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Striperknight 11-20-2003 08:58 AM

New bucktail
A guy I know is giving me a new bucktail from a recent hunting trip. What do I have to do to preserve it?

- - - - - -Striperknight:confused:

Eddie 11-20-2003 09:34 AM

let's see if we can get flytyer on it..

FrenchCreek 11-20-2003 11:00 AM

If the tails are still in, then cut the skin along the backside (brown side) rather than of the white side. e.g. don't cut the white side in half.
After that, I simply tack the stretched skin/tail on a board and pour a liberal amount of salt covering the whole thing. Let this dry outside for a week or so and then remove any grease/fat with a shrp knife. This is the easy way, but it leave the tail very "hard", not tanned.
Theer are more complicated ways (tanning) and I don't use them unless I am doing 6-8 tails at once.

Smcdermott 11-20-2003 11:07 AM


I am curious if the two different processes you mentioned have an effect on the hair. I have found that when I go to the fly shop the bucktails with a softer hide also often have the more supple hairs for use in a pattern like a bucktail deceiver, whereas the hard hides seem to have the stiffer more hollow hair. Just curious.


juro 11-20-2003 11:34 AM

... and some stink! I had a bad batch and put them out in the garage. I forgot about them until spring and found that the mice had eaten well on the hide. UGH, sucks being a mouse I guess ;)

flytyer 11-20-2003 03:41 PM

FrenchCreek's description of how you do it is spot on. The only thing I do differently is use Borax instead of salt to dry the inside of the tail. Also, after the tail is dried with the Borax, I wash the tails in a pan with Woolite, Synthrapol (my favorite), or clear Ivory Liquid Dishwashing Soap. This last step makes the hair nice and clean and supple, as well as making it easy to dye since it has been cleaned of grease and dirt.

Striperknight 11-21-2003 08:58 PM

Thanks! I have it drying now.
Its got some nice long white hair.

FrenchCreek 11-22-2003 12:03 PM

Subtle/soft Bucktail
I also use Borax on occasion and occasionnaly "wash" the tail as mentionned by flytyer. Borax also kills any critters that may hang about and protects form futue problems with bugs. I guess I've got so many tails that I no longer bother washing until I need to use the hair and/or if I'm going to dye it.
Just remember that not all bucktail is the same.... I've noted this before on prior posts dealing with deer hair in general.
My experience over the years is that the sooner you get to work on the tail, the softer the hair will be, the older/mature deer will have more coarse hair but not necessarily more "bushy" tails.
A lot of the tails that shops get come from "commercial deer farms" and I believe the diet & over all climate they live in affects their skins/hide & hair. I use wild deer (male and does) and with a whole bunch of buddies who are fellow hunters, I get to pick & choose, so I'm picky!
I don't believe tanning makes the hair any more soft than any other manner of preparation (based on experience with both manners), degreasing and quick setup/skinning is more important.
So if you are buying from a shop, "test" out several tails and if you don't find the quality that you are looking for, go to another shop/supplier until you find what you are looking for.

There's a good tail waiting for you out there!

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