Brain tanning Elk, Moose and other BIG hides: page 2
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Scraping BIG Hides



Because I don't measure things much I can't say how strong I made my lye solution but I did make it somewhat stronger than I do for deer. Also I've found that with these big animals, they need to soak in the lye for twice as long as a deer would. I left this Moose in for six days and it probably could have stayed a couple more.


Wet scraping this hide was difficult. The dull draw-knife that I usually use on deer was brutally slow. I resorted to my sharp bladed draw-knife that I fleshed the hide with. It was tricky because with the hide swollen from the lye it would roll in front of the blade causing the sharp blade to dig in. The grain on these hides is thick and I have to go over a lot of it twice to get it all. Most deer take me 45 minutes to an hour to grain, this Moose took four hours.


I neutralize my hides in a tub with a hose running into it. Twenty-four hours usually does it with deer hides. This Moose took a full 48 hours, and I left it in for another 12 hours to be sure. The thing with these thick hides is that they can have a look and feel you want on the surface when the middle isn't there yet. So buck extra long and neutralize extra long. You don't want to try to brain the hide if it's not totally neutralized.


Wringing can be a real workout. I use the twisting with two poles method. With a three foot long hickory maul handle for a twister I put all of my six foot tall 190 lbs. into it. A longer handle might be in order for big hides like this, especially for a smaller person. It just won't get as wrung out as your used to with deer, but give it your best try. I brained my Moose in the morning and took it out again after supper, wrung it out while the brains were warming up, and brained it again.


This isn't a BIG hide but it is a long wringing stick like Billy recommends for use with Elk and Moose. In old pictures of Native American women wringing Moose hides, (which this isn't, this is Heather) they are nearly always using wringing sticks of long length. 


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