Big Bucks for Antlers

The weather was cool and wet but didn’t dampen the spirits of the bidders at the 48th Annual Boy Scout Antler Auction, held on Saturday, May 16 in Jackson, Wyoming. The sale, held each year on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend, makes available shed antlers collected from the National Elk Refuge.

This year, 10,609 pounds of antlers were sold at the auction. Though the number of pounds was less than last year’s record–setting total of 13,698 pounds, it was still above the 10–year average of 8,901 pounds. Factors that contribute to the number of antlers available include the number of bulls wintering on the Refuge and the timing of the elk migration off the Refuge to summer ranges. 

Most notable, however, was the average price per pound paid this year by the 140 bidders registered at the sale. Bidders paid a record–setting average of $17.03 per pound at Saturday’s auction, or $5.76 per pound higher than the $11.27 average seen over the past 10 years. The number of buyers may have contributed to the competitive sale and increase in the price paid per pound. During the past decade, an average of 128 bidders has registered for the annual sale.

A number of matched pairs, which often bring in a higher sale price, were highlights of the sale. The highest price paid for a matched set was $64 per pound for a 22–pound, very non–typical 9×6 set (lot #124). Two other non–typical matched pairs, a 7×8 large set (lot #115) and a 5×8 unusual pair, (lot #121), sold for $41 and $48 per pound, respectively. Bidders also paid top dollar for beetle cleaned skulls. Though a number of the skulls brought in $700 to $900 apiece, a 7×7 very large skull (lot #125) was sold for $5,100.

A list of each of the auction’s items, including the lot number, weight, and a description of the item, can be viewed here.

With the number of antlers for sale and the record–setting price paid per pound, Saturday’s sale yielded a total of $195,432. Refuge records indicate this year’s total was the second highest in the auction’s 48–year history, exceeded only by last year’s figure of $233,614. During the past decade, the amount generated from the auction has averaged $101,789.  “This unique partnership with the Jackson District Boy Scout organization is incredible,” said Refuge Manager Steve Kallin. “It represents an exemplary effort between a government agency and a non–profit organization.

The majority of proceeds from the antler auction (75%) are donated to the National Elk Refuge, which manages approximately 25,000 acres as winter range for the Jackson Elk Herd. The funds are used for habitat enhancement work on the Refuge, including paying for seasonal employees that work with the Refuge’s Range Specialist in the irrigation program. The remaining 25% of the sale’s proceeds are given to the Jackson District Boy Scouts, recognizing the extraordinary effort it takes to pull off such as large event as the antler auction. 

Each year, Scouts and Scout leaders donate approximately 2,000 hours to prepare and execute the sale, comparable to one staff member working a 40–hour week for a full year. The funding the Scouts receive supplements fees for day camps, leader and Scout training, and other activities. A photo collection and a multimedia slide show on theRefuge’s website describe the behind–the–scenes work that goes into preparing for the auction as well as images from the day of the sale.

Next year’s antler auction is set for Saturday, May 21. However, single antlers are available for sale throughout the year at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, located at 532 North Cache Street in Jackson.

– FWS – 

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