I packed up the last of the deer antlers we have today. Our house was built in the forties as a hunting camp and has been building up a collection of antlers ever since. Most of the were outside either hanging in the corners of the support posts of the eve over the deck or in the old garage with the mountain of other junk. Most just had the top plate of the skull probably three or four had the whole skull one of which was still covered in drying skin. Of the ones outside quite a few were rotted in a nasty kinda way and others had been chewed upon by rats or raccoons I guess. We kept the one pair that was just plate mounted and gave away the two mounted deer heads to my wife's cousins so they would stay in the family, but neither one of us really wanted to have something staring back. Part of my get rid of all the junk that isn't ours program was getting rid of these things.
Last year I was on Ebay when I looked up deer antlers and found that they are easy to sell if they are in good shape. I don't know why, but I was surprised at the thriving trade in animal products for decoration and crafts. For the kind of antlers we have you can get thirty to forty bucks for the largest ones and then down from there. Elk antlers, Bobcat skins (which we have one in a box head and all), turtle shells, wolf pelts, etc. I guess I just never thought of this being something that people still did for a living. I was equally surprised when I got my hunting license and found out that you could also get a trapping license to trap things like otter in state and national forests. I thought trapping went out the mountain man. Not that it bothers me on some moral level, I was just a little surprised.
After selling a portion of them and chucking the rotting ones and into a burn pile I had a good size box left of all the ones that had big points broken off, chew marks, or other defects. I gave those away last weekend through an ad on freecycle which I am trying to use to get rid of more stuff to people who want it rather than trashing it. The man who wanted to antlers is going to turn them on a lathe to make pens. I kept this box to use for possibly making knife handle, knobs for jewelery boxes, etc. Last year I brought a pair to the shop I worked at in Vegas and we cut it up on the bandsaw. The smell was gut wrenching.
Mr. Smith gave me this great wood pen and pencil set that he had turned when I gave him the box of antlers. I know the antlers will go to good use.