How can I preserve velvet on deer antlers myself without going to a taxidermist?

Written by joe shead
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How can I preserve velvet on deer antlers myself without going to a taxidermist?
During the antler-growing season, antlers have a fuzzy covering called velvet. (Getty Thinkstock)

As deer antlers grow during late spring and summer, they have a fuzzy covering called velvet. Velvet's hairlike strands are filled with nerve endings that warn a deer as it brushes against objects. Growing antlers are susceptible to damage, so velvet protects antlers from harm. When antler growth is complete, bucks rub their antlers on trees to strip the velvet. However, in some states, deer season opens before bucks rub their antlers. Hunters who kill bucks in velvet may want to preserve the velvet.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Velvet antler tanning solution
  • Hypodermic needle
  • Rope
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Puncture each antler tip with a needle to allow blood to drain.

  2. 2

    Fill the hypodermic needle with velvet antler tanning solution.

  3. 3

    Suspend the antlers from a tree or other object via a rope with the antler tips pointing down. Don't scrape the antlers, as this may remove velvet.

  4. 4

    Inject the solution into the veins at the base of the antlers. Blood should drain out the tips as you inject the solution.

  5. 5

    Refill the needle as needed. Keep injecting the solution until no more blood comes out the tips and the solution runs out with its original colour.

  6. 6

    Paint a coating of antler tanning solution on the outside of the antlers and let it dry for four days.

  7. 7

    Rinse the antlers in cold water and let them dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Buy velvet antler tanning solution and other supplies prior to your hunt when hunting early in the season. The process needs to be completed soon after killing a deer to be effective.
  • Make sure you inject antler tanning solution into all the veins. It's better to inject too much than too little. Preserve velvet immediately after killing a buck. Blood within the antler will start to rot soon after the deer is dead. This produces an unpleasant odour and may make preserving velvet impossible.

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