By Mike Frazier
Setting antlers for a whitetail deer mount can be simple when we are provided with a full skull plate. Trim the skull plate so that the frontal portion of the bone rests about 1/8 of an inch below the front edge of the mannikin. This 1/8″ compensates for the amount of skin that is typically shaved off during the tanning process. Leave about 1/2″ to 3/8″ of bone on the back of the skull to maintain the proper angle of the antlers.
How do we set the antlers if we are provided with only a partial skull plate? What if the back of the skull is missing? The front edge rule still applies. To establish the pitch of the antlers, look for these two things; first, whitetail antlers have a tendency for the first few inches of the main beam to follow the profile angle of the muzzle. Secondly, by establishing a line from the tip of the nose on the mannikin (this point is where the palate rests under the nose), through the front corner of the eye, extending the line to the back of the head. This will establish the level for the lower part of the antler burr.
This “rule of thumb” is only a tool, we should remember that when dealing with nature, “always” and “never” are words we should not attach to our views. This rule does not apply to other species of deer, i.e., mule deer and black tail deer. These deer follow a different “rule of thumb”.