Practical ideas for deer antler sheds

This is the time of year the winter blues begin to set in. There’s not a lot to do outside in these weather conditions—unless you like to hunt for deer antler sheds.

The season when deer lose their antlers is upon us, and, with a little luck, you should be able to find a few. The key is to find the antlers before mice, squirrels and other critters discover them first and begin to chew on them for the nutrients they provide. The question many people have is what to do with the antlers once they find them.

There are many cool things that can be created out of sheds, for both practical purposes and home decor. Everything from spoon handles, chandeliers, buttons, drawer handles, coat racks, antler baskets, pens and even dog chews can be made from deer antler sheds.

If you have a dog, you know they like to chew on things. Walk into just about any pet store these days and you will find a variety of dog chews. Topping that list in recent years are pieces of deer antlers. But you don’t have to spend several dollars on something you can make yourself. Once you find an antler to use as a dog chew, cut it into manageable pieces 6 to 8 inches in length; just be sure to round off any sharp points that might injure the animal.

Antler handles for knives, ladles and carving forks are also gaining popularity. The “rustic” look is coming back into style, and many people are using deer antlers to complement their kitchen utensils. Hunters also like the look of a knife with an antler handle. You do not need a lot of tools to make these at home, and there are plenty of instructions online.

Does anyone play cribbage anymore? If you do, deer antlers make great cribbage boards.  When you find an antler suitable in size for a cribbage board, making the board is easy. Drill holes along the main antler beam to support pegs for game play, and store pegs in the hollowed-out base of the antler. Even if you don’t play cribbage, the board would be a great conversation piece.

Antler lamps and chandeliers can sell for several hundred dollars, even thousands, when bought at a store. You can find instructions online to make your own chandelier and lamps, but it can be difficult.

A better option would be to take your antler collection to an expert in the field of chandelier and lamp making. For a fraction of the cost of purchasing a pre-made one, often from reproduction antlers, you can have one made from the antlers you found. This is sure to brighten up any home.

Now that your interest might be piqued, get out and do some shed hunting. No license is required. Enjoy it together as a family, beautify your home, craft practical tools and get some much needed exercise after a long winter.