Locavore Blog: Turning Deer Hides into Buckskin (photos!)

This weekend we started the process of turning the two deer hides from this fall into buckskin. Thanks to the knowledge of our friend, Kenneth Mulder, our two hides will transition from slightly shedding raw hides to soft and pliable buckskin.

Our other friend, Jim Harding, is also learning with us. Buckskin is different from leather because it is preserved with a dressing of some kind of lubricant (we will use neem oil), physically manipulated to make it nice and soft, and smoked with woodsmoke. To preserve the hide as leather, there is a different chemical process.

I thought it would be interesting to document our progression. I plan to share the final product in a few weeks once it is done.

Step one: Salt your deer hide for several weeks.

Step two: If your hide is cold (or frozen), pour warm water over it to soften the hide.

buckskin1 (400x267)Step three: Take it outside and prop the hide onto a thick wooden pole similar to a fence post. My husband, Jason, cut this post from a tree on our property.

buckskin2Step four: Scrape the remaining fat off of the hide. There are special tools you can buy for this or you can be resourceful and use any dull tool you may have on hand. This large putty knife worked well for us.

buckskin3buckskin4buckskin5Once you are done scraping, you should have a hide with hair on one side and stripped clean on the other, like this:

buckskin6Step five: Put the hide in a large container with lid (we used a garbage can) and add lye and water.

buckskin8buckskin7buckskin9abuckskin10Next week, the other side of the hides will be stripped of the hair, but for now the hides soak in the trash can filled with lye and water.

Have you ever tried tanning your own hides? How did turn out? What did you do with the leather or buckskin?

Beginners-Guide-to-Archery-for-Women-with-Kristen-Schmitt-137x190Interested in Archery? Check out Kristen Schmitt’s Video and Join the Fun!

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:

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