Deer season has come to an end. Successful hunters have neatly wrapped packages of meat, perhaps a set of antlers at the taxidermist awaiting their attention or even a skull at the beetle guy. But what happens to what is left?
That is where we come in! There is so much more to an animal harvested by a hunter. Whether it is a deer, elk, bear or other game animal, they can continue provide even after all those freezer paper packages are gone!
A deer can provide so many more beautiful things! A deer has a hide that can be turned into a hair on throw or a piece of buttery soft buckskin. Buckskin is great for traditional things like moccasins to contemporary things like jewelry. It offers a soft, strong yet stretchy leather that an be dyed nearly any color of the rainbow. Thin enough to sew easily by hand, even with thin and delicate beading needles. Quite strong, it can be cut into strips that braid beautifully and knot securely.
The bones of the deer offer a whole different set of qualities. The leg bones are dense and tend to fit nicely in the hand for knives and other tools. The dense outer wall of these bones is easily carved or scrimshawed. Small pieces make great pendants and beads. Smaller bones from the foot and wrist can be used whole for beads. Some cultures use these bones to tell your fortune. A special bone found in the hock joint has been used for thousands of years in a game of chance called Tali or Knucklebones. Played similar to Yahtzee, except the dice are numbered 1, 3, 4 and 6. Believed to be first played in Egypt, this game crosses the millennia with a thriving fan base today.
The hooves and dew claws are still used in traditional costumes across the world. They are also used in baby rattles and musical instruments. Hooves can even be used to make a strong glue used in many things.
Antlers offer today’s craftsman the most possibilities. Quite renewable, these are shed by deer every year. They can be used whole or cut into a host of smaller, quite useful pieces.
Antler can be drilled, carved, sanded and polished to a brilliant shine. Deer antlers open up a host of possibilities to florist and event planners for table and venue décor. Antlers also offer a durable alternative to plastic and rawhide dog chews.
The jaws and teeth are often studied by biologists to tell the age and health of a deer at harvest. This valuable information helps game departments set harvest quotas and control the number of tags issued for certain areas. This keeps populations healthy and sustainable for future harvest.
Deer hair is used by Fly Fishermen in a wide range of fly patterns, from tiny ants to bass taunting Mouse flies. It is one of a handful of types that float on water. A useful characteristic in dry flies.
In our Education Series, we will go into depth with each of these unique materials with our favorite techniques, tools and tips to help you along. Detailed step by step instructions, photos and hundreds of hours of trial and error at your fingertips. Look for our first edition at the beginning of next month!