After it is removed from the animal, the hide has to be
prepared for use. All of the fat and meat scraps must be scraped off
from the inside of the hide. As well, the innermost layer of the hide must
be scraped off as well.
If the hide is going to be tanned "hair-off", then
the hair must be scraped off from the external side of the hide as well.
Here are some brief notes on tanning and dyeing methods from
the Advanced Skills Class of June 2003 at the Tracker School, contributed by
This is straight out of my notebook. I have not yet tried theses. I'm
sharing these because I believe they have to be shared. I hope some of you
will try these and share the results.
To degrease a greasy hide like wild pig, coon or goat put the hide in a
steaming apparatus. Save the drippings for tallow.
Yucca Soap Prep
Cover shreds with water
Soak mash 24 hours
Filter (liquid soap)
Save fibers for scrub brush. Add wood ash powder to liquid for stronger
cleaner. Make paste of wood ash, Yucca liquid and pour into soap bar mold.
*Replace brains with concentrated yucca soap paste for yucca tan. Softer
than brain tan. Rinse before stretching. Highly resistant to insect
infestation (mold, mosquitoes).
The Yucca tan is supposed to be softer than braintan (and waterproof?). I'll
speculate that if the tallow makes it waterproof, than maybe adding tallow
to brains can make a braintan waterproof.
Osage Orange Dye Prep.
Medium dye, add more wood for bone. Soak wood fibers/sawdust and heat to
simmer. Let soak for 24 hours. Heat again and twist grind. Heat again and
let soak for 24 hours. Heat again and filter. Basic dye solution is now
Note: Add 1 oz of neetsfoot oil to 1 qt of osage orange dye.
Soak hide 48 hours. Finish off as brain tan (Osage tan).
Lightly oil and heat to drive in dye. For bone, soak in dye for
24 hrs, dry, heat solution and let dry...gets darker.
The osage tan is supposed to impart a beautiful orange color that is ideal
for camouflage in fall foliage. Sorry if it is a bit confusing; part of it
describes dyeing wood and bone. I remember we used about a gallon of
woodchips and sawdust for the dye at the class.
Other Dye or Tanning Solutions
Prep as Osage: acorn, oak root, walnut and root, blueberry, cranberry, pine
nut and root, inner bark pine, cedar bark and root, ashroot, butternut,
sweetgum and sphagnum.
Tanning elements (as in brain tan): liver, kidneys, urine, small intestine,
testicular, mucus, fish oil, nut oils, neetsfoot oils, tallow tan, pancreas