How to Tan Deer Skin While Leaving the Hair On

Animal skin has been used to make clothing since the ancient times and even today. Clothing made of deer skin is extremely expensive in the market and you might have to pay through your nose to purchase just one shirt! Tanning a deer’s skin at home can be an interesting task to perform and it will certainly reduce the cost of making a dress out of it significantly. Drying the hide of a deer takes a long time but the entire tanning process is pretty easy one.

Things Required:

– Plywood board; ¾ inch thick and 4-by-8 feet in size
– 50 nails
– Hammer
– Sea Salt


  • 1

    You will need some vacant space to move around while performing the tanning process to select a wider room for this purpose. Lay down the plywood board on the floor and place the fresh deer hide upon it, so that it starts about a foot down from the top edge of the board.

  • 2

    Make sure the hair side of the hide is facing the board. Affix the deer skin to the board by hammering nails into it. Keep a distance of at least 3/8 inches from the edge of the hide. The best way to do is place some nails at one side and then stretch it as tightly as you can from the opposite end before driving nails at that side. The hide will shrink after it gets completely dried and will automatically get tighter on the plywood.

  • 3

    Sand all the four sides of the plywood board and let the hide to dry in a safe place, probably a garage where hungry animals don’t eat up the skin. You have to ensure the air movement across the drying hide and for that reason, pull the deer skin from the surface of the plywood.

  • 4

    Take a sharp knife and scrape off any bits of meat remaining on the hide. A clean surface of the hide will be better to make the clothing later.

  • 5

    Take sufficient amount of sea salt and rub it on the entire surface of the hide thoroughly, letting it absorb in the skin. You have to repeat this process daily for the next four to five days. Once the deer skin completely dries up, it will become harder and its odour will disappear completely.

  • 6

    Take the hide off the plywood. Roll the skin, then unroll and then repeat the process few times to make the hide softer. You have to roll and rub the deer skin repeatedly if you want to make it softer.