Finding Shed Antlers

Chris Pulchny

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All the fun of deer hunting minus the field dressing and processing

Let me begin with my explanation of me feeling confident enough to tackle this topic in detail. Over the last 13-14 years I have found 300+ sheds. I’m not saying these were all monster antlers there are a considerable amount of small forks and spikes in my collection but that was always confidence that at least a few 1 ½ year olds survived the massacre of gun season's opening day. But regardless a shed is a shed and they all count towards my total. As for matching sets I have close to ten in my possession. It's a little more work to find both sides but feels great when you do. The research I’ve done show that most individual deer lose their antlers give or take a minute; 6 minutes apart however I have caught deer on my cameras up to two days later still hanging onto an antler after I have found one side.

Other than sheds I have found many more oddities while out shed hunting ranging from lost equipment(my GPS), to new hunting areas, and maybe the most rewarding is finding a lost kill with a rack. A few years ago I made a poor shot on a deer and pushed him too soon. But as soon as antlers started dropping I was out looking for his sheds hoping he had survived the high and back shot. I slowly looked up and down an electric company easement; an area I had picked up many antlers which was also a south facing slope the bucks liked to use to bed in harsh weather to be out of the punishing north wind. I had found a small forked shed a few hundred yards back- when I looked up into a ceader blow down and seen a tine sticking out of the green. I headed towards it and realized it was sitting oddly and wasn't a shed at all I reached in and pulled the rack and skull of my lost 150 inch eight point from the brush. I called my local game warden and obtained a “pick up” permit to keep the skull and antlers. Now they adorn my walls as a great European mount. The same year I lost my deer; the neighbors’ six year old granddaughter lost her first buck. I helped track the deer nearly two miles. The deer had bedded several times and it was obvious it had been gut shot with green material showing up in the beds. Her father had been sitting with her when she shot her deer and he described it to be a fairly massive eight point with a narrow spread and decent tine length. About six hours after finding my lost buck I couldn't believe what I found. There in another ceader blow down roughly two miles from where she shot her deer laid her bucks’ remains. I knew what I had to do no matter how great the antlers I had in my hands were. I called her father and once again the game warden and they met me at the gate to the property and headed to the deer with me. Soon she had the permit for her deer and the game warden couldn't believe that I had been nice enough to make sure it got to her. That deer is now mounted with a new cape hanging in their house. I don't count skulls and antlers in my “shed” collection if I did I would be over 400 antlers that is a closet full of bone! This was just to let you know that while shed hunting you have the opportunity to find anything.

Shed Antlers

Now on to the main topic, shed hunting. The best places to start in my opinion are late season food sources. If you still have feeders out and feeding start there if nothing shows up you might try a concept a close hunting buddy and friend of mine uses he sets up “ shed traps” utilizing a few “T” post and a hog wire panel. Drive the post into the ground to set the panel of wire in a “W” with tight “V's” in the “W”. Then placing bait inside the “V” areas. when a buck sticks his head in to feed its likely he will bump and jar his antlers lose in the “trap” this works well for him already turning up about a dozen this year.

Shed Antlers

If you’re lucky enough to live in farm country like I do now while in college; utilize crop fields resist the urge to just jump on your ATV and zoom up and down the rows of old tillage. Slow and steady moving and looking; yields why higher dividends. Corn fields can be frustrating every leaf or stalk will look like a tine, so walk them out slowly row by row. You will realize very quickly this is the only way to find a shed in a corn field. In areas of short vegetation such as winter wheat fields a good set of optics can save lots of leg work if you can positively identify something is or isn't an antler well that explains itself you don't have to walk as much. Any soybean field that went un-harvested with beans still hanging is a great food source to check out thoroughly.

Shed Antlers

After trying food sources your next best bet would be to check out bedding areas and travel corridors. Your boots better be comfortable and tied tight you have some leg work ahead of you. Any where a buck spends a lot of time yields a greater chance of him dropping a piece of head gear in that location. Check out big beds, and trails in and out of them. There are days you won't find any sheds and some days your hands will be full.
Your next place to check is fence crossings; if the deer go under the fence a buck has a chance of knocking an antler lose on the bottom strand of the fence if they jump the fence the impact of landing on the other side can have enough force to loosen an antler to drop it. I myself have hardly ever found any this way one or two at the most. When you find an antler look closely in the vicinity of the area for the other it is there somewhere or will be in a day or two. A few days ago I found a massive shed that I scored out to seventy-eight inches. I hope to find the other side soon but it's great to know there is still a big boy living on the lease hopefully I can set a date with him opening day of bow season this coming fall. Good luck to all of you in your searches with this great late winter “hunting season”.

Posted by Chris Pulchny under Deer Hunting on February 8, 10 09:28 AM | Permalink

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