How to Make a Deer Antler Turkey Tote

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Make this gobbler hauler with an antler, paracord and a little DIY know-how

You’ve been after him since daylight. He flew down the wrong direction, avoided you on the next two sets, and finally committed the fourth time you got in front of him. Trouble is, you are now a mile or more from the truck. And this old gobbler is big. Really big.

You can try stuffing your turkey into your vest, but it's full of decoys, water bottles, and snacks. You can grab him by the legs and toss him over your shoulder, but those spurs are sharp, and the bird will be stiff and sliding off your arm by the time you finally get back to the truck.

The solution is to keep a turkey tote tucked away in your vest. You can buy totes in several forms, but it's easy to make your own. And it’s a fun off-season project. If you are a deer hunter as well, or if you are lucky enough to find a shed while you are out turkey hunting, you can use a section of antler to customize your tote.

We build two styles. Both are made from antler and 550 paracord. You can find paracord at just about any sporting-goods retailer. Choose multiple colors to give your tote a nice look. Don’t have an extra antler handy? You can use a short section of hardwood dowel in its place.

The first tote style we build is made with a 4-inch section of antler that serves as a T-handle. Two sections of drop cord, each about 12-inches long, hang from the handle. Each cord has a sliding loop at the end. An additional weave of paracord covering the two drops extends halfway down from handle to loops, preventing the cords from tangling in your vest and giving the tote a wider spot to rest on your shoulder.

To use, simply open the loops and slide one over each leg, down to below the spurs. Cinch the loops up tightly to the legs. Hold the T-handle in your hand with the cord extending out from between your middle and ring fingers. Toss the bird over your shoulder, holding the antler in your hand. The loops hold the legs tightly. The larger woven area rests on your shoulder, preventing it from digging in but holding tightly on your shoulder as you walk.

Editor's note: Check out Michael Pendley's step-by-step photo gallery as you build this DIY project.

Material List

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1 | Material List

To build these totes, you need paracord, a sharp knife, a lighter and some deer antler.

Material list for Tote No. 1

  • 12 inches of paracord, cut into two sections, one about 4 feet long, and one at 8 feet. Use contrasting colors if desired
  • 4- to 6-inch section of antler, as straight as possible, about 1-inch in diameter
  • Drill with 3/16-inch drill bit
  • Sharp knife or scissors
  • Lighter

© Michael Pendley photo

 

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Step 1

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2 | Step 1

Start by drilling two holes, about a half-inch apart, in the center of the handle.

Tip: Use vice grips or pliers to hold the antler in place as you drill the holes. Tote No. 1 uses a long piece of thicker antler as a grip. Tote No. 2 uses two smaller antler sections. Both are pictured here.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 2

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3 | Step 2

Run one end of the 4-inch cord through one of the holes to the halfway point, then turn and run it back through the second hole so that both ends of the cord extend approximately 2 inches below the T-handle.

Tip: When you run one end of the 4-inch cord through a drilled hole in the antler, then back out the second hole, make sure the ends are even.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 3

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4 | Step 3

Fold the 8-inch section in half, marking the center point with a marker.

Tip: Center the midpoint of the 8-inch section of cord under the two strands below the antler handle.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 4

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5 | Step 4

Start the weave. It may sound confusing to read, but use the photos for direction. Start by looping one side (let’s call it side A) of the long cord over the two droppers from the handle to form a loop.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 5

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6 | Step 5

Run the end of the second side (side B) over side A, then pass it under the two droppers, and up through the loop formed by side A. Pull snug.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 6

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7 | Step 6

Now repeat the process by forming the loop on side B. Pass side A over B, under the droppers, then up the loop. Pull snug again. You should now have the first full knot with a double cross over the droppers and a loop on either side. Slide the finished knot up to the antler handle.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 7

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8 | Step 7

Continue making the weave until side A and side B run out. You should have 6 to 7 inches of weave down the two dropper lines.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 8

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9 | Step 8

Burn the ends of side A and side B with a lighter to prevent them from unraveling and to form a bulb at the ends of the lines to prevent the weave from coming undone.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 9

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10 | Step 9

Tie a sliding loop at the end of each dropper line about 12 inches below the handle. Cut off any excess cord and burn the ends.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Turkey Tote No. 1

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11 | Turkey Tote No. 1

Here's your completed Turkey Tote No. 1.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Easy Carry

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12 | Easy Carry

And here's how you put it on turkey legs for easy carry.

© Michael Pendley photo

Up next, Turkey Tote No. 2 instructions . . .

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Turkey Tote No. 2

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13 | Turkey Tote No. 2

Your tool list for Turkey Tote No. 2 is the same as that for Turkey Tote No. 1.

Material List

  • 20-foot paracord in two sections, 6 inches and 14 inches
  • Two pieces of antler, about 1/2-inch in diameter and 2 inches long

Tip: See our Step 1 photo (Turkey Tote No. 1) for this smaller antler-size reference.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Step 1, Turkey Tote 2

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14 | Step 1, Turkey Tote 2

Double the 6-foot section of cord.

© Michael Pendley photo

 

 

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Next Steps, Turkey Tote 2

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15 | Next Steps, Turkey Tote 2

Come down 12 inches on doubled cord and run the 14-foot section under the doubled loops to the center point.

Next, weave the long section of cord in the Cobra pattern as above until you run out of line. There should be roughly 12 to 13 inches of woven cord with a foot of center cord extending out either side.

Finally, as with the Turkey Tote No. 1 instructions, burn the ends of the cord to prevent unraveling.

Tip: Once the shoulder strap weave is complete, double over the looped end to form a loop to go over the turkey’s head and tighten on the neck. Total length on the woven shoulder strap should finish out around 18 to 20 inches. 

© Michael Pendley photo

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Final Steps, Turkey Tote 2

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16 | Final Steps, Turkey Tote 2

Drill two holes, side-by-side, at the center of the small antler pieces.

Next, run the tag ends of the dropper lines though one of the drilled holes and back up through the other, tie in an overhand knot at the end to prevent them from passing back through the hole, and burn the tag ends.

Tip: Tie an overhand knot and melt the end to prevent the cord from sliding through the antler. Repeat with second dropper.

© Michael Pendley photo

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Turkey Sling

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17 | Turkey Sling

Turkey Tote No. 2 works differently than Turkey Tote No. 1. At around 3 inches long, it's a turkey sling. Loop the antler end over the turkey’s legs just above the spur, loop the opposite end around the turkey’s neck, and sling the tote over your shoulder with the bird hanging at your side. You can keep it on the same shoulder as the bird, or loop it over your head and wear it diagonally across your body. This tote frees both hands to carry guns or other gear as you hike triumphantly back to the truck.

© Michael Pendley photo

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