Deer antler reproduction business is booming

  • Updated: March 11, 2013 - 1:29 AM

Business is booming for a renowned Wisconsin taxidermist who’s reproducing huge whitetail racks.

hide

This deer is called “Ole Two Row’’ because the deer’s massive rack knocked down two rows of corn when it ran through an Iowa field. It was killed in 2012.

Photo: Nola Lebrecht • Special to the Star Tribune ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Talk about buck fever.

Klaus Lebrecht has cradled some of the biggest and most famous trophy deer antlers in whitetail lore. Bucks like the incredible Minnesota Monarch — a world-record 39-point rack found near Ely in 1989. Or the eye-popping James Jordon Buck, a brute taken in Wisconsin in 1914 but still wowing hunters as one of the most famous whitetails ever.

A hunter, Lebrecht has never bagged a world-class deer himself, but he works with them daily as a renowned taxidermist and maker of antler reproductions. His replicas — virtually impossible to distinguish from the real thing — are admired nationwide by visitors of many outdoor stores, including Cabela’s, Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops.

“Would I love to shoot a giant deer? Yeah,’’ said Lebrecht, 54, of New Richmond, Wis., 20 minutes east of Stillwater. “But I’m not obsessed with getting a record-book deer. I find joy working with these as pieces of art. I feel privileged.’’

Lebrecht will bring some of his work, including the Minnesota Monarch and the Ghost Buck, a rare albino deer with a huge rack found in Wisconsin, to the Minnesota Deer Classic this weekend in Blaine, the show’s new home. Lebrecht remembers when he first brought his replicas of 15 of the greatest whitetails to the show years ago.

“You couldn’t get to our booth,’’ he said. “It was packed. It was the first time people had seen those heads.’’

Now, he said, people have seen some of the big whitetail racks at those outdoor stores and elsewhere. “It doesn’t have the wow-power it used to,’’ he said.

Still, business for Lebrecht’s Antlers by Klaus, one of a handful of companies that make antler reproductions, is booming. And hunters still come to inspect the massive antlers — and dream.

For Lebrecht, it all started about 30 years ago, when his interest in the outdoors led to taxidermy. Antler reproductions were in their infancy, and Lebrecht was intrigued. He paid a fellow to teach him how to make the replicas by casting a mold of the real antlers and then pouring a liquid plastic into the mold.

“After six months, I was about to throw in the towel because I just couldn’t make them look real,’’ Lebrecht said. “They always looked fake — shiny and plasticky.’’ He continued to experiment with various plastics, settling on a polyurethane resin.

“Finally we got there with that realistic look,’’ he said. “We got work all over the U.S. and Canada, and we were off to the races.’’ Besides outdoor stores, he sells reproductions to taxidermists, archery shops, corporate businesses and individuals. The reproductions cost from $250 to $5,000 or more.

Lebrecht often makes reproductions of trophy antlers purchased by a handful of antler collectors. In addition to cash, those collectors usually provide the seller a reproduction of the rack, too. His faux antlers can be mounted with the hides of other deer to create lifelike shoulder mounts or even full-body mounts. Lebrecht gets most of his hides from a supplier in Canada. In Wisconsin, albino deer are protected, so the hide for the Ghost Buck came from a game farm in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, many outdoor stores are turning to antler reproductions because of the high cost of buying real antlers, which can fetch tens of thousands of dollars, Lebrecht said. He said he’ll be doing antler reproductions for new stores Cabela’s is building around the United States and Canada.

The key to a realistic reproduction is the paint job, he said.

“A lot of guys can do the mold and create the cast, but most guys can’t paint them to get that realistic look. That’s what sets us apart,’’ he said.

Lebrecht paints all the antlers himself, up to 500 a year. “I work an average of 12 to 14 hours a day,’’ he said.

How real-looking are the fake antlers?

“If you don’t tell people, most of the time they don’t know they are reproductions,’’ Lebrecht said.

He’s put real antlers on a table alongside his reproductions, allowing people to pick them up and inspect them, and half can’t tell real from fake, he said. “If I put them on a table 2 or 3 feet away, there would be no way you could tell.’’

Doug Smith • 612-673-7667 dsmith@startribune.com





  • related content

  • Above: Klaus Lebrecht with the “Ghost Buck,’’ a reproduction Lebrecht crafted from a famed Wisconsin albino deer.

  • Left: The Knisley Buck, killed with a muzzleloader by Ben Knisley in Meeker County in 2006.

  • Above left: The Minnesota Monarch, the world-record nontypical whitetail sheds found near Ely in 1989.

  • video: To see a YouTube video showing how Klaus Lebrecht makes antler reproduction, see www.startribune.com/a2106. More information at www.antlersbyklaus.com.

    deer classic

    Hours: 3-9 p.m. Friday;10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 21 FINAL
Denver 35
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 88 FINAL
Charlotte 79
Philadelphia 103 FINAL
Detroit 109
Dallas 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
NY Islanders 3 FINAL
Boston 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 4
Vancouver 4 FINAL
St. Louis 1
Chicago 2 FINAL
Nashville 3
Arizona 0 FINAL
Minnesota 2
Carolina 0 FINAL
Calgary 5
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Columbus 5 FINAL
San Jose 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close