Ritchie Erickson found this nontypical moose shed in Cook County in 2022, it had 16 points and scored 133 5/8
By Javier Serna
Grand Marais, Minn. — Richie Erickson knew he was looking at something special. But Minnesota state-record special or world-record special?
Erickson was shed hunting for moose antlers with his father, Chris Erickson, in northeastern Minnesota this May when the two decided to search on opposite sides of a stand of trees.
Although the moose antler was partially obscured by a fallen pine tree, the younger Erickson, 22, of Iron, could see a pair of irregular points.
“I knew that they really shouldn’t be where they were,” he said.
Said his father, “He yelled to me that he found a freak.”
Indeed, this moose antler had nine typical points and seven nontypical points. The antlers were panel-judged by the Minnesota Official Measurers at 1335⁄8, making it the top nontypical shed moose antler in the state, as well as a world record for the Western moose subspecies in the North American Shed Hunters Club book.
Carey Ferrell, president of Minnesota Official Measurers, got a call from Chris Erickson the day the antler was found.
“He said, ‘You ain’t gonna believe the moose paddle Richie just found,’” said Ferrell, himself a moose shed hunter. “The best I can describe it, it’s like a nontypical deer antler with points all over the place. … It had over 82 inches of nontypical points.”
The Ericksons won’t say where the horns were found. After all, they spent the first five years of their decade-long shed-hunting pursuit turning up few, if any, antlers. Eventually, an “old-timer” shared some moose shed-hunting secrets, and the father-son shed-hunting duo has since found hundreds of moose antlers.
“We live in St. Louis County,” Chris Erickson said. “We (shed hunt) from Ely to Grand Marais. What we tell people is we found it right where the moose was standing when he shook and it fell off.”
In order for a shed to be entered into the MOM record book, the county, if known, must be shared.
“There are a couple of unknown (entries in the record book),” Ferrell said. “Ninety-five percent of our stuff, you know the county. The only stuff you don’t know – if it’s older, handed down from your grandfather. You may not know exactly where it came from.”
The Ericksons acknowledge they found the antler somewhere in Cook County.
They were on the first day of a multi-day, shed-hunting outing when the antler was found. The amazing find did not end their trip early as a result.
But with Ferrell finding out about the antler right away – just days before a MOM meeting was scheduled – he suggested the Ericksons get it to him immediately. He knew he’d have plenty of expert measurers around to convene a panel to judge the antler. Any antlers that are going to be in the top 5 in the books, according to MOM rules, require a panel score, Ferrell said.
“I knew they would be top 3,” he said.
Ferrell would end up being the lead measurer, with Dave Boland, Craig Pierce, and former president Sean Grabow present as well to help with the panel score the moose shed.
The Ericksons, reluctantly, handed over the antler.
“We didn’t want to give the antler up because we barely had it,” Chris Erickson said. “What if somebody broke into his truck? Can you imagine if you found that and you never got a chance to look at it for a day?”
Richie Erickson said he wanted to show it to some friends and family and to stare at himself for a while.
But they handed it off to Ferrell.
“It was nice to know where it stood right away,” Chris Erickson said.
And that was beating a record that had stood for 28 years (since 1994) by 5 inches.
Ferrell quickly called Richie Erickson with the news.
“I am pretty speechless, thinking about it still,” Richie Erickson said. “Words can’t describe the feeling when I first found out. Carey asked me if I was sitting down. I had to text him two minutes later because I couldn’t remember what he all said.”
The Ericksons believe the antler, despite its “fresh” appearance was likely sitting there for a year, that it wasn’t a recent drop.
“The front of the paddle looks fresh, but that’s because it was tines-down with a tree over it,” Richie Erickson said. “It didn’t get much sun at all.”
It’s not the first major moose find for the Ericksons. In 2017, they found a pair of bulls, antlers locked, in a pond. That find also garnered some press.
This one has already led to some high-dollar offers for the antler, but Richie Erickson said he isn’t interested in selling his prize.
“I’m happy that he hasn’t sold it,” Chris Erickson said. “There are a lot of reasons to sell it. He is not going to. That is cool, too, because it follows what we have always done, and that is not do it for money. I’m not saying I would never sell one. But overall we don’t. … We don’t do it for the value of it. We do it for the entertainment.”
Shed hunting is “like an Easter egg hunt for adults,” Chris Erickson added.
Most of the hundreds of shed antlers they’ve found have filled the storage space in their two homes and a garage.
Chris Erickson said he’s glad his son found the antler, and not himself.
“He’s going to get to enjoy that thing for 80 years, and I wouldn’t get to,” he said.
But he does wish he had more time to gaze and wonder at this irregular moose antler, which he likened to freakish farmed deer antlers.
“I kind of wish he still lived with me so I could visit with it more,” Chris Erickson said with a chuckle. “He has had to haul it over to my house a few times so I could show it to my friends.”
One cracked point suggests another moose dared tussling with the former antler owner.
“That is from fighting with another moose,” Chris Erickson said. “Something was willing to take it on.”
Richie Erickson said he’s not sure how he’ll display the antler in his home.
“Right now I have it propped up so when I’m sitting in the living room, it’s in front of me,” he said. “It will be displayed somehow. I’m just not sure how yet.”
Editor’s note: Richie Erickson’s record shed moose antler will be on display at the 2023 Minnesota Deer & Turkey Classic, March 10–12, 2023.