When most think of materials used to craft jewelry, fine metals and precious stones likely come to mind. Some of the most stunning and unique jewelry, however, is crafted not from diamonds or gold, but from one-of-a-kind animal parts – like feathers or turkey spurs – from trappers’ and hunters’ harvests.
This unique, sustainable nature-inspired jewelry is so unusual, it is truly a special art the outdoorsmen will appreciate.
Beauty & Uniqueness
Trapper, hunter, writer and jewelry artist Jill Easton constructs her pieces from the baculum (*** bone) of raccoon, mink, fox and beaver. While she notesthat her artistic specialty is “largely under-noticed and definitely under-appreciated,” her creations are supremely unique items that one cannot find by simply walking into a typical jewelry store.
Each piece she creates is crafted from a unique “Love Bone,” coupled with beads, leather and other materials to enhance the beauty of the ivory. Her creations can be found here.
Adding to the distinctiveness of her pieces is the lore surrounding her materials. “In Texas, a woman who was interested in a guy would give him a raccoon baculum on a string with a red thread or ribbon tied around it,” she said. “If he wore it, that meant he was taken.”
Writer and sportsman Jim Casada is yet another artist crafting such unique pieces, making unadorned items from turkey spurs and deer antlers.
“To me, the wearer makes multiple statements,” Casada said. “I am a hunter. I am someone who is proud of my connection with the land. I am an individual who understand the concept of ‘waste not, want not’ and that extends to items of personal attired. I feel a sense of oneness with the natural world and the cycle of life.”
In addition, for Casada, crafting simple jewelry that looks good also feels good.
“It provides precisely the sort of self-satisfaction and inner sense of worth we often associate with the phrase ‘putting meat on the table,’” he said. “In this case though, you are going one step farther in providing an item which is beautiful, lasting and evocative of a link to the good earth.”
Popular materials used for jewelry crafted from animal parts include turkey spurs, feathers, antlers and the ivory of raccoon, mink, fox and beaver.
As noted by both Easton and Casada, creating jewelry from these materials is not only a way to produce thoughtful, one-of-a-kind pieces – it’s also a way to make good use of a harvest’s inedible parts.
“As someone who was taught, from youth, the importance of the concept ‘make do with what you’ve got,’ I’ve always been inclined to get the fullest possible use out of anything I hunted or trapped,” Casada says. “So the underlying value system or ethic has always been there, and any time I saw some potential for use of a non-edible portion of an animal it appealed to me.
“Beyond that, I feel there’s a certain degree of spirituality or connection which comes from wearing or otherwise utilizing parts you cannot eat—feathers, spurs, bones, antlers, fur, and the like.”
Easton, who harvests upwards of 100 raccoons each year with her husband, underscores these thoughts.
“Fur and all the parts that go with it are a green, renewable resource,” she says. “If it weren't for trappers, there would be huge die-offs of raccoons, red and gray foxes and other furbearer species from overpopulation diseases.”
In addition to being beautiful, unique and sustainable, crafting nature-inspired jewelry is also an art that can be accessible to all lovers of the outdoors.
For beginners looking to begin crafting jewelry from animal parts, “the starting point comes with obtaining the raw materials, and my personal inclination would be the simple words: ‘Go hunting,’” Casada says. “Beyond that, look at commercial jewelry, ponder how a concept might work with an item from nature, or, best of all, think creatively. Stores such as Hobby Lobby will have the kind of support materials you need.”
For more helpful information on topics like camping, hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities, please browse the array of blog posts available on the Bass Pro Shops 1Source website.