Freeze drying is a method used to preserve things by taking the moisture out of them through a vacuum process. Freeze drying can be done at home with the use of a freeze drying machine or at a professional taxidermy shop. It is important to follow the directions of your particular machine closely in order to make sure that the temperature settings and freezing times are correct, as those vary according to the machine being used. Freeze drying works well for smaller items such as snakes, fish, birds, deer hooves and deer feet.
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Things you need
- Freeze drying machine
- Deer hooves and feet
- Water bottle with mister
- Seal-able plastic bag
Pose the deer hooves the way that you wish for them to look after being freeze dried. This positioning is very important and should be done with care as it is difficult to change once the freeze drying is completed.
Mist the deer hooves before placing them into the sealable plastic bag. The misting process helps the final product to look better. The water helps to plump areas that may have lost moisture after the death of the animal.
Place the plastic bags with the deer hooves carefully into the main chamber of the freeze dryer. Set the machine to the appropriate settings based upon the directions in the users manual, as machines vary. Machines usually begin at a low temperature and work their way to a higher temperature as the process goes on.
Turn on the machine to begin the freeze drying process.
Look at the deer hooves daily during the process to make sure that they are holding their shapes. If they are, you can raise the temperature a little each time you check on the hooves. Check for any moisture by gently touching the deer hooves on the tops and sides. You are better safe than sorry in this step, so if they do not feel completely dry keep them in the machine longer. Deer hooves may take anywhere from a few days to two weeks depending on the freeze drying machine being used.
Use the deer hooves in a project or mount them on the wall with the deer antlers.
Tips and warnings
- Take your time during this process. The finished product will show the amount of work that was placed in posing and checking the deer hooves throughout.
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