They are truly Mother Nature’s gift and I take great pride in creating something special in ever piece. It amazes me on how these animals survive harsh winters, hunting season and most of all car collisions.
Deer, moose, elk and caribou shed and grow back their antlers each year. They shed (or drop, as locals would call it ) in the winter depending on region. The re-growth process starts with what is called velvet stage in the summer, where they can grow 1/4″ – 1″ in one day on larger animals. Once Mother Nature decides when the antler growth process is completed, usually in late summer, the velvet dies and the mineralization of antler to hard bone occurs. The animal then rubs off the dead velvet revealing these beautiful white antlers. The antlers change in color as the animal continues to rub against trees marking its territory for the upcoming mating season. What triggers the shedding (or dropping) of the antler is the length of the day in the dead of winter, making it difficult for antler gatherers to retrieve these antlers due to snow cover.
There is a small window of time to retrieve what I call #1 shed antlers that I use in my creations. Squirrels, field mice and porcupines love to eat these works of nature, thus making the antlers worthless to antler artists like myself.
Professional shed hunters venture out in the dead of winter tracking these animals. The real pros have outdoor field cameras to assist them in knowing the location and timing of the shed process. They get top dollar for their antler discovery if unblemished. Most people wait until late winter, early spring to venture out to find the ‘holy grail’ of antlers and beat cabin fever. Some use man’s best friend, the dog.
Dogs can be trained to sniff out antlers throughout the forests and fields. The dogs are rewarded very well with awesome treats they don’t normally receive. They have a great sense of smell. Humans can’t detect any smell of the antler. When I first got into the antler artistry trade, I came across a web site for training your dog to find antler sheds. The NASHDA.
The North American Shed Hunting Dog Association cover dog training and even have clubs and events. Very cool site, check them out:)
Thousands of pounds of naturally shed elk antler are gathered each year in the National Elk Refuge and sold by the Boy Scouts. These are the only antler sold at this auction. The BSA Elk Antler Auction is always held on Saturday one week before Memorial Day weekend in Jackson Hole, WY.
I’ve purchase the majority of my #1 top quality sheds from Antler Brokers out west. My wife and I paid a visit to Montana and hand selected a number of naturally shed antlers from a broker and had them shipped back to Vermont. I purchase them by the pound and only from reputable shed antler dealers.
Sorting through Antler Sheds
Antler Sheds from Local and Broker Dealers
I enjoy creating one-of-a-kind works of functional art provided by Mother Nature herself.
I always welcome custom work which is my specialty. I enjoy working with the customer, directly, to create a custom piece of antler art for their home and/or business utilizing a physical media created naturally and truly renewable.