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Tanning Game & Domestic Hides

Discussion in 'Hobbies' started by HomesteaderWife, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Feb 10, 2019
    HomesteaderWife

    HomesteaderWife True BYH Addict

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    I talked a little bit in this thread called "Processing hides" about how we tan hides, and wanted to open an actual discussion, so people with questions could stop by and get answers from others who may tan themselves. I'll post some of my text from the other thread here, and also answer some of my own questions from below.

    PLEASE NOTE: Considering the subject matter, I do expect to post some in-process photos that may be considered graphic.

    Tanners: How long have you tanned? What is your main hide or fur that you tan? Any tips or tricks to help others? Do you have a workshop set up? What made you interested in learning to tan? Show us some photos of your work!

    Interested Individuals/Beginners: What are your goals for tanning? Why do you want to learn to tan? What sort of hides or furs are available for you to learn with?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  2. Feb 10, 2019
    HomesteaderWife

    HomesteaderWife True BYH Addict

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    How long have you tanned?: 4+ years

    What is your main hide or fur that you tan?: We pick up unwanted deer hides, and also tan deer hides for others. (hair-on, but have made buckskin) Mainly wild game hides. Before deer, I did a lot of squirrel fur tanning.

    Any tips or tricks to help others?:
    • Use non-iodized salt when salting or tanning hides (very cheap containers at Walmart).
    • Fleshing the hide immediately is super important to prevent the hide from being spoiled and no good.
    • It's messy work- use gloves! Highly recommend a skinner's apron too. Make sure to have a good knife set with a sharpener, and a fleshing knife. Clean them every time or they'll rust!
    • Don't fret if it turns out not the way you want! Practice and note-taking are so important- I still make notes in a journal of what I was not pleased with, and how to fix it.
    • Squirrels are the best, easiest to start with in my opinion. Rabbits have a thin hide- they're easy to tear if not careful. Raccoons have a great deal of fat to their hide and are very greasy. Hogs are like a raccoon but x5! Deer are a lot of work- they can take 2 to 3 hours just to flesh a large one well.
    • Getting enough wood ash to make the hair slip properly on a deer hide is sometimes difficult- I prefer lye (like soap-making lye) if I don't have wood ash built up.
    • Split the tail and de-bone it.
    • Highly recommend "The Ultimate Guide to Skinning and Tanning" by Monte Burch
    • Many tanning solution recipes call for the use of "soft" water- save clean rainwater for this purpose.
    Do you have a workshop set up?: Yes, we have an outbuilding I use to keep the hides when tanning. I use a separate, enclosed area for the messy work of fleshing because it has a concrete floor. I like doing fleshing indoors because we get swarmed by yellowjackets otherwise. I have an outdoor fire pit with a tipi-pole-type setup for smoking.

    What made you interested in learning to tan?: My husband actually inspired me- it was his passion, and became mine. I got passionate about deer hides mainly, because most of the time they go to waste. People just toss them- which is such a shame to me. I enjoy bringing new life and beauty into a raw hide by tanning it. To me, tanning hides teaches responsibility, and respect for the creature even after they're gone by not wasting it.

    IMG_0320.jpg 8807cec36e7536b11a5aed0b1374eae0.jpeg HIDES.jpg IMG_0181.jpg

    (left to right= 1. most recent tanned whitetail 2. a child's arrow quiver we made from a scrap hide 3. a whitetail hide from last year 4. a rare treat- we tanned a piebald deer this year)

    An article on the Mother Earth News online blog we wrote called "Tanning: A Valuable Skill to Learn"
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2019
  3. Feb 10, 2019
    HomesteaderWife

    HomesteaderWife True BYH Addict

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    May be considered GRAPHIC: Here's a thumbnail of a recent photo of a raccoon hide being fleshed. I have it on our homemade beam, with the fleshing knife sitting behind it. (Don't make my mistake of letting the knife rust! I've had it 4 years now- I made an early mistake not cleaning it after a use.)
    Notice the peeled back layer of flesh and membrane. There is a shine to it because it was very fat-covered, and I had gloves, rubber boots, and a fleshing apron on.
    IMG_0310.jpg
     
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  4. Feb 10, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    I was a Cub Scout leader many moons ago and decided to do deer hides with the boys. I got hides from a processor and made sharpened wood pegs. We staked the hides out in the backyard and the boys fleshed them with knives. We salted the hides and let them dry. The next meeting we shook off the salt and the boys worked them over the swing set bars. The hides didn't get really soft, but it made the kids happy.
     
  5. Feb 10, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    I know this is something I really want to try. I don’t like the idea of letting any useful or worthy part of an animal to go to waste. I don’t believe in killing an animal for the sake of killing either. That is complete disrespect to nature’s ecosystem and disrupts the food chain. People of today waste way too much. Our durable items of 30-50 years ago have become disposable. That’s wrong. I like the idea of trying to tan a squirrel hide first time around. They aren’t overwhelmingly huge, I was told they aren’t as fragile as other animals. Ultimately I’d like to process my goat, rabbit, cow, deer, coon hides.

    I am coming up with a terminology problem. @HomesteaderWife has mentioned terms that I’m either confused about or have no clue what they are. Here’s some terms: hide, fur- is there a difference? Hair-on, buckskin, suave? I thought we’re the same. Are they not? Fleshing? Slip? I do know there are a whole lot of other terms that she had mentioned in a previous post. I don’t even know where to begin doing my research. I think I’m going to try and find some processing hide terminology and watch a few YouTube videos first. That may give me a base for this concept.

    I have an interest in tanning because I feel it may become a necessity down the road. I have a gut feeling we are going to be entering some very tough times with financial stability and uncertainty. Depression, recession, or bad luck, or I lose my ssdi. I’m not sure which. I’m not even a person who reads financial reports or keeps up with the news. Just some subtle observations I’ve been making has led me to feel this way.

    We don’t have any savings in our household and we live paycheck to to paycheck. It’s a bit late to be preparing for the worst case scenario, retirement, or being able to care for aging parents or helping our children in their time of need. But, it’s not too late to begin.

    My plan is small scale farming. My goal is to make it self sustaining so we don’t need to buy our feeds, hay, bedding, etc. for our animals, provide food and necessities for the family. I would be delighted if were able to as much if not every part of our animals. Food, milk, eggs, compost, hides, fur, selling, make salable items for market or bartering if times get that bad. Use every part of the plants, crops, garden produce. Being able to process hides could end up playing a really big part in my plan. If I’m not able to sell hides I can use them to make things out of. Animal toys or treats, teddy bears, clothing, home furnishings, etc. I have plans to use parts like pigs ears, tails, feet. Rabbits tail, feet, ears. Goat tails, ears, feet. Chicken feathers, feet, heads, gizzards. I’d also like to be able to live off grid with the use of solar, wind, and/or water. These are all things I want to try at some point in time. I know I went off track with my plans. Sorry I got side tracked.
     
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  6. Feb 10, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    @Carla D don't ever apologize for getting side tracked. We all have goals and want to do more than we currently am. I am with you on being prepared for whatever may come your way. Do you can? Stock up on jars, lids and rings. Do you have a dehydrator? If not, two window screens may be used.
     
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  7. Feb 10, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    Hi Bay!

    We don’t have a pressure cooker. I used to do canning and jelly making with my mom when I was pretty young. I hadn’t even thought about stocking up with jars, lids, rings. I do have a food dehydrator and a vacuum sealer and bags. We have a meat grinder, jerky kit, and a large second freezer. We even have a small farm picked out. We are trying to get preapproved for the little farm we fell in love with. I’m also trying to stock up and find recipes for our animals processed. We plan on processing our own meats, hides and byproducts.
     
  8. Feb 11, 2019
    HomesteaderWife

    HomesteaderWife True BYH Addict

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    @Carla D - Here's an explanation of some of the terms in detail

    When I say hide and fur I separate the words on purpose. When most people think of fur-trapping, they think raccoon, coyote, fox, etc on animals with very soft hairs on them. When I say hide, I refer to coarser hair quality on animals like deer or cattle. Some folks may not differentiate like this with words, but I do in order to refer to the hair just out of preference.

    green hides: a raw animal skin that has not been tanned (it shouldn't be green in color!) Think of when folks say a green horse- a little has been done to them, but they're not finished.

    fleshing: this is the process of cleaning any membrane, meat, and fat off of a hide after skinning before tanning from the underside (meat side). This doesn't have anything to do with the hair side of the hide or fur

    hair-on and buckskin or leather: hair-on refers to all the fur or hair left on a hide to be tanned, while buckskin is deer hide that has had the hair and grain/epidermis layer removed. Leather is usually other de-haired hides like cattle or pig.

    slip: this means the hair of your hide is coming off in clumps and leaving bald spots. not just normal light shedding- it's actually falling out in a large area and leaving the grain layer on the hide only

    Any other words I can help with, and do these help you understand the ones you had questions about?

    Highly recommend that book like I said- he doesn't necessarily define these terms, but it's very in detail and gives you many different options to tan, de-hair, stretch a variety of animals.
     
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  9. Feb 11, 2019
    Carla D

    Carla D True BYH Addict

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    Thank you for taking the time to define these for me. The only terms listed here I’m still confused about are hides, leather, suede, tanned. I guess I’m trying to figure out if for the most part is are they “interchangeable” for most people? Also when processing hides, both sides are processed? I kinda thought it was the inside that was processed not the outside. Now I’m thinking both sides must have something done to them. Either to clean the fur and prevent it from falling off. But I’m also thinking it’s the outside that has the texture seen. Is suede actually the inside of the animal skin once it’s been cleaned up. It’s kinda roughened, soft, fibers “broken lose” from the inside of the skin. Suade is actually the fibers from the inside and not the fur from the outside. If this is true, there must be different processes for skin with nice fur like goat, rabbit, coons. Correct?
     
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  10. Feb 11, 2019
    Baymule

    Baymule Herd Master

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    I have some drop dead gorgeous black and white lambs this year-boys naturally. So their names are Dinner. I'm thinking save the hides to be tanned and make myself a jacket. I have 4 beautifully marked ram lambs. But I won't tan them myself, I will cheat and have it done.

    A friend took his son to the high wire fenced ranch behind us, yesterday. The owner has exotic deer and has to harvest a certain number each year. He gives away the hunts-to kids only. So our 10 year old neighbor boy bagged a beautiful spotted fallow deer. His Dad found a place to have it tanned for $100. I'll see how his turns out and will probably go that route.