so many hides come into the shop every year that are handled poorly, people end up salting bears and not turning the ears or taking all the meat off around them and by the time i get it 2 weeks later the meat is already starting to get very hard from basicialy being air dryed like jerky, I charge so much extra if i have to fight these type of hides. The term salting is used why to ignorant by some people, it doesn't mean that when you go on a 2 week hunt that all you have to do is put salt on it and it will be ok.. Salt's purpose is to remove moisture and to set the hair to avoid slippage, this cannot be acheaved if you are salting over fat and meat, the salt will NOT penatrate the hide. best tips for bears are to fold them skin to skin then fold them leaving the head out, dont roll them up with the head inside the hide.

    Any one can come into the shop at any time and i will show them proper ways yo skin and flesh and turn if they want. A good quality Trophy statrts with proper field care.

    And avoid putting them in black garbage bags.

    Rich
    Last edited by harterstaxidermy; 04-20-2009 at 08:59. Reason: forgot to say some thing. ;)

  6. #6

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    there are 2 pictures, 1 of a skinned griz that came in, and the other is after i properly fleshed it.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default

    Rich, those pics speak a thousand words. I'd hope you charge a fair price for fleshing hides like that cuz it is a lot of work! Good info too on not salting over meat and fat.

  8. #8
    Member Alaskan22's Avatar
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    Default Best thing...

    The best thing Trapping ever did for me was teach me how to take care of a hide. Turning ears, lips, eyes, paws, ect.... Another handy tip is clean skinning. Some, when cleaning their game just want to get the hide off, but if you are out in the field and can take the extra time; do so and clean skin. Takes just a bit of time but it helps get those chunks of meat and fat off and allows a person to set the hide w/salt (if you choose that option. Shoot, you can air dry it once you've gotten it cleaned properly.

    All that being said, I'll clean skin, salt and let drip. Then shake off wet salt (and subsequent moisture) and then reapply more salt. After a few days of this, I roll hide to hide and allow the OPEN end of the rolled hide to face down (this allows any moisture to continue to drain). The rolling of the hide is ONLY done in the last day or so, as keeping it cool (and dry) is the #1 concern.

    Oh yeah, if you salt it and it isn't dry, don't freeze. I've done it, and it works, but the theory is the lower freezing temp due to the salt (think salt on sidewalks to melt ice in winter) can not cause it to freeze properly and have "spots of interest".
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  9. #9
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    Bear hunters that are after a trophy need to understand and learn proper hide handling techniques PRIOR to harvesting an animal. It is not difficult. A little time consuming, but actually quite enjoyable.
    A visit to a taxi shop is time well spent.
    Having said that, of the couple dozen bears that I have killed, I always salt, after fleshing. That means toes to the last knuckle, eyes, lips, ears, etc. My taxi then loves me, as does Moyles, and saves me $$$$$$.

  10. #10
    Member Ripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harterstaxidermy View Post
    you can salt any thing you want at any time you want if your going to flesh it properly and turn every thing, if you plan on just throwing some salt on a freshly skinned bear over top of fat and meat its not going to do you any thing.

    Rich
    Rich-
    So if the hide is well taken care of, is the salt necessary? If I brought in a well-fleshed fresh hide, do you salt it in your shop? What is the typical process a hide goes through once it is fleshed and in your shop? I've been told the salt 'sets' the hair. Will hair slip on a fleshed but unsalted hide?

    I guess what I am trying to get at is when it is absolutely necessary to salt a hide. From my point of view, if I can do a good job processing the hide and forget about the salt, it is one less thing to worry about. Not having to take 50+ pounds of salt on a boat, or more importantly, on a horseback hunt, is a benefit.

  11. #11
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    Default 25lbs

    Its pretty simple, If you wish to salt it.. ensure that the ears are turned to the edges, eyes are split, nose is turned, and the lips are split to the edges, feet removed and as rich stated.. all red meat, flesh and fat removed.. If you fail to do thses steps, their is no need to salt...If your willing to sit down for a few hours after you skinned the bear, after hanging the hide up in the shade to cool it down.. then you can put some salt on it for an extra peice of mind. With that being said, applying salt isn't just tossing salt on it.. theirs a process for that too.. I suggest you visit a local taxidermist in your area or the one you plan to bring it to.. I bet he will give you some pointers on what to do and most importantly what not to do..

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
    Rich-
    So if the hide is well taken care of, is the salt necessary? If I brought in a well-fleshed fresh hide, do you salt it in your shop? What is the typical process a hide goes through once it is fleshed and in your shop? I've been told the salt 'sets' the hair. Will hair slip on a fleshed but unsalted hide?

    I guess what I am trying to get at is when it is absolutely necessary to salt a hide. From my point of view, if I can do a good job processing the hide and forget about the salt, it is one less thing to worry about. Not having to take 50+ pounds of salt on a boat, or more importantly, on a horseback hunt, is a benefit.

    RIPPER, All hides will get salt eventually after thoroughly fleshed and turned, they have to.. unless a trapper brings me in an air dryed fur... another thing is that if your going to salt in the field after you flesh it, you dont need to take so much salt, its not about how much salt you use, its how good you rub the salt into the hide. 90% 0f the time my customers never bring me in a hide that has been salted, For one if the arnt going to do it right why both any ways, have you ever tried fleshing, turning a hide that some one salted and didnt flesh it,... It sucks, it also takes 3 times longer to do, it dulls all your knives and draw knife really fast and even though i wear gloves for every thing you will have greasy salty gloves giving you blisters when you use the draw knife... This is why any smart Taxidermist would charge extra for this type of hide..lol.. god knows i do...But thats also why i help people and try to teach them the right way of doing it..

    50lbs of salt is way tomuch to take on a hunt, if your going bear hunting and absolutly need to take salt, then take 5lbs and use it liberally and rub it in really good, fold skin to skin with head out and putin a game bag..

    if you need any more help just let me know.

    Rich

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    Rich, those pics speak a thousand words. I'd hope you charge a fair price for fleshing hides like that cuz it is a lot of work! Good info too on not salting over meat and fat.
    Im just glad my customer had enough sense to not salt over top of that fat and meat...lol..

    Take Care.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripper View Post
    Rich-
    So if the hide is well taken care of, is the salt necessary? If I brought in a well-fleshed fresh hide, do you salt it in your shop? What is the typical process a hide goes through once it is fleshed and in your shop? I've been told the salt 'sets' the hair. Will hair slip on a fleshed but unsalted hide?

    I guess what I am trying to get at is when it is absolutely necessary to salt a hide. From my point of view, if I can do a good job processing the hide and forget about the salt, it is one less thing to worry about. Not having to take 50+ pounds of salt on a boat, or more importantly, on a horseback hunt, is a benefit.
    Just to show you about salting hides, this is a picture that was taken last sept during moose season in my old shop,... thank god my new shop is 3 times bigger...lol... got to love salting hides...lol
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  15. #15

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    Rich, could a hunter completely flesh, turn and split in the field and let the hide air dry? Would that affect how the tan takes?

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kusko View Post
    Rich, could a hunter completely flesh, turn and split in the field and let the hide air dry? Would that affect how the tan takes?
    I would never suggest to air dry a hide other then small game fur.... if you air dryed a 7 ft griz you would have 1 huge frisbee....lol.... no really, when you air dry things with thick hides like that they will tend to crack and split real easy and make it impossible to fold once dry, hench the term huge frisbee...lol..

    All air dryed hides affect the tanning process, it takes them longer to rehydrate in the pickle, and if some one air drying a hide again doesnt flesh it properly will get grease spots that will tend to slip and be harder after the tan.

  17. #17
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default complete The Job...

    If you are absolutely only going to be out for a few day with a raw pelt, and it is cool, I can understand why a hunter would wait and let his taxidermist do the fine points of pelt and/or cape care.

    What I can not understand is why any hunter in Alaska would not want to learn all she or he can learn about pelt and cape field care. Skinning, caping, fleshing, finishing paws, lips, eyes, and noses is part of being a complete hinter and Alaskan outdoorsman. Isn't that we all claim to be? Super hunter? Great guide? Experienced outdoorsman?

    So unless I'm driving the boat, on the oars, or involved with another safety sensitive activity- I'm finishing the field care, which ends with re-salting them pelts/capes.

    I want all my partners on personal hunts to have a complete skill set, so I don't have to do it all. Pro hunts are different. On those hunts, every job is my job.

    Note, these field care tasks are very easily learned. Just take your time and work slow, after talking with your taxidermist.

    Dennis

  18. #18

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    Hunters who take their hides to a taxidermist and pay them good money out of pocket to do a task they could have taken care of themselves - are very similar to drivers who take their car to a repair shop to change the oil because the driver never bothered to learned the basics of auto maintenance and views even the most rudimentary task as some sort of a mystery and doesn't want to "mess anything up".

    Fleshing and salting are simple tasks, just spend the time and do it once and you will never have to wonder again.

    If you choose to air dry a big game animal trophy, you lose the option of shipping the hide outside to a commercial tannery (it will crack and tear when folded to a manageable size for shipping), and any local tanner is going to have to soak the hide in a salt solution i.e. "pickled" until the hide returns to a wet, pliable, raw condition similar to how the hide would have appeared before the unwise handling.

    Fur animals skinned for the fur market are handled differently and their thin epidermis does not require salting if sold that season, but will fat-burn and be unfit for sale if kept for long periods of time. A properly salted and dried big game animal hide will keep for several years.

    Hunting these days costs money - licenses, gear, transportation. Anybody that can afford to hunt, probably has a job. Anybody that can learn to work at even the most basic occupation has enough intelligence and can learn how to flesh and salt a hide. It is not rocket science. It is frankly, bone-head simple. Once your apprehension over tackling the chore is gone, you will scratch your head and wonder why you ever gave it as much thought as is put into the subject on videos, websites and magazines. As long as fleshing and salting remains a personal scary mystery, you will pay money to someone else and miss out on a big part of our hunting culture.

    No kidding, just do it.

    Tommy

  19. #19
    Member Ripper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harterstaxidermy View Post
    I would never suggest to air dry a hide other then small game fur.... if you air dryed a 7 ft griz you would have 1 huge frisbee....lol....
    Rich, Thanks for explaining what happens with air dried hides. So, I assume that a salted hide remains more pliabe for the long term? How soon after fleshing is salting required? If the hide is fleshed well and the weather is OK, can it go for a couple days or a week prior to salting?

  20. #20
    Sponsor Hoytguy's Avatar
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    Default Ripper

    Many people on here have beat this horse to death on the salting process.. However you seem to be the only one who is trying to figure out any way to (NOT) salt.. So here is my advice to you..

    Skin, soak in the water for an hour, double bag in a black non breathable trash bag and put in the sun...

    Just kidding.. Dont actually do this or you will have a rotten smelly bear..

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