Brain Tanned Deerskins
A bit about me.
I have studied primitive skills since I was 11 years old when I received a copy of Larry Dean Olson's book "Outdoor Survival Skills". I completely read that book into oblivion. I've been brain tanning deerskins for 15 years. My first attempt was dry scraping, learning from Jim Riggs book "Blue Mountain Buckskin". I still have that semi soft piece of buckskin which I use as my sewing bag as a needle will never pierce it. During my first attempts I was spotted working a skin by a fella named Ted Lamastra who had just gone to a gathering called the RabbitStick Rendezvous outside of Rexburg, Idaho that had originally been started by Larry Olson. Ironically, I grew up in Rexburg and never heard of the RabbitStick until I was 25 and living 5 hours away. Ted introduced me to some folks who used and wore buckskin everyday. I was hooked.
Since that time I have about 2000 deerskins. I have taught at the RabbitStick, Northern Lights in the Slocan Valley of British Columbia, at Tom Elpels Hollowtop, Chris Morasky's Earth Circle, Echos In Time near Eugene OR, and other smaller venues. I now brain tan full time for my living. I live on the eastern edge of the Flathead Indian Reservation in a small town of Pablo, Montana. I see less and less buckskin being used all the time and the traditional native tanners are becoming few and far between.
Please note - While it's not unfathomable that you will be able to produce a braintanned deerskin with these instructions you should be realistic with your understanding that this is vigorous, strenuous, and difficult process. These instructions are not meant to be a recipe with predictable results but rather an overview of what takes place in the process of braintanning a deerskin. I recommend studying what is here and then working with someone who has some experience because that is the fastest way you will become a proficient tanner.
That being said, there will no doubt be folks out there that will get it their first time. It's not impossible, just improbable. I try to keep it simple and if you maintain the "keep it simple" Â mantra you will at least have a good bit of nice skin that will certainly give you the taste. There are a whole lot of ways to brain tan. This is generally what I do. I suggest learning as many ways as possible and use every trick in the book to get the skin soft.