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I am interested in learning how to tan the hides of some of the animals I kill during hunting trips.  I am interested in good ways to do that without sinking a ton of money into it.  What Chemicals and tools would I need.  I have read a bit about "brain tanning" where the chemicals boiled out of the animal's brain are sufficient to tan the hide of the animal. 

 

What I have read seems to be time and labor intensive so does anybody know something to simplify the process?

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You can tan practically for free using the animals brains (ive never braintanned) or using treebark or hardwood mulch (ive done this before)  ill post a quick lesson for you when I get home today.

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most tanning ive done has been hair off. to make usuable leather goods.  first you need to flesh the hide. you can stake it out fleash side up and scrape it with a knife or you can lay it over a smooth log or large piece of pvc pipe and scrape it with a draw knife. (about 10-15 bucks at most hardware stores. its hard work and takes a while but you need to get it cleaned of all fat and meat.  prior to doing this you can get a bag of hardwood mulch and fill a five gallon bucket (plastic not metal) or a small garbage can.  boil enough water to cover the bark and pour it in (you can do this in stages if you don't have a large pot to boil water) let it sit over night and dump the water out of the bark into another container. make sure there is enough to cover the hide your tanning.  then repeat 3 times with the same bucket of mulch. the "tea" you extract each time save into a separate container. each batch will be weaker than the previous.  you can dehair the hide in a bucket or barrel with a half a cup of lye soap. let it soak for a couple days then wring it out and sluff off the hair. (it almost wipes off) rince theroughly.  now you want to place it in the weakest batch of tea you made. get it theroughly soaked and make sure its all under the surface (you can put a rock on it if you need to) a couple times a day for a week pull it out and move it around to make sure every bit of it is getting the tannins from the tea. after one week then place it in the middle or slightly stronger tea from the second boiling and repeat for a week, then do the same with the strongest tea you made first. after a week (or longer if need be) in the strongest tea it should be brownish all the way threw (cut a small corner and look at a cross section. as long as you see no white its tanned.  then rinse it out and wring it out very well.  then work it till its dry if you want soft pliable leather. if you let it dry without working it it will turn into a board.  you can put a board in a vice and shoe shine the leather over it until dry or anything that has a blunted edge.  how much work you put in will determine how nice your leather turns out. this vegetable tanned leather is basically water resistant and toolable.  if you want to spend a little more money you can acid tan the leather. its faster and easier but it wont be waterproof and if it gets wet it can rot. it works great for hair on wall hangers. 

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And youdont have to buy mulch. if you have an old oak tree downed somewhere you can cut the bark away and use that, as well as straw or any other organic matter high in tannins (like boiling acorns)

 

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Guest smallgamehunter

Dixie quick tan paste sold by cabelas has a pretty simple approach to tanning one bottle will do a deer hide its about $18 a bottle last time I checked

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