Unlock the Ancient Rhythms: Master the Art of a Native American Drum with Deer Hide

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how to deer hide over a native american drum

How to Deer Hide Over a Native American Drum

For centuries, Native American drums have been an integral part of their culture and traditions. The sound of the drumbeat has played a vital role in ceremonies, rituals, and storytelling. The process of making a Native American drum is complex and involves several steps, one of which is stretching and attaching deer hide over the drum frame. In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of how to deer hide over a Native American drum.

Challenges of Deer Hiding a Drum

Stretching deer hide over a drum frame can be a challenging task, especially for beginners. The hide can be thick and difficult to work with, and it’s important to ensure that it’s evenly stretched and properly attached. If the hide is not stretched correctly, it can produce a muffled sound or even tear.

Step-by-Step Instructions


  • Deer hide
  • Native American drum frame
  • Rawhide lacing
  • Drum pegs
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Sharp knife


  1. Soak the hide: Submerge the deer hide in cool water for several hours or overnight to make it pliable.
  2. Stretch the hide: Place the drum frame on a flat surface and lay the deer hide over it. Use a wet rag or sponge to dampen the hide and soften it. Pull the edges of the hide tautly over the frame using your hands or an adjustable wrench.
  3. Lace the hide: Using rawhide lacing, thread the lace through the holes in the drum frame and loop it around the hide. Pull the lace tightly and tie it securely with a double or triple knot.
  4. Set the pegs: Insert drum pegs into the holes around the edge of the frame to hold the lacing in place. Tighten the pegs using an adjustable wrench until the hide is evenly stretched.
  5. Trim the excess: Use a sharp knife to trim any excess hide around the edges of the frame.


  • Use a sharp knife and be careful not to cut yourself.
  • Apply plenty of water to the hide to keep it moist.
  • Stretch the hide gradually and evenly to avoid tearing.
  • Tie the lacing securely to prevent the hide from slipping.


Stretching and attaching deer hide over a Native American drum is a skill that takes practice and patience. By following these step-by-step instructions and using the right materials, you can create a beautiful and resonant drum that will honor the traditions of Native American culture.

Crafting a Native American Drum: The Art of Deer Hide Dressing

Embark on a journey to create a resonant tribute to Native American heritage by crafting your own Native American drum. This guide will unveil the ancient art of deer hide dressing, a crucial step in constructing a drum that echoes the rhythms of nature.

Gather Your Essentials

  • Fresh deer hide
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Fleshing beam
  • Scraper
  • Stakes or stretchers
  • Smokehouse or wood chips

Step 1: Skinning and Salting

Begin by removing the hide from the deer. Once skinned, thoroughly salt the hide to draw out any moisture and preserve it.

Step 2: Fleshing

Secure the hide onto a fleshing beam, which will keep it taut. Using a scraper, remove all flesh, fat, and tissue from the hide. This process leaves only the rawhide.

Step 3: Tanning

Deer hide lying on wooden stretcher

Tanning stabilizes the hide and makes it more durable. Place the hide in a mixture of water and salt or apply a commercial tanning solution. Allow it to soak for several hours.

Step 4: Drying

Stake or stretch the hide on a frame to dry. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the hide to shrink. Allow it to dry for several days or up to a week, depending on the thickness of the hide.

Step 5: Smoking

Deer hide hanging over wood shavings in a smokehouse

Smoke the hide in a smokehouse or over wood chips. This process disinfects the hide, adds a pleasant smell, and enhances its color. Smoke for several hours or even days.

Step 6: Straining

After smoking, re-stretch the hide and stain it if desired. Dye can be applied to create different colors and patterns. Allow it to dry.

Step 7: Lacing the Drum

Prepare the drum frame and lacing. Thread the lacing through holes around the perimeter of the frame and through slits along the edge of the hide. Securely lace the hide onto the frame.

Types of Drums

  • Single-headed: A single piece of hide stretched over one side of the frame.
  • Double-headed: Two pieces of hide stretched over both sides of the frame.
  • Water drum: A drum filled with water, creating a unique sound.

Drum Heads

  • Hide: Deer hide is a durable and resonant material.
  • Buffalo hide: Thicker and produces a deeper tone.
  • Elk hide: Lighter and produces a higher tone.

Special Techniques

  • Bound drums: Drums with the hide laced around the entire perimeter of the frame.
  • Staked drums: Drums with the hide staked or stretched around the frame.
  • Ceremonial drums: Drums used for religious or cultural ceremonies.

Drumming Techniques

  • Two-handed: Holding a stick in each hand and striking the drum.
  • Single-handed: Using a drumstick or beater in one hand.
  • Slapping: Using an open hand to slap the drumhead.


Creating a Native American drum is a rewarding and immersive experience that connects you to the traditions of the past. By following these steps and using high-quality materials, you can craft a drum that will resound with beauty and carry the spirit of your ancestors for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use other animal hides for a drum?
    Yes, hides from animals like buffalo, elk, or moose can also be used.
  2. How do I store my drum?
    Store your drum in a cool, dry place to prevent moisture damage.
  3. How do I tune my drum?
    Adjust the lacing or slightly dampen the hide to change the pitch.
  4. What type of wood is best for a drum frame?
    Hardwoods like oak, ash, or maple are sturdy and resonant.
  5. How do I clean my drum?
    Wipe the drum with a damp cloth after use and store it properly to prevent mold.

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