Tanning Deer Hides



Taxidermy is one of my hobbies and I am not a professional. The following instructions are geared towards someone wanting to tan their own hides for rug work or leather. Click here for instructions on tanning with Luftan F. Or recently I have been using Rittles EZ-Tan. Both tans work well. The EZ tan is a synthetic tan and can be washed. Both dry to a white color.


The first step in the process is to flesh the hide. I have a home made fleshing beam made from a board out of a cable reel. It is slightly rounded and works well with the fleshing knife that I use. I finally purchased a fleshing knife from Van Dykes but have used several other tools to accomplish the same thing, however a good fleshing tool sure makes it easier. Before I got a good fleshing tool I used a scythe blade and initially I used a scalpel, large knife and pliers. Below are some pictures that will give you an idea of the steps involved.

Fleshing Beam and Knife

Raw Unfleshed Hide

Half Done

Fleshed Cape


For a hair on cape it is now ready for the pickle. However if you want a hair off hide you will need to soak it in a Calcium Hydroxide (hydrated lime) for a couple of days. Click hear for complete instructions. After a couple of days the hide can be removed and the hair should easily slide off. This can be a very messy process. I use a good tarp on the floor under the work area. This helps in cleaning up afterwards. (A handful of deer hair can go a long ways) If the hair does not slip easily, remove as much hair as possible and return it to the lime solution for another day or so. After the hair is removed it can be rinsed and then go to the de-liming and bating tub.

In the de-hairing tub

Slipping the hair off

After Bating and De-liming, Pickling, Tanning with Luftan, then re-tanning with  Quebracho Bark Tan. This gives it a nice tan color and is an important step. Then oiling them up with some Pro Plus oil and as an option you can add a little Neats Foot oil to the dermis side.  These are still wet and are in the process of being broken. Breaking takes time and is the hardest part to get a nice soft piece of leather.



I hope you enjoy the web site. Feedback is always welcome. I can be contacted via email at bill@hobbydog.net