Saturday, February 25, 2006
Antler or "Shed" Hunting
My brother-in-law James turned me onto a fun and potentially profitable activity called shed hunting. Deer and elk shed their antlers each year in late winter to early spring. If you go and find these sheds, you can either add them to yard decoration or sell them on eBay. My grandmother was fond of this activity way back in the 1970's and she had an antler tree like in this picture. These days you have to be careful leaving antlers in your yard because stray dogs or theiving humans will make them disappear.
But let's talk about how and where you should look for antlers. My research has turned up the following information.
White tails: January to April
Mule deer typically shed their antlers midwinter, in January and February. Most elk shed their antlers in February and March. However, some animals of both species may retain their antlers into April.
Elk tend to stay on south-facing slopes and near elk feed grounds areas in the winter until their food sources free up of snow. Out west, in mule deer and elk country, identify meadows and parks at lower elevations where those species winter.
Check ridgetops and edges for trails and bedding areas. Check all trails, even lesser-used ones.
mature white tail bucks spend the majority of their time in areas one-half mile in circumference
Search on travel routes. These transition areas that deer move from one site to another. Think about the most likely event when a loose antler will become unattached. Swift head movements occur more often during travel. The places we check first are where trails intersect streams and heavy brush, any situation that a buck would encounter causing him to jump.
One guy says most sheds are found at feeding areas. Another says about 70% of the sheds are found in bedding areas. Who is right?
Calcium hungry animals will devour antlers, so use this to your advantage and train your dog!