Deer antlers -- whether from your latest hunting trip or from sheds found on a hike -- provide surprisingly versatile decorating accents. Deer antlers work just about anywhere, from a living room end table to a do-it-yourself coat rack in your entryway; many of these ideas work just as well with elk antlers -- just keep size differences in mind, as elk antlers can be as large as 4-feet tall. While unsuitable for many tabletop ideas, they make stunning wall mounts and can hang dramatically from the ceiling if you have the space.
Thoroughly clean and prepare deer and elk antlers before using them in a display.
Treat deer antlers or small elk sheds as if they were abstract sculptures, arranging them on various horizontal surfaces in your home. As a general rule, the antlers should not extend over the edge of any surface, but if you like the look, you can ignore the rule.
Dresser: Position an antler with a flat pedicle -- the base portion of the antler where it was attached to the deer's skull -- on the left or right of your dresser. If the antler is too top heavy to sit upright, lay it on it's side so the majority of the tines sit above the dresser's surface. Tuck a few candles just below the tines or use the tines to display necklaces.
Dining table: Fill a wide, tall glass container with river stones and push the pedicle of an antler into the stones. If the antler is larger, hang tiny tea lights from the tines.
Mantel: Center a pair of antlers on your mantel and work other rustic-inspired decor around the pair such as oil lanterns, reclaimed wood picture frames or a smaller antique mirror.
Buffet: Display a pair of large antlers on the center of your dining room buffet. Hanging artwork or positioning pillar candles to the left and right of the antlers balances the look.
Wall-mounting is a classic way to display antlers in your home, and works beautifully for deer and elk antlers alike. But you don't need to go with the traditional plaque or glass case – there are plenty of other options out there.
Do-it-yourself plaque: Premade plaques often have a hunting-lodge feel, and it can be hard to get the right balance between the size of the antlers and the size of the plaque. Instead, make your own with reclaimed wood or lumber from your local hardware stores. Choose wood one-third to two-thirds the width of the antler's spread for appropriate sizing.
Floating mount: Plaques are nice, but they can make the antlers more obtrusive than you may like. If the skull is still attached, use a skull hooker -- a device that mounts directly against the wall, but includes connections for easily mounting the skull, available online and at some larger hunting stores. For loose antlers, hold them against the wall and mark the wall right next to where the tines and beam touch it. Secure eyelet hooks at these points and then secure the antlers to the wall with thin zip ties. Trim the ties and cover them with leather twine.
Make certain to secure the antlers with appropriate fasteners such as anchor or toggle bolts to ensure their weight doesn't pull them from the wall.
Hanging mount: Secure heavy-duty anchor hooks into the beams of your ceiling and hang loose antlers from ropes or thick strips of leather. Just verify the hooks and knots are secure. This is an especially dramatic touch with elk antlers.
When you're tight on space or not too keen on knickknacks, you can still display the antlers while making them useful.
Coat rack: Secure a smaller antler shed with a handful of tines to the wall near your entrance door using a secure eyelet hook into a stud and zip tie or twine method. This makes for one of the most interesting coat racks your guests might come across.
Curtain tiebacks: Mount small two- to five-tine sheds on the left and right of a window to make custom curtain tiebacks. Drill directly through the pedicle of each antler and use long screws or toggle bolts to secure them to the wall.