YES to Venison will have prizes for each of three categories: Stews/Chilis, Steaks/Fillets, and Sausage/Jerky. There will also be a Grand Prize and a People’s Choice Prize. Jim Pratt, one of our mentors, donated a native tanned deer skin as the People’s Choice Prize. Jim provided a summary of the tanning process, which can be read below.
Raw deer skin is fleshed:
The fat and connective tissue is scraped off. The hair side of the skin is then covered with wood ashes and water and worked into the hair. This combination produces potassium hydroxide which is lye. The skin is rolled up, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in a warm area for a few days. The skin must be checked every few days to verify that the hair has slipped (fallen off). If left with the solution too long, the skin will begin to get holes in it. The skin is rinsed to remove the wood ash mixture. The hair side of the skin is then “grained” – scraped to remove the hair and outer layer of skin. The skin is then rinsed well to remove the lye and wrung out to remove as much water as possible. This is done twice. An adequately wrung skin can be held in the palm of one hand. Deer brains are then mixed thoroughly with warm water.
Stretch the skin out:
Immediately put it in the brain mixture and work the skin, stretching it until it will not soak up any more mixture. Wring out the skin and stretch on the frame. The skin must be scraped with a blunt piece of wood as it dries to keep it soft. This process may take 5-6 hours, depending on the drying time of the skin. The tanned skin is then smoked to provide some water resistance and resistance to insect damage.
This skin has not been smoked.
To register to compete in the YES to Venison Cook-Off and win this great prize, see Rules and Registration.