Horns and Hard Art

In Northern Virginia, deer are a nuisance. They eat the plants in people’s gardens and often get hit by cars. Because they are so plentiful in the wild, I was surprised to learn that deer farming is catching on in other parts of the country.

Mike Malak told me about deer farming while I admired his Smoky Mountain Antler Art at the Foothills Craft Guild Fine Craft Show. He obtains antlers from mule deer and fallow deer and builds them into kitchen utensils  or chandeliers.

He said that farmed deer are fed corn and they often grow bigger antlers than in the wild. Some farmers cut the antlers off the bucks to keep them from fighting during rutting season. The bucks lose their antlers naturally each year. They grow bigger antlers as they get more mature. If they live long enough, they grow smaller antlers when they are older.

The fallow deer have palmate antlers, which reminded me of moose antlers. The mule deer antlers only reminded me of a comedian named Gary Mule Deer.

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