Preserving deer legs, also known as deer hooves or deer shanks, can be done for various reasons, including crafting, decoration, or taxidermy purposes. To preserve deer legs effectively, follow these steps:
Materials You’ll Need:
- Fresh deer legs or shanks
- Sharp knife or bone saw
- Borax (sodium borate)
- Plastic bags or airtight containers
- Nylon stockings or cheesecloth (optional)
Steps to Preserve Deer Legs:
- Acquire Fresh Deer Legs:
- Start with fresh deer legs or shanks from a recently harvested deer. The legs should be clean and free from excessive blood and tissue.
- Prepare the Legs:
- Lay out the deer legs and trim any excess flesh, meat, or fat from the bone using a sharp knife or bone saw. Be thorough in removing any remaining tissue, as it can lead to rot.
- Salt Cure:
- Cover the deer legs generously with non-iodized salt. Pay particular attention to the areas around the hooves and bone joints.
- Place the legs in a cool, dry area, such as a shed or garage, and let them air-dry for a few weeks. The salt will draw moisture out of the legs and help preserve them.
- Check for Dryness:
- After a few weeks, check the legs for dryness. They should feel hard and dry to the touch. If they still feel moist or have a rubbery texture, continue to air-dry them for an additional week or so.
- Borax Application:
- Once the legs are fully dry, remove any excess salt by brushing it off or wiping it away with a clean, dry cloth.
- Liberally coat the legs, especially the lower parts and hooves, with borax (sodium borate). Borax is a preservative that helps prevent insect infestation and decay.
- You can also sprinkle borax inside the hooves if they are intact.
- Wrap or Store:
- To protect the legs from dust and pests, you can wrap each leg in nylon stockings or cheesecloth before storing. This step is optional but can help maintain their cleanliness.
- Place the preserved deer legs in plastic bags or airtight containers to prevent moisture from getting in. Ensure that the bags or containers are sealed tightly.
- Store Properly:
- Store the preserved deer legs in a cool, dry, and dark place. Avoid direct sunlight and excessive humidity, as these conditions can cause deterioration.
- Regular Inspection:
- Periodically check the preserved deer legs for any signs of pests or decay. If you notice any issues, address them promptly by reapplying borax or taking necessary measures to prevent further deterioration.
Preserving deer legs in this manner should keep them in good condition for various uses, such as crafting, decoration, or taxidermy. Properly preserved deer legs can make unique and interesting additions to your collection or home decor.