A dad and his son were fishing in Missouri when they discovered a rare elk antler, wildlife officials say.
The Missouri Department of Conservation says the “unique” elk antler was attached to the animal’s skull plate, as seen in a photo shared on Facebook. This means the elk did not shed the antler, as male bulls do each year.
Sam Clarkson and his dad, Ben, were fishing at Sowards Ford Access on the Grand River on Dec. 3 when they found the antler in the riverbed, officials say. They then alerted a conservation agent.
“It looks to be old, like it had been in the water for quite some time,” said Harrison County Agent Cpl. Josh Roller. Officials say that it may have come from an elk that wandered into northwest Missouri, or it may be “very old” if it was protected under mud. Its origin is unknown.
Roller “issued a Wildlife Disposition for the pair to legally keep the antler.”
In Missouri, “any person who finds and takes into possession a dead elk with antlers still attached to the skull plate must report it to a conservation agent within twenty-four (24) hours to receive possession authorization.” This is not the case for antlers that were shed before they were found.
“Congratulations to Sam and Ben on this rare find,” officials said.
Many people who came across the Facebook post were impressed with the Clarksons’ nature discovery.
“That would be so cool to find,” one person replied.
“Very cool,” said another. “I’ve done a lot of walking along creeks and rivers and found a few interesting things but nothing like that. That’s something he will always remember.”
“Absolutely incredible especially the location,” replied another.
Elk in Missouri
In Missouri, conservation officials say you are most likely to find elk in parts of Carter, Reynolds and Shannon counties. Those are all in the southeast portion of the state, but the antler was found in northwestern Worth County.
While elk are not common in Missouri, they are believed to have once roamed the state.
“Before the coming of Europeans, elk, or wapiti, probably ranged over the entire region of what is now Missouri,” the Department of Conservation says. “By 1830, elk were becoming scarce; they eventually were limited to just the northwestern and southeastern parts of the state. By the 1880s, they were extirpated.
“Today, elk have been reintroduced, in large part, because of their popularity for hunting and ecotourism.”