On a first trip to Jackson Hole, the spectacular Antler Arch makes someone like me, a city girl, wonder how many elk it took to build. As it turns out, just like in the movies, no elk were harmed in the making of this arch.
Every spring, the thousands of elk that spend the winter in the National Elk Refuge, which celebrates its centennial this year, shed their antlers before migrating to summer pastures. The Boy Scouts of Jackson Hole comb the refuge’s ranges, gathering the antlers that are the focal point of the Elkfest and Antler Rendezvous, dedicated to preservation of the elk population. Since the first Antler Auction was held in 1968, proceeds have been donated to long-term projects to improve elk refuge habitat, such as planting range grasses and enhancing irrigation. The auction takes place this first weekend, May 19th and 20th, and leads into the Antler Rendezvous, a week devoted to dealers and artists selling antlers, antler art and finished antler products.
The National Elk Refuge, founded in 1912, is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, established by Theodore Roosevelt with the designation of Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903. There are now over 150 million acres among 556 wildlife refuges and 38 wetland districts. The National Elk Refuge preserves, restores and manages winter habitat for the Jackson Elk Herd as well as for endangered species, birds, fish and big game animals, and promotes compatible human use of wildlife and wildlands.
Come visit us in Jackson to celebrate the beginning of a new century for the Elk Refuge! Click here to learn more about the history of the National Elk Refuge: