There seems to be a fair amount of myth and misconception concerning bacteria in the taxidermy trade. True, bacterial infections can be hard to kill off in a living system, but that's because we don't want to kill off the host, which in turn is providing food for the bacteria.
There are already volumes of works and microscopes available to anyone interested in furthering their understanding of bacteria.
Bacterial problems should be downplayed only somewhat. In the green hide state they genuinely are a concern.
What is a greater concern is chemical decomposition.
Many forms of chemical decomposition will mimic bacterial decomposition, even producing some of the same odors (gases) associated with rot.
Chemical reactions can occur at the speed of light (E=MC²), but don't let that scare you, but be aware that time frames in working green hides are of great importance.
Many of these hide and hair harmful compounds that are formed after the death of a living system, or were part of that living system prior to death, are to a degree water-soluble and some are heavier than water. Remember the animal had a fluid circulatory system prior to death. Once these compounds are brought under control, you are on your way to producing a good hide.
Remove as much fat and meat from the hide as soon as you can. Split the lips and turn the ears.
Then wash out all of the blood, dirt, and debris from the hair side with running water. Drain hide of only the excess water.
Place hide in a salt-water solution of 50% density (1 pound of salt per gallon of water). Swirl hide in this solution so that the salt water gets worked in between hairs. Allow to soak for roughly one half hour (30 minutes). Remove from solution. Drain.
Salt down flesh side. Roll up with head parts in and flesh side out. Allow to sit 12-24 hours. Unroll. Re-salt. Roll up again. Proceed to Acid step after another 12-24 hours.
The above article was written by Glen Conley. It originally appeared in print in the year 2000 as a page in the WHITETAIL DESIGNER SYSTEMS shop manual.
At that time he had been working on trying to develope two different products. One was a product that a hunter could carry with him on a remote hunt instead of salt. A product that could be carried in a pint or quart bottle would be much more convenient than trying to carry a 50 pound bag of salt. The second product that was in the works was being aimed at extending the work time on a raw, fresh cape. The developemental work was being done around the above described principles.
Says Glen, "The STOP-ROT project was a cool challenge. Developing a product that could stop decompositions with out chemically damaging the animal's skin or hair and still be environmentally and user friendly was a tall order, but I knew that IT COULD BE DONE. It just took me a couple more years than I thought it would. That's just part of research and developement, you never know until you try."
"The reality is, a fresh, raw skin is a perishable item. It isn't like your boots, or belt, or billfold, or purse, or saddle, or fur coat. It is not a piece of durable leather goods, YET. And you can not handle it as if it were a piece of synthetic cloth. It's still a skin, it's that simple."
"One thing that every one keeps wanting to over look is the fact that a skin is a real alphabet soup of chemicals and chemical structures and chemical function, I wanted to over look that fact also because of it's complexities, but the reality is, it has to be dealt with, so I dealt with it."
"Using the WHITETAIL DESIGNER SYSTEMS Leatherizing Acid as a pre-soak treatment is a sound practice, but I wanted more than that. I wanted something that a taxidermist could use as a decomposition preventative when all of a sudden covered up with skinning work and not enough time. I wanted something that could be applied to a hide and give that hide protection while it was thawing out. I wanted something that would stop and prevent ongoing hair slip. I also wanted something for people like me who are just plain old slow, and need something to extend our work time until we can get that skin prepared the way we want it".
"STOP-ROT was released on the taxidermy and tanning market in the fall of 2002. I really wanted another year to keep it "under wraps" while doing more experimentation and testing, but there's that reality thing again. STOP-ROT'S performance had already exceeded the initial goals, and there's people out there that could put it to use now. We still do not know what the limitations of applications are".