View Full Version : Tan a squirrel hide?

December 21, 2000, 02:54 AM
I got my boys a 22 rifle for Christmas. I want to take them squirrel hunting and I'd like to try tanning the hides. Is this a project we can tackle?

I have hunted deer years ago as a teenager with my extended family and I recall my grandfather salting the hides with rock salt. I've heard that the American Indians used the brains of the animal to tan the hide. Other than those two clues, I'm not sure what all's involved in tanning a hide -- other than the impression I have that it must be difficult.


December 21, 2000, 08:21 AM
Never actually tanned a hide msyself. Nice disclaimer there.
What I have done is stretch it and pour a healthy dose of salt on it. Let it sit a day or two, scrape it clean with a knife, salt it again, sit a day or so. Scrape it clean. It helps to stretch the hide by stapiling it to a board. Otherwise it will roll up. I dont think you can make clothes or something with a hide preserved like this, but it will keep it a hide instead of some smelly mess. HTH.

December 21, 2000, 11:23 AM
Buy some alum, that really bitter food spice, put about 3 tablespoons of this per one cup WARM water. Stir till disolved, the soak one squirrel hide per one cup of water. let it sit a cuple days, pull it out and give it a dip in clean cold water, shake it around in there, pull it out (just like a 5-10second dip) and wring out the hide. Let it sit and drip dry till almost dry, and then see-saw it over a rounded board, or something wood, to loosen up the leather while it dries the rest of the way. OR....

you can buy a commercial tanning kit. Mine's called Tannit(original eh?) and one bottle for $20 does one elk. Or two deer. Or about 3.12 million squirrels and rabbits. You just rub it on the skin, let it soak in and dry, then rub it over a board till it's pliable. very good stuff.

December 22, 2000, 12:35 AM
Then comes the really hard part-what the heck do you DO with a squirrel skin? :) There's only so many you can hang on your wall. Better to salt the tails and send em to Mepps (the fishing lure guys).

December 22, 2000, 02:13 AM
Oh, there are manythings:D I'll get some pics for you guys soon. I've made about 10 "hunter saftey squirrels" The first one was made of a little tree rat that I shot through the ears with my pellet gun. I tube skinned him (like a fox or coyote) and tanned him, and then had a hollow mount. I used some orange field ribben to make him a blazeorange vest, and whalla, the first "hunter safety squirrel was born." Ilater attatched some sparrow wings to him and he's the angel on my dads office x-mas tree this year. How many people you know have a *real* angel??? Many others followed. My brother has one that sits on his 4 wheel drive stick in his truck. Since they dry hanging upside down their arms are always in the air, like they're flying or waving:) His girlfriends love them :rolleyes: I'll get you guys some pics soon after x-mas when rocky comes home from his tour on the pine:) The most recent one was eating the seeds that I put on top of my pigeon hutch. OF COURSE IT WASN"T BAIT!!! :rolleyes: hehe Anyways, a shot through the lungs with my NEW pellet gun put him down good, and he made a very nice mount:D

December 22, 2000, 04:31 AM

My boys want to try making them into hats and mittens. We'll see how far that actually goes. It'll keep 'em busy for a while anyway.

It would be pretty neat if they can actually do it. Our home-school group has a fall "harvest party" every year. They like to dress up as mountain men for these kinds of things. The hats would look great with their costumes.

BTW: does mepps actually pay for the tails? How much?

Take care

December 22, 2000, 11:22 AM
Not very much. You get like 10cents or a quarter each. It adds up, but not fast enough.

Dave R
December 22, 2000, 01:14 PM
BadMedicine, I'm excited about those pictures! I have some boys who are squirrel hunting age, and your pictures will provide good motivation.

Bring on the pix!

December 22, 2000, 03:48 PM
Oh is the a squirrel hunting age? I was unaware. I've been hunting them since I got my BB gun at 6, and plan to until I'm 80 (god willing, of course:))

December 22, 2000, 05:00 PM
There are lots of different ways to tan squirrel hides. The easiest way is to do it with the hair off but then that kinda takes the fun out of it. Probably the best written instructions I have ever seen about tanning hides is put out by John and Geri McPherson of Kansas (Praire Wolf). They do it primitive style and provide step by step instructions a ten year old can follow. They put out a booklet that costs about 3 or 4 dollars.

December 25, 2000, 09:14 AM
Try this link http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/5037/hidetanning.html

December 25, 2000, 04:01 PM
That's a good post, however...

that's alot of work to go through to tan a squirel,
and you'd have to divide all the measurements by about 200 to get the right amount to tan a squirrel in. I may use it next time I get a deer though, it's some pretty good instructions.

December 26, 2000, 10:58 PM
CapeFear: thanks for the info on Prarie Wolf. I just ordered their book.

BTW: for anyone else who's interested, here's their web site:


December 31, 2000, 02:03 PM
I've tanned a few hides myself. It is a lot of work.
I've got a deer hide salted down out in the garage right now. In the first post on this thread it was mentioned
that the hide needed to be salted down with rock salt.
That's not correct. Rock salt is the kind you throw out
on the driveway to melt the ice and snow. It's no good for salting down hides. Regular table salt is what works.
You can buy it in bulk at a feed store or get several
cans at the grocery store if you're doing large hides.
For a squirrel a cup of salt would be more than enough.
I have a book called, "Home Tanning and Leathercraft
Simplified" by Kathy Kellogg that give good directions
on how to do it. I have used the sulphuric acid recipe
with good success. You can get sulphuric acid also
known as battery acid at any car parts store. I'd recommend
getting the book and have the kids read it and then proceed.

January 1, 2001, 12:17 PM
Is there any difference in tanning a fox hide? Just curious.

January 2, 2001, 10:18 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I've done some searches on the web and it seems there are many different tanning techniques. I think we're going try the simplest first: the alum method that was mentioned here (and I've found many references to it on the web). I hope to try some of the other techniques after we've had some success with the alum. I guess that's one good thing about squirrel hides: they're so small you can experiment without ruining a nice large hide.

Take care all

January 3, 2001, 12:56 AM
Hey yall, I just got my squirrel back from being a christmas tree ornament. I snapped a couple quick pics with my web-cam. Needless to say these aren't high-quality studio pictures:( Hopefully you'll be able to tell what is what:D Hope you like him, he's the original "Hunter Safety Squirrel!!"



the second is a close up of his face...I'll try and get some beter ones, these one really suck. (notice the sparrow wings:))

January 3, 2001, 10:03 AM
Look for a book titled "Tan your Hide" available at most survival/outdoors shops. I got my copy from Major Surplus and Survival (search for their URL, I can't recall it offhand).

A few years ago, I found a book called "Tan the Sioux Way" published as part of a fundraising effort by the Sioux Nation. Great book, perhaps you can find a copy by using one of the used-book finders (www.bibliofind.com for example). Or perhaps one of our Western readers can point you to a Sioux Nation website or bookstore.

By the way, this is a GREAT father-son project. My son and I try to tan a deer hide every year (depending on my luck in the field, of course) and it's always something he looks forward to. And ever time we do it, he takes the finished hide to either his Boy Scout meeting or class show-and-tell to explain the process. He's very proud of the results.

Ken Strayhorn
Hillsborough NC

January 3, 2001, 11:23 PM
I can't wait to try it with the boys. Unfortunately, the tree rats (squirrels) aren't cooperating. Its kinda cold around here, so maybe the squirrels are sleeping? Its not like back East -- we don't have snow on the ground or anything. But it does get down to freezing at night.

Thanks for the pics, BadMedicine. I hate to say it, but in that closeup he looks more like a bat than a squirrel with sparrow wings! :) I think we'll just stick to tanning hides :).

Al Thompson
January 4, 2001, 05:51 AM
Hey Adad - contact me via email.


MP Freeman
January 4, 2001, 12:26 PM

You are a genius. I am absolutely ROTFL. The wings........wonderful!


Dave R
January 4, 2001, 12:43 PM
Loved the pix! To clarify my comment on "squirrel hunting age"...I should've said the age to BEGIN squirrel hunting. Here in ID you can't hunt until age 12. Hope to go to 80, too.

January 4, 2001, 07:18 PM
Yeah, Idaho really sucks. I'd been hunting since I could carry a gun, and then moved to ID when i was 10. "What?? I can't hunt till I'm 12???" That's OK, from then on out we preceeded to use "fuzzy math." Most the game wardens there are pretty nice, or were with us. Whenever we came along a warden in the field, my dad and brother were hunting pheasants, and I was "target practicing." None of them really griped. They'd always mention "just want to make sure you all fellers know that you can't hunt till your 12."
"we are aware officer. Thank you:D"

January 4, 2001, 07:37 PM
but since that was about 40 years ago, I plumb fergot!

January 26, 2001, 12:44 AM
Thanks for the link ,solo.
I've been interested in tanning for a while. Now I might actually get started.