How To Make A Buckskin Shirt [PICS]
By Toby Trigger


Watch the brain tanning process real time. Each week as the hides from two deer I took with my bow are transformed into a buckskin shirt you’ll see the progress as it happens.

You’ll see it all, the mistakes, hard work and hopefully a successful outcome!
Brain tanning hides was once as common a house hold activity as sweeping the floor in America. Brain tanning is a process that involves removing the hair and grain from hides, then applying a dressing made from the animal’s brain and working the hide systematically to create a fine buckskin.
The first step in brain tanning is to acquire a hide. This may be the most enjoyable part of brain tanning! I was able to shoot two bucks with my bow. I tagged the first one with a deer B either sex archery tag and the second with my A tag.

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The skinning process was simply a cut up the belly from anal vent to esophagus and across each leg up to the knee joint. The hide was peeled back until I had two full skins.

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Next I fleshed off all the meat and fat using a fleshing beam and a fleshing knife. This could be done using your hunting knife. I just got the majority of “stuff” off. It took about 40 minutes for each hide.

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As I was doing this dirty work I also removed the brains from both bucks and put them in a container and froze them to make the  dressing later. I cut the back of the skull off using a saws all and scooped the brains out with a spoon.
A solution using 2 pounds “hydrated lime” available from any feed store was added to ten gallons of water in a plastic container (Plastic must be used, NOT metal). Wood ashes can also be used to make a solution to remove the hair. Add ashes into a bucket of water until an egg will float in the solution to test that it is strong enough.
Either solution will cause the hair to fall out easily in a few days and expose the grain of the hide, allowing the brain tanner to scrape it clean.

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I placed the two deer hides into this solution. The hides floated because deer hair is hollow and buoyant. Using a big rock, I was able to sink the hides. I will stir this solution each day for four days and check how well the hair is slipping.

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Next week I’ll show photos of my progress.  Bucking, graining and rinsing the hide. If you have a hide and want to try this, post questions and try it with me.  Making buckskins is a great way to use more of the animals we hunt.

 

Feature photo by www.rivercrossinginc.tripod.com (Trigger hopes his shirt turns out this good!)  All other photos by Trigger.






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