One of my favorite pastimes is to paint. Another is to go “bone hunting.” I decided to combine them both to make a super fun, gratifying and rewarding craft!
For a while now, every time I go outside on a hike or to hunt, I’m not only pursuing adventure or my quarry, I also search for what nature left behind. I always try to keep my eyes to the ground and scan for a little bit of white sticking out of the brush, or a pile of leftovers from a previous animal’s meal. Or, especially in the spring, for some recently-dropped sheds from a whitetail buck. And, when I am successful with a hunt, I try to use every part of the animal I can – and this includes the bones. This has become my biggest hobby.
What I love to do with these bones is much more than just collecting them – in fact, I love to make art from them. Whatever animal it may be (deer, coyote, horse or turkey), I feel decorating the bones of the animal is a way to connect with it and respect the animal’s life. I’ve made many things from animal bones. Some of my favorite crafts I’ve made include a deer molar earring, a pheasant-foot necklace and a hog-nosed bat from a horse’s spinal vertebra!
Hunting these bones is super fun and very rewarding. It’s like a treasure hunt every time you go outside! The best place to hunt for bones is underneath fallen trees or logs, in the underbrush or under bushes and places that are dark and serene. Animals go to peaceful places to pass, so these are the best spots to find bones.
In some areas, it’s illegal to own bird parts or pick up roadkill. It’s also wrong to use ANY parts of a poached animal. Make sure to check your local laws and hunting seasons before hunting for your bones.
Once you have a bone you would like to paint, give it a good wash before you begin. I like to use a scrub brush to make sure any leftover soil or decay is washed off, so the paint will apply smoothly. Make sure the bone is completely dry before painting. I chose a Whitetail Doe Skull to paint for this project.
Next, figure out what you want to paint. There are so many different bones that provide varying canvases. Some popular bone artists bejewel cleaned animal skulls, to create magnificent works-of-art. Others paint incredible scenes on bones. You can find where people have hydro-dipped bones, and a few even use pyrography to make beautiful designs! Here, I kept it simple and applied runes on the deer skull.
Lastly, you let your art dry. Bone painting is a simple, fun way to get outside, learn more about your surroundings, and to pay respect to Mother Nature.