Carving moose antler isn’t easy. You have to hunt for the shed antlers in the woods in the spring, hoping the wintry weather hasn’t deteriorated them too much since the bull moose dropped them in December, after rutting season. The antler itself is so hard the carver needs power tools to dig into it, creating a stinky storm of antler dust. But if all goes well, the end result will be a piece of wildlife art to decorate a home or camp.

Lonnie and Janet Jandreau of Maine Antler Works in Ashland – way up in Aroostook County, prime moose territory – work as a team, with Lonnie doing the rough work to get into the thickest part of the antlers, while his wife does the finish work. The tableaus they carve are often, unsurprisingly, moose, but also fish, ducks, eagles, bears, trees, cabins and camp scenes. They got into the business of antler carving last year. Before he learned to carve, Lonnie Jandreau, a forester, gathered moose antlers on the job every spring, and sometimes took a week off in May just to go antler collecting. He’d sell them to carvers and collectors online. Eventually, the Jandreaus connected with a Minnesota woman who offered antler-carving classes, and in 2015 they went to Minnesota for a week to learn how to do it themselves.

Today Lonnie Jandreau still collects antlers – he once found nine in one afternoon – but he also buys them from others who work in the woods, paying by size, weight and quality. “We have a friend who has a dog who can sniff them out,” Janet Jandreau said.

Moose antlers don’t last very long in the woods, she said, because other animals chew on them and the weather cracks and degrades them. “Some antlers we get are completely white and light as a feather,” she said. “They’re not good to carve with, but you can use the outside of it to make thin, small ornaments.”

Janet Jandreau said the ideal carving antler is medium-sized – about a foot to a foot-and-a-half long – “but it has to be a nice palm, or at least a flat palm, because the curvier it is, the harder it is to get something (carved) in there.”

If someone brings the couple four antlers, they’ll carve one for the seller for free as payment in kind. Otherwise, expect to pay an average of $200 or $300 for their work. Janet Jandreau says pieces can range from $5 for an ornament up to $550 for a more detailed custom piece that takes hours or days to complete. (They also sell antler scraps for a few bucks as dog chews.)

The Jandreaus’ customers are mostly hunters, camp owners, and others who like being in the woods. They set up shop to sell their wares at craft shows, sportsmen’s shows and other events. You can see more of their work on the Maine Antler Works Facebook page.

— MEREDITH GOAD

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.