Perry Elks Lodge #407 wants your hide. Literally, they want your deer hides.
According to Heather Erickson, Lecturing Knight for the local Perry lodge, “the drive is part of a nationwide leather program that the Elks have been operating since 1948.”
Once donated, the volunteers clean, salt, fold and stack the hides. The hides are then transported to tanneries for processing.
The hides are then distributed for recreational and occupational therapy throughout the Veterans Administration healthcare system. Some of the tanned leather is also cut and sewn into specially designed, fingerless gloves, which are furnished to Veterans confined to wheelchairs to protect their hands during movement.
“If you or someone you know, have hides to donate there is a donation box on the North side of the lodge,” says Erickson. The Elks Lodge is located at 2823 Willis Avenue.
Erickson suggests following the listed “how-to’s” before dropping off your hides.
1) Before salting you should remove and discard the excess pieces of fat and meat.
NOTE: Be very careful when preparing the hide. Avoid cutting even the smallest holes with the knife. All holes, bullets, arrows or careless trimming will become larger when the hides are processed at the tannery. Most tannery equipment stretches the hides and thereby increases the hole sizes. These holes can often change a quality hide into a barely useable one. A quality piece of leather will have very few holes, blemishes or scratches and can be used by the veterans for almost any type of project.
2) Lay the hide flat with flesh side up (at a slight angle to allow for draining).
3) After putting on clean rubber gloves, apply a heavy layer of salt to the flesh side. (Use table salt or livestock salt - NO ROCK SALT.)
4) Rub the salt into all of the fleshy surface, making sure that it reaches into all tight areas. The juices of the hide will mix with the salt and create a brine that will prevent bacteria growth. A small animal will require four to five pounds of salt. A larger animal, such as a cow or an elk, might require as much as twelve pounds of salt. YOU CANNOT USE TOO MUCH SALT!
5) The hide should be placed on an inclined surface, and left open and unfolded for one to two days.
6) After one to two days, ensure the salt is crusted over, and fold the hide flesh-to-flesh, and hair-to-hair.
“While we don’t require that you salt the flesh side of the hide, it is very helpful if you will and helps ensure the preservation of the hide”, says Erickson.
The drop box will be checked regularly but if you have questions please contact Erickson at 515-370-3383, District program representative Steve Hick at 515-490-6257 or leave a message on the answering machine at the lodge, 515-465-3791.