I have been into antlers for as long as I can remember. My mother got me up before daybreak one autumn monday morning in 1965- I was 6!- loaded me in the truck, and off we went deer hunting. Dad and grandpa had to go back to work but mom had not filled her deer tag. Well mom & I did not load a buck into grampa's '49 GMC that day but did load some mule deer horn. I remember tying each shed we found to a short length of rope and dragging them behind us as we walked all morning. My earliest-or so I like to think-memories.
Selling shed elk antlers to brokers/buyers in eastern Arizona was the closest I got to the real antler business until January 2005. At some point in that frozen high country winter the entire country came electronically to little Show Low, AZ to buy the wildest, finest elk antler sheds in the Milky Way. Not just from biglakejake but from other mentors and friends. During the ensuing years several hard and sometimes difficult facts have emerged that have left many of us antler addicts a little cold. I am writing this guide not to run anyone off but more to clear up a variety of misconceptions I see. They keep coming back to me as questions during auction listings here on Ebay and in my personal life. Here goes.
*Shed elk antlers are from healthy animals that have made it through the winter. The sheds fall when the new antler begins to grow. Bull elk in North America shed their antlers between February and May each year.
*From late August through mid October each year wild bull elk rake trees, spar and engage in serious combat with other similar size bulls many times each day. This results in a variety of broken and chipped tines-most notable in areas where the bull to cow ratio is high. Fewer cow elk to compete for means much more serious fighting.
*Farm raised trophy-class bull elk are kept in pens with supplemented feed, padded posts and no other bulls to spar with during this period-the "rut". Almost all wild bulls have some damage and these 'pet' elk have antlers that are usually "perfect-no chips".
*Wild bull elk are nocturnal and will bed each morning at daylight in heavy cover/dark timber leaving their headgear seldom in direct sunlight. This is the reason wild elk horns are so dark in color compared to the sun-bleached antlers of diurnal farmed elk.
*Shipping trophy class bull elk shed antlers is a near-nightmare! Keeping them IN THE BOX! is hard enough-then there is the cost. A 340+ class set ends up in the box and packed at 27-40lbs. But DIMENSIONAL WEIGHT calculations are applied to these big boxes by the shipping services and you/me/we end up being charged for 99 to 150lbs PLUS a $40 surcharge just for size. Packing these great horns is a labor of luv or I would not be doing it.
* Ebay sellers do not have to state their actual location on the auction listing for any product. A seller can claim to be selling authentic mining claim antiques from Wyoming but is sitting at a pc in Singapore. Are they? Maybe but 'caveat emptor' has great resonance in this age of cyberspace. CAVEAT EMPTOR- Let the buyer beware.
Good Luck All!