How to Dry Deer Skin

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You bagged your deer. You have meat in the freezer and antlers to mount. Now what to do with the beautiful tawny hide? True blue hunters will utilize all of the animal they kill and there are many uses for a tanned or dried deer hide. Whether for decoration, leather clothing and household accessories, you can prepare, preserve and use that deer hide.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-iodized salt Knife Long plank board Citric acid Distilled water Wire wheel Ivory soap PTS-Alum Large metal or plastic storage container
  • Remove all the skin and fat from the hide. Use your deboning knife scrape as much off as you can without damaging or weakening the hide. Drape it fur side down on a slanted board and allow the remaining juices to drain.

  • Rub salt into the flesh side of the skin. Using a non-iodized salt, generously sprinkle the salt onto the flesh side of the skin and rub into the hide until the salt becomes clear. Roll the skin up, flesh side in, and let it set for 24 hours. If the skin is still wet, re-salt and repeat this step.

  • Hydrate the skin. If the skin is sufficiently dry to the touch after step 2, you are ready to rehydrate the hide. This step is also known as "pickling" and actually prepares the hide for tanning. To mix the solution, use 3 ounces of citric acid to 1 gallon of hot (not boiling) water. Thoroughly drench the skin, and let it soak overnight.

  • Remove the hide from the "pickling" solution and drain excess off the skin. Lay the skin flat and prepare the tanning mixture for step 5.

  • Mix tanning bath solution. In a medium-sized tub (underbed storage containers work well) mix 1 gallon distilled water, 3/4 pounds of PTS-Alum and 1/2 pound of salt. Immerse the hide. Let the hide soak anywhere from three to five days, turning and flipping the hide around to ensure an even tanning process.

  • Thin the skin. Once the skin has developed bluish hue, you are ready to begin stretching and shaping. Be careful when thinning the skin that you don't shave too close. This may result in weak or even irreparable damage to your workable leather. At this point, you have a dried deer pelt. Now it's up to your imagination as to what to create.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply tanning oil at room temperature and fold up for 24 hours. To prepare for clothing project, wash with a mild soap and thoroughly blow dry. Use a wire wheel to flesh skins.
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