It started with the odd antler chandelier adorning a trendy bar in London, but now, antler furniture is making a serious comeback. Out of the darkness of hunting lodges and into the glamorous apartments and newly refurbished houses, everyone wants a piece of deer action.
Antlers are majestic and elaborate, symbolising strength and beauty. For years, stag antler trophies adorned hunting lodges, symbolising human victory over nature and death. However, there has never been a necessity to kill deer to obtain antlers, except for hunters’ prowess and wanton killer action. European and North American deer shed their antlers every year, thus providing a limited, but very renewable resource.
About the deer
The most common deer species in the British Isles are Red Deer and Fallow Deer. Native to these isles, the Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) is Britain’s largest land mammal. It has a reddish-brown coat which darkens in winter, and the adult males or stags carry large, highly branched antlers.
The European Fallow Deer (Dama dama dama) is found throughout Europe and in Britain. Sporting the famous ‘Bambi’ coat, fallow deer is the only deer in Britain with broad-bladed antlers.
How do antlers grow?
Antlers are made of bone, and can grow at the rate of an inch per day. While they are growing, the antlers are covered with ‘velvet’ which is a soft, blood-filled, bone-forming tissue and is very sensitive. Once fully grown, the sensitive velvet falls off and the deer will shed the antlers around April. As the males grow older, each year the antlers grow larger and more impressive. Red deer antlers grow up to 34” long and can have up to 16 points.
How to choose antlers?
Although size is important, the antlers of Scottish Red Deer are highly prized, even though they might be slightly smaller. Fallow antlers can grow up to 27” in length and display an impressive 20 points. It is very important to check that the antlers have been shed and collected by the ‘beaters’, to ensure you are supporting sustainable antler production.
So why is antler furniture so desirable?
Antlers represent the ultimate in slow luxury. Naturally renewable, no animals are hurt in the manufacturing process. As they are usually hand processed, very little energy is used in the process and they are naturally limited by the number of deer and the number of years. So to satisfy the ethical hedonist in you, get in on the action, but make sure you choose wisely and check the origin of the antlers.
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