Deer hair at 15:1

Cap'n Fishy

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The first question I have is this: I am given to understand that the fur along the midline of the back of the animal is very suitable for muddlers, hedgehogs etc. because it contains bubbles of trapped air and will float, thus enabling the fly to "pop up" after pulling. But is this true of the belly hair of this deer as well?

It's not so much bubbles of air, but a lightweight spongey matrix. If you cut a hair and look at it with a loupe you will see it. You also see it on the ends of the cut hairs on a muddler where the dye has not penetrated, and you get pale points...

Muddlers02Jan19_0226.jpg

The thicker the shaft, the more buoyant the hair. The whole pelt of a roe deer is worth preserving, though it's certainly true that the individual fibres of hair on the back and flanks are both longer and thicker and thus more buoyant than the belly hair. You can see the difference on this roe skin...


But if you take a piece of deer hair and submerge it in water for several hours, water will penetrate to the core of the fibres and the hair will lose all buoyancy and actually sink.

Secondly, is other deer fur, such as sika and fallow, similarly insulated?

I've never used fallow, but I have some sika and it is just as good as roe, though it responds to dyes a bit differently to roe, so you can't just dye a piece of sika with a mix recipe previously used for roe and expect to get the same results. Sam McGowan uses sika for his deer hair pieces he sells. I would guess fallow would be fine as well.

Thirdly, I can get hold of winter roe fur quite easily but have no experience of dyeing and my missus would go crazy if I were to dye it in my flat. The reality is that if I try to do so outside using camping gas, the burners will not remain ignited until summer because there is so much wind round our house.

I do all my dyeing in the kitchen and it's just a matter of putting down sheets of old newspaper to catch any powder particles when weighing. After they are in the water, acid dyes are not very interested in dyeing things like stainless steel and pans and utensils and worktops and ceramic sinks and other surfaces. They really seek out protein and nylon and other natural fibres. If you weigh out the correct amount, it is all taken up by the material you are dyeing, and you are left with a pan of clear water to pour down the sink.
I've done loads of dyeing over the past year and you would never know by looking round my kitchen. Honest! :whistle:

I'm thinking I could maybe freeze a cut or two of winter fur until balmier days come along. Which leads me on to the next question. How do I dye untanned deer fur? Do I need to adopt some sort of pre-dyeing process to remove proteins or something similar, please? Thanks in advance for all help offered.

The hide needs to be cured and dyed as 2 separate processes. Freezing it on the meat will not help. You need to cure it so you can store it and either use it undyed, or dye it.

It can be done various ways, but this is how I do it...

1) Remove the skin from the carcase and pin it out on a board...


2) Scrape off the bits of meat and fat and sinew...


3) Cover with a 50:50 mix of borax and alum...


Leave for about a week until it is bone dry.

4) Brush off the (now) crusty borax:alum...


5) Mark out 3 inch squares with a 6B pencil and cut with a scalpel...


6) Job done... :thumbs:


Col
 

Vermontdrifter

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Hey Col;

Hoping you can help me with how I would prepare Roe ears? Friend of mine just called to say she shot two deer today and is bringing me the ears. The hair on them makes great dry fly dubbing for the body or in a dubbing loop an excellent hackle.
I’m just puzzled how to tan them!

Thanks

Terry
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Hey Col;

Hoping you can help me with how I would prepare Roe ears? Friend of mine just called to say she shot two deer today and is bringing me the ears. The hair on them makes great dry fly dubbing for the body or in a dubbing loop an excellent hackle.
I’m just puzzled how to tan them!

Thanks

Terry

Never tried doing deers' ears, Terry. If they are anything like a hare's ears there will be little or no flesh inside them. Check around the base for any signs of flesh. If you don't see any, I would maybe just sit them in salt for a week or so to draw out any moisture. The mix of 50:50 borax and alum would work well, I think.

But I am guessing. Try asking others if they have done anything with them...

Cheers,
Col
 

dave b

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Col it's post like yours above that make the forum what it is. Thank you for the post which will add to the collective wealth of knowledge on the forum :thumbs:
 

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