Locavore Blog: Turning deer hide into buckskin (with photos!): Phase 2

One of the coolest winter projects anyone can try is turning your deer hide into buckskin. It seems like it would be hard to do, but most of it is fairly easy — requiring more time (for each phase) than anything else. In my last post, I went over how we got started, covering phase one of turning deer hide into buckskin.

Phase two is now complete and we’re nearly ready for phase three. One of the main things learned from this project is how inexpensive it can really be to turn your hides into buckskin (as opposed to sending them to a tannery) and the self reliant skill set learned in the process. Going forward, I cannot imagine doing anything else with the hides of any deer we harvest.

Before I get into the phase two photos and instructions, I want to mention that it appears that the board of Vermont Fish & Wildlife has agreed to extend Vermont’s bow season in 2016. This is great news for any bowhunter who either hunts in the state or travels here to hunt.

Now onto phase two of turning deer hides into buckskin:

We left our hides soaking in lye for a week so that we could remove the hair on the other side. We opted to do this outside as it is incredibly messy, but the hair came off very easily with our hands and a dull blade (we used a putty knife).

12We did this near our stream as the flowing water actually helped with the process and made getting rid of the fur pretty easy (and natural).

3Once the hair is gone from the hide, scrap off another sheer layer of skin residue using a dull blade.

4Once it is removed (it looks like white goo on the edge of the blade), you are ready to soak your hide in running water. We have a stream in the back of our property and weighed the hides down with rocks. If you don’t have a stream, a hose will work, but will end up much more laborious than letting nature do it for you.


We have our hides in the stream, weighed down with rocks, for about a week. This will help soften the hide for the next (and almost final) step of the process.

Next up: phase three (which should leave you with deer hide that is soft as suede). Stay tuned!


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Born and raised in metropolitan Detroit, Kristen Schmitt never thought she’d move away from everything she knew. But a conscious decision to re-evaluate priorities led her and her family to leave the city and move to the country where they could spend more time together, away from the hectic nature of city life. Her decision to pursue archery and bowhunting came after the move – and after talking with numerous women already involved with the sport. Inspired by their drive and confidence, Kristen picked up a bow for the first time a year ago and hasn’t looked back.

In Beginner’s Guide to Archery: For Women you’ll find:

  • An overview of the essential archery equipment and gear you’ll need to get started
  • Instruction on archery fundamentals
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