how to tan deer hides

How To Tan Deer Hides?

There are easier methods that are just as efficient and cheaper than sending a deer hide to a tannery. Most people automatically think of the traditional method of using brains when they hear about tanning deer hides.

Step-by-step procedure for tanning a deer hide:

Here are some steps by which you can do the tanning of a deer:


There’s a more modern way than hand fleshing a hide, but if you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know how tedious it can be. If your hide is in the freezer, make sure it’s completely thawed before you begin the fleshing process. If you’re working on a fresh deer hide,do these steps.

Drape the hidden side up over a hard surface such as a large plastic drum, or tack it to plywood. Take the pressure washer, and simply press the hide off of the flesh with 1800 PSI. You’ll need one that is 1800 PSI to peel back the flesh, and most household pressure washers will work for this project.

 I recommend testing the pressure on a corner piece of the hide to ensure it’s not going to rip. Additionally, it’s important to keep the water moving across the hide as holding the water in one spot will result in a hole.  The process can be messy, so you’ll want to wear safety glasses.

Before moving on to the next step, ensure that the flesh side of the hide is clean and white. You should be able to remove all the flesh-colored pieces from this side of the hide. Keep an eye out around the hide’s edges as small pieces are easy to miss. Before you move on to the next step, use a sharp knife to get the last bits off.

Salt that deer’s hide:

It’s easy. All you need is some table salt (any brand will work. I buy the small canisters that are 1/2 lb each) for about a dollar at any store. Spread the salt over the flesh side of the hide until it’s fully covered. Fold the flesh side together, roll it up, and place it in the bucket. This bucket is crucial since it will catch any moisture that escapes from the hide.

Then take the hideout, shake off the old salt, and apply fresh. Fold the flesh sides together again, roll, and place in the five-gallon bucket. Leave it for 24 hours.

Give you Hide a Salt Bath:

Prepare a salt bath in a separate bucket with enough water to submerge the hide. Mix 1/2 lb of table salt per gallon of water, and use extremely hot water to dissolve the salt.

In the solution, immerse the hide for six to eight hours. Overnight is fine, but the hair will fall out if you leave it too long.

Prepare and Wash the hide for tanning:

Make sure there are no remaining pieces of flesh remaining on the hide. If there are, scrape them off with a sharp knife. If you don’t remove them, the hide will eventually smell.

You can rinse the hide off with a hose or in the tub until there are no leftover soap bubbles. You can use your five-gallon bucket to wash and move the hide. Rinse off all excess grease and salt with water and dish soap. Drape the hide over a railing or clothesline until it is only slightly damp and still pliable, then let it dry.

Apply Tanning Formula:

I have used hide-tanning formulas from Bass Pro Shops, Amazon, or Cabela’s on several different types of hides and swear by them.

When it’s time to apply the solution, I recommend wearing gloves since it isn’t necessarily something you want on your skin. Warm the formula by placing it in a pot of hot tap water for 30 minutes.

Lay the hide open, flesh side up. Apply the solution directly from the bottle to the hide. Pour small amounts at a time and spread it around with a large paintbrush. If you’re wearing gloves, you can just use your hands. You should make sure you cover every inch of the flesh with the solution. Massage it in, fold the sides together again, and leave overnight. Open the hide and let it dry for another 12 hours. The formula has an odor.

Stretching of a hide:

During this time, you will want to work the hide while it is still slightly damp to make it soft and pliable. Skip this step, and it will be as stiff as a board. Native Americans used to chew on hides to soften them, but I don’t really recommend it if you want to keep your teeth healthy.

Stretch and fold the hide in all directions. Pull it back and forth (flesh side down) over a taut rope or hard surface (railing or fence). I softened this hide with the edge of a concrete pad. To soften the hide even more, sand it with coarse-grit sandpaper on the tanned-flesh side when it is completely dry.


Q1. Is it possible to tan my own deer hide?

Ans: Be easy with the tanning solution and cover every nook and cranny of the skin. Place the skin flat with the hair side down. Brush or work tanning oil into the skin.

Q2. What is the purpose of salting a hide before tanning it?

Ans: In tanning, salting is one of the most important steps, since it sets the hair and prevents the hide from decaying.

Q3. Can a salted hide last for a long time?

Ans: Salted hides can be stored for up to one year and are resistant to temperature fluctuations. However, they need to be stored in a certain way after drying.

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