Canadian Antler Thief Stole 14 Deer Mounts, Four Hides, and Ammo

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The antler thief also got away with four hides and some ammunition

A wall full of European mounts.

The collection of stolen European mounts included skulls from both mule deer and whitetails. Photograph courtesy Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are seeking information about a mass antler theft that took place at a residence in B.C. earlier this month. The thief stole 14 deer mounts, along with a bear hide, a wolf hide, a sheep hide, a mountain goat hide, and multiple boxes of .22 ammo.

Authorities with the RCMP first received a report about the break-in on Feb. 9. It took place at an abandoned property on 98 Street in Fort St. John, according to a press release from the agency. Officers arrived at the residence to find the rear door kicked in and all the deer mounts missing from the walls.

Three European mounts on a wall.
A few of the mounts that were stolen from the residence. Photograph courtesy Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The collection of missing European mounts included a mixture of mule deer and whitetails. The stolen hides were also valuable and included a cinnamon black bear hide, photographs show. Although it’s unclear who owns the abandoned property, they were clearly a hunter (or a family of hunters) who spent years building their collection.

“This collection represents years of trophy hunts and fond memories to the family,” RMCP constable Chad Neustaeter said in the press release, which includes a link and a phone number for people to submit anonymous tips. “Any assistance the public can provide in potentially recovering these items would be greatly appreciated.”

It’s unknown if the authorities had found any suspects as of Thursday, but Neustaeter asked the public to keep their eyes and ears open for anyone who might be trying to sell antlers or hides.

A cinnamon-colored black bear hide.
One of the hides stolen from the residence was a cinnamon-colored black bear hide (pictured). Photograph courtesy Royal Canadian Mounted Police

These items can fetch a pretty penny as there is now a thriving underground market for stolen heads, hides, and antlers in North America. The price of deer and elk antlers has climbed steadily in recent decades, with prime elk sheds fetching around $20 a pound, according to one antler buyer based in Colorado who spoke with Outdoor Life in 2022. He explained that the market for trophy racks is even crazier, with some buyers willing to cough up $40,000 or more for a trophy mule deer head.   

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Antler theft has gotten particularly bad in the American West, where hunters have had their trophies stolen from backyards, truck beds, and even backcountry campsites. Most of them never see these trophies again as they’re funneled through various buyers, and the antlers are sometimes re-purposed and re-sold as dog chews or trinkets. The only exceptions are when a thief slips up and does something dumb (like attempt to sell a distinctive rack), or when an honest antler dealer or pawn shop broker calls in a suspicious item.

“It used to not be a thing, but it seems like it’s becoming more prevalent these days,” a local police sergeant in Wyoming told OL. “I think most of this stuff is driven by money, and I think it’s one of those markets where it’s easy to get rid of. Antlers are easy to hide, cut up, or dispose of.”

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