How To Preserve Deer Hooves – Expert’s Process Reveled

How to preserve deer hooves

Are you a hunter who came across a beautiful set of deer hooves while out on the hunt and thought wondered how you could preserve them and make something out of them? It is not odd at all. For centuries it has been done and people are still doing it around the world. Native Americans, the wildlife adventure enthusiast all are into this.

However, it must look beautiful and appealing but the process of doing it is a huge task to pull off and if you don’t know the nuts and bolts of this preserving then you’d most likely be lost. Since it is only about peeling off the skin and it’ll be ready. So, how to preserve deer hooves? Well, there’s a step-by-step process for preserving deer hooves using simple tools and equipment.

Key Takeaways

  • Before you jump into the process get a brief about deer hooves.
  • Gather the equipment and prepare hooves for the process.
  • Start the preserving process carefully with each step.
  • There’s an alternative drying method instead of salt.

Understanding Deer Hooves

In animals like deer, their hooves are covered by keratin, which supports the deer’s weight and protects the bones and tissues inside the hoof capsules. There are four layers to a deer’s hooves: the external hooves, the medium hooves, the internal hooves, and the dermis patriates. A cloven hoof is made up of two main hooves plus something called a “dewclaw,” which is a smaller hoof that isn’t usually used for walking. Unlike cats, and dog deer dewclaws may touch the ground during jumping or running, especially if the dewclaws are in mud or snow.

How to Preserve Deer Hooves: Step by Step

Since you know the fundamentals of deer hooves it is time to jump-start the process of preserving it. To do so, you must require some tools and equipment with proper guidelines which come along following the next section.

Tools and Equipment

  • Rubber gloves
  • Utility knife/ Hoof trimming tool
  • Plastic container
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Safety goggles
  • Face mask
  • A bowl of boiling hot water
  • Sharp knife
  • Hacksaw
  • Fire ash
  • Pliers or grabbing tools
  • Hand gloves

Step 1: Preparing the hooves

To preserve the deer hooves, first, you need to process them in the correct way. Start with removing the hooves from the deer legs. It should be done very neatly.

Preparing the hooves
Preparing the hooves
  • You have to get away from the tissues first since they hold the hooves and inside this part is hollow so there’s a chance it might crack. But how would you do it? The simple way is to put them in boiled water.
  • Split each leg with a hacksaw around the knee joint. Peel the skin straight down the hooves with a knife and cut both the dewclaw and tendons.
  • Remove the final pieces of marrow using an acetone-soaked pipe cleaner and put them into the boiling water again.
  • Wear gloves and check after a while whether you can remove the hooves or not.
  • Use a pair of pliers instead of hands to remove the hooves.
  • Done!

Step 2: Trim


After your preparation, this is the time for the first step to preserve the hooves is trimming. This process might seem daunting or critical. However, it is possible to cut around the frog end of deer hooves or leave them on. Deer hooves have a soft, rubbery part called the frog, while the other side is harder. You can also remove frogs from shoes by making a cut along the hoof. You’ll need to be really strong to do this. After cleaning the edges, make sure they are dry. 

Step 3: Drown and Dry in the Salt

Drown and Dry in the Salt

Coat the legs with salt and compress them tightly to remove all moisture. Pay close attention to the region around the dewclaw to avoid missing any fissures. Use 1 pound of alum, 1 cup of salt, and 1 gallon of hot water to make a solution that salts the sunken bone as well as the spaces between skin and muscle. Keep the salts on the leg to sit for at least 3 days. 

5 Common Mistakes for Preserving Deer Hooves

Instead of knowing proper guidelines and steps to preserve perfectly still, there is room to make some mistakes that could take a huge toll on your procedure as well as your health. Beware of them and try to follow what it says.

  1. Skipping Cleaning: It is important to thoroughly clean the hooves before preserving them. If you don’t, dirt and bacteria can interfere with the preservation process and lead to unpleasant odors or decay.
  2. Not wearing gloves: Experts recommend wearing rubber gloves while handling deer hooves.
  3. Avoid research: read the instructions for the method you’d be using for preserving the hooves otherwise, it could lead you to infection and an unpleasant odor.
  4. Not fully submerging the hooves: when soaking the hooves in the preserving solution. If they aren’t done properly you may end up with uneven results or parts of the hooves that haven’t been properly preserved.
  5. Rushing the process: improperly preserving deer hooves by rushing is the most common mistake to make. You must remember that it takes time and patience. Don’t rush through the steps or try to do any shortcut way out of it.

What is the Alternative to Salt for Drying Deer Hooves?

What is the alternative to salt for drying deer hooves
What is the alternative to salt for drying deer hooves

Salt can be replaced with a chemical known as borax. In most grocery stores, you can find this sodium-based powder in the laundry. Professional taxidermists and hobbyists alike use borax to preserve and dry their specimens. With borax, oils, and fluids are more thoroughly absorbed from the specimen, which prevents insects and bacteria from growing. When it comes to deer hooves, the use of borax may be overkill, since you will have already removed all the organic materials. Submerging the hoof in the borax, this process follows the same steps as salt curing. It can take up to a year for it to fully cure, and you will need to repeatedly swap out the borax.

What Can You Do with Deer Hooves?

Deer hooves can be used for many things, from making crafts to creating garden décor. It is common for deer hooves to be used as rustic wall hooks. You can add a touch of country charm to your home by cleaning and screwing the hooves into the wall. Then you can hang coats, hats, and other items from the hooks. It’s also possible to make a wind chime from deer hooves.

Just drill a hole in each hoof and thread a string or wire through it. Attach bells or other trinkets to the strings and enjoy your wind chime! If you’re crafty, you can also make a pair of deer hoof bookends. Simply glue the two hooves together and place your favorite book on top.


Can You Eat Deer Hooves?

Even though it sounds strange, you can eat the feet of deer, including the hoof.

Do Deer Hooves Decay?

It’s true that deer hooves sometimes fall off, and there is a bacterial infection that can occur when an open wound allows bacteria to enter, and the toxicity of the bacteria can literally eat away at the hoof.

What do deer hooves do?

Deer hooves are very important because they support their weight, provide protection for their bones and tissues, and provide traction to the deer.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have cleaned and preserved your deer hooves, you can use them for different projects. You can make different things out of it for both adventure purposes and home décor. For example, you can make a deer rattle or wind chimes out of the deer hooves. Some hunters make coats or gun racks with deer hooves or preserved deer legs. But to achieve such professional results out of your deer hooves make sure you use the suggested methods and follow each step without skipping them.

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