Buckskin Tanning

buckskin tanning | ancestral skills | primitive skills | Kent | London | southeast

What’s it about?

Whilst buckskin literally means ‘the skin of a buck’, there’s a little more to it than that.  Buckskin tanning is the process by which we create a soft, flexible, strong leather from the hide of an animal – usually a deer  tanned in the same way as the traditional deerskin clothing worn by some Native Americans.  We’ll be using the hides of animals that have been butchered on our Deer Preparation & Butchery courses.

Buckskin is preserved with a dressing of lubricant, physically manipulated to make it soft and pliable, and usually smoked with woodsmoke.

Led by Billy Souter, this buckskin tanning course is designed for anyone with an interest in bushcraft, ancestral skills or is simply curious to understand the process.

What will I do on this buckskin tanning course?

Our buckskin tanning course will see you learning the steps of processing and tanning before working together on a number of hides.  You’ll look at the breakdown of the fibre structure, isolating and processing the hide ready to be dressed and finally softening.

You’ll start the first day with a short presentation explaining the many qualities of buckskin that make it such a wonderful material.  We’ll take a look at some examples of finished buckskin to get an idea of what the end goal is,  as well as other variations of tanned crafts.

You’ll then work on a deer hide and be shown:

  • Bucking,
  • Graining,
  • Scraping,
  • Rinsing,
  • Acidifying,
  • Membraning,
  • Wringing,
  • Stretching,
  • Dressing,
  • Softening, and
  • Smoking.

If time permits we will look at crafting a sewing needle from bone.

As well as taking home your very own buckskin, at the end of your 2 day buckskin tanning course you’ll have a good working knowledge of the skills needed to make your own wonderful buckskin.

Book now

You can see our complete course schedule here.

Other information

Location: Westwell, Kent

Duration: 2 days

Start: 6pm Friday

End: 4pm Sunday

Course size: Maximum of 8

Catering: We’ll provide tea & coffee, breakfast and dinner but you’ll need to bring a packed lunch

Note: There is a short walk from the meeting point to the camp. We’ll transport your bags in our 4×4

You might also find these Frequently Asked Questions useful.

What our customers say

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Jack Raven Bushcraft
Average rating:  
 3 reviews
 by Ralph
Excellent, educational and exciting workshop

I attended this course in August 2023. Another excellent course from Jack Raven and Billy. Superb information, presented at the right level for a beginner, backed up with practical experience. Great company and tasty catering from Nicola and Gary.

Billy the tutor is very knowledgable and a great communicator, who has a clear joy in passing on his knowledge. As Melanie has mentioned the course has a large hands on, physical element. There was a large handling collection of tanned hides and fur to examine close up, all made by Billy who encourages questioning.

As Oisin has said it is an excellent introduction and we all came away with an appreciation of the skill required by our ancestors to make their own buckskin and a new understanding of hide as a material, tough, durable and flexible with many practical uses.

I can also recommend this course. If you are looking for something slightly different in Bushcraft knowledge or are curious about experimental archeology it would be a good choice. It also fits nicely as an adjunct if you have done some leather working, although this is not essential. If you are curious about primitive living skills this is a great course to start with.

 by Melanie Grenfell
Fantastic weekend

Thanks to Billy's excellent teaching and Gary and Nicola's wonderful hospitality, all the course participants went home well-fed and with a piece of buckskin that we'd made ourselves. It was stinky, slimy, it was stretchy and then finally it was soft. Can't wait to make something with it. Great team work, chat and laughter as well as learning and the joy of physical hard work.

 by Oisin
Awesome Course

An excellent introduction into the world of buckskin tanning that was expertly led by Billy and the team. The course gave a great overview of all of the various stages, the science behind it all, and plenty of hands on experience throughout working on a number of hides of course (and working the muscles!). A great course, and coming away with a soft piece of buckskin you'd worked all weekend to create was highly rewarding. Would certainly recommend!