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Thread: Fur On Brain Tan - Deer Hide

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    Tinder Gatherer
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    Default Fur On Brain Tan - Deer Hide

    Twenty years ago I did this with the hair off and was successful. I've only done it that one time. My wife is a seamstress and expressed interest in a fur. My brother is an avid hunter and provided one.

    Fleshing:
    I used a PVC pipe as a beam and scraped the meat and fat off. It took almost four and a half hours to complete this. Way more work than I remembered. However, the first time I did this I had my brother's help and had the hide on a stretcher frame. I think that would have been way better on my back, neck and shoulders.


    Salting (optional):
    I didn't have a brain yet (some would say that's why I took on this project). So, I salted it down good (about six pounds). I changed the salt every day and eventually used about thirty pounds of salt to get to a dry hide.


    Tanning:
    I got a deer brain from a processor. I found a sand castle buckets the kids weren't going to want back.


    I mashed it up with my hands.


    The result is watery brain stuff.


    I spread it all over the flesh side of the hide, folded it on itself and let it sit overnight. It was cold but didn't freeze.


    Breaking:
    More manual labor. For the next twelve hours with only a few short breaks I worked. I first tried breaking it across a rope, but gave up quick because it kept rolling on itself and pulling our hairs.


    I ended up using the edge of a board nailed to a tree. This worked very well and I was able to lean my shoulder against the tree to keep from straining my back. I worked it like this until it started raining. I did the very last of the breaking sitting on the back porch breaking across my knees.


    Smoking:
    I built a smudge fire in a twelve inch deep hole. I built a tee pee out of some old easel parts. I ened up having to prop the edges of the hide up away from the fire with sticks. I kept the fire pretty much out the whole time with little to no flame and lots of smoke. I covered the distance from the bottom edge of the hide to the ground with fabric pieces provided by my wife. I smoked it for about two or three hours.




    I have no noticeable hair slippage at all. I did pull a few out while breaking, but only when I grabbed it wrong.

    Done! After I was done it was still good and flexible. However, I put it in my garage to let it air out and after it sat overnight it has gotten stiff again. I'm not sure what's gone wrong. I'm hoping I don't have to chunk it and start over, but I really don't know. Any advice at this point would be greatly appreciated.

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    Scout Mad Russian's Avatar
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    Great job on the hide. Looks like alot of work.


    On rabbit furs I rub Neat's Foot Oil into them after salting. Someone else might know if this would work for deer hide.

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    Da Merchant of dirt. Supporter
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    I have brain tanned a few hides, but always hair off. I smoked it for about 4 hours on each side (Hair/flesh). Maybe the hair side is holding the moisture, causing it to re-harden. I would try smoking it longer in hopes that it completely dries.
    Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
    Something witty.

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    brain it and smoke it agin and break it agin. it can take several brain smoke and breaks. with the hair on you cant take the dermis layer off, and that is where some of your stiffness is prob comming from.
    YMOS, BST
    TRACKER PACKER - TWO ZERO

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    Scout Bush Class Basic Certified Jeffro's Avatar
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    jbf, You may want to research this a little but when I was braintanning last(it's been years) I was tanning to make clothes so I was removing the hair and epidermis before braining. It is my understanding that there is a differance between hair and fur. Hair being hollow and fur not being hollow and this is the reason deer pelts lose their hair over time because the hair being hollow shrinks in the folicle and falls out. When we tanned we would flesh the body side of the hide rinse the hide and stretch it in a frame. Let the hide dry in the frame and with a singlebevel blade scrape off the hair and epidermis. The hide is now rawhide. If you want braintan you must now apply brain (cow brain will work) to the hide. Put the brain in a blender with only enough water to "loosen" it a little you want the hide to soak up the oils of the brain not more water. After the hide has absorbed the brain it should be pliable again now is the time to rinse the hide and wring it out as dry as you can get it and "break" the hide until it is dry, so dry that it no longer feels cool to the skin on your face and it should almost feel like felt. Sew the hide into a tube and peg one end to the ground over a dakota hole, support the other end with a tripod so that you create a chimneywith the hide. Build a slow punk wood fire in the other end (cottonwood works best) and smoke the hide until the yellow color starts to come through then reverse the hide and smoke the other side for a like amount of time. Make clothes and wear them don't wash just wear the smoke in the hide will fight off odor and keep the hide pliable if it gets DAMP if it gets wet wear it dry to keep it pliable.

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    Dr. Fishguts Bush Class Basic Certified kgd's Avatar
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    Very nice post. Thank you so much. I have two hides in the freezer and just finished reading Deerskins to Buckskins, a good read. Your thread has further motivated me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgd View Post
    Very nice post. Thank you so much. I have two hides in the freezer and just finished reading Deerskins to Buckskins, a good read. Your thread has further motivated me.
    Ditto! Two to deal with... maybe this weekend. That book was a great investment for me.

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    Great post!
    Thanks!

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