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Been thinking about salvaging rabbit and squirrel hides for fly tying. Guessing a guy could just use clippers and shear them for dubbing without having to do much for preserving them. Zonkers on the other hand will need some tanning or other work for keeping them supple and usable. Has anybody here tried this?

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If you look around you can find directions to tan with Oxalic acid. I guess oxalic acid is really old school, I used it to tan skunk hides for snowmobile mittens 40 yrs ago. But there are plenty of You-tube vids on tanning rabbit pelts.

Last edited by erich; 08/05/22.

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One can find tanned rabbit hides for 6 or $7. Rabbit is so thin and fragile it's a pain in the butt to process without tearing and my time alone is more than worth the price. If one is simply after dubbing sources, do a good job fleshing, rub in some alum on the flesh side, and let them dry. No bug issues at all. Same treatment for fowl skins as well.

Much like today's reloading components, those small almost sample size fly tying materials are worth a fortune in the shops with I think a 300% markup. For a lot of items, I go downtown, look up and down the street to see if anyone is watching, and try to sneak unobserved into sewing shops.

Last edited by 1minute; 08/05/22.

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Ole_270 Offline OP
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Thanks guys, I'll do a bit of research.

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A trip to the salvation army store can find you rabbit fur jackets cheap.


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Not quite germane to tanning critter hides, but for simply saving stuff like that for dubbing and hairs I would simply throw a patch of it in the microwave and nuke it to kill any creepy crawlies that might contaminate the rest of the materials. Ditto self-processed bird skins.


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A lot of our hunters tie fly's. we save Quail feathers and Dove feathers, Whitetail tails, Pig hair, and Coyote tails, Exotics hair, put it in zip lock bags in our cooler so we have some when they ask for it. a lot of the disabled vets, learned to build fly rods and tie fly's in rehab. Rio7

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Originally Posted by gnoahhh
Not quite germane to tanning critter hides, but for simply saving stuff like that for dubbing and hairs I would simply throw a patch of it in the microwave and nuke it to kill any creepy crawlies that might contaminate the rest of the materials. Ditto self-processed bird skins.

I have seen some recommendations to alternate week in, week out, couple weeks in the freezer for getting rid of the creepy crawlies on bird skins.

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Just salt them and let it air dry. Salt will set the follicle so the hair doesn't slip and it will stay on the hide and not smell.

The bugs jump ship after the animal dies so just salt and let it dry out.
We tack up rabbit hides on a wood wall and let them dry for trapping use. No salt even needed.

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Yes, the bugs jump ship but the eggs they leave behind don't.


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Damn Gary....you do it all dont you?

I've always found a 50/50 mix of salt and Borax, turning several time a week, will cure rabbit, deer and squirrel hides. Chicken lots also turn up a bunch of great tying feathers.

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Not "doing it all" now, Mickey. But, I've done a lot in my 69 years of life. Pursuing/investigating/experimenting with a whole lot of different stuff - a lot of it to the point of all-consuming distraction - could go a long way toward explaining why I've been divorced twice.....


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