Use the Hide

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Over the years I have seen several elk and deer hides left in the woods by hunters and I have to wonder why they do this? I fully understand and agree about getting the hide off the animal as soon as possible to cool the meat, but why not pack out the hide with you and use it? As far as I know there are no state laws that require you to take the hide home, but to me why waste such a beautiful part of the animal? Some might think they have no use for the hide or it costs too much to tan. Understanding this, here are a few suggestions.

I know prices will vary around the country for tanning but here in Colorado I can get a deer tanned for $85 and an elk at about $250. I know times are tough with the economy in the toilet but to me it is worth the cost. There are several uses for the hides around the home such as using them as a throw blanket while watching the game, a full bed blanket, a wall decoration, hung over the back of a chair or couch, or tanning them as leather to be used in making gloves, moccasins or other items.  My wife and I have also given them as gifts for Christmas. I am sure there are other uses but this gives you a fair idea to start with.

I understand the cost of tanning might be a factor but there are other options too. First would be the do it yourself approach. I have done a few using solutions from Cabelas, it is pretty cheap and it is not that difficult. Of course you need the space and time to do this. Second option, if legal where you live, is to get the hides tanned and then sell them. You might not get rich but making a few bucks will not hurt. Third option is to ask your local taxidermist if they will buy them from you as they may sell hides as part of their business. I am sure most will at least take the cape off of a buck or a bull.

Of course what you do with the hide is your choice. I hope this will at least give you a few ideas on how to use the hide rather than leaving it in the forest or tossing it in the trash.


Sorry to comment on such an

Sorry to comment on such an old post, but I am wondering if anyone has made moccasins or purse bag etc themselves?  Am thinking about trying to make for my wife out of an elk hide.

Sorry to comment on such an

Sorry to comment on such an old post, but I am wondering if anyone has made moccasins or purse bag etc themselves?  Am thinking about trying to make for my wife out of an elk hide.

Sorry to comment on such an

Sorry to comment on such an old post, but I am wondering if anyone has made moccasins or purse bag etc themselves?  Am thinking about trying to make for my wife out of an elk hide.

BikerRN's picture

Great Advice

Great advice and a much more beneficial way to use more of the animals that we are fortunate enough to be able to take.

One of my goals is to have a buckskin outfit made from deer and elk hide for Cowboy Action Shooting from animals I take. I may have to get a coyote cap too just for grins and giggles. It's intereting to note how much of an animal we waste when compared to our ancestors.

On one side of my family I know they used more of the animal than just the meat. Clothing, bedding, shelter, medicine, all came, whole or in part, from animals. While I don't desire to replicate all of those things everyday I do think that using as much of an animal as you can helps to show respect for the animal and helps one to appreciate them more.


deerhunter30's picture

I have never had a hide done.

I have never had a hide done. But we always do donate them to a baitshop near by that gives to a taxidermist. Maybe this year I will have one done. That would look real good in my game room. I will have to look into pricing though dont have alot of extra money and hopefully I will be paying for a deer to be mounted this year. But you put the thought in my head and I will probably figure out a way  to get one done.

hunter25's picture

I haven't had a hide done for

I haven't had a hide done for nearly 20 years now but I would like to again soon. It seems I'm always finding a use or want for some rawhide these days. I plan to at least have a deer done this year and if I'm lucky enought o kill a cow close to the truck I may have an elk done as well. I'm not going to make an extra trip to carry one out for a mile or more but if it's close enough I will. Usually the deer are able to be loaded up whole where we hunt so that shouldn't be a problem. I have never had one done with the hair on but I would like to do that as well with an elk. Don't think so with deer though. I've thought about having an antelope done hair on due to how pretty they are but not sure how it would hold up as the hair they have seems to be very brittle and come out easy.

COMeatHunter's picture

If close to the rig...

Thanks for the suggestions and thoughts about using the hide.  If I was close to the rig, I'd consider packing out the hide along with the quarters.  However, if I'm more than a mile into the timber, I don't think I'm packing out a 50 lb hide.  I'd have to agree with Exbio on this (from a recent posting), it's just too much work to pack out.

Nice looking couch cover in the pic.  

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great tip. I have used

Great tip. I have used several hides for many different things. Just like you mentioned. I have had some moccasins made, I use one as a throw rug under my coffe table in my deer room, my son has one hanging on his bedroom wall, I have them on the back of my couch, recliner, and loveseat, and yes, I have even sold some and got back twice what I paid for them. I may get some more done again this year.

Retired2hunt's picture

Great Tip on Using the Hide!


SGM - great tip on using the hide of our harvest!  I have often discarded the hide of my deer just because I didn't have the time or money to deal with it.  I think the "dealing" with it is most likely the reason many don't bother.  And in some states there is no additional charge for skinning the animal prior to butchering.

In Colorado and most likely many other states the skinning of your animal by the butcher is an extra fee on top of taking care of the meat.  This year I skinned my mule deer prior to having the butcher take care of it.  I had done this before prior to butchering my own whitetail but really didn't want to deal with it this year.  Unfortunately I discarded the hide and now that I read your tip and other articles on tanning hides I wish I had kept it. 

Tanning hides, while time consuming and needing the appropriate space, is definitely an additional means to use more of the animal than just the meat.  As another poster provided with the proper tanning completed you can make many different clothing needs. 

If I am lucky enough to get that elusive elk this year I will be tanning its hide.  I also plan on doing some coyote hunting this year and will definitely tan their hides.  I trapped with my older brother many many years ago and tanned the hides of muskrat, mink, and racoon so I look forward to getting back to this and using more of the animal than simply the meat.  

Thanks for sharing your tip with us!



numbnutz's picture

Good advice, Your right the

Good advice, Your right the hides are beautiful. I havent been able to afford to tan the hides but i do pack them out, we have a few taxi shops that if you turn in the hide to them they'll give you a pair of gloves made from either deer hide or elk hide.  You get 1 pair for a deer hide and 2 pairs from an elk hide. thats another option for those that cant afford the tanning if the option is avalible in your area.