For the majority of us hunters, it is a matter of pride to be able to utilize as much of the harvested animal as possible.
And while many people focus on the meat that can fill their freezer, one part which is exceptionally useful but often overlooked is the deer hide.
What can I make out of deer hides?
Almost any existing leather product can be made into a DIY project and either decorated with your harvested buckskin or made from scratch.
Start with something simple like a rug or pillowcase and hone your skills until you are ready to tackle a more complex project such as handbags and shoes.
Before you use a raw deer hide you will have to cure it. This can be done at a taxidermist or commercial tannery for you, or you can have a crack at tanning it yourself using household pantry staples such as salt, vinegar, baking powder, and water, with a bit of tanning oil added at the end.
Check this hide tanning solution guide to learn how to do it at home
Once your hide is cured and supple you can decide to cut it into strips for decoration or use it whole depending on what you are making.
Most of these products can either be made using existing products bought secondhand and repurposed by adding deerskin to personalize the item, or made from scratch for the more adventurous hobby seeker.
10 Ideas for Deer Hide Products
Simple deerskin pouches can be used for carrying water bottles, ammunition, binoculars, snacks or anything else that you can think of, whether you are out hunting or going about your everyday business.
The most simple product for a beginner is to turn a deer hide into a deerskin rug. This can either be used on its own, sewn onto a store-bought rug to jazz it up, or you can line the back with a non-slip felt material.
I have found that my deerskin rugs keep a better form (the edges don’t curl up with wear over time) using the latter, so this is my recommended option.
Deer Hide Handbags
The simplest design for deer hide bags is a hair-on pouch with a drawstring. However, once you have mastered this design you can go on to make more complicated designs with zippers and internal compartments.
Bags can be made in a variety of different sizes and used as anything from belt pouches for dog treats and cellphones, to small change purses, handbags or laptop bags.
Who knows, you might even be able to turn this hobby into a fully-fledged side-hustle.
Deers Hide Shoes
The most common shoe pattern used is for moccasin boots, however, you can also use deer leather to make summer sandals or a shoe which is wildly popular in South Africa called a veldskoen, roughly translated to “bush shoes” and affectionately known as Vellies.
Deer Hide Keyrings
You can use the leather off-cuts from other projects to make keyrings as presents or hunting souvenirs. When it comes to patterns, shapes, and designs, your creativity is your only limit.
These can also be used as original Christmas tree decorations.
Deer Hide Maps
A great idea to remind you of your last hunting trip is to make a map out of your hide to commemorate where the animal was harvested.
For example, a zebra-covered map of Africa hanging on the wall will take you straight back down memory lane to your amazing safari in Africa.
You could also do a map of a state or decorate countries of a world map with deerskin covering the parts that you have hunted in.
This is also a great conversation starter when you entertain guests, or an ulterior option to head mounts when you start to run out of space on your walls.
Deer Hide Pillowcases
I like to make throw pillows that are used mostly as decoration. I add the deer hide to the front cover of the pillow and fashion the back from upholstery leather or any other suitable material to match your sofa or bedroom.
For less time spent stitching opt for one square cutout to cover the entire front cushion, or if you are confident in your sewing capabilities you can cut out patterns to be decoratively sewn on.
Glue can also be used to secure leather in place of stitching but I like to use a combination of both for extra durability.
Deer Hide Mittens
Fur-lined, buckskin mittens will make a great addition to any person’s clothes collection.
It doesn’t matter if you are an outdoorsman, hunter, or gardener, if you spend some time outdoors in the colder months you will appreciate these winter hand warmers.
They are simple enough to make and a versatile present for the non-hunters in your friends or family group.
Deerskin Leather Hair Barrette
A hair barrette is a leather cut-out, usually rectangular or oval, with holes in either side that a stick slides through to secure the hair.
Hair is gathered in a ponytail with the leather placed on top and the stick slid underneath to hold the hair in place.
The barrette can be decorated and bedazzled with gemstones or embroidery, or keep it rustic with the antelope hair left on for more of a traditional tribal look.
Deer Hide Gun Bag
Take your existing rifle bag and decorate it with a patchwork of all the different deers you have harvested.
This is a great way to personalize your hunting gear, acts as natural camouflage for your bag, and is something to keep you busy while you wait for the hunting season to open again.
Deer Hide Coasters
Simple but appealing decoration to your house or hunting cabin can be incorporated by adding handmade coasters to the tables or bar area.
These can be with the hair still in place or plain buckskin leather and can be backed with felt, thick leather, or glued onto ceramic or wooden coasters.
When harvesting an animal, challenging yourself to utilize the meat, horns, and hide of the deer will not only give you great satisfaction but also keep your hands and mind occupied during the hunting off-season.
And who knows what can develop from your new hobby, either a viable side-hustle, awesome personalized gifts, or at the very least a well-decorated home.