Removing deer antlers is straightforward if you follow the guide in this article. In the following sections, I’ll also discuss mistakes to avoid throughout the process, so make sure to keep reading until the end.
You can remove deer antlers by first positioning the skull on a table. Get a hacksaw and cut downward at the point where the antlers and skull cap are fused. Sometimes, the first cut can’t go through, so make another from the base to connect with the first. The antlers are now ready to be removed.
To make the task easier, I recommend a mini chainsaw like this one found on Amazon. Otherwise, a normal hacksaw or even a sharp knife will do.
Step-by-Step Method To Remove Deer Antlers
Deer antlers are essentially extensions of a deer skull. They are likened to horns in goats and cattle, but in contrast, antlers are shed and regrow annually.
These bones are unique for many reasons, but primarily for their highly decorative features when cut and prepared well.
Like many hunters, if you simply can’t wait for the antlers to naturally shed off, you’ll have to cut them yourself after hunting a deer. Follow this easy step-by-step direction to get the process right:
1. Prepare Your Tools
A sharp instrument for cutting is usually the only tool needed, but make sure to wear a glove and some eye protection. The former can prevent any possible disease transmission throughout the process.
As for the cutting tool, anything sharp can suffice, including:
- Hacksaw: They are the most popular among antler cutters, so they should work fine.
- Chain saw: Chain saws are the quickest because of their engine, but you may compromise on the precision with them.
- Knife: Antlers are hard to break, so regardless of the type, they should be sharp.
With this mini chainsaw you will be done removing the antlers in no time. You can easily move it around because it is chordless to aid a clean, sharp cut.
On the other hand, a hand saw similar to this one also works well for others. It is really light and sharp with a good handle.
2. Position the Deer or Its Skull
Whether you want the deer to die or not after removing its antlers, position the head in a steady position.
If it is alive, just tie up its legs tightly so you can cut off the antlers safely without injuring yourself or the deer.
However, if the deer is dead, cut off the skull from its body and place it on its base on a steady table. Its eyes should face forward as you observe it from above. Then, use any garage device or call anyone around to help you hold it in place as you cut.
3. Cut the Antlers
If the deer is alive and you don’t want it dead after removing its antlers, simply use your tool to cut each one individually. You can go close to its head, but be careful not to cause it any injury.
Antlers can be very tough because of the fibers in the bone’s arrangement on a microscopic level, but any of the tools discussed earlier should do the work.
If the deer is dead, cut the skull midway between the eye sockets and antlers. Depending on how some people envision the end product, they start cutting beyond the eye socket.
The tool may not always go through while cutting, so turn it upside down and cut again, trying to connect with the first slice.
Finally, split the antlers in two to separate them, and they should be ready for scrubbing and boiling.
Mistakes To Avoid When Removing Deer Antlers
Removing deer antlers is easy if you follow the steps above, but there are a few caveats to understand.
The first mistake to avoid when removing deer antlers is cutting through the skull when the deer is alive. Cut each one individually if you don’t want the deer dead despite removing its antlers. Moreover, prepare anesthetics & bone wax to induce sleep and arrest the wound.
I’ll elaborate more below:
1. Don’t Remove The Antlers Together From A Live Deer
If you don’t want the deer dead after removing its antlers, cut each one individually instead of the attached pair.
Removing them together means slashing through its skull and brain; you can’t do that to a live animal. The deer will be so resistant because of the agonizing pain and die.
Shooting it dead initially would have been much better.
2. Use Anesthetics & Bone Wax When Removing Immature Antlers
Antlers don’t just pop out of deers’ heads and become as aesthetically pleasing as others you’ve seen as ornaments. They grow in early spring through summer, then mature and harden in late summer or autumn.
If the antlers are cut when immature, and you still want the deer alive, use a local anesthetic to induce sleep. These deers are weak and very sensitive to touch when hunting, so injecting the drug first is only humane.
Additionally, the deer will bleed around the cut stanch, so arrest it with bone wax or other hemostatic substance.
3. Cut The Antlers Before The Eye Socket To Avoid Brain Spilling
If you’ve been around this process before, you’ll know that the smell of spilled brains isn’t so pleasant. The closer you get to the antlers while cutting, the less brain matter you’re exposed to, for the better.
However, you can quickly cleanse up the skull in a few minutes, even before you start removing the antlers. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game discusses it here, so follow the guide carefully to get a clean brain-free skull before cutting.
Removing deer antlers is easier than you’d think. Just follow these steps:
- Prepare your tools, including a sharp device and glove. You also need anesthetics and bone wax if you don’t want the deer to die.
- Place the deer head/skull in a steady position.
- Start cutting between the eye socket and antlers if the deer is dead. If it’s alive, cut each antler individually.
- Don’t try to remove the antlers in a pair if the deer is still alive.
- Slice the bone farther from the eye socket to avoid brain spilling.
For more, check out Best Knife for Processing Deer | Hint: You Need Two.
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!