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Old 03-04-2015, 06:47 PM
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Default Tanned deer hides "unboxing"

I hate wasting venison of course. But the thought of just throwing away the hides doesn't sit well with me either. So instead I save them all to be tanned. I've used Sebring Custom Tanning in FL for the last couple years and they've done a nice job.

I roll the hides up and keep them in the freezer. At some point after season ends, I'll thaw, salt, and send them to Sebring in a batch. This last batch that arrived today (from the 2013 season) was 7 hides that I had done in natural color with the hair off. The cost was $191 plus my shipping cost to them.

It does take many months. This batch was shipped to them in May of 2014 and just arrived today. I have 2014's batch of hides in the freezer now waiting to be thawed, salted, and shipped.

Years ago (when I guess I had more patience) I brain tanned my own hides. The end result is the softest, fluffiest leather you've ever felt! But is sure is labor intensive. Takes lots of time and elbow grease to do the job right. Cheaper though for sure.

Anyway, just some info and pics I thought I'd share in case anyone was interested in an option for turning their deer hides into leather. I'm not associated with Sebring in any way other than being a regular customer. And I have found some others online that will turn your hide into gloves and lots of other things. More cost associated with those services of course.
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:27 PM
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Thanks for sharing this! Couple of questions. How clean do you have to have the hides as far as fleshing goes, before you send them? How soft is the finished leather?

Again thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-04-2015, 08:51 PM
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Thanks for sharing this! Couple of questions. How clean do you have to have the hides as far as fleshing goes, before you send them? How soft is the finished leather?

Again thanks for sharing.
You're welcome!!

I currently use what I call "the golf ball technique" with a boat winch to skin my deer. I use a knife to make the initial slits but then I use fingers and fists and the knife gets put away once the winch starts pulling. The hides come off pretty close to 100% clean of any muscle at all.

However, if you do have chunks or strips of meat on there, I'd either leave it on or scrape it off carefully as opposed to slicing it off. Those little knife slits trying to get that meat off there might be doing more harm than good. And they do scrape the flesh sides during the tanning process.

So bottom line is, I've sent them hides with "a little" meat still on there and they came back just fine. But I try my best to have no meat at all (and no knife marks at all).

The finished product is quite soft. How soft? Good question. What to compare it to? I guess imagine a pair of deerskin gloves. Soft but durable if that makes sense. The neck area is the thickest and stiffest.
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Old 03-05-2015, 06:03 AM
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I send mine to Seminole Fur Dressing. It costs a little more than what you're getting but I do them with the hair on.
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Old 03-05-2015, 07:02 AM
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A great use of the resource. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-05-2015, 07:12 AM
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Thanks for sharing also, I would like a few with the hair on, just curious do you display them are use them to make stuff?
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Old 03-05-2015, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by jerry russell View Post
A great use of the resource. Thanks for sharing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bowhunterdavid View Post
Thanks for sharing also, I would like a few with the hair on, just curious do you display them are use them to make stuff?


I had the same question for Bow Only about what he does with his with the hair on.

As for what I do with mine, I have a man cave / office that has arrow curtain rods draped with tanned deer hides. That's pretty much it as far as display. And I've made many small pouches. Ex: eyeglass "sleeves", car GPS pouches, things like that. And I've made many Native American style pouches that have been given as gifts. They usually have some sort of antler button worked in. My latest was a leather back quiver that has a bunch of deerskin fringe. I like it!

Mostly, I just hoard them. I have way more tanned hides than projects (or skill) to turn them into something. But still I keep them for when that day comes. Please don't ask my wife about my boxes of deerskin.
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Last edited by Pneumothorax; 03-05-2015 at 09:46 AM. Reason: just reworded something a little
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Old 03-05-2015, 08:22 AM
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Nice skins. They look good. Natural color is good too.
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Old 03-05-2015, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BowChilling View Post
Thanks for sharing this! Couple of questions. How clean do you have to have the hides as far as fleshing goes, before you send them? How soft is the finished leather?

Again thanks for sharing.
I was thinking...I have my 2014 batch of hides in the freezer to thaw, salt, and ship. If I remember, I'll take pics and post here of how they look on the flesh side before sending them in.
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:32 PM
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I was thinking...I have my 2014 batch of hides in the freezer to thaw, salt, and ship. If I remember, I'll take pics and post here of how they look on the flesh side before sending them in.
Good deal! Thanks again for the info! I think I'll save mine next year and send them in.
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:39 PM
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I've got 4 or 5 rustic hides laying around that are used for decoration. This Wisconsin buck's hair is so thick, it's like a carpet.
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:50 PM
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Some taxidermists will let you send your hides to the tannery with theirs.They use hair on,for mounts,but you can order hair off.
A young doe has a softer hide.Last time I sent any,it was $30 each.Well worth fifty bucks if you ever tanned one before.
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Old 03-05-2015, 01:09 PM
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They are nice to stand on when it`s cold outside, and nice in a chair too.
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:10 PM
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They are nice to stand on when it`s cold outside, and nice in a chair too.
Now THAT is how you sit around the fire!!!
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:53 PM
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Now THAT is how you sit around the fire!!!
I couldn't agree more.
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:05 AM
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I bet they would make pretty sweet seat covers for loc-ons or replacement seats on some climbers. Just sew them up around a pad and you are set.

Very cool!
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:22 AM
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Now THAT is how you sit around the fire!!!


Thanks. I`ve set on that deerskin a many a mighty cold mornin` while turnin` on the "central heat unit".
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:26 AM
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Thanks. I`ve set on that deerskin a many a mighty cold mornin` while turnin` on the "central heat unit".
or throwing pine burrs at Klem to keep the fire going ...
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:29 AM
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or throwing pine burrs at Klem to keep the fire going ...


Until he got big and strong enough to throw me out the top of those smoke flaps.

Even when he was a little bitty knot, he could build a flint and steel fire fast as anybody I ever saw.
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Old 03-09-2015, 09:58 PM
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Very cool. I'm amazed at the price. I once had a taxidermist do one for me with hair on and it was $75. $25 sure sounds a lot better.

So...my questions are these...after skinning...freezing etc etc. You take them out...thaw them and then salt them. Do you use just regular table salt? Does the skin not harden when you salt them? I would figure it would dry out and get stiff as a board and be impossible to roll up.
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Old 03-10-2015, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rjcruiser View Post
Very cool. I'm amazed at the price. I once had a taxidermist do one for me with hair on and it was $75. $25 sure sounds a lot better.

So...my questions are these...after skinning...freezing etc etc. You take them out...thaw them and then salt them. Do you use just regular table salt? Does the skin not harden when you salt them? I would figure it would dry out and get stiff as a board and be impossible to roll up.
Excellent questions! I've sent in hides that were salted with regular table salt, rock salt, and a mix of both. Regular table salt is nice in that you get 100% coverage since you can really work it into the creases and little folds. But you can buy bulk pool salt which is much coarser and somewhat cheaper. I'm no salting/tanning expert but I've used both (sometimes together on the same hide) and the product I got back was OK with me.

My advice there would be to call whoever you plan to send them to and see what they recommend (if you can't find it on their website).

As for the drying part, you're exactly right. You don't want to let them turn to rawhide. I sent a batch of stiff-as-a-board hides in once. Hard to find a big flat box since I had to ship them all flat like that in a stack. And only a few were salvageable at the tannery. The others shredded to bits during the process. They were cool about it though and only charged me for the ones that came out OK. And they sent me the shredded bits. Still, several hides were wasted.

My understanding is that it's best to lay them out on plywood or something you can tilt a bit. And don't let them sit in direct sunlight. The tilting lets the liquids drawn out by the salt drain away. So you do want the hides to remain flexible/rollable.

Hope that helps.
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Old 03-10-2015, 09:50 PM
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Here's another thank you for sharing this, Pneumothorax. I also prefer to make as much use of any animal I harvest. Making use of the hides is something I've given thought to in the past, but never really known how I'd get started down that road. However, this would be a good and less overwhelming way to do that, so thanks for the idea/direction.
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Old 03-11-2015, 02:17 AM
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Hides are great for just throwing them around or putting stuff on them.
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Old 03-11-2015, 08:21 AM
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Here's another thank you for sharing this, Pneumothorax. I also prefer to make as much use of any animal I harvest. Making use of the hides is something I've given thought to in the past, but never really known how I'd get started down that road. However, this would be a good and less overwhelming way to do that, so thanks for the idea/direction.
You're very welcome! I hope if you decide to try it that you post your prep-pics, finished hides, displays, things you made from the skins, etc. Same goes for anyone else. I'm always looking for ideas on how to use the leather. For example, I really think it would be cool to have a few pairs of deerskin gloves from my own deer.
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Old 02-19-2018, 10:51 AM
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Finally able to report back after trying this out. Haven't seen Pneumothorax on here in a season or two, but I haven't posted much myself recently either. Maybe this extra data point will be useful to those also thinking about trying this out.

Completion time frame was about the same for this batch of three hides. I dropped them off at Sebring Custom Tanning in May 2017, and just received them back this past Saturday.

Regarding prep, I simply put the hides in trash bags after skinning, and put them in the freezer. However, I cut out the entire hassle of salting and shipping them by dropping them off in person. We were going to the Tampa area, and Sebring was only another hour or so from there, so I put them in a cooler and they were still frozen solid eight hours later when I dropped them off. As a side note, GPS took us through the area where Florida oranges are grown, and it was actually pretty amazing to see so many miles of oranges groves as far as the eye can see.

It was $97 to have these three hides tanned hair-on ($25/hide + return shipping).

Overall, pretty pleased with the final product. I'll probably start saving all hides, and do some hair-off going forward. You just have to be patient. You will probably even forget about them until you get the phone call saying they're ready. And if you're going to be in the area to drop them off in person, there's not much to do other than store the hides in the freezer after skinning.
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