Racking The Skin And Lacing The Hide
To rack your skin you are going to need to make a frame, the frame is rectangular in shape and needs to be big enough so that the hide will stretch to full capacity; 10 feet x8 feet is a good size for a moose skin, but you will need to measure it out because each hide is different and you do not want the frame to be too big either. Frames are most often made from 2x4s, held together by nails or wood screws. Traditionally, frames were made from raw wood, tree trunks, or large limbs measured to fit and lashed together with bark or strips of rawhide . Either of these types of frames should have stabilizing diagonal cross-beams on each corner. If you do not use these, your frame will twist when you stretch the cord. I have made frames with both raw spruce poles and birch tree trunks lashed with heavy cord and they worked just as well, but milled lumber is often more convenient to work with. Once your frame is built and your hide is ready you will also need a bunch of high-quality cord.
Instructions On Deer Hide Tanning
There are many ways to tan a deer hide, some use chemicals, but a simple way is using household items like salt, baking soda and vinegar. Heres a simple step-by-step from the group at Outdoor Life.
Step 1: Flesh the Hide
Remove as much of the meat from the hide as possible.
Step 2: Soak the Hide
Soak in a lye solution for five days. It will be ready when you can pull the hair out with ease. Wear rubber gloves and a face shield for protection during this step.
Step 3: De-hair the Hide
Scrape and pluck off all the hair on the hide.
Step 4: Remove the Grain and Membrane
Once the hide is fully de-haird, continue to scrape. Remove the grain from the grain side and remove the membrane on the meat side.
Step 5: Neutralize the Lye
In a bathtub or large bin, soak the hide in water and vinegar overnight. Repeat a few more nights in only water. Wring it out each night to encourage water to soak in. Continue scraping off any grain or membrane you missed.
Step 6: Wring the Hide
Hang the hide from a horizontal pole and flip it over itself. Roll it up from each end into a double donut and then twist. Spin the donut a quarter turn and repeat 3 more times to get out the water out.
Step 7: Blend the Brain
This is only if you want to do an authentic brain tan. Mash or blend it up.You can use eggs, soap, mayonnaise, or olive oil instead.
Step 8: Brain Tan the Hide
Step 9: Sew Up Any Holes
In this picture a tan colored upholstery thread and a glovers needle were used.
Egg Yolk Tanning Solution Recipe
Mix an egg yolk with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water depending upon the size of the egg. You will need less water with a Bantam chicken egg and more if you are using yolks from a duck or turkey egg. Spread the egg yolk tanning agent mixture thoroughly and deeply onto the hide I use a pastry brush or sponge to complete this process. Cover the hide with a damp sheet made out of natural fibers if working with a large hide or towels if working with a smaller hide. Allow the mixture to work completely into the hide a full 24 hours waiting 48 hours sometimes works best. Rinse the egg yolk tanning solution off of the hide and proceed with the tanning process.
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Soften The Dried Deer Hide
Soak the skin in water in a plastic garbage can until it softens, changing the water often. Drain, then pull the skin back and forth across the edge of a board. Scrape it with the back edge of a knife or an old hacksaw blade with dull teeth. Do not expose the hair roots if you want to tan a deer hide with the hair on.
Deer Hide Tanning: Braining
Every animal has enough brains to tan their own hide. But if you are not able to get the brains from your animal, you can purchase a pound of pig brain from your local butcher for a decent price.Getting this part right is a big deal. The brain consists of fat and proteins that penetrate into the hide. Full brain penetration is key in having a final product that is nice and soft.; You will most likely have to do this part two to three times.;Get a bucket or a large pot that will fit your hide.; Fill that with one gallon of hot water. The water should be the temperature of a very hot bath, it should be just bearable for your hands to stay in. If it is too hot for your hands, it will melt your hide.; Once your water is ready, place your brains in a bowl and add a little cold water and squish up the brains. Add to the hot water and continue squishing up the brain until it is kind of like a malted milkshake.; Feel for bone shards and remove. You can add hot water or cold water to adjust the temperature before adding your hide. Put your hide in and squish it around with your hands. Its important to fully allow the brain to penetrate. You can tell when this happens because your hide will be soft and loose. After about fifteen minutes you can pull the hide out and prepare for the wringing.
Here the brain solution is being prepared.
And here a hide is being worked into the solution.
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Freeze Or Use The Brain
If I do more than one animal I make sure to place one brain per bag because I use one brain per hide.
I store the bags in the freezer with the hides and when Im ready to tan the hide I thaw one bag of brain for one hide.
I freeze as many brains as I can come by during the hunting season because I use them to also tan rabbit hides or raccoons and so on. You can use them on other hides, not only deer hides.
Its really much easier to use the saw than to use an ax. If you do this another way please share it with me in the comments below.
Tanning deer hides with brains is not an easy job although its fun and very rewarding! I was happy to discover that at least the brain extraction part was relatively easy.
I hope this helps!
Soak The Hide In An Acid Bath
The next step is soaking the hide in an acid bath.
To make an acid bath, simply add 1 cup of any available vinegar;to a 5-gallon bucket of cold water.
Wash the hide to get rid of all the hair and clean it up a bit and set it in the acid bath for about 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes, if it feels too rubbery you can wash it in cold water.
I think it takes a bit of experience to recognize how it should feel but dont make too big of a deal of it. We are going to wring the hide of all the liquid next, if it doesnt cooperate and is too slippery, go ahead and wash it in cold water.
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Deer Hide Tanning: Soaking The Hide
You will need a container that will be large enough to keep your hide submerged in water. A five gallon bucket works fine for a smaller hide or an old garbage can. If you are lucky enough to have access to a creek, you can place your hide in it, put a few rocks on it to hold it down and then let it soak. The nice thing about using a creek is that you dont have to worry about having a container or changing the water out.Once your hide is in the water you will need to stir it every day and if the water gets smelly you want to change it out for fresh water. The amount of soaking time will vary, depending on the thickness of your hide and the weather.; In cold weather I have had to soak a thick hide for up to a week. A thin hide might only take three days in cold weather. However in warm weather your hide will finish a lot quicker – more like two days for a thinner hide and three days for a thicker one.;
Okay, now that your hide has soaked you can test a spot by tugging on the hair, it should come out with a gentle tug. Some areas will be harder to get the hair out and some will just seem to fall right off.
Soap Tanning Solution Recipe
You can use the same castille soap or Fels Naptha soap you use to make homemade laundry detergent, for tanning your hides.
You must grate the soap like you do when making detergent, to make a natural hide tanning solution. Mix the grated soap with just enough water to allow it to completely dissolve. Pour in just shy of an equal part Mink or Neats Foot Oil. Slather the solution onto the hide like your did the brain tanning solution. Roll the hide up with the solution still on. Allow the hide to sit in the soap tanning solution for 48 hours before washing it off and proceeding with the tanning steps.Washing Soda and Alum Tanning Solution Recipe
The amounts in this tanning agent recipe provide enough solution to tan 1 coyote or 6 rabbits.
Mix together 1 cup of non-iodized alt, 2/3 of a cup of washing soda, and 2 and ½ cup of alum. Stir in approximately 3 gallons of very warm, but not hot, water. Stir the mixture together until all of the ingredients have completely dissolved. Soak the hide in the solution for at least two to three days before removing it to rinse clean and proceed with the tanning process.
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Stretching And Completing The Tanning
This is the most critical thing to remember on the day you tan your skin: it will need to be thoroughly stretched, every single square inch of it, AS it dries. If you allow any part to dry without the fibers being fully worked and stretched it WILL dry back into hard rawhide, regardless of brain absorption. The motto is: Stretch the Skin Dry. It is a tedious and time consuming task, but so are many things in life which ultimately end up being worthwhile for those who put in the effort.
On that final day of hard work, we got up early in the morning had coffee and food and then got to it. First we pulled the skin from the liquid and did another wringing, but this time very light, just to get the excess water out but not so much as to allow any areas the chance to dry too quickly.
Just over five years after this moose met my arrow I had finally finished the job of tanning its skin using its own leg bone as a scraping tool and its own brain as the tanning agent . Although it took me five years, I stayed committed to the task and was able to accomplish it while maintaining a full-time job and dozens of other commitments because of the capability to complete each step in stages, as I have lain out in this article.
How To Extract Deer Brain For Hide Tanning
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We are going to learn a simple way to extract the deer brain. If you are interested in tanning deer hides with brains, then this post is for you! I will link below to my step by step tutorial on tanning deer hides with brains. This post will help you understand how to extract deer brain for hide tanning.
Lets make sure we are on the same pager first, shall we?
We choose to eat meat it is important to me that the animals we eat lived a natural life.
It doesnt get more natural than free in nature, so we hunt. We respect the animals we hunt by using the whole animal .
If you are concerned for the welfare;of animals I suggest you do some research about hunting. Youll find that it actually benefits the overall population of wild animals.
Unfortunately, many of us are so removed from nature these days that we dont see this as natural.
Well, you and I and everyone around would not be here today if our ancestors hadnt hunted. I can assure;you that they werent vegetarians.
When most of your time is spent living in nature a salad just aint gonna;cut it.
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Deer Hide Tanning: Preparing The Hide
Fleshing – Once you get the hide off of the animal, you will want to flesh it. This is where you remove all the meat, fat and membrane. Its easier to get the hair off when the hide is fresh – that way you dont even need to soak it when you take care of it right away. But you can save this part for later without too much trouble.Storing Hunting season comes during the cold season, so you may want to store your hide until its warmer out. The braining portion actually goes quicker in the warmer months. Thats when I usually do it. If its a small hide though, like a squirrel or raccoon, you can easily do it in the house. Getting the hair off is easier when the hide if fresh, but is not necessary to do if you want to wait. Lets talk about some storage options.; Here are a few ways that work really well.; You just have to determine what will work best for your space. I usually just scrape mine really well and then let it dry. This is the way my dad showed me how to do it. And I find some satisfaction in not having to go to the store for anything. 1-;;; You can freeze it if you have room in your freezer- this takes the least amount of work.
2-;;; You can scrape off all the flesh, fat and membrane and then let it dry out like a sheet and then store it somewhere. This takes a little bit of space. But works well.
Keeping A Tradition Alive And Teaching It To Others
Another way is to use the hide as a blanket and toss a child in it. No, really. Seven-year-old Eleanor Wedel didn’t believe it either. She didn’t think the hide would hold her, or that that the adults wielding it would catch her.
But Eleanor;was all giggles when Quinn, Reagan, her dad, Matt, and grandmother, Lynda Rose, started blanket tossing her in the backyard.
Matt Wedel, of Athens, brought his two children, Eleanor and 10-year-old Abner, to the workshop with him. As a;ceramic artist and homeschool teacher, he wanted his kids to learn about the work that goes into creating leather-made products, such as an archer’s quiver, which the family recently made together as a home project.
“It’s about learning what things are, what things do,”;Wedel said. “What it’s like to be alive.”
Together, the family pulled on a hide in the garage, discussing its texture.
“Its so flexible, but it’s tissue,” Wedel said. “It’s the strangest material.”
Vanessa Jo Baher moved to Athens from Oregon last year to attend Ohio University’s printmaking graduate program. She sometimes uses leather in her art, but said she would feel better about using it if she learned;to make her own.;
Baher took a turn cabeling;one of the hides. Her long dreadlocks swayed behind her each time she pulled the hide down. Everyone in the garage swapped tips,;asked Quinn questions and took notes from books such as “Deerskins to Buckskins: How to Tan with Brains, Soap or Eggs.”
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Deer Hide Tanning Basics
Tanning a deer hide is when you stop the decomposition process of the deerâs skin and then treat the skin with both chemicals and physical activity to turn it into a smooth, soft, comfortable piece of leather.
Animals start to decompose immediately after they die, so you have to start work on the deerskin as soon as possible if you want to salvage it.
If your deer falls in a sunny area, move it into the shade immediately. Keep an eye out for nearby boulders in the shade too.
You donât have to tan the deer hide all in one go. However, you do have to perform the first three steps in order to arrest the decomposition process.
Wash And Rinse The Hide
Letâs get the hide all clean and ready for the tanning solution.
Wash the hide in soapy water. Normal dish soap will work fine, as will castile soap.
Then rinse the hide until all the soap is completely gone.
Set the pelt on a deck railing or similar surface and let it drip dry. When itâs only slightly damp, then proceed to the next step.
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Foxfire Book 3; Chapter 2 Hide Tanning
This was obviously many years before Al Gore invented the internet, so back then, the only source of information at that time was our World Book encyclopedia set, the Golden Book Encyclopedia of Natural Science and the public library. I had to hustle too, because I didnt know what to do with the skins, except to stretch and tack them to plywood. My father told me to remove all the excess meat and tissue from the skins and to spread a little pickling salt on them. Luckily, that was enough to hold them until I discovered the Foxfire books at the library the next day.
Foxfire was started as a class project in 1966 as students from northern Georgia interviewed elders and retold their stories about how they lived in the Southern Appalachians. They had enough stories to produced a magazine, which later was turned into the book series.;There is also a Foxfire museum and non-profit; organization. The name Foxfire comes the local name for a bioluminescent fungus that grows in the region.
The Foxfire 3 book was the one I needed to learn how to tan the hides, but the book also covers subjects like animal care, banjos and dulcimers, wild plant foods, churning butter and finding and using ginseng.
The Foxfire 3 book describes several methods for tanning hides, including bark tanning, brain tanning, alum tanning and tanning with lard and flour. Most of the information is for tanning after the hair was removed.