About Deer, Elk & Moose Antlers

A whitetail deer in velvet

A whitetail deer in velvet

Hard horned whitetail deer

Hard antlered whitetail deer

Where do the Antlers come from? – Every year deer, elk, moose, etc. shed their antlers during the early months of the year and then start growing a new set early in the spring. Some people believe that when they see an antler chandelier many deer and elk were killed to make it. It is just not true and there are more than enough antlers shed each year to make tens of thousands of antler chandeliers without ever harming an animal. When they are growing their antlers, they have a soft VELVET coating. When the antlers are done growing, the animal rubs the velvet off and the antlers start to take on their natural brown colors.  Shades of brown depend on what types of trees or brush the animal rubs its antlers on.

My truck full of antlers

Wyoming Antlers, Spring 2009

I personally hike hundreds of miles and log hundreds of hours with my Father finding antlers on the winter ranges in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. That in itself provides the antlers for many projects but just to have the right selection I do buy shed antlers from ranchers, farmers, and other shed antler collectors. For me, the finished product needs to be balanced, flowing from one antler to the next.  For this reason, I am very discerning when selecting antlers for each of my unique works of art. So it helps to have hundreds of each type and size to choose from.

Types of antlers used – Every project will require a different type of antler. Some make great lamps while others are better suited for chandleliers, coat racks, end tables, table lamps, etc.

Elk/Red Stag Antler

Elk/Red Stag Antler

Elk / Red Stag- The largest antlers we use, Elk antlers are larger in diameter, have long sweeping tines that branch off the main beams and can be anywhere from 2 feet to 5 feet in length. These work best in a pair for floor lamps, legs on tables and benches, and for our LARGE FRAME CHANDELIERS.

Fallow Deer Antler

Fallow Antler

Fallow – Non-native to the USA but found on many ranches throughout Texas. These antlers are similar to a small Elk in the bottom half and then develop a “PALM” with many little points spreading out around it. These are phenomenal for a large chandelier, Bar light, or pool table light. Some of the small fallow antlers work well for table lamps.

Mule Deer Antler

Mule Deer Antler

Mule Deer – These are perhaps the most popular type of antler for chandelier making as they are larger than whitetail antlers and generally have 2 forks that contain 2 points each.  Natural color is anywhere from medium brown to dark brown and almost chocolate in color.  I find these antler is great quantities in Wyoming and Colorado as the animals congregate in a smaller geographic area in the winter.  General size is anywhere from 1 foot to 2 feet in overall height.

Whitetail Antler

Whitetail Antler

Whitetail Deer – The most popular deer in America. Whitetails are found in nearly every state and thus the antlers are easy to come by. Whitetail antlers are generally a sharply curled main beam with 3-6 evenly spaced points coming straight up off the main beam. These make great small chandeliers and table lamps as well as wine racks and small candle holders.

Moose Antler

Moose Antler

Moose – The heaviest antlers you can use. Moose antlers are generally flat and are a large palm with points protruding from the outer side. Moose antlers depending on size are anywhere from 5 – 35lbs each! You can make a large chandelier out of these but you better have 4X4 rafters in you ceiling to support the weight. I like using these as a sturdy base for a tall floor lamp, they make a great anchor!

ANTLER GRADES – There are a few grades of antlers that are commonly used in antler lighting.

ANTLER GRADES

The Four Grades of Antlers

Grade 1-is the premium antlers, these antlers are picked up within a month or so of being shed. These antlers will still have the natural brown color and no cracks or chews on them. These are the antlers that my Dad and I pursue in the spring. Anything made with Grade 1 antlers is charged a premium price.

Grade 2- These antlers are also very solid and the most common antler used in antler artwork. They are generally white or very light brown in color and are picked up within the first year of the animal shedding the antler, they may have very fine cracks on one side of the antler that are barely noticeable. I add a light uniform stain on the finished product where these are used as it helps to prevent any color loss in the future.

Grade 3- These antlers are ones that have laid out for 1 – 2 years before they were found. Typically they will be white in color and have fine cracks on both surfaces of the antler. They are still solid enough for any type of antler lighting or craft. Most antler shops used these regularly. These antlers are rarely used in our shop but occasionally a customer wants a natural white chandelier or coffee table and they look nice and cost less.  They can be stained and finished to look like a Grade 1 antler.

Grade 4- also known as chalky or scrap antler. These have laid out for more than 2 years and believe it or not there are antler craftspeople that use these for their work. They have noticeable cracks on both surfaces and crumble in spots. We sell these as dog chews and will not make any items out of them.

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Published on July 30, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Comments Off on About Deer, Elk & Moose Antlers  
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