Since 1968, antlers collected on the National Elk Refuge have been sold annually at a public auction on the Jackson Town Square. The antler auction is now part of a weekend-long community celebration called ElkFest, taking place on the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. Thousand of pounds of antlers are sold at the auction within two to three hours.
National Elk Refuge staff and volunteers begin picking up antlers as soon as they begin dropping in early to mid March. Because antlers can be worth a large sum of money, the National Elk Refuge staff collects them to keep others from coming onto the refuge and taking them illegally, an act known as poaching. Removing antlers also reduces damage to tractors, trailers, and other equipment used during the winter by refuge personnel. The antlers can easily blend in with the snow, potentially damaging machinery if the antlers are accidently run over.
Through an annual special use permit, the Jackson District Boy Scouts are allowed to help the National Elk Refuge staff collect antlers. Scout leaders also spend hours of behind the scenes work to prepare the antlers for sale, including sorting, bundling, weighing, and tagging the bundles of antlers, which are sold in small lots. The Jackson District scout leaders also administer the sales at the public auction. More than 200 Scouts and adult leaders work for nearly 2,000 hours with refuge personnel during the annual antler project.
Eighty percent (80%) of the proceeds from the auction are donated by the Jackson District Boy Scouts to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service toward elk management and habitat enhancement on the refuge.
Antler Auction Facts - Ten year averages
Approximate amount sold per year: 8,369 pounds
Average amount generated from sales: $76,941
Average price per pound: $9.34
Average number of bidders: 146
Average number of states represented by bidders: 30
Click here to read a news release following last year's auction.
Click here to view photos of the annual antler auction.
Dana Olson, Creative Director at Portis Group worked with producer Paul Maddex and writer Julie Kling to make a short video describing ElkFest, including the process of collecting the antlers and scenes from the events. Click here to view the video (3:46 minutes).
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. The antlers are available at the Visitor Center location only and are not available through the Grand Teton Association's online sales.