For many deer hunters finding cast antlers is like winning a raffle. More often than not, environmental elements have already taken hold, with antlers turned white and chalky.
Over the years, I have experimented with different methods to bring them back to life. I now have a streamlined process that gives a realistic finish using easily accessible products. The finished product should resemble the day the antlers were shed.
To bring your antlers back to life you will need:
- Condy’s Crystals (Potassium permanganate). This can be obtained from most chemists or Ebay.
- Stain (your desired colour) experiment I use Cabots oil based Walnut Satin Finish
- Sand paper
- Paint brush
- Rags to wipe the stain off
The first thing you need to do is study live shots or mounts from deer you already have. You need to see where and how far a deer normally rubs its tips and main beams.
You will find that many antlers are coloured more than you would expect. Each species will be different and this first process will help with the initial colouring and produce realistic looking reproductions.
- Mix one – two tea spoons of Condys Crystals with 150ml of water – a little more if you are looking for a really dark coloured antler. The solution will be a deep purple and dry brown.
- Paint the antlers with the solution. Be mindful that you do not want to paint the tips. You want to keep them white. With Fallow you will paint a majority of the antler and sand back at the end.
- Let the Condys Crystals dry and repeat step 2 until the desired colour is acheived. With each coat I move further down the antler to reduce sanding at the end and have a transition of colour to the tips.
- Next you need to sand back the tips and pearling back to resemble what a rubbed out deer would have. This is the make and break point to how realistic your antler is going to look. Don’t overdo the sanding you can always take more off later if required.
Take time and care here to achieve professional results. Go back to your reference shots and ensure you are polishing up areas that are realistic.
- Once you have the desired rubbed-out look. Seal the antler with the satin stain, using a cloth to apply the stain. Rub off any areas with a rag that are applied too thick. This will transform the antler from a flat brown piece of bone to a realistic fresh looking castie.
- To give the final touch, I rub the antler on a suitable tree to get some bark and additional material in the pearling.
When you follow this process you will end up with antlers looking worthy of any dining room table. They make great additions to any man cave and are talking points about that mystery deer that you hope to catch up with.