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In years of low fur prices, many trappers turn to alternative methods for marketing their fur. I talk about this a lot in my book Fur Profit, and discuss the option of sending your raw fur out to get tanned at a tannery. This opens up the option of selling tanned fur locally, online, at craft fairs and sportsman’s shows, or turning it into garments or other items you can sell for a profit. But where do you get fur tanned, how do you send it there, and how much does it cost? Here are some of the more popular options currently available for trappers:
Moyle Mink & Tannery – Moyle has been a standby in the trapper tanning industry from a long time. They’re the ‘official’ tannery of the National Trappers Association, have a great reputation, and know the business. I’ve had furs tanned at Moyle’s and was very happy with the results. It’s great to deal with a company you know is going to do a good job with your fur, but there are a couple of potential drawbacks. The turnover time is going to be relatively long, and you’re not going to get fur tanned at a low price. Still, they’re still probably the most popular option for trappers these days. They are located in Idaho.
Furs For Fun – An ex-Moyle employee started his own tannery, Furs For Fun, in the same area as Moyle’s several years back. The first couple of times I sent furs there to be tanned, I was impressed with the low prices, the reasonable turnaround time, and the high quality tanning job. There was just one drawback: I could never get anyone on the phone! Other trappers have reported a similar experience. I know the guy is great at tanning fur, but maybe not so keen on customer service. As I write this, their website is down, and a post on their Facebook page says they aren’t taking small lots (less than 20 skins at a time) anymore, so you may want to look elsewhere for now.
Great Northern Fur – These guys are relatively new to the trapper tanning scene, but have been advertising pretty aggressively lately, and several trappers I’ve heard from have had good experiences. For small lots, they are probably your best option as far as price is concerned. They are located in Wisconsin and have a good website with lots of information. They seem to be very particular about the quality of pelts sent in for tanning, with a pile of extra charges if things aren’t up to par. If you have some well-cared for pelts and are only sending a few in, Great Northern is probably a great option.
USA Foxx – I’ve heard a lot of mixed reports from folks dealing with USA Foxx and I have not used them myself, so I can’t recommend them highly, though some folks have had good luck there. They don’t actually tan pelts – they send the to a third party to do the tanning. Years ago, I thought their tanning price was too high, but they seem to have come back in line with the rest of the tanneries recently. Their large lot tanning prices (for 75+ skins) look very affordable. The advantage with using this company is that they can also make hats, mittens, etc. from your fur, so if going that route, you can save one step in the process by having your furs tanned with them too.
Sleepy Creek Tannery – Located in Iowa, trapper Ben Deters is enthusiastic about tanning fur. In fact, he went to the Montana School of Commercial Tanning, learned the craft, and started his own tannery in 2011. Tanning prices seem to be competitive with the other tanneries for most items, and Ben appears dedicated to top quality. I look forward to hearing more from Sleepy Creek Tannery.
Tubari, Ltd. – They don’t do much advertising (if any at all), and don’t really cater to smaller customers, but Tubari Ltd. will tan your skins, and I’ve heard nothing but great things from them so far. They are located in New Jersey, so if you’re in the Northeast, the shipping may be much more affordable than sending pelts out west. Their prices are geared towards larger lots. If you’re just sending a couple of pelts, they will be one of the most expensive options. If sending 20 or more, they suddenly become one of the most affordable.
In addition to these options, most areas have small local tanneries that may be able to tan furs for you at a reasonable price, and save you the shipping cost. The best way to find these is to ask your local taxidermist. They should know any of the tanneries available within reasonable driving distance.
Finally, if you’re not ready to commit the finances to getting a bunch of furs tanned, and have the time and ambition, tanning your own fur is definitely an option. Check out the Self Tanning page here on Trapping Today to learn more. Good luck!