Deer begin to grow antlers in early spring. By late summer they are fully grown and ready for that annual battleground of breeding called “the rut.” Whitetail deer antlers are some of the fastest growing tissues known to man. The antlers originate from the pedicles (the part of the skull responsible for antler growth) backwards but begin to sweep forward as they grow at the phenomenal rate of up to 1/2 of an inch PER DAY!!!
While we tend to think of deer antlers and horns (like those belonging to buffalo or cows) as being similar, they are far from it. Antlers are shed every spring, whereas horns are attached the entire life of the animal. These sheds are where we obtain the antlers we use to make our dice and no deer are harmed in getting these antlers. Antlers tend to be mostly solid as the blood supply is provided by the velvet, a soft fuzzy blood filled tissue that covers the antlers while they are growing in the spring and early summer months. During this time the antlers are soft and easily broken. Once fully grown, they will harden and the buck will begin to rub or scrape the velvet off on small trees and saplings.
So, why did we choose deer antlers as the source for our antler dice? Antler has been in use as tools since the days of early man. In the United States, it was used by the American Indians as everyday tools like awls, for making holes in leather along with billets, drifts, punches and flakes, used in flint knapping. You will also find its use in fishhooks and even tools for straightening arrows. So, why did antler find such a variety of uses from the Neolithic right up until the Europeans discovered the new world? It’s strong, harder than bone, readily worked, and the stuff lasts for ages. Seriously, they are still finding this stuff in dig sites around the country.
Well, at first we skipped the species entirely owing to our familiarity with them as hunters. Whitetail deer typically don’t sport massive racks of impressive antlers until they are between 4-6 years of age. Younger deer have thinner horns that do not have the girth we need to carve our dice from. So we overlooked deer all together and moved on to species like moose and elk, which have truly massive antlers of epic proportions that are collected every year in droves by the boy scouts. Sadly, the majority of elk horns are spongy, porous, and chock full of holes for the majority of the main beam. Much like avian bones, this appears to be nature’s way of keeping the elk’s antlers light enough to be useful. But alas, this is not so useful for the making of dice. So the search continued full circle back to, what turned out to be our not so familiar friends, the white-tailed deer.
As it would turn out, larger deer antler sheds are available with the girth we need and unlike elk antler sheds, they tend not to be porous and full of holes. In fact, these deer antlers tend to only have one hole that runs the length of the main beam. (We fill this hole with a clear resin.) These antlers are not as common as the thinner ones we typically see, so we will only be making these dice in limited quantities. So when these are gone, don’t know when we will be making any more. In this run, we’ve made one full polyhedral set along with a few dozen d20s and 10 Runic d20s as we’ve had several requests for those in bone or antler. (You can learn more about our runic engraving here)
WHITEHOTACTION (verified owner) –
Ordered the full poly set. They’re lighter than I imagined they would be but still feel solid and well made. The natural surface of the antler isn’t hard and slick like plastic. It give the surface of these dice kind of a smooth or soft feel. Given that these are carved from a natural and porous material I’d be surprised if they are perfectly balanced but they don’t favor any sides and seem close enough to random for my needs. They roll beautifully with a nice little bounce. The printed numbers are high contrast and very easy to read. As seen in the pictures the material is not one solid white color throughout, they have shades of grey as well as subtle greens and yellows mixed throughout. The box they came in is also well made and eye catching. This is my first set of artisan dice and I absolutely love them. Truly stunning and functional works of art.
Brett (verified owner) –
Everything WHITEHOTACTION said, but I’d be remiss to not mention how satisfying the sound of their roll is on a natural surface (wooden table). I have just the d20, but it may be my favorite for rolling (even moreso than the amazing mammoth ivory d20).
Garrett (verified owner) –
Love every part of this dice! Amazing feel, amazing sound, super great rolls! Only thing I didn’t like was the wait, but Gencon is a thing, and I understand the wait. Can’t wait to order more!
email@example.com (verified owner) –
I have over a dozen Artisan Dice and I have to tell you I think the deer antler D20 I have is my favorite. This was unexpected for me as I have a Mammoth Poly set and expected that would be my favorite (which I still love and believe is a unbelievably cool set to have).
What I like
-This antler D20 feels good in my hand. It seems to pick up a bit more of the Cold element and just feels nice to the touch.
-it sounds fantastic with just the right bounce
-The look is great. I like the contrast of the numbering to the base color. Some of the woods used are fantastic, yet they do not contrast well with the numbers and this dice does not suffer at all from that
-great dice knowing it is made from an animal product but a renewable resource with what happens with a deer’s antler seasonally.
-These were in stock when I ordered and I paid and received my D20 in the mail by the end of that week (buying dice Artisan Dice say they just made a run of and are advertising reduces/eliminates there bigges negative which is the wait)
I can’t really identify a negative. It is definitely my favorite dice for the price which is very reasonable and if you want a single Artisan Dice to roll at the table this one is great (especially if you are playing a ranger or Druid). Some people may not like the filled in hole with Black material that runs through the dice, but it does not bother me at all as it is a sign of the source material.
If I had to change one thing about my purchase I would have gone for one of the Poly sets. I did not realize how much I would connect with this dice and when rolling advantage in D&D it is the mate for my Mammoth D20.
Hope my review helps you make a decision. I was not disappointed at all and it exceeded all my expectation. I did not intend for it to be my favorite but it ended up that way. Hoping one day they decide to make more polyhedral sets as I now want to have a complete set from this antler material (hint hint).