Annual elk antler auction totals remain strong

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The rain held off until the bitter end of this year's annual elk antler auction, marking the 52nd year elk antlers collected on the Refuge have been sold at a public auction on Jackson's Town Square.


May 18, 2019 (NER 19-06)

The rain held off until the bitter end of this year's annual elk antler auction, marking the 52nd year elk antlers collected on the National Elk Refuge have been sold at a public auction on Jackson's Town Square. The annual sale is held on the Saturday before memorial Day weekend and is the premier event of the weekend-long community celebration called ElkFest.

This year, 10,320 pounds of antlers were sold at the auction, higher than last year's total of 8,593 pounds but on par with the previous 10-year average of 9,897 pounds. Bidders paid an average of $16.77 per pounds this year, down from last year's average of $18.36 but still 22% higher than the previous 10-year average of $13.80.

A total of 140 registered bidders participated in Saturday's auction, which yielded a total of $186,227, up from last year's take of $173,805. Saturday's total marks the fourth highest total in the auction's history. During the past decade, the auction has brought in an average of $143,846.

Key to the success of the auction is the long-standing partnership between the National Elk Refuge staff and Jackson District Scouts. Each year, Scouts and Scout leaders donate approximately 2,000 hours to prepare and execute the sale, comparable to one Refuge staff member working a 40-hour week for a full year. For their extraordinary effort, the Jackson District Scouts retain 25% of the sale's proceeds, which is used to supplement fees for day camps, leader and Scout training, and other activities. The remaining 75% of the take is returned 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 paying for farming equipment, weed management, and seasonal employees that operate the Refuge's irrigation program.

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 share images form the sale.

Next year's antler auction is set for Saturday, May 16. 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.