Curing Hints for Skins

The purpose of curing is to protect freshly flayed hides and skins from attack by organisms and to render them storable for a prolonged period of time.
There are many methods to follow, but remember, to delay curing, will ensure your disappointment at the end of the day.  It only takes six hours (on a normal day) for the bacteria to destroy the root hair, causing hair slip.
Should the field preparation be done properly, there can not be any hair slip to a skin, therefore we can not take responsibility for any hair slip or damage to a skin.  (Please see the section at the bottom regarding the care for delicate skins):
  1. Skin the animal as soon as possible after shooting,
  2. Remove all excess fat, blood and meat.  Make sure that the membrane covering the skin is also removed as salt does not penetrate this membrane!
  3. Wash off all blood and dirt,
  4. If possible, soak the skin for a minimum of 5 hours, or overnight, in a saturated salt solution (about 20kg salt per 100 liters of water),
  5. As you remove the skin from the solution, open and flatten the skin on a clean surface with the flesh side facing up, and cover the skin with salt.  Make sure that the salt makes contact with all fleshed surfaces.  Be liberal with salt!

Photos-curing1       Photos-curing2

It is important, as a guideline, to use the equal quantity of salt to the weight of the skin.  The skin must then lie in salt for at least three days, after which the skin should be dried out.  It is advisable to turn the skin on a daily basis in order to ensure contact with salt,
Skins should be dried in a shaded and well ventilated area.  Skins should not be dried in direct sunlight as a skin might seem to be dry, although it is still wet on the inside (especially thick skinned animals).  This will result in a term called “red-heat”, whereby the skin decays from the inside and not visible in the beginning.
  1. Drag the animal or leave it in the sun after it has been shot,
  2. Salt a skin that has already started to dehydrate.  Rather soak it in a strong salt solution and start the process from the beginning,
  3. Leave blood, fat or flesh on the skin (salt does NOT penetrate fat!),
  4. Store a skin in a plastic bag.
Field Preparation of skins are the sole responsibility of the Hunting Outfitter, who obviously delegates it to the respective Professional Hunter, who in turn delegates it to the skinner…  This is the most important step in securing a good quality skin.  Should we receive a skin that has been subjected to mistreatment in the field preparation stage, we cannot “improve” the condition of the skin again – no matter what!  Therefore we do not accept responsibility for any damaged skins… 


Care for delicate skins using CORNMEAL (mealie-meal):
Cats tend to have a lot of fat under the epidermal layers.  If this fat is not removed properly, the skin will absorb the fat and result in a very “greasy” skin.  The hair follicle on a greasy skin cannot close up to hold the hair root, so it will eventually result in serious hair slip.
Leopard, Lion, Hyena, Caracal:
  1. Skin it – Prepare (split lips & turn ears) wash blood off,
  2. Put into a salt brine with Bactericide if available (5 hours minimum, all day maximum),
  3. Take out and lay it in the salt for 3 days minimum,
  4. Shake salt off,
  5. Take cornmeal and spread it all over and rub it in as hard as you can,
  6. Roll it up (fold up the legs and head inside),
  7. After 2 days shake the cornmeal off and let dry, not in the sun.
  1. Skin it,
  2. Remove the fat by scraping the body and tail,
  3. Rub in cornmeal hard, before the salting (absorbing excess fat),
  4. Shake off cornmeal (full of grease),
  5. Do it all over again with the cornmeal,
  6. Now shake it off,
  7. Apply salt 2-3 days,
  8. Shake salt off and reapply cornmeal,
  9. Roll it up at the end of the process and dry in shade (Salt kills 50% of the bacteria, cornmeal kills the rest)!
 Jackal – (has a membrane down its back):
  1. Skin, prepare lips and ears,
  2. Rub in salt,
  3. Roll up,
  4. Set aside,
  5. 2nd day…the membrane firms up. Peel the membrane off down the middle of back. Now have open pores and need to scrape off fat cells,
  6. Rub in cornmeal, remove the absorbed fat, shake off,
  7. Redo the corn meal, rub in again and shake off,
  8. Add salt and cornmeal,
  9. Roll up for 1-2 days,
  10. Shake cornmeal and salt off,
  11. Hang to dry in shade.
Thick skinned animals – dice the skin so salt can penetrate a salt brine, with Bactericide is always a plus.  After you pull skins of all sorts out of salt, an application of cornmeal will guarantee the skins safety until arriving at final destination.
 Please note that the cornmeal act as a medium to absorb the fat and does not dry the skin.  The normal salt action is still necessary for the drying of the skin!