One day while attending graduate school in Montana, I wandered into the Slide Inn a fly shop on the banks of the Madison River. The shop’s owner, Kelly Galloup, had a reputation as a trout-crazed wild child, and his fly-tying abilities and patterns are known all over the world.
The shop displayed an eclectic collection of fishing memorabilia – antique bamboo rods, replicas of enormous brown trout, and photos of legendary anglers from days gone by. There was a ton of interesting objects to look at, but my eye jumped to Galloup’s fly-tying desk. Perched atop it was a large elk antler, sporting every manner of fly-tying tools imaginable.
I snapped a quick photo and was determined to make my own.
Making a Tool-Holding Antler
That spring I found a whitetail shed that happened to sit flush on a table. Using 1/8th- and 3/16th-inch bits, I drilled several evenly spaced holes in the main beam of the antler.
While my antler doesn’t hold as many tools as Galloup’s, it keeps every tool I use on a consistent basis organized, so I’m not fumbling around looking for my scissors or hackle pliers.
I have seen other antler tool holders dyed with wood stain, but I prefer the natural color of the antler as I found it. If you can’t find one that sits perfectly level, feel free to grind down the points or the base to make it stable. The result is a beautiful and efficient addition to your tying desk.■
Author: Ryan SparksAuthor Ryan Sparks is a freelance writer and photographer who can be found trying to catch anything that swims with a fly rod or chasing after his pointer, Tippet. His writing and photography can be found at flywatermedley.com
Nebraska law allows a person to pick up, possess, buy, sell or barter antlers or horns that have been dropped or shed by deer, elk and pronghorn (antelope). Shed antler hunting usually picks up in late winter after white-tail and mule deer shed their antlers for regrowth purposes.
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