5 Survival Uses For Less-Than-Trophy Antlers

A freezer full of venison is a beautiful thing as deer season winds down, but what do you do with all the “leftovers”? Hides can be tanned, organs can become dog food, and sinew can be dried, but what about smaller antlers that you might not want to turn into a mount? Here are five pieces of survival gear that you can make from antler scraps during the long, dark winter ahead.

1. Handles
Fit knives, files, spark rods, and other tools with antler handles to create one-of-a-kind tools that are both beautiful and durable. Use individual tines for smaller items; antler bases provide a beefy grip for larger tool handles.

2. Whistle
If you’re good at carving (and have a Dremel tool to help with the cutting), turn those stubs and scraps into antler whistles. Homemade whistles are typically not as loud as store-bought ones, but any whistle is a good thing to have when visibility is shot and your hunting buddy is MIA.

3. Friction Fire Socket
Drill a small depression into rounded antler chunks with flattened areas to make outstanding friction fire sockets. This type of socket is ideal for bow-and-drill fire starting, but it can also work as a modified hand drill. This works when one person holds the socket on top of the hand drill stick, and a second person spins the drill between their palms. Use a greasy lubricant with this socket as you would with any other porous socket material.

4. Buttons and Toggles
Ok, these probably aren’t life savers, but they are long lasting and rugged. They also look really cool when you do it right. Tine tips are ready to go as toggles, and larger sections of antler can be cut into a variety of button shapes and styles.

5. Pressure Flakers
Even six-inch spike antlers have enough of a point to be used as pressure flakers, which are pointy tools used to chip arrowheads and fabricate other stone tools. You might have seen them at re-enactments made from copper nails embedded in wood dowels, but you can use an entire tine as this tool’s traditional forebear.

Got any clever uses for leftover antlers? Tell us all about them in the comments.