Buffalo Hide

Preparing hides for tanning


The purpose of curing a raw skin is to take away the environment for bacteria and provide a means of storage prior to tanning. Many hides are ruined from poor handling before tanning could ever take place. The moment the animal quits breathing, oxygen is no longer being carried to the cells of the body. Decomposition begins immediately. You have to slow this natural process.

Any skin should be completely fleshed of all meat, fat and any connective tissue before salting or drying. Do not just throw some salt on a hide before fleshing it!!!

Bacteria action is stopped when the moisture content is reduced to below 15%. It is important that this process is carried out as soon as possible. Even though some of the bacteria is killed by drying, other bacteria and the spores deposited by bacteria only become dormant and will be activated upon rehydration. Bacteria indiscriminately attacks the hide substance by secreting enzymes. They in turn redigest the broken down protein. This is especially important to control when tanning to prevent skin degrading and hair slippage. Once the protein that hold the hair follicle is destroyed, hair slippage is irreversible.


Although drying a skin as quickly as possible is important, drying by direct heat or exposure to the sun can cause gelatinization and case hardening. The water soluble glues and fats become insoluble. This is seen when hides get a hard yellow appearance on the flesh side Fur skins are most often stretched on wire or wood frames and air dried, but the most common method for curing is by salting. Salting not only dehydrates the skin but it combines with the proteins and separates the fiber. This makes rehydration much easier. It is important to use a bactericide in the rehydration process such as Pinesol.

Raw skins should never be salted below freezing. A skin salted at 0 degrees F. will only have 20% penetration. It takes approximately 12 hours at room temperature for salt to penetrate the average skin. After 24 hours the salt should be shaken off and the skin re-salted with clean salt. Only then can the skin be stored in a cool, dry area.

For skins that are to be stored in the summer months or skins that are extremely bloody, the following soak solution is recommended. For each gallon of water add three pounds of salt and a bactericide/fungicide (Pinesol). Leave the skin in this solution for at least twelve hours, drain, salt, and dry.


Before you go hunting or kill any animal, decide what you are going to do with the hide or cape. Make proper cuts as per your decision. If hide is to be tanned, be sure to make a clean cut up the center of the hide. Keep tail intact, skin to just behind the ears and down to knee on legs. If cape is to be saved, the first cut should be behind brisket and around shoulders. LEAVE PLENTY OF BACK SKIN! Do this before field dressing is started. Once hide or cape is removed follow the next instructions:

  • Remove all flesh and fat, (turn ears, split lips, and split nostrils, if for taxidermy or take cape to a qualified taxidermist. The better job you do, the better results you can expect.
  • Lay skins flat and salt thoroughly, using a FINE grade salt; livestock or hay salt works fine. We recommend 50 lbs per elk, 25 lb/deer, 100 lbs/moose, buffalo, cow and horse. Salt is an inexpensive investment. Use plenty of it.
  • Allow skins to dehydrate, not puddle. After a couple of days hang on a rack or incline to drain fluids. Shake off loose salt and re-salt with clean salt if a cape. Allow to dry (not hard). Flip hide over and allow hair side to dry. Leave hide with hair side up………then
  • Fold skins carefully, hair side in.
  • If skins do not dry in humid weather, a fan to circulate the air is helpful.
  • Before the skins get hard, fold and store in a cool place or place in cardboard box until ready to make a shipment.


– Be sure to count your hides accurately! Enclose a packing list with each order. Include your name, address and phone number for a safe return.
– UPS is suggested for shipping parcels under 150 lbs. Use a cardboard box or burlap bag. Do not ship in plastic! No exceptions!!!
– For larger shipments, use common carrier.
– When calling your shipper, be sure to inform them you are sending GREEN SALTED HIDES for the lowest rates.
– Ship all orders PREPAID.

We reserve the right to reject items, prior to finishing, which have major hair slippage or defects to the point where skin value is lost. We will call you if any problems occur.

Any additional skinning or fleshing on our premises is done at a rate of $65.00 per hour unless prior arrangements have been made.

Conditions of acceptance: In view of the many factors which have a definite effect on the final results of fur dressing (such as primeness, general conditions of each specimen, climatic conditions, lack of facilities, and sportsman’s lack of knowledge in the field) we assume no responsibility nor guarantee the results of any dressed specimen.

ALL TANNING IS DONE AT OWNER’S RISK, due to the fact that we have no control over the handling prior to receiving shipment. We believe our tanning is the best around and take great pride in our work. We have tanned hides and furs available for sale also.
Stop by and visit our tannery and store.

Joe  Brandl


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