Sunshine and unseasonably warm weather made for a spectacular day to celebrate the 56th 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, 9,696 pounds of antlers were sold at the auction, roughly 2,348 pounds more than 2022. Bidders paid an average of $22.53 per pound of antler this year, down from last year’s average of $27.41 per pound.
A total of 164 registered bidders participated in Saturday’s auction, which yielded a total of $218,382. During the past decade, the auction has brought in an average of $137,325.
Key to the success of the auction is the long-standing partnership between the National Elk Refuge staff and Headwaters District Scouts (formerly Jackson District). 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 proceeds are 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.
Congratulations to the Scouts and Scout leaders for making this year’s auction a success!