The Oxendines of Carrabelle have a Christmas decoration that’s one of a kind.
Its six feet tall and weighs 1,000 pounds and no tree died to create it.
But a whole passel of deer donated their antlers to make it possible.
When Yule rolls around each year, Shawn, Christina and family decorate a tree comprised of dozens of deer antlers.
Christina Oxendine said they started the tree about 15 years ago, an invention that grew out of the necessity of finding a use for dozens of deer horns collected by her avid hunter husband.
After their marriage, Shawn began to hunt and always tried to make use of the whole deer. Each year, he had the heads of antlered bucks mounted to hang on the wall.
Christina said when he reached number 27, she told him it was time to stop, but he continued to collect the racks in a big basket.
When it filled up, Christina had a thought. “Wouldn’t it be neat if we could make them into a Christmas tree?” she asked her husband.
Shawn, a master craftsman, put his mind to it. He mounted a cypress pole and screwed antlers to it to make the basic form. Then he and Christina wired in more to give his tree a gentle taper. Although 95 percent of the antlers are his trophies, one large rack was passed down from his grandfather and a few others are cast horns he has collected over the years. Christina said they sometimes add a few more antlers to the tree.
The only real drawback of their unusual creation is that their seven dogs find the tree a terrible temptation and occasionally a set of antlers makes its way into the yard with some canine help.
That’s OK; there’s plenty more where it came from. The week before Thanksgiving, Shawn was at his hunting camp in Illinois and he has a motion sensitive camera set up near Lake Morality Road to scout for venison on the hoof.
The tree has become a family tradition. When the Oxendines moved from Tallahassee to Carrabelle, they left the 27 trophy heads and the antler tree behind. It weighs 1000 pounds, remember?
But when Christine purchased a real tree, daughter Hannah was unhappy. “It’s not the right kind of tree,” she told her parents.
Doting daddy and mom disassembled the antlers and brought the tree to their Carrabelle home where it has remained ever since.
Although they remove the decorations, the tree remains in a corner of the living room year round. It weighs 1,000 pounds remember?