How to Preserve Deer Hide With Hair

Written by donny quinn
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How to Preserve Deer Hide With Hair
Some hunters find more pride in using an animal than displaying a trophy. (deer image by Joan Stanton from

A principle of ethical hunting, using every part of a hunted animal, prevents waste and makes the function of an animal more important than the sport of hunting. Ways to use all parts of an animal include using offal in cooking, converting bone and horn into household items, and tanning and utilising deer hide. Hunters can use deer hide for many things: shirts, wall hangings, rugs, seat covers and gloves. You will find that tanning and preserving a hide is relatively easy.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tanning knife
  • 10-gallon bucket
  • 1-pound alum
  • Large, round garbage can
  • 1.13 Kilogram of salt
  • Thick wooden dowel
  • 8 tacks
  • 1 sheet of plywood, 4' x 8'
  • Neat's-foot oil
  • 2 dry cloths
  • Wet cloth
  • 2 sheets of fine grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Lay the deer skin on your work surface, hair down. Use your sharpened tanning knife to scrape all of the fat tissue from the skin. Any remaining fat tissue prevents the deer hide from tanning.

  2. 2

    Mix, in a bucket, alum powder with 4 gallons of water until alum dissolves.

  3. 3

    Pour salt in garbage can. Add 4 gallons of water. Add alum mix into the garbage can. Use a wooden dowel to mix for 10 minutes.

  4. 4

    Place the skin in the garbage can, making sure that the skin fully submerges in the solution.

  5. 5

    Soak for eight days. Each day, stir the solution two times with the wooden dowel.

  6. 6

    Remove the skin after eight days. Rinse with running water for 15 minutes to remove any solution remains.

  7. 7

    Tack the skin to your sheet of plywood, so that the side with hair faces down. Allow to partially dry. This may take several hours.

  8. 8

    Warm the neat's-foot oil. Rub the skin lightly with the oil until the whole skin is covered in oil. Only add oil to the side without hair.

  9. 9

    Use your remaining dry cloth to remove excess oil from the hide.

  10. 10

    Dab the skin lightly with your wet cloth. Do not moisten the hide too much. Bend the hide over a board or table while applying oil lightly to the side without hair. Continue to do this until the hide is soft and flexible.

  11. 11

    Rub the sandpaper lightly over the skin until the skin has an even texture.

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