Once literally as good as gold, elk ivories are still prized trophies and mementos.
The canine teeth of elk are subtle remnants of longer, actual fighting tusks worn by prehistoric elk. Also called whistlers, buglers, tusks, eyeteeth and dog teeth, they are most commonly referred to as ivories.
Hunters and others prize the amber colored teeth primarily for jewelry, but also as mementos, sometimes as much as, and at one time even more so, than a bull elk’s antlers.
This is the quickest and easiest way I’ve seen of safely removing them.
Elk ivories were once so valued that elk were hunted and poached for the two small teeth alone, nearly to the point of extinction in some areas.
At one time elk ivories were a popular and highly valued symbolic adornment on items of clothing and jewelry for many indigenous tribes. They were also used as currency, with various tribes considering, for example, acceptable payment for a horse to be a certain number of elk ivories.
White hunters also picked up on the fascination with the small tusks. For a brief period in the 1890s elk ivories were in such demand that they sold anywhere from $375 to $2,500 – in today’s dollars – per pair, depending on quality.
Much like the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks, so too did poachers engage in the pursuit of elk ivories.
The practice was finally halted when President Theodore Roosevelt and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E., aka the Elks Club) determined that the elk population was being unduly harmed by the lust for the ivories. The Elks issued a proclamation to their hundreds of thousands of members that the use of elk ivories as acceptable adornment for club members was no longer acceptable.
The B.P.O.E. then became instrumental in promoting conservation and sound management of the American elk.
Today elk ivories are still highly valued, fetching upwards of $36 or more per pair. But the primary attraction of the tusks comes from elk hunters who value the special teeth as personal mementos of a successful hunt.
Following your next successful elk hunt use this method of tapping them out with a hammer and small block of wood.
You will have a pair of ivories that are not only unique to your specific animal and hunt, but that also have a remarkable cultural history behind them.
SEE MORE: Gallery of 11 Leviathan Worthy Elk