By Tom & Mary High of Rocky Mountain Scrimshaw
There was a gentle rain falling that turned the April spring mountains into a fresh silent evening. I sat with my recurve bow six feet high on the limb of a pine tree, patiently waiting for the bear that had been feeding on my month-old donuts and pastries from the Spud Nut Bakery. He appeared silently as a ghost from my right side, walking and then spotting me as he hit my scent trail. He then followed the scent up the limb and stood sniffing looking up not a foot away from my feet. He decided there was no danger and dropped to the ground to enjoy the donuts that were left at the bait pile. He was a beautiful red bear, his coat glistening from the rain drops. Soon the hair on my neck settled down and I came to full draw. The wood shaft disappeared behind his shoulder and with a loud bawl he was gone!
He was the largest Colorado bear I had taken during Colorado Spring bear hunting season, back when we could legally bait bears. Every time I look back at the claw necklace I made my wife, I remember what a great hunt that had been and how my heart pounded as that bruin looked up at me in that tree stand.
We often get questions asking what can be done with the claws and canines from a trophy taken and how to properly take care of them so they will last for many years. There are a few steps needed to properly remove the claw and care for them. When done right, you will have a beautiful keepsake to wear, and remember from that exciting hunt. If taken care of these mementos can last a lifetime. I’ve spent the last 50 years making jewelry from claws and teeth.
Remember, the choice claws are on the front two paws. They are the longest and usually in the best shape.
1. To remove the claw, cut the hide on each side of the claw and cut ABOVE the toe pad. This can be done with tin snips.
2. Dry them out by keeping them in a container of salt for a week or two (this same process can be applied to claws that were frozen~ you want them to thaw and dry out.)
3. If you cut the claws on top of the toe pad you will lose 1-1 ½” of length from your claw. We prefer to clean and remove the hair for our customers.
4. Do not boil! Boiling claws will remove them from their core and crack and damage them.
Remember your taxidermists can remove and replace the front claws with replicas before the tanning process and you will not only have a great mount, but a nice piece of jewelry for keepsake.
For future care of a claw pendant, do not wear it in any water (shower, swimming, etc.). Do not leave in direct sunlight (on a dresser or hanging from your car mirror or on the dash.) Claws are a natural product, not much different that the material of a human fingernail, and water and sunlight can damage them.
We often get requests for cast silver caps that people can put on their own claw. The problem with this is that claws are different and unique so no single cap will fit properly. So we had built all our caps to each individual claw~ bear or lion. Do not forget about the canines, as they can be properly prepared and capped and scrimshawed (hand engraved) if they are not cracked. They make really nice one of a kind jewelry.
2017 makes 50 years of working in bear or lion claws & canines, elk and wildlife jewelry in the mountains of colorful Colorado. It’s our passion and we love it.
You can contact Tom and Mary High at 719-589-2108 or through their website at www.rockymountainscrimshaw.com