The Internet and Old Antlers: A Love Story

My first deer antlers from 1979. They fell and broke less than a year later.

Thank you, Internet, for helping me salvage a set of antlers that I’ve been saving since I killed my first deer more than three decades ago. Of course, I’m the same guy that recently wrote about how deer hunting isn’t all about the antlers – but one’s first buck is an exception to that rule.

That little 8-point was my pride and joy, and his horns sat proudly on a shelf in my room. (Taking a deer to a taxidermist was unheard of in my family.)  For about two years, I showed them off to anybody who had the misfortune of visiting including the mailman, the preacher, assorted relatives and some very unimpressed girls.

But one day the unthinkable happened: The antlers fell off the shelf and broke in half. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t glue them back together. For years they remained in two pieces, most recently tacked to a board in my garage. They were faded, gray and dusty. That buck deserved better in my opinion, but I couldn’t justify the expense of taking it to a professional.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to see what the Internet might have to offer and I’m glad I did. Within seconds, I found a forum where people were discussing broken antlers and sure enough there was a post about dealing with a broken skull cap. Bingo!

It turns out that Van Dyke’s Taxidermy Supply sells replica skull caps for everything from whitetails to mule deer to elk. For less than $10, they sent me a plastic, molded form with screws sticking out from the pedicles. I simply sawed my antlers off at the base of the broken skull, drilled a hole and glued my antlers on.

Pictured above: $10 solution to a 32-year-old problem.

Voila! Both halves of my trophy are reunited for the first time since I was in high school.

But what to do about the fading and discoloration? Here again, the Internet was useful. A poster on one bulletin board discussed how he cleaned his old, sun-bleached horns then applied a light walnut colored-stain to bring back the natural color. I did the same and breathed new life into this old set of horns.

My next tasks were to seal them appropriately and then use a $10 kit to mount them. The result is pictured at the top of the post.

As a side note, remounting my old 8-point was actually a practice run. For a different and dumber reason, the rack from this year’s much larger 7-point is also broken in half.  In a separate post, I’ll include a step-by-step breakdown of the process for putting it back together.

With any luck, the two racks that have been languishing in my garage will soon be hanging in my den. All thanks to a technology that allows us to access helpful information even on the most arcane topics.

The Internet doesn’t yet allow us to experience time travel, but helping me fix a problem from my youth is a pretty close second.

For years, this old 7-point rack was tacked up right next to the 8-point up top.

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