Continuing from the previous post, snared, (thats right I can do hyper links now!) I also had a fox which I had tracked during a snow storm in October and taken with my .22. I had it skinned and salted. It was my intent to use vinegar to tan both the fox and the squirrel as well as a muskrat skin I had been saving since September. Some animal, probably a raven, had made off with the muskrat skin which I had left outside so that was out but I did not have enough vinegar for the others. I have heard of several methods of tanning, most popular seem to be brain tanning and tanning with commercial tanning solutions. Although vinegar tanning is not as well practiced and likely does not give as good results it is a cheap easy alternative.
The squirrel I tanned using vinegar and then we as a class spent some time working the hide. The kids loved the fur, more so when we stuffed it full of shredded paper and tissues on which we drew eyes and teeth. We were reading a book called Scaredy Squirrel about a squirrel who is afraid to leave his tree. The moral is that nothing bad happens and he was afraid for nothing, which of course is a little ironic because something did happen to our new friend.
Having used all my vinegar on the squirrel and the store only having the little bottles, I set out looking for another method for the fox. One of my students parents happen to take a fox at their camp about that time so I heard all about it from my student. The parent and several of the elders recommended mayonnaise to tan it. This was not one I had heard of but I gave it a try. After spreading a thin layer and letting it sit for a few days I washed it and began working it as it slooooowly dried.
In the end the squirrel turned out pretty good. The fox is ok but the tail broke twice and there are some small holes which may have been from excessive working of the hide, and the fur is somewhat matted (probably because I tube skinned it and it was inside out for quite a while). I took the fox home at Christmas and will continue working on it over summer. Sorry no pictures of the fur. I will have to try to get some this summer.