Anglers find unusual elk antler and skull plate in Worth County stream bed

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Denver, Mo. – A fishing outing along the east fork of the Grand River in Worth County recently brought Ben Clarkson and his son, Sam, an unusual find. They noticed an antler in the riverbed and retrieved it.  The find at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Sowards Ford Access turned out to be a single bull elk antler attached to a small portion of skull plate. Harrison County Agent Cpl. Josh Roller got a call about the find on Dec. 3.

“It looks to be old, like it had been in the water for quite some time,” Roller said.

Elk are native to Missouri. But they were extirpated from the state by the mid- to late-1800s. Habitat changes and over hunting during pioneer settlement times caused their demise. MDC has restored elk in a limited area of Missouri’s southeastern Ozarks where habitat is plentiful. Elk are not being restored outside the restoration zone in other parts of the state.

In past years, an elk has occasionally wandered into northwest Missouri from western states, and the antler could have come from one of those animals. Or, if buried in mud and protected from weather or rodents, the antler could be very old. Roller said he cannot determine its origin.

Roller wrote a disposition permit that allows the Clarkson’s to keep the antler. Found deer or elk antlers attached to a skull plate can be kept, but only after the finder contacts a conservation agent for a disposition permit.

For more information about elk in Missouri, visit