Debbie rinsing the freshly skinned hide of a road killed deer. Ways of the Earth

In many states it is legal to pick up road kill. It’s a great way to get hides to practice on and gives just a little honor to the life that was lost. There are several steps to tanning hides. First step, after removing the hide from the animal, is to flesh it- removing all the flesh and muscle that is attached. Then, unless you are want the hide to keep the fur side, you remove the hair. At this point you have rawhide. To get it to buckskin, there are techniques, first to remove the membrane from both sides of the hide, then using the animal’s brains or eggs, you tan the hide. There are several steps. The final step is to smoke the hide to help it repel water and prevent it from returning to rawhide. Different woods create smoke that makes the hides different shade of brown.

Here’s a great video on making a buckskin shirt using all primitive tools.

Using a clam shell scraper to flesh a rabbit hide. Ways of the Earth

My friend Eric using a fleshing beam and scaper to flesh a road killed deer. Ways of the Earth.

Deer hide racked to dry scrape. Ways of the Earth

We designed this rack to do two hides at once. Ways of the Earth

And why would you go to all that trouble? So you can make a beautiful buckskin outfit like my friend James. That’s his little buddy Luther on his lap who lived with him in his Earth lodge for a year. Ways of the Earth.