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Deer hides? Tanning.

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  • Deer hides? Tanning.

    Does anyone else tan their deer/wild animal hides? Ive made hair on buckskin.Also raccoon,rabbit but mostly deer hides. I want to explore new ways to process the hides.
    There are no emergencies for those who are truly prepared.

  • #2
    I tan my hides, and any that I can collect from friends. All of them are big game. I use both chemical tanning and brain tanning.
    Planning to be here through it all.............

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    • #3
      would like to try that, is it hard to do and what steps does it take....... more info please.
      IF IT DOESN'T KILL YOU, IT WILL ONLY MAKE YOU STRONGER

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      • #4
        Originally posted by m38 View Post
        I tan my hides, and any that I can collect from friends. All of them are big game. I use both chemical tanning and brain tanning.
        Is this a typo? If not, could you elaborate, please. The only tanning I have done on large hides was with salt. The hides turned out nice and sturdy but not pliable at all. I preserved a large rattlesnake skin once with a glycerin solution that came out very nice and soft but was labor intensive.
        "The enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience."

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        • #5
          I mash up the brains rely well then spread them on the hide it's very important to get all the fat off the hide first I add a little salt water to the mix about 1/2 cup let it sit over a night or 2 then clean usually tie it to clothesline rope well and put in creek a few hours then clean better then dry and work it over a 3 or 4 inch piece of PVC pipe end with cap until it is soft like you want it
          NONSOLIS RADIOS SEDIOUIS FULMINA MITTO

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          • #6
            I did a rattlesnake once. Had it out in the living room and the dog ate it!! Most of my other hides are hair on. I use salt and vinegar. After they dry up I take a hand drill w/ a wire brush attached to them. Gives them a really nice suede-like finish. When they dry really hard I work the heck out of them with linseed oil. In a pinch I've tried veg. oil. YUCK! It never soaks in good. Also, to soften them up you can mist them w/water or vinegar(smell will go away) put it in the dryer with a bunch of sneakers on the air/fluff cycle for a while.
            There are no emergencies for those who are truly prepared.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by computerman View Post
              Is this a typo? If not, could you elaborate, please. The only tanning I have done on large hides was with salt. The hides turned out nice and sturdy but not pliable at all. I preserved a large rattlesnake skin once with a glycerin solution that came out very nice and soft but was labor intensive.
              One of the marvelous things about animals is that they have a brain that is exactly the right size for tanning their hide. There are chemicals in the brain that will preserve the hide in a very flexible state for many many years. The Native Americans used to use this method for making leather very soft and flexible, and even now you can go on ebay and buy brain-tanned leather and it is superior to chemical tanned leather.

              When you get a fresh hide the first thing you need to do is flesh it. That means taking ALL the fat and meat off the hide. A good skinner will strip a hide off by pulling apart the membrane that's between the muscle and skin, and not leave any fat or meat on the hide. Once the hide is fleshed, lay it out flat then salt the hide with salt, covering it completely on the flesh side. I buy feed salt in 50lb bags at my local ranch supply store for about $7 a bag. You don't need to salt the hair side. Pockets of liquid will form as the salt draws the fluid from the hide. Make sure there is plenty of salt on those places.

              If you need to travel with the hide, fold it in half, flesh side to flesh side with the salt inside and then roll it up. If you don't need to travel, leave the hide laid out flesh side up, covered with salt for at least 24 hours. I don't let it sit for more than 48 hours. The salt kills bacteria in the skin that would start rotting the hide and loosening the fur.

              Take the brain out of the skull. Put it in a plastic bag and refridgerate it until ready to use. Once the hide has been salted for at least 24 hours then you're ready to make the brain-tan mix. Take the brain out and I like to dice it up in 1/2" cubes. Some folks will simply mush it up into a paste. I put the cubes into a 2 gallon pan and add 3 times the volume of water as I have brains. So if there is one cup of brains I'll add 3 cups of water. I also add one level teaspoon of salt for each cup of water. Then I warm the pot up until it's almost too hot to put my hand in. Take the pot off the heat, use both hands and mash up the brains into a thin paste with the water. Make sure it's all smoothed out and creamy in texture.

              Now take the hide and rinse off the salt with clear water. It's ready for brain tanning.

              Now there are two ways to apply the brains to the hide. The old way is to stretch the hide out on the ground with stakes, or on a wood frame, then apply the brain-paste over the entire hide. The other way is to put the hide in a 5 gallon bucket, add warm water until the hide is just covered, then add the paste and mix and stir and pull the hide out and put it back in for about 10 minutes to make sure the brain paste is thoroughly mixed into the water and all of the flesh side of the hide is exposed to the paste-soup.

              I use the bucket method, and I can put a full elk hide in a 5 gallon bucket. A buffalo hide requires a 55 gallon drum or a small stock water tank. I let it soak for a couple hours, then I'll mix it up and pull the hide out and put it back in again a few times. That mixes up the soup and makes sure that the brain-soup can get to every part of the hide and soak in. I soak it for 24 hours, mixing it up every few hours.

              Then I'll pull the hide out and let it drain over a saw horse for about a half hour. Then I lace in into a square frame of 2x4's to stretch out. After about 6 hours in the frame I use either a canoe paddle or baseball bat and start rubbing the flesh side of the hide to strech it. This is what breaks down some of the fibers in the hide to make it soft and supple. I'll do that for a couple hours, take a break, then do it some more until the hide is dry to the touch and every part of it is flexible. I'll leave the hide in the frame for 48 or more hours to let it completely dry out. The hair side often dries slowly. I'll give it a good rubbing for a half hour each day it's in the rack. After 48 hours of drying the hide is done and ready to use.
              Planning to be here through it all.............

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              • #8
                Thanks all for the great information. Mrs. Kilroy, my rattlesnake hide ended up "walking off" after the cleaning crew finished at the office one night. :( It was 6' plus.

                Now I'm ready to tan, I just need a chance to go hunting. Hopefully over the holidays.
                "The enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience."

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the info folks!:) Lot's of good stuff!
                  There are no emergencies for those who are truly prepared.

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                  • #10
                    I hope my post helped you, and gave you another way to tan a hide. I haven't tried it with rabbits or any small animals, but it should be exactly the same.

                    Something I forgot to mention. If you cannot get around to tanning your hide right away, then salt it very well, and let it get totally dry and stiff. That will keep the hide good for years that way, as long as it stays dry. Then to tan it you'll need to soak it for about a day to soften up the hide before you tan it.

                    Also if you go to a packing plant or very large butcher shop you can often buy brains by the pound. I tan buffalo hides for trading at Rendezvous and I buy the buffalo brains I need from the same packing plant that I get the green buffalo hides from.
                    Planning to be here through it all.............

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by m38 View Post
                      I hope my post helped you, and gave you another way to tan a hide. I haven't tried it with rabbits or any small animals, but it should be exactly the same.

                      Something I forgot to mention. If you cannot get around to tanning your hide right away, then salt it very well, and let it get totally dry and stiff. That will keep the hide good for years that way, as long as it stays dry. Then to tan it you'll need to soak it for about a day to soften up the hide before you tan it.

                      Also if you go to a packing plant or very large butcher shop you can often buy brains by the pound. I tan buffalo hides for trading at Rendezvous and I buy the buffalo brains I need from the same packing plant that I get the green buffalo hides from.
                      You posted some very good info. I would add that you can also smoke the hides that are hair off for leather, after the brain tanning process. This is usually done with poplar chips and a good smoke tanned hide is great for moccasins, mukluks, coats, leggings or chaps and winter gauntlets. The smoke tanning gives you a product that does not go all hard and stiff when it dries after getting wet. It is was a common practice with northern first nations Cree and Dene. As with most things it is becoming a lost art. It takes a lot of work and most first nations people these days are not any more energetic than your average urbanite anywhere else.

                      As a side benefit the garments smell wonderful and they actually clean up a lot easier than hides done with other tanning methods.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mooswa View Post
                        You posted some very good info. I would add that you can also smoke the hides that are hair off for leather, after the brain tanning process. This is usually done with poplar chips and a good smoke tanned hide is great for moccasins, mukluks, coats, leggings or chaps and winter gauntlets. The smoke tanning gives you a product that does not go all hard and stiff when it dries after getting wet. It is was a common practice with northern first nations Cree and Dene. As with most things it is becoming a lost art. It takes a lot of work and most first nations people these days are not any more energetic than your average urbanite anywhere else.

                        As a side benefit the garments smell wonderful and they actually clean up a lot easier than hides done with other tanning methods.
                        Thanks Mooswa, and you're right about the smoking of the hides. The Native Americans did that to make them waterproof. I've never done that with any of my hides, but I'd like to try someday. A Rendezvous friend has done it with some of his hides and I think you could make a bucket out of those hides and it would not leak. Pretty amazing what a little smoke will do for a hide.
                        Planning to be here through it all.............

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                        • #13
                          I teach brain tanning furs at primitive gatherings and I always smoke the furs and hide. Smoking them makes it so they can be washed using an Ivory soap bar and warm water. I brain tan antelope, deer, elk and moose. The buffalo Hides I get are the back half of trophy bulls and these I use as raw hide in my moccasin classes.

                          To brain tan I put 1 or 2 brains in a blender with 1 pint of hot water and hit liquify when it looks like a strawberry shake I add it to 2 to 3 gallons of water and heat it to the boiling point then I let it cool to where I can hold my hand in it. I put the dried hide in the solution, soaking it until soft. Wring it and maybe repeat this process 2 or 3 times depending on the hide. After this a work it over a stake until it is soft then I smoke using rotting fir or pine.

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                          • #14
                            Great info!!! Thank you I learned a lot.

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                            • #15
                              http://www.thetanneryinc.com/basic_h...nning_kit.html

                              Here's a link to the place where I buy my chemical tanning supplies. Their prices are reasonable, and their products are very good. I've bought from them for 3 years now. They also have a forum so you can ask questions and read about what other folks are doing with their tanning. Good source of info.
                              Planning to be here through it all.............

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