The interest in shed antler hunting has grown so much during the past decade that enthusiasts now lease ground and even travel great distances to search for bone. In fact, shed antler hunting has become so popular that state game and fish agencies are considering—and implementing—laws to regulate collectors and protect wintering game.
Are you one of these “shed heads”? Whether you have a garage corner piled high with dropped antlers or just a handful in a 5-gallon pail, you likely have one or two that you’d love to display. Passionate shed antler hunters eventually amass enough antlers that matched sets can be found in the mix. They’re also deserving of an admirable presentation, especially if they sport trophy-class proportions.
So, how can you exhibit your favorite shed antlers? Here are a few ideas. Some are free, others cost a small fee and a couple require saving your pennies. Choose one that's right for you.
Classy Shed Antler Displays
For serious shed antler hunters, the crème de la crème of shed antler displays is an antler chandelier, an antler lamp stand or a mirror surrounded by shed deer antlers. Sure, you can purchase these real and faux creations online and in rustic shops nationwide, but the distinctive touch comes from having your own antlers make up the art.
My prized shed antler display is a six-elk-antler chandelier made exclusively from antlers I picked up. I could have bought a cheaper, faux model from a variety of antler furnishing outlets, but every time I look up at the stately fixture I recall the adventures each and every antler provided.
Pictured here is the centerpiece of my shed antler displays—an antler chandelier.
As an avid antler collector, I even bartered the price down by trading a pile of whitetail shed antlers in exchange for some of the labor. The result: I ended up with an affordable but elegant show centerpiece for my great room. If you want to find an antler artist in your ZIP code, click here or right here.
Affordable Shed Antler Displays
If that first option seems a little rich for you, try surfing the net or flipping through any sporting goods catalogs.
One of the most affordable and easy-to-use shed antler displays is called the Shed Bed. This convenient, yet inconspicuous device screws to the wall and has a shelf combined with a confinement system to secure any deer shed, anywhere you want to display it. You can even use two side by side to showcase a matched set that you’re extremely proud of.
Speaking of matched sets, you’ll find numerous display options to ponder. My favorites are those designed by Mountain Mike’s. This company designs reproduction skulls that you can use to mount your hunting or shed trophies for the classic look of a European mount without the nasty chore of boiling or beetling. Skulls come in bleached white or camouflage for both deer and elk. They even offer skull plates for shed antlers to be used for shoulder-mount taxidermy. If you don’t like the look of skulls on your wall, numerous companies market plaque kits to display antler pairs.
I admit most of my European mounts are attached to wall with screws and bailing wire, but for a modern look try the Skull Hooker. This stylish metal system attaches to your wall to hold any European mount—deer or elk—in the natural position of a live animal.
For a high-quality European mount, try Skulls Unlimited from Oklahoma City and take advantage of the exclusive North American Hunting Club member discount.
Lastly, if you want to really have a one-of-a-kind look for a matched set of sheds, consider mounting them on a hand-carved skull out of reclaimed hackberry wood or the wood of your choice. That’s what artist Dave Kennedy offers at Aspen & Antlers using his woodworking skills. This display is so stunning that it will be the talk of all your dinner parties or redneck barbecues.
Homemade Shed Antler Displays
I have close to 50 shed antlers in my office, give or take a dozen. Most sit quietly on shelves, but one of my favorite uses of my sheds is to hug or encircle a photo frame that showcases a special moment in my life. I also have the remnant of an ancient elk antler sitting on the ledge of my fireplace, plus a giant elk shed propped up against my desk to greet office visitors. With some creative thought, you might also find ways to display your antlers without drilling, gluing or boring a hole into your favorite piece of bone. I’ve used leather ties to wrap around the burr of an antler to hang it from a hook or screw mounted in the wall.
Woodworkers (I’m not allowed in those ranks) can also create small shelves to display shed antlers using a lip to keep the antlers from falling off. Be creative and put those wood scraps to use.
Over the course of several seasons of shed antler hunting you’ll end up with worn antlers, broken antlers and a pile from immature bucks. I’ve used the odds and ends as coat hooks in my garage, key hangers and an alternative to garden gnomes in my landscaping design. Of course, as a Westerner, I have the obligatory pile of shed antlers in front of my barn, but that’s the law.
Enjoy one of nature’s most artistic bounties. Have fun with your shed antlers, and be sure to share your displays on the North American Hunting Club Facebook page.
Author's Extras: Watch the video below to see Kayser's shed antler collection and get shed antler display ideas.
Editor's note: If you're unable to view the video, click here.