Jim is a retired software/electrical engineer who enjoys the outdoors. He likes to challenge himself with creative projects at home.
If you are a deer hunter and harvest a buck with antlers you would like to display, often times it will have a broken tine or two. A qualified taxidermist can do the repair if you decide to have a shoulder mount or European skull mount done. If you are doing the Euro mount yourself, then you can repair the broken antler tines too.
The first thing to do is order some epoxy for the repair. I ordered a two part epoxy kit called All Game Epoxy sculpting material. It came with vinyl gloves, stirring sticks and enough epoxy for several repairs. I only used less that ¼ of the material to repair two medium sized tines and a small antler tip. I’m not sure how long the shelf life is for this stuff so unless you have many or large repairs to do, you may want to order a smaller amount.
Prepare the antlers
Near the broken area you will want to wash off any dirt or dried blood. I like to gently wash the whole set of antlers. Next I roughed up the surface of the tine stump where the new imitation time will go using a Dremel tool with a small abrasive bit. I drilled a small hole partially into the stump where I pressed in a piece of steel coat hanger. The coat hanger pieces where measured against a similar unbroken tine then cut to about ¾ the length of the tine replacement. The wire surface was roughed up with sandpaper then Gorilla Brand Super Glue gel was used to secure the wire in the hole. The glue was allowed to set up before proceeding, then the wire was bent into the desired shape.
Mix the epoxy
The epoxy material was a little stiff so I warmed the tightly sealed containers in a cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Then wearing the vinyl gloves I scooped equal amounts of part A and part B into my hand, which for me was about a tablespoon of each. This material is a grayish color, and dries a light gray, but it can be tinted. I tried adding a bit of ivory colored Acrylic Paint into the mixture while I kneaded and mixed it in my hand. The paint lightened the material some but I knew I would have to paint the repairs. The material has to be thoroughly mixed so I spent about 5 minutes squishing in my hand.
Forming the new tines
I wrapped the mixed epoxy material around the wire coat hanger a little at a time until I had a roughly shaped tine. Dipping my gloved finger tips in water, I gently shaped the tine and blended it into the antler until I had the desired appearance. The water is helpful in forming and flowing the epoxy. The good thing is that antlers are usually quite irregularly shaped, so you don’t need to exactly match other tines. I let the epoxy harden for about 24 hours, checking on it from time to time to be sure it was not sagging.
Sanding and painting
I hand sanded the epoxy tines with 60 grit sand paper to remove any rough spots and smooth out any bulges that didn’t look right. I then used a fine grit sand paper to finish the job. The dust is toxic so a face mask should be worn. Next I used Ivory, Natural and Burnt Umber Acrylic paint to paint the tines with a small brush. This part is a little tricky. I painted the tines with Natural first then tried to blend in some Ivory color at the tips and various other places, using the appearance of the unbroken tines as a guide. Next I dabbed and blended some of the Burnt Umber on different places to match the appearance of the antler set. I also blended some to the paint onto the antlers near the broken tines. I used satin paint so it dried without much gloss, but some areas of the antler did have some natural gloss. I wiped a small amount of True-Oil with a cloth onto the dull painted areas, once the paint had thoroughly dried, to make a slight glossy appearance.
European Skull Mount
- Whitetail European Style Skull Mount: The Basics
A simple deer skull mount in 10 easy steps.