Dr. Tom’s Old Indian Method of Brain Tanning Dearskin

Rawhide: (A) Soak hide for a day or two until hair pulls out easily.

(B) Rack & stretch, resetting periodically.

(C) Scrape off all excess, dry out, then scrape off outer membrane until smooth like suede.

Tanning: (D) Soak again; over low heat, mash animal’s brain into a paste and rub into hide.  

(E) Add water to remaining brains & soak over-night.

(F) Ring out hide, rack, and scrape until dry.

(G) Remove from rack & smoke (NOT HEAT) hide to cure the brains.

(H) Buff over smooth pole.


GrayRider says:
May 4, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Our practice is to skin it ASAP, preserving the hide and being very careful NOT to breach the bladder, gut or scent bags in the legs … then the Back-strap is carefully cut out and the rest is quartered or less and left to hang from the rafters, un-covered, for 3 days to form a skin over the meat (hopefully it’s cold with very few flys).

After that it can be proportioned out in dinner sized portions and frozen … Auntie Em was even into canning venison when the freezer was full but I just didn’t care for that idea;~(
See also:

Buckskin (leather)


Buckskin is the soft, pliable, porous preserved hide of an animal – usually deer, elk or moose – tanned in the same way as deerskin clothing worn by Native Americans. Some leather sold as “buckskin” may now be sheepskin tanned with modern chromate tanning chemicals and dyed to resemble real buckskin.

Buckskin is preserved with a dressing of some kind of lubricant, physically manipulated to make it soft and pliable, and usually smoked with woodsmoke. Smoking gives buckskin its typical dark honey color, and is highly recommended. Smoking prevents the tanned hide from becoming stiff if it gets wet, and deters insects from eating it as well. Unsmoked buckskin is lighter, even white, in color.

Buckskin is simply “the skin of a buck (deer).”[1]

4 thoughts on “Dr. Tom’s Old Indian Method of Brain Tanning Dearskin

  1. This is the best practice that I have seen used by natives. Would highly recommend to anyone trying to tan there own hides. Just learned of this idea a couple years ago by a native from Canada…and she does all the old methods turing out the best quality products.

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