*** Due to the nature of this item, when ordered you will get a random shape and size. Size is based on Weight in Ounces ***
True, antlers can be used for jewelry, taxidermy, furniture, etc.. however, as a dog lover (and owner of dogs who like to chew on my stuff..), a super tough, calcium rich piece of antler brings one thing to mind: DOG CHEW! This stuff definitely trumps a bone shaped piece of plastic (made in China), or a rawhide that gets destroyed within 12 hours. Not to mention, reindeer are using these antlers year round, so not every antler is exactly pretty enough to mount over the fireplace. Your dog won't mind the rugged looking antler one bit, I promise. Reindeer and caribou both come from the same family, and share many of the same characteristics.
However, there are some major differences between the two: CARIBOU are native, wild, migratory animals; They tend to be long and lean, suited for traveling large distances. Here, on this continent, we have been tracking and hunting caribou for thousands of years. REINDEER weren't introduced to the U.S. until much, much later. The first shipment of Siberian reindeer came to Alaska in 1892. Unlike caribou, reindeer have been domesticated for thousands of years, before they were brought overseas. As result of selective breeding and domestication, reindeer have shorter legs and thicker bodies, not built for long migrations like caribou. Reindeer tend to keep their grazing patterns within an established home range. When herded, reindeer stick together into a single unit instead of scattering like caribou. Reindeer were brought to North America in efforts to promote economic growth and a broader resource base for the Native Alaskan population. After the discovery of gold in Northwest Alaska in 1898, reindeer were used to their full potential. They were used to pull sleds of mining gear, and a postal reindeer route was quickly established. They also helped answer to the high demand for meat. Reindeer were preferred to sled dogs for carrying supplies, as they were less expensive and could graze freely to find food on their own. Today, thousands of reindeer thrive in Alaska, cared for by a handful of Native Alaskan herders and local farmers. Reindeer herding has become a cultural mainstay in many western Alaskan villages. The traditions surrounding reindeer management, and the use of their products continues today as a proud Alaskan tradition.
THE ANTLER CYCLE: All reindeer grow antlers. In fact, reindeer come from the only deer species with this characteristic; both males and females grown a set antlers from year one. Antlers are shed and re-grown each year. Antler growth is one of the fastest known types of tissue growth in mammals. they start out soft and spongy, made up of nerves and blood vessels covered in fuzzy skin called velvet. They continue to grow (quickly!) for the next 6-8 months. Once they reach full size they begin to calcify, gradually hardening to bone. As the antlers harden, the fuzzy velvet looses nourishment; it dries up and falls off, exposing the hard, bony antler. This usually happens around mid-late summer, equipping the deer with solid means of protection and security for toughest times Alaska has to offer: winter. As the year comes to a close, antlers start to drop. Older bulls and non-pregnant females will typically drop in the wintertime, and the rest of the herd will shed over the next few months. Pregnant females actually hold on to theirs the longest. They don't drop until springtime, after they have given birth. Having antlers will give a pregnant mother an advantage over the rest of the herd, ensuring enough food for her and her developing calf. Now we are back where we started. The old antlers have dropped, and new ones are well on the way. While reindeer move on with their own cycles, we have picked up their discarded antlers and found a great way to put them to use one more time...and make our best friends a little happier.