How serendipitous…The morning after I return from NYC and a class on leather bookbinding (binding books out of animal skin–usually goat or calf or sheep), a white-tail buck offers himself up for my use. J and I are out walking the dogs Sunday morning, and there, right off to the side on the north path is a big brown and white thing. On closer inspection, it’s a gorgeous, robust 10-point buck lying dead amongst the brush. It looked super-healthy (well, except for the fact that it was dead), and definitely not a CWD candidate, so I excitedly thought I could get his skin tanned for bookbinding leather! J got the skidloader and we loaded the buck up on the tines, got him back to the barn, and hung him by hindfoot so I would be able to skin him if he was still in good enough condition. No, I’d never skinned a deer, but I’ve skinned chickens so, I thought, this would just be 2 more legs, right? No big deal…., and I watched a buck being processed a few years ago (and took photos–for reference for a painting), so I knew the basics.
****FYI: Yes folks, we bought a tag for the deer (called the sheriff then DNR for all the details). We’re legal. No worries.
The bowhunter who hunts our land–Shawn–came by to take a look. He told me how to remove and then skin the head so I could then boil it for a European mount (skull and antlers mount). We both thought since the body was starting to smell, the hide might not be in good condition for saving. So, J and I hauled the buck out near the burn pile, and I started severing the head. As I was cleaning it, Pat drove up and we started talking about the hide. We started skinning the deer, and it seemed that the carcass wasn’t too far gone, and that the hide could be saved. So I learned how to skin my first deer!
On a sad note, we finally found what was left of the arrow later on (back on the path), and realized that the deer had been killed (eventually) from an arrow. Shawn said that the quality/type of arrow and the location of the shot indicated the deer was shot by a beginning, inexperienced bowhunter. The sad thing, is that it was a crummy shot–in the rump–and consequently this once gorgeous, robust buck was probably dying really slowly from infection, eventually collapsing beside our path. Poor poor thing.