The Genesis of Antler Art

It was a chilly afternoon this last Wednesday, one with a steady breeze that foretold of a coming Rocky Mountain cold front that would be clogging the sky with snow by Thursday. I spent the morning orchestrating the learning of a batch of busy 3rd graders  in place of my fly-fishing friend. I was his substitute.

It was a good day with his students, but I was still mentally tired by noon when he returned. I parted way with the kiddos and headed home to relax. Then I got bit by the cabin-fever bug. I had to get out of the house and into the presence of trees, deer, and rocks. I didn’t see any deer that day, but I did see plenty of pinion, ponderosa, and cedar trees. I also saw and tripped over plenty of rocks.

The spot I choose to hike Wed. was one I had been to once before. That last trip, about four years ago, had been a successful day as had this trip I am describing. One that first trip I had found my first ever arrowhead. I was crossing a flat outcropping of orthoclase rich granite and happened to look down where my feet were pounding. If I don’t look down where I walk I will trip up myself. There it was, right by my toe. It was a broken tip from a longer head that was likely crafted for taking down elk.  Long points probably delved deep into the vitals of the large animals.

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That day four years ago I also found a medium-sized elk antler and a couple of deer antlers. My trip this Wed was a mild success too. I found an elk skull that had been the victim of a mountain lion. The skull was cool in that it only had the nubs from the antlers. It had died soon after shedding its antlers. I come across a lot of carcasses in the mountains. Many are mountain lion kills. It is rare to find skulls from shed bucks or elk. Usually I find female skulls. Sometimes I find an entire head with both antlers. I like those the best, I use them for my turquoise art.

This Wed I also found a matched set of deer antlers but they were at least 3 years old. Maybe I’ll cut them up for dog chews. Dogs go batty over antler dog chews. The last item I found on this trip was a single elk antler. It turned out to be the match of the antler I found about four years ago on my first foray into this spot. It was within one hundred feet of where I had found that first antler, in a thick grove of aspens and crushed down grass.

Having Lyme Disease, I once again pushed myself too far and completely wore myself out. My knees hurt for more than a day afterward. I miss the days of being disease free and hiking for antlers for eight hours straight, three days a week. Now I can only handle three to four hours of very slow walking, once a week. And that is still too much, but I have to get out in the sticks and rocks. That is when I feel the most peace in my life.

It is these hike where I gather all my supplies for my art work. I strap them to my back as seen in the top photo. Now that spring is here, I will be getting out and trying to find more sources for my art. Once a week.


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