Last week I attended the 10th annual Whitetail Classic, Sport Show and Antler Auction, held at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa. One of the most fascinating aspects of the show was the antler auction, which is regarded as the largest sale of whitetail antlers in the country.

I watched bidders duke it out for cut antlers and sheds from wild and domestic whitetails, as well as mule deer, elk, moose and reindeer. It was fascinating.


Folks value antlers for variety of reasons, of course, but I was a little shocked at how many people buy them for making stuff: jackalopes, furniture, jewelry, lamp stands, knife handles, chandeliers, drawer pulls… You name an object, and someone has probably used an antler to either craft it or decorate it. It’s a booming industry that I was only dimly aware of.

Others simply collect antlers, and large or unique sheds from wild whitetails can fetch a hefty sum. The photo above shows the matched set from a whitetail that grew a bulbous, tumor-like mass from the base of one antler. I’d never seen such a growth, and I must have had some company, because the bidding was fast-paced.

The buyer wrote a check for $3,300!