When Indiana’s firearm deer season opened last Saturday, thoughts of
trophy antlers, like visions of sugar plums, raced through the minds of
most hunters. But there is another side (make that hide) to that story.
It’s true, when most hunters bag a buck with a big rack, the antlers
are almost always saved for mounting and braggin’ rights . . . but the
It’s such a shame. A well-tanned deer hide, with or without hair, is
just as beautiful as antlers, not to mention totally more functional.
For many years I had the hides of deer I took tanned (hair off) for
my daughter to use in making various items of clothing., It is getting
increasingly difficult to get deer hides tanned with hair off, but a deer
skin with hair on makes a beautiful wall decoration, and it can be used
decoratively or functionally around the house in many ways. (However, Phil
Hawkins, the Franklin deer-hunting pioneer, points out that heavy usage--like
rugs--can break the hollow hairs of a deer skin and, in time, create a
At times a deer skin can develop a friendship between landowners and
hunters. Take the case a few years back when I was field dressing my deer
under the barn lot pole light outside my host farmer’s barn. The farmer’s
young sons asked what I would do with the skin, and I asked if they would
like to have it. Their faces beamed the affirmative, so I told them I would
have the hide tanned (hair on) for them. A few months later I delivered
the skin, and they have since used the skin for a blanket.
About this time last year while using the farmer’s kitchen telephone
just after dark to see if my butcher was “open for business,” those same
boys were wide-eyed with wonder at the huge deer they had just helped me
put in their father’s pickup truck.
“Still got your deer skin? I asked, and one of the two bounded out of
the room and returned seconds later with their deer skin draped over his
“Like to have another one . . . a big one?” I asked. And again their
smiles left no doubt.
So one day soon I will deliver the tanned hide (hair on) of last year’s
Mr. Big to Luke and Samuel. I am sure it will tell them every night as
they sleep tight and comfy that deer hunters are not all bad.
ABOUT ANTLERS--Far be from this
reporter the desire to pooh-pooh the desires of successful hunters to preserve
the antlers of their deer and to use them to authenticate stories of the
hunt. As a matter of fact, Hoosiers can be proud of our robust deer herd
and of the quality of both the antlers and the physical dimension of their
Ryan Hatfield, assistant director of big game records for Boone and
Crockett Club, tells me Indiana hunters last year registered 11 typical
racks and seven non-typical, the largest typical rack being a 192 inch,
11-pointer (five right, six left), taken by Shaun M. Harvey in White County.
Hatfield says the top Hoosier typical of B&C records is a 195 1/8
(one eighth) taken In Parke County by B. Dodd Porter in 1985. The top non-typical
of the B-C book from Indiana was a 251 4/8 (four eights), 29-pointer (15
right, 14 left), taken by Timothy J. Goode in Hendricks County in 1980.
Ryan also pointed out that B-C records show a total of 145 typical racks
and 78 non-typicals for a total of 223. To qualify for the B-C book, a
typical rack must score at least 170 inches. The standard for non-typical
racks is 195.Noteworthy is the fact that Indiana deer regulations for many
years allowed a hunter to take two antlered deer per year (one with bow
and one with gun), but that regulation was changed for the 2002 season
to allow a hunter only one buck.
When this regulation became effective for the 2002 seasons, biologists
and brass of the Division of Fish and Wildlife doubted that it would (as
hoped by some hunters) bring about more and bigger racks on Hoosier deer.
There is no evidence that the one-buck rule is working such wonders, but
the rule is designed to be effective for at least two more years.
Click on thumbnail
image for enlarged view.
tanned deer hide (with or without hair) is a beautiful trophy.