Craftsmen use elk antlers to create jewelry, knife handles, spectacular chandeliers, and furniture and many other crafts.

Elk hard antlers are some of the most desired trophies in the world.

An elk bull is valuable for several products at different stages of his life:

If the quality of his genetics and productivity of his progeny are well above average, he may serve as a breeding bull from the age of one - a spiker - until he is fifteen years old in some individuals.

Meat quality is best from age two to five.

Velvet antler (EVA) production is optimum from age two to twelve.

When a bull reaches maturity, and he is at his prime for Hard Antler Trophy production, a producer may choose to harvest that bull for his trophy value. Most often, this will be done on a CHP - a Cervid Harvesting Preserve, where clients can seek the trophy they desire, and harvest that bull in a safe and humane fashion. This is a preferable alternative in many ways to slaughter in an abattoir, not least of which is the significantly greater financial return the producer and the surrounding community realizes. How significant can this return be? 

Harvest Preserves are a Boon to Local Economy

Compiled and written by Ian Thorleifson

What would it mean to your town if someone built and operated a CHP nearby? What is a CHP? CHPs are Cervid Harvest Preserves areas of private land preserved in their natural state and used to provide opportunities to harvest privately- owned elk and deer. There has been a lot of discussion about the idea lately, with many names used in the discussion CHP, hunt farm, penned hunting. After all the discussion, everyone agrees that harvest of farm raised animals on a CHP can be humane and efficient. Can it also be a benefit to the local economy?

CHPs are currently operating in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, the United States and in many countries throughout the world. CHPs in Saskatchewan are well established and highly profitable, and these operations are probably the best models to look at for Canada.

The owners of a CHP from northwestern Saskatchewan have agreed to provide some real numbers for the 2001 operating year, on condition we do not use their names:

  • Income: 80 bulls harvested per year, average $8500. CDN = $680,000. gross.
  • Expenses:
    • One time establishment costs:
      • $200,000. to build the Lodge, and $90,000 for the fence, both of which are owned by independent contractors all construction labour and materials were locally sourced
    • Landowner receives $8000. annual rent, plus grazes cattle for 3 months
    • $1400 per bull marketing - $72,000 annual total to the Booking Agent (lives in Alberta)
    • $1500 per bull to Lodge operator, who employs 6 people during the season as cooks, cleaners, guides, and trophy and meat handlers.
    • Lodge operator buys all groceries and supplies locally
    • Transport to CHP averages $100. per bull - handled by a local trucker

    • Additional expenditures by clients:
      • After harvest, a local abattoir cuts, wraps, makes sausage and jerky - $500. per bull.
      • Meat is shipped to the client by air cargo
      • About half of the clients take the head and antlers to a local taxidermist he charges from $500. to $3000. for a mount. This one CHP provides half his income
      • Many clients travel with their rented cars to go fishing, tour the mountains, shop at the West Edmonton Mall or do other tourist things before they fly home.


Total: Over $800,000. worth of business activity for this CHP per year, with one third going to the elk or deer producer, and a large percentage spent on other suppliers, most of them local. We can also estimate that about 25% of that gross revenue is paid in taxes to various levels of government.

Most small towns in Canada would welcome such an enterprise operating nearby!

Ian Thorleifson is a freelance writer living in Minnedosa, Manitoba.

Contact him at 204 867 3527 or vike@mts.net

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