Since we live in Idaho and spend a fair amount of time in the woods, and since Mr. Vox has been known to hunt deer in the fall, we end up with antlers around the house. (I have to confess, I have no idea why Idaho men seem to want to pick up antlers and bring them home. What for?)
We have a couple of big elk antlers in our backyard in my flower beds. These same flower beds are surrounded by ugly plastic fencing right now because I have a bunch of new plants in there from last fall and our springer likes to dig. The other day, we caught Rocket (the pit) behind the fence several times, and every time he was gnawing on an antler.
Since we go to PetSmart two or three times a month, I know how expensive antler chews can be. After seeing Rocket so interested in my decor, I got what was probably an overdue flash of inspiration: why not make our own?
I got Mr. Vox to find me some antlers in the garage, and lots of the guys I work with have big saws. I talked one of them into cutting a big whitetail shed up for me, then I took all of the pieces and stuck them in a clamp and filed down the rough edges and points. It was really, really easy to make our own deer antler chews. I ended up with five large chews off the one big antler, and then three shorter points from it, plus two little spike antlers from the mule deer buck Mr. Vox shot last fall. Those were too small in diameter for our big dogs, but I passed those along to coworkers with small dogs, gave one to the guy who helped cut them for me, and one to a friend with a very active lab pup. I still brought home four for our own dogs.
If you’ve got access to antlers, a clamp, a saw and a file, you can make your own dog chews. Just as a ballpark estimate, I made probably a retail amount of $150 for basically nothing at all. The only down side (and it is very small), is that it’s pretty stinky to cut and file them, and I hear rumors that the powder can be bad for your lungs. I wore a respirator mask while cutting and filing, just to be safe.
Now I want to go search the foothills for deer and elk sheds that were lost last fall so our dogs and friends’ dogs can have lots of happy chewing time! Every dog that’s received an antler chew has been very happy with them. A couple of ours have already been gnawed down an inch or so, and there are no signs of splintering or other issues that could be dangerous or injurious to the dogs.
It’s a bad picture from my phone, but here’s our crew loving their chews.