A set of deer antlers makes a nice display in any hunter's room. Many hunters take their deer antlers to a professional taxidermist to have them mounted; however, this is usually expensive and it can take months to get them back. There are other ways that deer antlers can be mounted inexpensively by the hunter himself. The easiest method is to purchase an antler mounting kit from a taxidermy supply house or sporting goods store. For a fraction of the cost of a taxidermist, the hunter can display his trophy in a short amount of time.
Cut the antlers off the deer's head by laying the head on its side on a table or bench with the antlers hanging off the side. Saw completely through the skull on a line parallel to the antler base, through the eye sockets, across the bridge of the muzzle and the back of the head.
Separate the antlers, with the portion of skull holding them, from the remainder of the deer's head. Using the knife, skin the hide off the skull plate and from around the antlers. Clean all flesh from the underside of the skull plate using the knife and screwdriver.
Put on the rubber gloves and set the antlers in the plastic pan, skull plate down, and cover the skull plate with salt. Rub the salt thoroughly into the underside of the skull plate and leave the antlers in the pan covered in salt for 24 hours to draw out the moisture and cure it.
Remove the antlers from the salt after 24 hours and brush all the salt off the skull plate. Do not wash the salt off, as drying the bone is the objective. Hang the antlers in a high, weather-protected place, such as garage rafters, to dry.
Trim the dried skull plate with wire cutters and a wood rasp until it sets down flat and level. Drill two holes, the diameter of the mounting screws, side-by-side and an inch apart, through the skull plate.
Position the antlers on the kit's plaque so they are centred and even. Mark through the holes in the skull plate down onto the plaque. Remove the antlers. Drill holes, which are slightly smaller than the mounting screws, on the marks and through the plaque.
Screw the screws through the skull plate holes and into the plaque, locking the antlers down on the plaque.
Position the kit's skull cap over the skull plate and centre it. Begin hammering the kit's tacks into the edges of the skull cap, attaching it to the plaque.
Attach the hanger to the back of the plaque and lightly paint the antlers with semigloss clear finish. Leave the antlers in a dry, warm place until the finish is dry.
Wrap the kit's decorative braid around the base of the antlers, between the antler burrs and the skull cap. Cut the braid to fit neatly end-to-end and glue the braid in place. The antlers are now ready to hang.
The mounting kit will include a plaque, skull cap, decorative tacks, gold braid trim, screws and a hanger. Instructions also come with it. When drying the antlers, keep them in a place away from vermin as they will chew on the antlers and skull plate for the salt. Drying time will depend on the weather conditions, but can take anywhere from a few days to a week. It is best to paint the antlers after mounting to avoid rubbing off the finish or dulling it. Cover the plaque and skull cap with paper or plastic to protect it from finish drips.
Cutting the antlers off the head can be difficult as the head rolls and shifts, and cutting requires strength. Be cautious not to cut yourself with the saw if it slips out of the cut.