There are any number of reliable leather tanning companies here in the U.S. as well as in many foreign countries. You may want to work with your favorite tanning company or taxidermist to have your hides tanned. If you do not, we can recommend a few tanning companies with whom we have experience.
Justin Douds of Specialty Leather has performed flawlessly for Walden & Bork and its customers. We highly recommend them. (See their hide & skin preparation guidelines on this page.) Your salted fleshed skins can be shipped back with your trophies and then forwarded on to Specialty Leather. Specialty Leather does a superb job handling your order quickly and efficiently. They can even match colors – such as cranberry or pink. A rare find!
Hide & Skin Preparation & Guideline
Hides and skins from successful safari hunts must be treated with great care to insure their value in taxidermy mounts and in the making of leather. Once the animal has been killed, deterioration of the hide begins immediatley. There are skinners of safari animals who have great skill, and can remove the skins in the field with minimum damage. This is important in removing the skin from the entire animal.
Quality of hide care and cure are important equally for taxidermy work and for the tanner making leather for leather products. Stress quality, carefull skinning to your PH. Skin the entire animal, down to the hooves. The skins need to be removed with the minimum of fat and meat, insuring that blood and body fluids do not migrate into the hair. The hides should be cooled in salt brine or cold water, washing off blood and body fluids from the skin on both sides. The skin should then be salted on the flesh side with a very fine crystal salt, and allowed to drain. If they must be folded for transport, they should later be laid open on a bed of salt and re-salted, thereafter allowing the skin to drain. Once draining has stopped, the skin can be folded and prepared for shipment to the taxidermy or tannery.
Ostrich skins are especially difficult as the heavy layer of fat prevents the salt from reaching the skin and preserving it. The solution is not to flesh the skin too cleanly, but only scrape the heavy fat away from the skin, leaving the membrane intact behind the crown (central quill area). Fleshing too deeply results in holes behind each quill, especially if the feathers are not pulled. For leather making, pulling the feathers immediately after the ostrich is killed is ideal as the quills will swell and become round and proud. If conservative fleshing is done thereafter, and the skin is salted and laid on a bed of salt to drain, the resulting leather will be superior. Every short cut will compromise subsequent leather quality.
Further information is available at specialtyleather.com or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alligator & Crocodile Tanning
For alligator and crocodile tanning, there is none better than American Tanning & Leather from Griffin, GA. Our contact at AmTan is Jenni Higgins. AmTan details their skinning instructions,hide care, handling and shipping of alligator and crocodile hides on their web site. Please read these instructions under “Contract Tanning Instructions” at www.amtan.com. Also, print off the “Hide Care Tips” before you go gator hunting. If you have questions call Jenni direct. AmTan has supplied some of the finest customer-owned, hunter-harvested alligator leather we have every seen, perfect in every way. AmTan offers several different finishes. Our favorite is their glazed. Very showy! A word of warning: we have seen some badly mutilated hides due to poor skinning techniques. Take your time, or urge your guide to take his time skinning your gator. Many gators are taken at night and skinned under less than ideal conditions, including low light, beat up, worn out hunters and sometimes a bit too much celebratory “adult beverage.” (I’ve seen it happen!). Take your time and do it right because the end result will be well worth it.
Packaging and Shipping Instructions
• Make sure that your skin(s) have been fleshed and salted according to the Skinning/Fleshing Instructions.
• If your skin(s) have been frozen, make sure that the skin(s) have been thawed completely and resalted. DO NOT SHIP FROZEN SKINS!
• Roll your skin(s) tightly by starting at the head and rolling to the tail. The outside of the skin should be on the outside as you roll the skin.
• For your reference write down the tag number of each skin you are sending. This tag number is needed for the paperwork you are sending us. An example of how the tag should be listed is by State/Year/Tag # (Example: TX 10 123)
• We can ONLY accept skins that have the CITES tag attached to the skin. Each skin MUST have its
own CITES tag attached to it. You have to contact your local game and fish authorities for instructions and shipping permission. We will have to return skins, at the owner’s expense, that are sent in without the CITES tag attached.
• Do NOT send any other pieces of the alligator with your skin. There is not a CITES tag attached to them, so we have no way of knowing what belongs to which customer.
• Place each skin in a sturdy plastic bag that will collect any drainage. A heavy duty trash bag is ideal for this step.
• Line a sturdy shipping container with newspaper and put the wrapped skin(s) inside.
• Put your Customer Information Sheet, Contract Tanning Skin Detail Sheet (with your tag numbers listed), and check or money order (if applicable) in a Ziploc bag on top. This is to keep the paper work from getting wet and/or damaged.
• Close and seal the box securely.
Hair-On Tanning Suggestion
If you request hair on tanning of your hides or backskins, proper trophy care and salting procedures must be followed precisely. Many a mount and backskin has been destroyed or otherwise compromised by improper skin preparation. Your backskins must be cared for with the same respect as that given to your trophy mounts…otherwise, hair-slip is a distinct possibilty. It is recommended that hair-on skins be salted and dried immediately and then delivered to your designated tanning company as soon as possible. Request that your skins be stored in a cool environment to maintain their integrity.
If you can rely on your African or other overseas crew to properly care for the hides that you wish to be tanned in the U.S. with hair-on, it is advisable to have those preserved hides shipped to your U.S. taxidermist along with your trophies and then request that the leather be tanned by a leather quality tannery here in the US such as Specialty Leather. (Specialty Leather does not do taxidermy, tanning or fur dressing). Once again…quality of hair-on skins depends heavily upon immediate in-field care of your skins by your professional hunter’s crew.
Importing Your Trophies and Game Skins:
Trophy And Hide Shipping & Custom Brokerage
HuntingTrophy.com (www.huntingtrophy.com), a division of Coppersmith Global Logistics, is one of the most respected custom brokers in the U.S., licensed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. HuntingTrophy.com assists hundreds of hunters every year, clearing their foreign hunting trophies through U.S. Customs, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the Department of Agriculture… then expediting trophies to the hunter’s taxidermist. They are experts in the complex laws involved in importing trophies into the U.S. and provide a seamless import and final delivery experience. HuntingTrophy.com handles all communications with taxidermists, shipping agents, provides shipment tracking and handles all of the required importing paperwork for the hunter. If you are planning your first international hunting adventure, go to HuntingTrophy.com as they provide a wealth of useful information and planning advice. Coppersmith Global Logistics has been in business for 66 years and have offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Seattle and Portland. Additionally, Coppersmith (HuntingTrophy.com), is a member of the World Cargo Alliance and has a global network of knowledgeable and reliable agents who make certain your trophies are cleared at customs and forwarded to your taxidermist. To get the ball rolling, call +1-404-366-1650.