The biggest hurdle in tanning is removing the fat from the pelt. Chubby animals from late fall and early winter are the greasiest of the year. Commercial degreasers do a great job, but before the invention of these strong solvents, a little hard work was the best trick in the book. To get most of the fat off a pelt, I lay the fresh pelt over a smooth log or fence post, as the log's rounded shape aids the scraping process. With the flesh side up, I use a dull knife to scrape off as much fat as I can, being sure to scrape from tail to head to keep the hair shafts laying properly. I then wipe a little soapy water on the flesh side of the hide and continue scraping. The hide should become whiter in color as the grease and fat are scraped away, and it should also seem thirstier. Wipe on plain water, and scrape it out of the skin again. If you can help it, never wet the hair side at any time during the tanning process. Now dry the pelt for a day or two, flesh side up. Avoid sunlight, as this will melt remaining fats in the skin. Sand the flesh side of the dried pelt with 150-grit sandpaper or a comparable rough stone. This breaks up the membrane and readies the pelt for the tanning solution.