The sheds from a white-tailed deer can tell you a lot about them. Just by looking at the shed and noting the time of year, you can gauge its relative age, if it’s fought with other bucks and whether or not it is healthy. Antler sheds are incredibly important for learning more about your deer herd. Study any sheds you find and review the list below to learn what that shed can tell you about the buck it belonged to.
Whether the Buck had been Fighting
If you find an antler with cracks or little pieces broken off, that could indicate that the buck had been fighting. This is a great thing to note for your next hunting season because it dictates what kind of calls you can use and how aggressively you use them. If you know that there are many bucks in your area that like to fight, you can use an antler rattle and other dominant calls to amp up the buck’s desire for confrontation.
Whether They’ve Gotten Proper Nutrition
You can tell by a deer’s shed whether or not the buck received proper nutrition that year. A healthy deer’s antlers are heavy and dense because of the minerals present. An unhealthy deer’s antlers will be lighter and may even appear porous. Deer need calcium and phosphorus for their antlers to grow and develop and if they don’t have the proper amounts of those nutrients, their antlers will be more brittle.
If the sheds of the the deer in your area show you that they’ve received poor nutrition, set up a Feedbank Gravity Deer Feeder on your property and keep it stocked with foods rich with calcium and phosphorus to promote antler growth. Providing a consistent food source on your property will encourage the deer to return to your property during hunting season and they’ll have beautiful, healthy antlers when they do it.
Whether the Buck is Relatively Young or Old
You can get an indicator of the relative age of the deer herd based on how early they shed their antlers. In southern states, younger bucks shed their antlers first. In northern states, older bucks shed their antlers first. How soon the bucks shed their antlers is another insight into their health. Bucks that drop their antlers early (in the winter) are more likely to be unhealthy. They are probably experiencing some sort of trauma or stress and may be receiving improper nutrition. Deer that keep their antlers until the spring are generally healthier. Remember: Just because you find the shed during spring, that doesn’t mean the buck shed it during spring. It is possible that the shed you just found was dropped in winter, so be sure to check your trail cameras regularly so you can keep track of when you start to see the bucks lose their antlers through the time stamps.
Sheds can tell you a lot about the deer it came from. It can tell you how healthy the buck is, whether it’s young or old and if it has the tendency to get into fights. All of these things can help you prepare for hunting season and can steer you in the right direction for what you need to be doing now.
What have you learned about the deer in your neck of the woods based on the sheds you’ve found? Let us know in the comments!