Location: Lake of the Woods/Rainy River Minnesota Canada border
Re: harvesting your own material
Originally Posted by rogue runner
I work on a large ranch for the area I live in and have access and opportunity (depending on season) to harvest alot of natural material.
first off I understand that most retail materials are farm raised and and bred for the purpose of fly tying material. So how does natural material measure up to the farm raised?
And second, there are alot of materials I have access to that I have not seen in the suppliers lists such as grey squirrel, quail, merganzer, wood duck, and widgeon. Are any of these usable?
Lastly Do any of you have any experiance in preserving wild materials?
I thank all of you in advance, I dont know anyone that ties or flyfish so everything I know Ive learned here or by trial and error.
Squirrel tails are good. Feathers on those ducks as well. The Quail can be also. The best one in the duck list is the Wood duck, The barred flank feathers. Grey Squirrel is really common. You can pick those up anywhere they live when the commit suicide in the road. Red Squirrels seem to be smarter and avoid getting road frisbied. The feathers you can just pluck and bag. The tails you can put in a bag open in the freezer and freeze dry the meat. They mummify and stay well in a bag also. You can skin and cure skins in salt or borax. I have never tried it. Hopefully someone who has can give you better details on that.
Welcome to the forum! Over the years I did a little skinning then stretching and used the salt & 20 Mule Team Borax treatment on pheasants, grouse, rabbit, and other critters. Other than the flank feathers from the ducks I found that one skin goes a long ways unless you are tying hundreds & hundreds of flies using the same fur. Like Dan mentioned, I too got a lot from road kills. Often these are too mashed to utilize but I got lucky with a female red fox once and wouldn't you know it?? The original pattern recipe for the Light Cahill called for a body 'dubbed with the urine stained fur from a Vixen red fox', who woulda thought that I also found (on 2 separate occasions) two weasels that had been hit and so have enough Fitch / Sloat / or Weasel tail to last for life.
So........yeah you can use the furs and feathers from game you take but remember, often times a little will go a long ways.
I"m mad looking hog skin, specifically for the underfur
I love it. The things fly fishing has us collecting. If my wife knew all the bird skins and animal hair I had sitting in our guest room she'd be a little sick. She has a general idea, but wow, I'd love to walk in with a hog skin. I love this hobby.
Welcome,over the years like others after some Hunting Expos as well as Picking up the occassional Road Kill I've Skinned,
treated & Tanned,Kangaroo,Wallaby,Goat,Fox,Rabbit,Hare,Possu m,Cat,Deer & the list goes on as well as many Species of Birds.
Birds are real easy,some I've Skinned however I manly just pluck all The Feathers & store them in Zip Lok Bags in a dry place to stop them going Mildewed/Rotton & to prevent The Bugs from eating them.
Incidently I still have a Great Collection of The Fur & Feather from 30 years ago,some I've even had longer.
I can;t think of a better,as well as Cheaper way to get a Collection of Tying Materials.
I say yes, yes, yes. I love natural materials and finding uses for them.
Nature has made perfect materials for all its wildlife. I am always looking for any feather or fur that has a certain patternation or consistency. Fly tying material trends love to go synthetic, probably cheaper than sourcing the real thing.
The entire fly tying tradition was founded on natural materials hundreds of years ago. Many big fish have been taken on nothing but feathers and fur.
I see natural materials as like a painter who seeks out different kinds of paint or shades. Experimentation is what I love about tying.
Just my opinion though.