An Idea a Day: #3 Pacific Midwest Antlers

Well, you can take a girl out of Michigan and put her in the Northwest, but she will never lose her Michigan roots.

This past summer I went home to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I grew up. While we were there we rented a cabin at on a lake in the  middle of nowhere. The entire cabin was filled with mounted game. We are talking Deer, Elk, Bear, Fish, Bobcats and even a wolf (or maybe it was a coyote). The owner and his wife were both avid hunters.  To me it was a familiar site. I grew up in a place where it wasn’t an uncommon site to go to the local restaurant or bar and be greeted freshly killed deer carcasses hanging the entrances. Hunters would often stop on their way home from the hunt for beer and would hang their kill on display. I think there was some scientific reason, like blood not pooling incorrectly, or it was just to show off, who knows, but it was a norm for me growing up. I also had a a brother-in-law who had/has no shortage of game adorning his house, I am not sure how my sister handles a million fake glass eyes looking at her everyday, but she somehow does.

Even though this was the norm for me growing up, it took my kids a few days to get used to it. Eventually, my boys absolutely loved that house. They called it the dear deer house and asked me every day if they could take antlers home. One of the deer on the wall wasn’t the full head mount, it was just the antlers with the skull convered by white leather looking cloth. My four year old kept asking me why the deer had underwear on it’s head and we thought it was hilarious. He wanted to take it home, and to get him to stop asking we promised him we would get him a set of antlers when we got back to Portland. I never thought of mounts as decorating pieces that I would put in my home, but I figured my four year old would just forget about it by the time we got back to Portland. No such luck.

When we got back to Portland he continued to talk about the dear house and asking when we could go back to Michigan, but top on his mind was always when he could get his hands on some antlers. I realized he was not going to forget about that set of antlers. I also knew that antlers were a big trend in Portland and that to buy Jack a set for his room would be crazy expensive. I also found out that in some states it is illegal to sell or buy mounted antlers. In Oregon for instance you can sell antlers as part of art, naturally shed antlers or those intended for art but you have to have a license. It surprised me because I am pretty sure every mom and pop vintage store and flea market event in Portland that is selling mounted deer or loose antlers probably does not have this license.  Even Esty sells them everywhere on their site, but there is no way to know if a purchase is legal or not since each state has it’s own statutes. So, I decided to come up with an alternate idea within the confines of my budget, the laws and to continue the Upper Peninsula tradition of recycling or using every part of an animal that has been hunted. Waste not and all…

I reached out to family members back in the midwest to see if could get some legally obtained “gift” antlers. Lucky for me someone had a set and shipped them my way. But I didn’t want to have them mounted in the traditional way by a taxidermist because for one it is extremely expensive and for two, it just felt weird to me to have the furry skull cap of the deer mounted on my wall. So, I decided I was going to figure out how to mount my antlers myself and add a little modern Pacific North West flair to the Mid West style I grew up with to make them feel more like our decorating style. I wasn’t sure where to start but once I got going  it wasn’t hard at all to figure out. It took me a few weeks of running to a few different stores and one ebay auction to get the supplies I needed and just this morning I put it all together in a few hours.

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Backwards Mounted Antlers…fixed post photo…oops!

Here are the easy steps to take

  1. Legally obtain deer antlers still attached to the skull.
  2. Buy a mounting kit. These can be found in any outdoor store for around $20-30, but I bid on mine on ebay and won it for $.99 plus shipping…not bad. 
  3. Paint the wall mount.  I wanted a cleaner look for my wall mount so I roughed up the faux wood on the mounting plaque in the kit withe some sandpaper, primed it and spray painted it white.
  4. Buy fabric from any store. I used fabric from the Pendelton Outlet to give it that Pacific Northwest flair. 
  5. Cover the styrofoam head form that comes with the mounting kit in your favorite fabric. I used upholstery tacks to fasten the fabric to the back as glue just proved too messy.
  6. Attach the antlers to the wall mount with the mounting kit hardware.
  7. Attach the head form to the antlers – it just pops in place. 
  8. Voila…you are done. Pacific Midwest Antlers! 

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