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Tanning and dying deer hair

2012/12/9 15:03
From Lewistown, PA
Posts: 432
So, I was talking with my future father in law recently about tying flies with deer hair. He's an avid hunter, so offered to give me a hide (or a piece of one) this season if I wanted it.

I thought about it, but I have no idea how to process a deer hide! I can probably find instructions to tan it, but then I'd probably want to dye some too.

He also offered to give me a buck tail if I wanted it. That I really wouldn't know what to do with. You can't just tan a bucktail, right? I'm sure there's a process for preserving it. Also for dying it.

Has anybody here attempted this before? I'd love to get some thoughts or tips.

Posted on: 2013/7/6 10:32

Re: Tanning and dying deer hair

2009/4/26 12:29
From Lancaster, PA
Posts: 128
There are some great resources out there. You can easily do some stuff to just preserve a bucktail. The first book listed below gives great tips for deer, rabbit, birds, etc. i have followed this book for deer, fox, muskrat, mink, and pheasant. enjoy!

Here are 2 books I own that are useful.

From Field to Fly by Scott Seymour
-cost is less than $10 on Amazon
Amazon - From Field to Fly

Dyeing and Bleaching Natural Fly-tying Materials by AK Best
- little more pricey, around $40 on Amazon. I think I got mine cheaper on eBay years ago.
Amazon - Dyeing and Bleaching

Posted on: 2013/7/6 11:18

Re: Tanning and dying deer hair

2013/6/18 18:55
From North Wales, PA
Posts: 27
If he is offering you hide/tail he already has then it's already been "tanned" Animal hide for the fly tyer is a no brainer, skin the animal, remove the fat that is attached to the skin and then salt down the hide. Or if your really lazy like me, you stuff the bird in the freezer and then remove the frozen bird to "pick at" the feathers you want while at the vice and then toss them back in the freezer when done. The wife just loves that one. LOL!

Hopes this helps,


Posted on: 2013/7/10 17:23

Re: Tanning and dying deer hair

2010/1/28 14:17
From Abington
Posts: 620
Check or EBay....I think I got this on Alibris used for around $10


elonDO wrote:

Dyeing and Bleaching Natural Fly-tying Materials by AK Best
- little more pricey, around $40 on Amazon. I think I got mine cheaper on eBay years ago.
Amazon - Dyeing and Bleaching

Posted on: 2013/7/11 5:23
Official, Paid-Up Member of the SBCC
"I drank with Whiskey Dave"

Re: Tanning and dying deer hair

2007/3/29 7:56
From Bethlehem, PA
Posts: 352
bucktail is easy. get sharp knife, cut carefully along bone, then peel back skin with help of knife. its not that bad. i like to scape skin with knife or whatever is laying around. then add a nice mixture of salt and borax, leave in a cool dry place for a few weeks.


get tail fresh from deer, add generous amount of salt/ borax to cut end, and call it a day. you may need to add some more salt over time and watch for bugs, but i have a half dozen tails I've keep for a long time this way.

for easy dying google "dyeing fibers with kool-aid" cheap and works great. i recommend adding vinegar to set the color. also do this when your wife/girlfriend is not home as it smells funky and she will accuse you of ruining microwave.

Posted on: 2013/7/11 13:13

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