There are a variety of great deer antler mount kits on the market today. If you’ve ever wanted to mount your own deer antlers, one of these antler kits is a great way to go. Regardless of your choice of antler mounting kit, there are some basic steps to follow to ensure a great looking mount on the wall for years to come. In this article, we’re going to review the important steps involved in creating a great looking deer antler mount.
Cut Antlers Off Skull
The most common method of mounting deer antlers on a plaque involves keeping the antlers intact with the skull plate. In this case, you remove the antlers, keeping them connected to the skull plate, by sawing down into the skull in front of both antlers and just behind the eye sockets. Then, another cut is performed from the back of the skull towards the nose, at an angle that goes approximately through the middle of each eye socket.
IMPORTANT TIP WHEN CUTTING OFF ANTLERS FOR USE AS AN ANTLER PLAQUE MOUNT
Before you cut off a deer’s antlers, it helps to have an idea of the angle you want the antlers to sit on the plaque. A posterior to nose cut that goes steeper (i.e. from back of skull down towards the mouth) will show the rack more upright. A shallower cut (i.e. from back of skull through the mid to upper eye socket) will show the rack more from a top view on the wall. Use personal preference when making your exact cuts. There really isn’t a wrong way to do it, just get them off the skull without a ton of extra bone. Hint: band saws and cordless reciprocating saws can work great for precision cutting!
Removing the Antlers Separately (Optional)
Some deer antler mount kits allow you to mount shed deer antlers or antlers that have been cut off flush at the pedicle. Sometimes the skull plate is broken and a replica skull plate is needed. Fear not! There are some great options in antler kits that will still get you a great looking deer antler mount!
There are even some awesome replica deer skull kits for making a euro mount with your antlers long after the real skull is history! Explore your options. You may find it’s easiest and quickest to get a great mount by just cutting off each antler right under the burr. It will save you from the next two steps I’m about to describe!
Remove the Deer Hide from the Skull
If your deer is fresh, this is a pretty straight forward process. Tools required:
- Sharp knife
- Pliers (needle-nose or regular)
If this is a set of deer antlers that has the hide dried on, a little more patience will be required. You’ll need to soak the antlers/skull plate in some water for up to several days. Do this somewhere where a little “stench” won’t be an issue (garage vs. kitchen!) because as the old hide rehydrates there can definitely be some foul odors.
Once the deer skin/hide is rehydrated and workable, it’s time to get it off the skull plate. Make a few cuts with your knife from the perimeter of the skull plate to the base of each antler. Go ahead and connect the cuts between the antlers too if you want. We’re not concerned at all with ruining the hide & hair in this case, so just do what you gotta do to get the hide off. Skin the hide back away from the skull. Using a screwdriver to pry it away from the burr often makes things much easier. As you get some skin free from the skull, pliers helps get a firm grip and pull/yank it away from the skull. You can usually put a pretty good amount of pressure on the hide in this step. It should peel off pretty easy if the skin is soft enough
Clean the Skull Plate
Okay, now that the deer’s skin is off the skull plate, we want to clean up the skull so that no insects or odors will wreak havoc in the future. Use a knife to cut and scrape away as much meat & tissue as possible from the skull cap. Then, at minimum, you should apply borax to the skull plate and allow it to dry. Ideally, however, you should boil the skull plate in water (taxidermist trick: use a little sal soda in the water!) for about 30-60 minutes, and then scrape away all tissue. Be careful when boiling antlers not to immerse the actual antlers into the water too much. This can change the coloration and create a need for restoring their color. Check out our article on coloring deer antlers if you run into that issue.
Attach Deer Antlers to Plaque
Each deer antler mount plaque kit will vary a little bit with how to actually attach the antlers to the plaque. Essentially, you’re going to need to drill a couple holes in the skull plate. Hole size should be appropriate to the size of the screws provided in the kit. Then you screw the antlers down onto the plaque. You can trim the skull plate to modify the angle that they sit on the plaque, so experiment until you get it how you want it.
Attach Decorative Skull Plate Cover
The last major step in mounting deer antlers is to attach a covering over the skull plate. This hides the “ugly” part and really dresses up the plaque for a great, finished look. Coverings come in a lot of shapes and finishes, but most are some sort of oval-shape. Finishes range from red velvet or felt to tanned buckskin. Sometimes, gold braid is used to decorate (and cover) the transition between the burr and the cover. Get creative and make it your own!
Hang & Enjoy!
That’s really all there is to making your own deer antler mount. With all the great antler mounting kits on the market, you will find some subtle differences from one to the other, but overall, the above steps will get you well on your way to a great looking deer antler mount. Be sure to follow your individual kit’s instructions well for the best results. Check out Mountain Mike’s offerings in deer antler mount kits, and please contact us if you have any questions along the way!