Deer hides are the same as the hides of any other mammals. The hide is defined as the skin and fur of the animal; a deceased animal is skinned and the result is called the hide. In North America, deer hides come from a variety of deer species which include: reindeer, elk, moose and whitetail deer. Whitetail deer, with an estimated population of 30 million animals, are the most populous deer species in North America. This is an amazing rebound in population since whitetails were nearly extinct at the beginning of the twentieth century due to over-hunting. Subspecies of whitetail deer can be found in most states in the U.S., southern Canada and northern Mexico.
The United States has a long tradition of hunting wild game as a source of food and venison, as deer meat is called, is a tasty meat with lots of recipes for a variety of dishes. Millions of hunters in the United States obtain state hunting licenses to hunt whitetail deer; in fact, the State of Michigan has a huge deer population and sells over a million deer licenses per year. The hunting yield of deer hides in Michigan is estimated at 300,000 hides per year. In addition to hunting deer as game, there are a growing number of deer farms in the United States and Canada. These farms produce thousands of deer for meat, deer velvet and hides.
The hides of many of the wild deer harvested by hunters are sent to taxidermists to make into trophy mounts. The taxidermist uses the cape, which is the head, neck and shoulders of the hide, to create a replica of the original deer, which is called a mount or mounted deer. Usually large bucks with fully formed antlers are mounted as hunting trophies. Taxidermists also convert deer hides into rugs.
Many hunters or other individuals acquire deer hides which they tan into leather using the same techniques as the early American and Canadian pioneers. There is a large cottage industry for crafters who not only tan deer hides but use the leather to create custom leather goods that they sell in private shops or at craft festivals.
Several years ago, the province of Alberta, Canada investigated potential markets for the approximate 30,000 hides the area produces per year. China and the United States provide the largest market for these deer hides while Hong Kong and France represent potential markets as well.
Alan B. Stables is a freelance writer on alternative agriculture, has organized alternative agriculture events and has also been a guest speaker in Brazil, China, Egypt, Italy, Latvia and Spain, on how to market agricultural produce for maximum returns.
His writing includes topics such as alpaca farming, deer farming and other alternative farming species.