MDC offers classes on tanning deer hides and using deer tallow

News from the region
Kansas City
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With deer season underway, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds hunters that harvested deer can yield more than venison and antlers. Deer fat, or tallow, can be rendered and used to make heel balms, candles, and firestarters. Deer hides can be soaked and scraped to make rawhide or tanned and smoked to transform them into buckskin leather.

MDC is offering free classes in the Kansas City, northwest, and central Missouri areas in December on tanning deer hides to make rawhide and in February on using deer tallow to make heel balms, candles, and firestarters. Registration is required for all classes. Participants 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. MDC encourages deer hunters to save hides and tallow for participation in the classes.

Rawhide Classes

These MDC classes will focus on making rawhide and its uses. Participants will also be given information for taking a scraped hide and making buckskin leather. MDC instructs hunters to place hides in leakproof bags and freeze. Instructions for preparing hides by soaking will be emailed to participants prior to the start of class.

MDC will provide tools and demonstration hides in various stages of conversion to rawhide. Participants will scrape the hides they bring during the three-hour class. Instructions for soaking and preparing hides for the class will be emailed to participants prior to the class. Hides must have a valid Conservation ID number or Telecheck confirmation number accompanying them.

MDC staff ask participants wear old clothes and bring a rubber apron if they have one. A heavy trash bag can be used in place of an apron. MDC will have fleshing knives and beams available for use during the program. Participants can also bring their own tools.

Participant will also be given plans to build a simple fleshing beam and frame. Participants will need to purchase a fleshing knife and other simple materials to complete and stretch hides at home. Get more information below and register through the links:

Tallow Classes

For deer tallow classes, participants should bring frozen fat from harvested deer. MDC will have fat available to demonstrate techniques. The class will be working with hard, waxy fat from around the back of the deer and the kidneys. The soft fat from around meat will not be used.

MDC advises wearing old clothes, rubber gloves, and a washable apron. Participants will take home finished samples of heel balm, a candle, and a fire starter. Get more information below and register through the links:

For more information on the classes, contact MDC Conservation Educator Ginger Miller at