I have recently decided to start making antler art and am in need of antlers to do it. I am in the process of obtaining a dealers license for the state of Oregon, but I'm unsure of if that would cover me should I purchase antlers out of my state. Also, I need help understanding the pricing of antlers. I had been under the impression that they were generally sold by the pound, and graded A (well preserved, looks like right off the animal), B (some damage, some white spots), and C (white, damaged). Most of the places on the internet that I'm seeing antlers for sale are not graded and sold that way. If you have any information for me please feel free to reply here or email me. Thank you.
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I did a little of this about ten years ago. Before you invest in any supplies, make sure you learn everything you can about the construction of the items you plan on making. Visit at least one maker of antler products to see what is involved. I found a place in Ennis, Montana, but I don't know it they are still there.
I found that you need a huge amount of antler to start with, because the sheds don't all fit together. They do fit fairly well when the sheds are ALL the same SIDE and all the same SIZE. That seems to apply to all species. Look at the finished product. On chandaliers each layer on the chandelier is the same side(right or left), but not mixed. Mule deer sheds work far better than whitetail, the shape is more consistant.
As far as grading goes, you are about right. Each dealer seems to grade somewhat within that general breakdown. I would find a dealer that you could go to and pick out what you need. Most that I talked with at that time were fine with that. If you are serious, you will need a huge anount of shed inventory, and if you aren't careful as to what you buy, it could be mostly useless. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
Prices seem to have stableized over the years, but they still are set by DEMAND. The big sale in Jackson, Wyo. in May seems to set the price for the year. Or it did so back then. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to go to that sale.
Moose antlers are a different can of worms. Antler carvers, at least the ones that I know, use ONLY fresh sheds. They will not buy older stuff, so the price on fresh is higher.
If you don't find out all this stuff first, you could wind up with a lot of money tied up in antler that is worthless to you. Hope it works out for you.
I appreciate all the info, lucky for me we live in an area with a pretty decent muley population. I have a few friends who are ranch hands on some of the local ranches, and I have a few friends who are owners of local ranches. So far, nobody has had any objection about the idea of holding sheds they find for me, and letting me go out to look in March or so. There's a feeding station near town, and in April the dept of Fish and Wildlife will let me go up there an look for Elk sheds. I really don't want to do any thing too fancy, no tiered chandaliers, no furniture, just some simple items. I don't like anything that's too fussy myself, so I would have a hard time trying to make and sell something I'm not fond of. So, I don't need anything with lots of points, or a really great B&C score, fork horns up to 4 point at the most, as far as the deer antlers go. I would like some nice elk antlers, though. Anyhow, (sorry for the rabbit trail!), thank you again for all your info.