This past weekend our group fleshed and scraped a lot of deer hides. We also brained a bunch, and started pulling them, but were overtaken by dark before we got any soft.
Brain tanning courses are all about time management. We’re trying to squeeze a bunch of stuff into a short period of time. We run them in the fall because that’s when we get the hides, but the cold weather isn’t the best for it. While it’s nice to not sweat while scraping, the cold is a hindrance to pulling or breaking the hides. When is the best weather for pulling hides? I use the analogy that when the weather is good for drying clothes on a clothesline, it’s good for pulling hides. Cold and wet weather, therefore, is not so great.
The good news is once you’ve fleshed and scraped a hide (removed the meat, fat, membrane, grain and hair), it’s no longer gross and it’s in a stable state to be stored. It also doesn’t take up much room.
Next year we’re thinking about running the tanning course the weekend before Thanksgiving, or maybe even earlier. Or possibly breaking it up into two days: a day in the fall to scrape hides (make rawhide), and a day the following spring or summer to pull them (turn it into buckskin). We’ll see what we come up with.