Despite the steady rain that fell throughout much of the morning, the 49th annual Boy Scout Elk Antler Auction in Jackson, Wyoming this past weekend went off without a hitch. The sale, held each year on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend, makes available shed antlers collected from the National Elk Refuge.
This year, 11,512 pounds of antlers were sold at the auction, 903 pounds more than last year and nearly 25% more than the 10-year average of 9,231 pounds. Factors that contribute to the number of antlers available include the number of bulls wintering on the Refuge and the timing of elk migration off the Refuge to summer ranges.
Conversely, the price paid per pound this year was 23% lower than in 2015’s record-setting year. This year, 138 bidders registered at the sale paid an average of $14.65 per pound at Saturday’s auction, 14% down from last year but still $2.72 per pound higher than the $11.93 average seen over the past 10 years.
A number of matched pairs, which often bring in a higher sale price, were highlights of the sale. The highest paid for a matched set was $155 per pound, bid for a 25-pound, 6×7 set (lot #123). Also topping the $100 per pound mark was a 21-pound 8×8 set (lot #127), which sold for $116 per pound. Bidders also paid top dollar for beetle-cleaned skulls. A 6×8 pair (lot #128) and 7×7 pair (lot #122), both large and retaining ivory teeth, sold for $1,800 and $1,700, respectively.
A list of each of the auction’s items, including the lot number, weight, a description of the item, and the price paid can be viewed here.
Saturday’s sale yielded a total of $175,397. Refuge records indicate this year’s total was the third highest in the auction’s 49-year history, exceeded only by revenue generated in 2014 and 2015. During the past decade, the amount generated from the auction has averaged $114,082. “This event exemplifies community spirit and an incredible partnership with a federal agency,” said Refuge Manager Steve Kallin. “We value our unique working relationship with the Jackson District Boy Scouts and their dedication to this annual event.”
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 projects, including seasonal employees that operate the Refuge’s irrigation program, farming equipment, and weed management. 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 the Refuge’s web site describe the behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing for the auction and show images from the sale.
Next year’s antler auction, which will celebrate 50 years of the partnership between the Jackson District Boy Scouts and the National Elk Refuge, is set for Saturday, May 20. 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.