If you process animal hides, the first step is to remove any meat and connective tissues by scraping the hide over a beam or board.
This is called fleshing.
If you are fleshing fresh hides time is not on your side, because meat that is still connected to the hide shrinks and dries fast making it harder to remove the longer you wait.
This is why I like to soak the hides in water first making the job of fleshing and scraping much easier!
To secure an animal hide in a fast moving stream would be optimal, but you can improvise with a large plastic totes and refresh the water daily. You do not want the water to become stagnant or give the hides a chance to rot.
Below I have deer hides with hair on one side-flesh on the other…my goal is to make rawhide.
The hides should be completely under water when doing this.
It takes 3 to 4 days before the meat slides from the flesh.
When this happens, remove and rinse the hide for good measure then begin the fleshing process over boards to scrape away any fat, tissue or meat that remains.
I lay a tapered fleshing board against a tree and scrape the meat from the hide using a pulling stroke drawn twords me. The drawknife I use is a dull one to keep me from cutting through the wet skin.
It takes a few pulls to get the hang of it but when you have established a nice patch of meat that is detaching, it is easy to then work twords the outer edge for final removal.
After you removed all of the meat and connective tissues from one side you are now ready to soak the deer hide again for another 3 to 4 days or until the hair starts to slip and start the dehairing process!
Be sure to check back in and see how to dehair, wring and pin the hides to finish the rawhide making process!