Shed antler hunting has increased tremendously in popularity in recent years, both as a hobby and as a way to make money. Crafters use shed antlers for a variety of projects, including chandeliers, lamps, belt buckles, knife handles, buttons, door handles and more. Antler collectors pay high prices--sometimes hundreds of dollars--for large and unusual antlers.
Learn about the grading system often used in selling antlers. Grade 1 antlers are freshly shed and are the most valuable. They are brown, have no natural chips, and have not been chewed on by rodents. Grade 2 antlers have faded a bit in the sunlight but are still in good shape. Grade 3 antlers have lain on the ground for a year or more and may have cracks from weather exposure.
Learn what types of antlers appeal to buyers. Crafters often buy in quantity. Chandelier makers may want only right-side or only left-side antlers. Antlers with unique formations lend themselves to unusual crafts.
Consider selling antler pieces. Knife makers may only be interested in the base and main beam of the antler, while keychain or finial makers may only be interested in the tips. You may be able to make more money selling an individual shed by pieces rather than as a whole.
Know how to score antlers. Antlers are scored by the Boone and Crockett scoring method. The higher the score, the more the antler is worth. Antler features that score points are long tine length and heavy mass. In addition, any antlers with exceptional features, such as lots of points, radical asymmetry, incredible mass or long tine lengths will bring more money from collectors.
Obtain antlers to sell. You can gather antlers on your own by searching for them in fields and forests in the spring, soon after deer drop them. You can also find antlers at garage sales, in antique stores and in some sporting goods stores.
Find markets for your antlers. Ebay is a great resource. There are many antlers for sale on eBay at any given time. Full-time antler buyers may be difficult to locate, but some people make a living simply buying and reselling antlers. Ask around at sporting goods stores for antler buyers in your area. Check local classifieds in newspapers and online for crafters and antler buyers.
- Asian markets pay good money for antlers for medicinal uses; however, this is for velvet antlers, not shed antlers.
- Check regulations on gathering and selling antlers. Some areas prohibit collecting antlers, such as state parks, national parks, forest preserves and other areas. Check local ordinances.
- Check regulations on border crossings. An increasing number of shed antler hunters go to Canada to look for sheds. Regulations on bringing sheds across the border are in constant flux. These regulations are implemented over concerns of spreading mammalian diseases. Check on current regulations with both U.S. and Canadian agencies months in advance of your trip.