Deer Skull Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Deer Skull Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

An ancient symbol that mankind has a very long history with, Deer skull tattoos are an artistic choice that can speak volumes. After all, they’ve been inspiring us and feeding us since the first hunter went out to feed themselves and their family.

Today we’ll explore the symbolism behind this most recognizable animal’s skull, giving you a little bit of its rich history, the symbolism behind it, placement trends, and more. Read on to find out why Deer skull tattoos are such a powerful skin art option!


What is the History of Deer Skull Tattoos?

Men have been hunting deer since the dawn of time, so it’s fairly realistic to say that the history of deer skull tattoos is pretty closely knit to our own. We even have a find from the now-extinct Neanderthals which dates back about 51,000 years, and consists of the carved toe bone of a deer!

What about deer skulls, though? Well, as early as 11,000 years ago, deer skull headdresses were definitely a thing, and our findings at the Starr Carr site in Yorkshire, England reflect that this is 100% true.

Hosted in the British Museum in York, these Mesolithic headdresses still have their antlers and we can even tell a lot about how they were made. It is believed that they were worn for either shamanic purposes or even as a part of the hunt, where the hunter might assume the skills of their prey in addition to their own!

Needless to say, the Cervidae family of which deer are a part of exists everywhere in the world except Australia and cold Antarctica, so Deer skull tattoos are likely some of the oldest skin art around!


What Do Deer Skull Tattoos Symbolize?

There is a lot of symbolism when it comes to deer skulls. For one thing, it represents the triumph of the hunter.

People seem to forget that a stag has some serious horns at their disposal and can definitely hurt you, so a deer skull can also represent a fierce spirit, which is at one with nature.

The antlers are also quite symbolic. These famous Stag defense-measures regenerate yearly, growing from the bony pedicles and elongating at a rate of up to 2 centimeters per day until fully grown. This has actually fascinated scientists and understandably so – as they possess mammalian stem cells capable of FULL regeneration.

As such, deer skull tattoos aren’t necessarily symbolic of death and gloom, but can even represent the triumph of life and the spirit, as evinced by the mighty antlers that outlasted even the host which they grew upon!

What Do Deer Skull Tattoos Mean?

The meaning is going to be based on a lot of different variables. For instance, if the tattoo’s owner has some Native American ancestry, the deer skull might be painted a certain way in order to indicate this. Symbols of power might be placed around deer skull tattoos as well, to mean that the owner has a shamanic bent.

This is also a popular tattoo for hunters, as a way to show respect to the animal which has fed them and provided them with the thrill of the hunt.

In some cultures, it is even believed that the deer’s antlers gave it spiritual authority, as their antlers reached up to connect the creature to the sky.

It’s a powerful symbol and the meaning is going to be based on your design. Worn alone or paired with other symbols, it’s a powerful artistic choice with a very long tradition in our own history as a species.


Where Do Deer Skull Tattoos Usually Go?

Deer skull tattoos are actually most often placed on the back. This gives the owner a lot of space for their design to display this ancient symbol of power, grace, and the hunt.

The next most common placement will be on the upper, outer arm where deer skull tattoos may be displayed or easily hidden when it’s time to go to work.

An ankle tattoo of a deer skull is uncommon, but has certainly been done, and even a hip placement can have a lot of significance, as if to express that the owner is, in the heart, both spiritual and very much the hunter.


Characteristics and Styles of Deer Skull Tattoos

Deer skull tattoos are often done with photorealism, although if the skull is painted then watercolor and other vibrant color tattoo styles are often employed. That’s not to say that all of them have color, however, and black and white realistic depictions are also quite common.

With such an old symbol, naturally there are also tribal depictions that weave in the imagery of the Deer skull, and some may even go for the more comical New School style to depict a shaman with a sense of humor – which certainly tells you a lot about the tattoo’s owner.

Start off by thinking long and hard on your design and after that, we really recommend that you find an artist that you like and thumb through their portfolio, not looking for deer skull tattoos specifically, but to see which styles your artist is most proficient in.

This will help you to not only get an idea of what the finished work may look like, but to also inspire you in selecting the style that best fits your individual personality and the message behind your deer skull tattoo.


Some closing comments on Deer skull tattoos

Today we’ve taken a closer look at the history, symbolism, and even some preferred placement options for Deer skull tattoos. As you can see, as a symbol it has strong ties to hunting, grace, and even the shamanic arts, but even just from an aesthetics perspective is hard to go wrong with Deer skull tattoos.

So, take a little time to perfect your design and to find an artist that you like. With a symbol as primal as the deer skull, your skin art is sure to be a powerful expression of exactly who you are!

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