What are deer but walking sets of bone ornaments waiting to die? Sure, they’re a valuable part of ecosystems across the globe, great ways to totally ruin your car while driving in the country, and the protagonists of classic cartoons about the horrors of early childhood loss, but does any of that distract from how neat their skeletons look?
Great Big Story caught up with Jim Phillips, a Montana man who understands the decorative potential of animal bone better than most. Jim’s Horn House is home to more than 16,000 antlers (and some adorable little skulls, too!).
Despite how intrinsically worrying an enormous room filled with bones may look, Phillips (who also goes by “Antlerman”) actually seems like a pretty normal guy. He doesn’t kill the deer, elk, and antelope to get to their precious head treasures, but only collects what he finds while out on mountain hikes. His 59 years of dedicated gathering may have created a scene straight out of deer hell, but it’s also an impressive display of what decades of stick-to-itiveness can accomplish.
Phillips’ bristly death shrine also shows what Leatherface and family could have accomplished with their own far humbler, haphazardly assembled bone rooms. Perhaps if they had spent a bit more time arranging their collections than terrorizing teenagers, they, too, would have a cool, not-at-all-incredibly-disconcerting antler collection to show off to the world.