Finding a shed antler is an exciting experience for a hunter. It serves as a collector’s item, a reward for a rigorous search, and provides valuable insight into the trends and behavior of the local deer herd. We’ve got some tips and tricks for a successful shed hunt in this week’s blog.
When to Look
Generally, shed hunting is most successful starting in late winter and extending into spring. When a deer sheds its antlers can depend on a variety of factors, one of them being the severity of the winter you had in your area. A harsh, cold winter could cause the deer herd to drop their antlers immediately, right at the end of winter. A harsh winter can lead to difficult foraging for deer, so their nutrition levels will be off. Food sources could either be killed by a frost or buried so deep in the snow that the deer can’t get to it. The deer will certainly still try to get to acorns and woody browse under the snow, so hoofprints and dig spots in the snow could lead you to a dropped antler somewhere nearby. They won’t expel their precious energy digging through deep snow, they know they still need to conserve their energy to get through the winter, but they’ll paw through a reasonably thin layer of snow.
Keep them Hydrated
You can help the deer herd keep their nutrition levels up by providing vitamins through our Wild Water Systems and Wild Water Mineral Supplements. Our supplements are filled with minerals and nutrients that are addictive to deer, so by putting it out for them, you’ll be helping the overall herd health and getting them interested in your property. It’s important to note that a deer’s digestive system can’t handle drastic change during the winter, so if you haven’t been putting out minerals or a food source until now, it’s best to wait until spring to introduce it to your property. Check your local regulations to make sure supplemental feeding is legal in your county.
Where to Look
A good place to start looking for shed antlers is near food sources. The deer will be in one place long enough to feed, which means more time and opportunity for the antler to fall off. They might stop to rub their antlers against a nearby tree before they leave, as well. The post on our Feedbank Gravity Deer Feeders provides a great place for deer to scratch their antlers and possibly drop them right on your property. Check the trail camera pointed at your feeders often to check on the status of the deer. If you notice one of the bucks that had a full rack yesterday only has one antler today, it’s time to go check your property.
Much like during hunting season, bedding areas are still a solid place to look when you’re hunting for shed antlers. They’re spending a lot of time there, so the odds of them dropping their antlers there are pretty good. You could also find a shed antler near fence lines. The act of jumping over the fence could knock loose an antler that’s hanging on by a thread.
When hunting for shed antlers, keep your eyes peeled around food sources, bedding areas, and fence lines. Help provide them with the proper nutrients when and where you can. A healthy deer herd will grow big antlers, so if you’ve been providing them with supplements and feed, you could wind up finding an impressive shed antler right on your own property.
How do you hunt for sheds? Let us know your tips and tactics in the comments below!