So, here’s my true confession and I’m sticking to it. Most of the time, we plan our travel itineraries pretty well — where we’ll be on which days, how many nights we need lodging in a certain city, big stops and even some little stops we don’t want to miss, and how much wiggle time we might have if we shop less, see more, or just want to linger.
But all that went out the window when we passed through Custer, South Dakota, in the Black Hills. I mean how could we pass up a pick-up truck filled with sheds sitting outside the store in the parking lot? We had to go in. No time like the present.
Bert hardly got past the front porch of Claw, Antler, and Hide, Inc., before he was stroking furry goods and asking me (as if I would know) what kind of store this is. I stood there reading the tags: Coyote, Raccoon, Otter, Ermine, Kit Fox, Arctic Fox, Red Fox, and you-name-it. And then we decided we had to see more . . . inside.
We noticed the big fellas first: mounts of buffalo, deer, black bear, mountain lion, big-horned sheep.
And then the little ones: jackalope, squirrel, raccoon — some dressed in costumes; others playing cards in a foursome.
In the middle of the room, small and large bins held parts (antlers, bones, horns) categorized by size, color, and animal. Each labeled. Each more interesting than the last.
But the soft goods were our favorites — pelts, tails, hides, and skins — each begging to be touched and admired for their softness or patterns or distinctive markings.
We probably entertained the sales people there with our oohs and ahs in addition to our Southern accents — but after all, we’d never seen anything like Claw, Antler and Hide, Inc. And it showed.
So just to satisfy our curiosity, we asked one of the ladies who had been an associate for years what people did with all of this. Her answer? Designers use pieces in art constructions, costume makers need authentic furs and horns for head pieces and garments, and some people just want something to decorate their homes. And, she added, Claw, Antler and Hide, Inc. does a great business on the internet . . . shipping pelts, sheds and bones all over the world.
And so it was that we veered off our original “things to see today” list with no regrets. An afternoon visiting Claw, Antler and Hide, Inc., and talking with a lady who’s spent a lifetime helping people find valuable cast-offs made for a vivid South Dakota memory.
So, do you ever get side-tracked in your travels? We’re listening.
Rusha & Bert
Claw, Antler and Hide, Inc., 735 Mt Rushmore Rd, Custer, SD 57730