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Preserving velvet antlers

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by rdaniel, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. I have a rack that is hard w/velvet on them, I would like to preserve them w/o freeze dry them. Does anyone know how this can be done?
  2. Old Fart

    Old Fart Active Member

    Freeze drying is only useful to keep shrinkage to a minimum, it has very little preservation properties beyond that. Especially in keeping the bugs from finding and "enjoying" the velvet. That's a lesson I learned the "hard way"! I've been preserving velvet antlers for many years with the following method. I've used it for very soft summer antlers and to preserve the dried shards of velvet on half rubbed antlers. I submerse the rack in alcohol for half a day or so. That kills any bacteria that may cause decomposition and pulls moisture from the velvet. Then the rack goes into a Borax solution for about half a day and then back into the alcohol, again for at least half a day, then....done. If the rack is soft under the velvet I repeat the steps for several days until I feel enough Borax has been absorbed into the velvet. The final step in both cases is the soak in alcohol. ANY alcohol will do. The sole purpose of the alcohol is to remove the water and kill bacteria. Cheaper is better and I get my Methyl alcohol from my local LP dealer, they use it to clean LP tanks before filling. At that point you can send the "soft" antlers to a freeze dryer. If they are hard under the velvet, just let them dry out.

  3. When say "borax solution" pease explain. Just borax or with something?

    Thanks -Kerwin
  4. Old Fart

    Old Fart Active Member

    "solution" kind of implies that the borax is dissolved in "something"........unless they have changed the meaning of the term since I took Chemistry. BORAX AND WATER!
  5. turkeyshooter

    turkeyshooter Member

    How much Borax to the water per gallon?
  6. Old Fart

    Old Fart Active Member

    I always made a "concentrated" solution. Pour off the clear solution and leave the undisolved borax in the original mixing container and then add about 1/4 the original volume of water to your clear solution. To use a totally "concentrated" solution on the antlers usually results in a precipitate attaching itself to the velvet.......that ends up being a dry powder residue that needs to be cleaned off the velvet.
  7. What is so hard about looking for things in a supply catalog? Grab a McKenzie catalog, open it up to the tanning chemicals section, flip a few pages and you will see 'antler in velvet' tan in a quart bottle. Instructions are on the bottle. Then all you need is a syringe. Not that I am knocking you Old Fart, or your process by any means but alot of these inquiries can be answered by simply thumbing through a supply catalog. I'm not picking on you either rdaniel, just a little advice.
  8. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    Preserves-It. Bruce Rittel's product.
  9. Old Fart

    Old Fart Active Member

    I preserved my first set of velvet antlers over 40 years ago.....before there was anything in the catalogs or freeze dry machines. And it wasn't just a "lets do this" idea, it evolved with each set and the failures that came with it. You have to bug proof the velvet an both hard and soft tissue antlers and then deal with the soft tissue preservation. That means, eliminate shrinkage.....usually by freeze drying. I was "fortunate" enough to have access to embalming products from a friend in the mortuary business. Unfortunately those products aren't really designed for "long term" preservation that's on display. Freeze drying was a great tool, but unfortunately the bugs love the finished product. At least since Edolan-U was removed from the market. I went back to the old stand by, BORAX, and it works....it's cheap ....and it's easily available!
  10. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    If they are hard and stopped growing then it will dry or already is dry with nothing. My dad has a rack from a buck killed in 1953 that was in velvet, hard horned. They still have the velvet on them and they hung in the carport for the last 25 years. None of my hard horned velveted antlers from deer I've killed got anything on them and 20 years later are doing just fine. Bug proofing may be an issue, so the borax trick may take care of that or what I use is flying insect spray.