Survival Manual

Tanning Furs

Learning to tan hides will eventually be an essential skill that all people will need to learn if they want to survive. Clothes do not last forever especially when you are working in them and doing lots of physical labor. You will need the ability to replace your worn out clothes and furs were used by our ancestors and relearning what they knew about the process is something you will need to master.

Our ancestors hunted for food no doubt but the benefits of killing a buffalo or deer did not stop at harvesting the meat. Various body parts were used as pots, hooks, string and of course clothing.

Luckily for you, a dead animal comes complete with everything needed to tan the hide. Nothing modern or store bought is necessary.

To remove the hide from an animal tie both back legs to a tree limb about head high. With a knife, razor knife, sharp stone, or broken piece of glass cut a circle around each leg close to the foot, paw, hoof. Next connect the cuts around each back leg by cutting down the leg towards the rectum and continuing up the other leg until you reach where you cut the circle around its ankle.

A triangle of fur around the genitals can be cut with one of the triangle side being the cut we just made that runs from ankle to ankle.

Next cut the underside of the tail, starting at the anus and running down the tail all the way to the tip.

Begin pulling the pelt up away from the leg and cut the film or membrane that holds the skin to the meat. Work the hide off of the body by pulling as much as cutting. The hide of most animals is sort of like the animal wearing pants but the pants are semi connected to the tissue underneath. Some animals will require more cutting such as the very difficult beaver; whereas others such as a rabbit are easy to skin and the hide comes off very easily. Generally the sooner you skin the animal the easier the skinning process will be.

As you separate the hide from the animal you are working from the animals rear towards the head. The last are that will be connected will be the animals nose unless you stop and the neck, that just depends on what you plan on doing with the fur. Often the fur around the head can be discarded. But if not you will have to cut through the cartilage at the ears and the nose to finish removing the hide from the animal. It is not necessary to cut any of the animals bones to accomplish this and no need to make any cuts other than the ones around the wrist/ankles on the four legs and the cut that connects the rear leg cuts.

Once the hide is removed in this manner know the hide can be flipped inside and out and back like a sock. Congratulations you have just performed a case cut or cased the hide of the animal.

Now before continuing with the process of actual tanning, this is a good time to give the hide a good washing. You can use some soap if you like, but don't go overboard as it isn't necessary.

Now depending on what you plan on using the hide for you can also opt to make a cut from ass to mouth to open up the hide like pictures you have probably seen of hides being stretch. If this is the plan this cut can be made early in the skinning process because it is slightly easier than casing the animal.

Proceed to Fleshing Step 2
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