Fox, deer, happy new year

I took some time in the bitter, bitter cold yesterday to get a better look at the fox. I’m glad to have him, but it hurts my heart to see the state he’s in and the evidence of being run over by a motorist. I want to take care of him now. It wouldn’t have been right to leave him out there to get more squished and mangled.

I question the state of his skull – it may be smashed. Some of his vertebrae might end up being alright. His front legs and hind feet are okay (hind legs are broken).

And of course, his pelt. I think I’ll be able to salvage a good bit of it. Most of the back and shoulders, some front leg, maybe the face, and the tail. I think the belly portion is a loss. The birds got to him before I could.

I am planning to store the fox until warmer weather. I don’t plan to even skin him yet. I hope I don’t regret that, but honestly, it’s been below zero for over 24 hours and not looking to even approach 32*F for months. I think he’ll be preserved.

Today I worked on the custom deer. Which i can’t wait to be done with, because I’m already passed my estimated completion date!

From these photos you should be able to see a progression from kind of stiff and crispy-looking to soft, supple leather.

The egg dressing had dried, which i normally wouldn’t let happen completely but, ya know, 6- month-old baby. I used a rag and some warm water to dampen it a bit. Then went to work scraping first with my small knife, then with my ulu.

I used different angles. Held the hide folded and scraped the edge. Pulled it tight and scraped in the opposite direction. Pushed into all the nooks and crannies. Opened up the parts that wanted to fold. Knelt on it and scraped away from myself, using my weight to hold it tight. Held my blade sometimes at a right angle, sometimes at a steep, slicing angle.

Slowly, slowly, it started to come around and get right.

I might re-smoke it. It’s hard to say if I’ll be able to, with 16 inches of snow on the ground and highs not even getting above zero.

There’s a small portion in the nape and one foreleg I want to make perfect, but beyond that, it’s done!

And when it’s done and delivered, I think my micro tannery will be on holiday, so to speak, until the winter weather breaks and spring starts to show her face. My guess is that’ll be near the end of March if I’m lucky, but probably more like April.

If this is my last entry here for a while, just know that I’ll be back with the warmer winds and the longer days.

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