painted deer antlers

Recently I saw painted deer antlers at the Brooklyn Flea Market. I think they look fantastic! So during my Montana visit I decided to pick up a few antlers and try painting them myself.

Male deer shed their antlers every year starting around January, and grow new antlers in the spring. The antlers start out fuzzy and soft, and will bleed if cut. By fall, as a buck’s testosterone increases, the antlers become hard, like bone. By mid-winter, bucks start shedding their heavy burdens, and antlers can be discovered lying on the ground. You can tell if an antler was shed naturally by the “button” at the base of the antler. If it has a button, the antler was shed with no harm to the animal.

gold antler button

Now that you know all about deer antlers, we can get to the business of painting them. There is something about the contrast of the earthy hue and texture of an antler juxtaposed with the vibrant color of acrylic paint that is really exciting to look at. To be fair, antlers alone are pretty beautiful. And painted, they are startlingly lovely.

Mule deer antler in copper, aubergine and yellow

I am lucky to have to wildly generous people in my life. In addition to the antlers I picked up at the Montana Antique Mall, I was also given several antlers from friends.

The first antler I received was from a nomadic fellow who spends half the year hawking super tasty breakfast sandwiches at the Missoula Farmer’s Market, earning him enough dough to chill with his kid for the other six months of the year in Costa Rica. Pretty sweet! Despite his minimalist lifestyle he has carried this antler with him for years. I was honored to be given this shed, which is from a young moose. With its flat base, this antler was calling out to be reborn as a table centerpiece. With that in mind, it was the first one I painted.

Moose Antler

First, I taped off the parts I didn’t want to paint. Then, I spray painted the antler on one side only, creating an ombre effect on the edges.

Moose Antler Centerpiece

100% cruelty free upcycling at its finest!

Top: White Tail Deer Antler in Metallic Gold
Middle: Mule Deer Shed in Copper, Aubergine and Yellow
Bottom: Painted Young Moose Antler Centerpiece


  1. Piper Punches September 29

    I have always been adamant about not having live animal art on my walls (thank God I am not married to a hunter), but I will be the first to admit that is pretty damn cool!

    1. erin vito September 30

      Not to worry, Piper. These deer were alive and well when they lost their antlers, as bucks shed their antlers every year and grow new ones.

  2. robbdavis November 2

    Single antlers are likely to be naturally shed. Paired antlers likely came from a kill. I view animals in their natural environment and take home momentos from the autumn drop. Love the connection to nature in my home.

  3. […] working on the painted deer antler project, I toured the hardware store aisles in search of mounting hardware and ways to make these stunning […]

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