How are antlers obtained for Native American arts and crafts?

Hi Paula,

I recently stumbled upon your lovely website and am quite impressed with the vast selection of unique Native American products. I’m very interested in purchasing one of the Zuni fetishes and noticed that the one I’m interested in (Pinky) is carved from antler. Would it be possible to tell me how these antlers are obtained? Any information you could provide me with would be much appreciated. 

Thank you for your time! 

Warm Regards,

Ash

Rabbit Fetish carved from antler by Willard Laate, Zuni

Hi Ash,

Deer and elk shed their antlers in the late winter and regrow them early the following summer. We’ve found them when walking around on our land. It seems there are certain areas where the males go back to shed each year. Sometimes the antlers are found hanging in a bush or low tree showing the buck or bull used the tree to rub the antler off.

It is a completely natural annual process that does no harm to the animal. It is nature’s way. Antlers not only make wonderful carving materials but slices make good buttons for medicine bags and more.

Many artists have stockpiles of antlers they or friends have found. Most Native American artists I have talked with obtain their antlers this way.


Oh, wonderful! Thank you for the informative and speedy response. Much appreciated.

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2 thoughts on “How are antlers obtained for Native American arts and crafts?

  1. Funny story. I sent my son to an old fashioned country school in New Hampshire. In fact, it’s earned its status as a nature conservancy. Highly academic, duties also consisted of clearing cranberry bogs, beaver dams, constant repairs on this 100 year old “main house” where the little 5 student classrooms, a warren of them, were upstairs. A turn of the century experience most kids today cannot experience.

    One day, my son and his friend found a full antler rack and pulled at it til it split like a turkey bone. Each child took his half home in a gesture of eternal friendship,

    That half-rack graced my house for many years, along with bones, shells, animal skulls, shards of pottery and the joys of nature and friendship.

    Regards, DaratheCollector

  2. I love the story Dara. Lucky son !
    It reminds me of how to this day, my husband and I dry out the turkey wishbone and then very carefully, one grabbing each end, start pulling it apart but neither of us really wanting to end up with “more” than the other so we both can have a wish ! The last bone we did this with split exactly down the middle – very cool eternal friendship like you say !

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