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Lake Of The Woods Fishing Report:

On the south end... Ice is forming nicely on most areas of Lake of the Woods. With that being said, it is going to take some time before it is safe. Resort ice guides and various outfitters are patiently waiting to get out and check ice.

Back bays have locked up first as they are out of the wind. Despite some good wind this past week, the lake is still covered with ice for miles, but open water still appears, which is common during ice formation. This is a good start and Mother Nature will determine when it is ready. That time is not yet, but it is coming.

Resorts and outfitters are ready to start marking trails on the ice once they feel conditions are right. When it is time to get out on the ice, we encourage working through resorts and outfitters and staying on marked trails for safety.

On the Rainy River... The Rainy River is ice covered. Cold temps this past week locked it up with ice and the hopes are to build upon what has started.

Until ice up, there were a few hardcore anglers jigging with emerald shiners from about 12 - 24 feet of water catching some nice walleyes. For those who ice fish the river, anticipation for a good ice fishing season is high.

The ice is not walkable yet. Extreme caution is always needed on ice, especially on a river with current. When the ice is thick enough, the snowmobile trail from Baudette to Wheeler's Point will be staked. When that trail is marked and ready, we encourage staying on the trail for safety.

Some resorts will set fish houses out in areas of the Rainy River they check and monitor for safe ice. Work through a resort or outfitter for safety.

Up at the NW Angle... The waters around the many islands of the NW Angle are now ice, with patches of open water from wind, neck down areas, and current. Ice is forming nicely and resorts are ready to get out.

It is always safety first and when they feel it is right, ice guides from area resorts will get out and check ice thickness and eventually start marking trails. When that time is here that ice fishing has begun, we will get the word out. That time is not yet.

Fall fishing was strong up at the NW Angle and ice anglers are optimistic about the coming ice fishing season.

Swing by the Lake of the Woods Tourism booth at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show Dec 1 - 3, 2023 and say hello. Pick up the latest visitor guide, sign up to win an ice fishing trip and let's talk LOW ice fishing!

Lodging, fish house rentals, ice fishing, and meal packages for the upcoming ice fishing season at



How to Tan a Deer Hide, the Easy Way

There’s more than one way to tan a deer hide. This one uses a pressure washer



When most people hear of tanning a deer hide, it makes them automatically think of the traditional method using brains. Though that is definitely still one way to tan a deer hide, there are easier ways that are just as efficient and cheaper than sending it to a tannery.

Deer Hide Tanning Supplies

1. Fleshing (Removing All Flesh From the Skin Side of the Hide.)

If you’ve ever fleshed a hide by hand before, you’ll know it can be a tedious task. But never fear, there is a more modern solution. If your hide is in the freezer, you’ll want to make sure it’s thawed completely before starting the fleshing process. If you’re working with a fresh deer hide, proceed as follows.


Drape the hide flesh side up over a hard surface such as a large plastic drum, or tack it to a piece of plywood. Take the pressure washer, and simply pressure wash the flesh off of the hide. You’ll need one that is 1800 PSI to be able to peel the flesh back, and most household pressure washers will work for this project. I recommend testing the pressure on a corner piece of the hide to ensure that it’s not going to rip. It’s also important to keep the stream of water moving across the hide fairly quickly as holding the water in one spot will result in a hole. It can be a little messy, so you’ll want to wear safety glasses.

Make sure the flesh side is clean and white before proceeding to the next step. All of the flesh-colored pieces should be gone, leaving this side of the deer hide smooth. You’ll want to be particularly careful around the edges of the hide as it’s easy to miss small pieces. Use a sharp knife to get the last few bits off before proceeding to the next step.

2. Salt Your Deer Hide

This is the easiest step. You’ll need a few pounds of table salt (any brand will work. I buy the small canisters that are 1/2 lb each), which only costs a few bucks from any store. Pour the salt liberally over the flesh side of the hide until it’s completely covered. Fold flesh side together, and then roll it up, and put it in a five-gallon bucket. The bucket is crucial as it will help catch any moisture that leaks out of the hide.

Leave the hide for 24 hours. Then take it out, shake the old salt off, and reapply fresh. Fold flesh sides together again, roll and place in the five-gallon bucket. Leave it for 24 hours and then move on to the next step.

3. Salt Bath


Mix a salt bath in a separate bucket with enough water to immerse the hide. Use 1/2 lb of table salt per gallon of water and extremely hot water to dissolve the salt. Mix thoroughly until salt is dissolved and let the water cool.

Immerse the hide in the solution and leave for six to eight hours. Overnight is fine, but if you leave it too long, the hair will start falling off the hide.

4. Wash and Prep The Hide for Tanning


Remove the hide and make sure you have no remaining pieces of flesh. If there are, simply scrape them off with a sharp knife. This is an important last step as any remaining bits of flesh will eventually make the hide smell if not removed.

Wash the hide in water and dish soap to remove all excess grease and salt. You can reuse your five-gallon bucket and use your hands to wash and move the hide around. Rinse the hide off with a hose or in the tub until there are no remaining soap bubbles. Then, drape it over a railing or clothesline, and let it drip dry until the hide is only slightly damp and still pliable.

5. Apply the Hide Tanning Formula.

One bottle of hide-tanning formula from Bass Pro Shops, Amazon, or Cabela’s is more than enough to do one full deer hide. I’ve used it on several different types of hides and swear by it.

You’ll want to warm the formula by setting the bottle in a pot of hot tap water for 30 minutes. When it’s time to apply the solution, I advise wearing gloves as it’s not necessarily something you want on your skin.

Lay the hide open, flesh side up. Apply the solution directly from the bottle to the hide. Pour small amounts at a time onto the hide and use a large paintbrush to spread it around. If you’re wearing gloves, you can simply use your hands. It’s important to make sure you cover every bit of the flesh with the solution. Massage it in and fold the flesh sides together again. Leave overnight 12 hours and then open the hide and let it continue drying. Keep in mind that the formula has an odor. Although it’s not totally bad (similar to musty wet leather), you’ll want to keep the smell in mind when storing the hide during this process. It will quickly permeate a room. I suggest putting the hide in the garage, basement, or shed where no animals can get to it.

6. Stretching/Softening


The hide will take roughly 2-3 days to dry completely. During this time, you’ll want to work the hide while it is still slightly damp to make it soft and pliable. Skip this step, and your hide will be as stiff as a board. Some Native Americans used to chew on hides to soften them, but if you like your teeth, I don’t really recommend it.

Stretch and fold the hide in all directions. Pulling it back and forth (flesh side down) over a taut rope or hard surface such as a railing or a fence. I used the edge of a concrete pad to soften this one. When the hide is completely dry, sand it with corse-grit sandpaper—either by hand or with an electric palm sander—on the tanned-flesh side to soften it even more.

Trim up the edges, and find a place to display your finished deer hide.

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