The most important step of taxidermy or tanning is how well the hides or pelts are prepared prior to the tannery or taxidermist receiving the pelt. .Always remember that the quality of your finished hides or pelts depend on the customer prep work. The following steps should ensure the hides or pelts will remain at the highest quality possible.
1. Take care in how you skin your animal. Be sure your incisions are straight and a sharp knife goes a long way in doing a good job.
2. Prep hide immediately. Do not freeze them to be taken care of at a later date. Hides that have been frozen degrade in quality when thawed.
3. After the animal is skinned be sure to remove all the meat, and especially all the fat before salting. For taxidermy purposes, turn the lips, eyes, ears and nose.
4. Pour fine grade, white salt liberally on the hide and rub it in well. Make sure salt is put into all corners especially the feet and the face. Be sure to salt right to the edges of the skin. Roll the hide with the head and feet inside and the with the hair out. Allow the skin to drain overnight.
5. Remove any excess meat or fat that may have been missed the day before. Shake and scrape off the old salt and discard. Reapply a new dose of the salt and roll again for drainage. Leave overnight.
6. After hide has completely drained, open it up and allow it to hang and dry. Do not allow skin to dry in the sun and be air can circulate freely on both sides of the hide. As the hide air dries, fold with hair in and skin out. Be sure to fold the hide in a manner to protect the ears, face and feet so they don’t get broken during shipping or handling.