How to Prepare Deer Antlers

How to Prepare Deer Antlers

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Before you hang antlers you found on the ground or harvested from a hunting trip, you need to prepare them for mounting or other uses. To prepare the deer antlers, you must remove them from the skull, clean them and apply a clear coating of polyurethane to protect the antlers from damage. Once prepared, you can mount the antlers on a display, transform them into coat racks or lamps or use sections of the antlers as door and drawer handles.

Items you will need

  • Bone saw

  • Borax powder

  • Rubber gloves

  • Wire brush

  • Water

  • Oil soap

  • Soft scrubbing sponge

  • Clear polyurethane spray

Remove the antlers from the deer skull. Cut off the antlers with a bone saw at the very base of each antler. If you collect shed antlers, you do not have to remove the antlers in this way.

Apply borax powder to the base of the antlers. The borax powder works to dry out the bones and eat away any flesh remaining on the antlers. Wear rubber gloves as you apply the powder to the antlers. Allow the powder to sit on the ends of the antlers for a couple of hours.

Use a wire brush to scrub off the borax powder and remaining flesh the ends of the antlers. Dip the wire brush in water to rinse away the powder and flesh. Continue to scrub with the wire brush until you no longer see any flesh on the antler bases.

Clean the antlers all over with oil soap. The oil soap protects the antlers by supplying oil, which prevents the antlers from drying out and cracking. Scrub the antlers with a soft scrubbing sponge to remove dirt and debris from the antlers. Remember that the discoloration at the bottom of the antlers is caused by dirt and tree sap as bucks rub their antlers on trees. If you want to retain this natural coloring, do not scrub hard with the scrubbing sponge. Allow the antlers to dry for a few hours, until they become completely dry from cleaning.

Spray a clear coat of polyurethane onto all parts of the antlers to protect them from water and insect damage. This spray also helps preserve the natural colors of the antlers.


  • You may also paint clear polyurethane onto the antlers. However, spraying provides a more even coat, free of paintbrush streaks.
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