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Jerry Davis: Hunter’s hide hobby one way to get value from antlerless deer

September 23, 2018

Some hunters are beginning to practice what they believe about white-tailed deer, at least antlerless deer.

That is the taking of an animal without antlers, with the chance it may have chronic wasting disease, just isn’t worth the effort, particularly if the venison is later tossed in a dumpster.

There are parts and products from a deer carcass that some cultures continue to value, while other hunters regard them as worthless.

At least with a large buck (which has a far greater chance of being CWD-infected) there are the antlers and personal satisfaction of having succeeded in having been coy enough take a deer into possession.

While there may be some unavoidable costs involved, testing an animal carcass for CWD is generally free and results are known within 10 to 14 days.

Andrew Trester, 27, has a degree in textile and apparel design from the University of Wisconsin. He is more interested in articles made from furs, hides and fibers, even though his position at Lands’ End in Dodgeville does not go as far as his recent hobby of tanning leather.

“I’m pushing for a few things in small ways, but right now this is for me and maybe someday it could be a hobby cottage industry,” Trester said.

Trester put another level of crafting on his tanning interest.

“I wanted to see if it would be possible to treat a hide locally to get a piece of tanned leather from a deer,” he said.

Because he has let his archery hunting skills slip for the time being, he acquired a deer hide from a friend in Bayfield County.

“A really old oak tree, alive but old, is a great source of bark tannin and I found the perfect tree, one that had been struck by lightning,” he said. “I even heard it fall.”

He used a knife fashioned by men in Vietnam to remove some of the bark. Then he boiled the bark to get the tannin out and put the prepared hide in a plastic tub and let it sit for six to eight weeks. During that time he worked the hide to break some of the fibers and roughed it up with a piece of wood.

Adding organic oils of bees wax, paraffin wax, and material from animal hooves helped to create a large piece of deer leather suitable for a wallet, watch straps, or belts. A knife sheath is another item to be fashioned from this deer hide.

Hunters should not believe that the usefulness of a deer hide must involve home tanning, but it could. The hide could be tanned by another person, or sold or traded for a pair of gloves, as is commonly done though fur and hide buyers.

Looking at an entire carcass, preferably one testing negative for CWD, antler mounts, antler decorations such as knife handles or more, and skull decorations are just a few of the many uses of a deer carcass, in addition to venison.

In many cases it doesn’t matter if the deer was antlered or antlerless, there are useful products that usually need not be thrown away. Many hunters and cultures would never think of wasting those.

Some hunters are beginning to practice what they believe about white-tailed deer, at least antlerless deer.That is the taking of an animal without antlers, with the chance it may have chronic wasting disease, just isn’t worth the effort, particularly if the venison is later tossed in a dumpster.There are parts and products from a deer carcass that some cultures continue to value, while other hunters regard them as worthless.At least with a large buck (which has a far greater chance of being CWD-infected) there are the antlers and personal satisfaction of having succeeded in having been coy enough take a deer into possession.While there may be some unavoidable costs involved, testing an animal carcass for CWD is generally free and results are known within 10 to 14 days.Andrew Trester, 27, has a degree in textile and apparel design from the University of Wisocnsin. He is more interested in articles made from furs, hides and fibers, even though his position at Lands’ End in Dodgeville does not go as far as his recent hobby of tanning leather.“I’m pushing for a few things in small ways, but right now this is for me and maybe someday it could be a hobby cottage industry,” Trester said.Trester put another level of crafting on his tanning interest.“I wanted to see if it would be possible to treat a hide locally to get a piece of tanned leather from a deer,” he said.Because he has let his archery hunting skills slip for the time being, he acquired a deer hide from a friend in Bayfield County.“A really old oak tree, alive but old, is a great source of bark tannin and I found the perfect tree, one that had been struck by lightning,” he said. “I even heard it fall.”He used a knife fashioned by men in Vietnam to remove some of the bark. Then he boiled the bark to get the tannin out and put the prepared hide in a plastic tub and let it sit for six to eight weeks. During that time he worked the hide to break some of the fibers and roughed it up with a piece of wood.Adding organic oils of bees wax, paraffin wax, and material from animal hooves helped to create a large piece of deer leather suitable for a wallet, watch straps, or belts. A knife sheath is another item to be fashioned from this deer hide.Hunters should not believe that the usefulness of a deer hide must involve home tanning, but it could. The hide could be tanned by another person, or sold or traded for a pair of gloves, as is commonly done though fur and hide buyers.Looking at an entire carcass, preferably one testing negative for CWD, antler mounts, antler decorations such as knife handles or more, and skull decorations are just a few of the many uses of a deer carcass, in addition to venison.In many cases it doesn’t matter if the deer was antlered or antlerless, there are useful products that usually need not be thrown away. Many hunters and cultures would never think of wasting those.

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