Fox friend

Under salt, the roadkill fox skin.

Yesterday the temps started breaking the freezing mark, so it’s time for me to work on the animals and hides I’ve accumulated over the winter. They’ll thaw and I’ll lose them if I don’t act.

The roadkill fox was still frozen stiff, so I soaked him in a bucket of salt water until he was pliable. I then removed his broken bones, four feet, and what was left of his digestive tract after the eagle was on him in the road. His organs had all been eaten and most of his ribs taken as well as his vertebrae. His skull, which was very tricky to pull out of his mask, was crushed and broken in two. I had to be careful of sharp broken bones piercing my gloves.

Eventually I got his legs, bones, skull, and tail removed from the hide. Unfortunately, the tail ripped off while I was fleshing it. It was a little damaged, and I got cocky using a buck knife because I couldn’t find my tail stripper. Rookie mistake and very disappointing; I’ll sew the tail back on after tanning.

I did manage to remove his whole mask (face) in one nice piece, including ears and nose.

I rinsed him a few more times in salt water, hung him briefly to drip dry, and got him under a thick layer of salt. I used more salt than usual because I haven’t fully fleshed him. I’ll do so after he’s salt cured.

Also awaiting my attention are:

A skunk (shot)

A roadkill squirrel

An entire roadkill deer

Five chickens killed by skunks and raccoons this winter

Salt reprisal

7:32 am

I was so exhausted while writing my last post I’m not sure I explained the purpose and process of salting raw skins.

Salt is a preservative, so firstly it prevents decay of the skin tissue. It does so by drawing out water and inhibiting bacterial growth. This is essential to a good tanning result.

Salt also helps to “stick” the hair in the skin. This is partly because of the dehydrating effect. But don’t be fooled – salt cured hides aren’t tanned, and if they get wet they can lose hair and decay.

I added a single layer of salt to my deer skins the other day. Yesterday when I checked on them I found what I expected.

Liquid is pooling and collecting on the hides. This just means the salt is doing its job.

I picked up each skin to let the liquid run off and shook off some of the wet salt. I’ll sweep it up after it dries and reuse it. Then I added more salt. Quite simple!

I can’t stress enough that it’s important to get those crevices and edges! The edges will try to trick you by rolling in. One of these hides came to me with the tail still on, bone and all, and I managed to save it – that’s an area I’ll have to pay particular attention to.

And now we wait. The next steps for these deer hides don’t start until they’re salt-cured. Meanwhile, I’ll see what I can do with a sheepskin.