Antler Shed Hunting
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Antler Sheds Clubs
Welcome to the wonderful and amazing world of shed hunting! there is something magical about finding a shed antler. It is what most hunters are after but we don't harm the animal and we get them year after year! yahoo. I seen a buck a drop his antlers right in front of me. amazing! I believe most push their head on the ground and break them off. i wonder if it is like the itch of when you need a tooth to fall out as a child. it hurts but you want to break it off when it is loose. when it falls off their is a clear liquid and the button (the end) with a little blood. the clear liquid must be what the animal releases to loosen it. most land with the tines toward the sky although some fall tines down. send me a picture of your naturally shed antlers you find and i will publish them here. include the story behind the find it if you like and i will make you a page with pictures and the story.
Antlers are the large and complex horn-like appendages of male deer, consisting of bony outgrowths from the head with no covering of keratin as is found in true horns. Each antler grows from an attachment point on the skull called a pedicle. While an antler is growing it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone; once the antler has achieved its proper size, the velvet is lost and the antler's bone dies. This dead bone structure is the mature antler. Antlers shed after each mating season.
"Deer Shed Dog Training"
I have an easy training method to teach your dog to find deer shed antlers. Think about it, no gun to carry, no license to buy and open season all year long. If you don't own a dog, get one from the pound or look for a free one. That's what I do, and they train out as good as any expensive breed.
I will send you my step by step instruction on how to train your dog to use his keen nose, eyes and strong endurance to find deer sheds and bring them to you. Sheds under snow, leaves, grass or brush makes no difference. Your dog will scent them and get them. Even twenty men stand little chance against one dog trained to find shed antlers. A man can depend only on his eyes.
Fifty years of working with dogs and this shed hunt method is definitely the best procedure I have used. Scores of dog owners and shed hunters have asked how I train a shed dog and I have told no one. But now I am ready to give you my full training procedure.
You may ask, "how long does it take to train a shed dog"? The dog's shown here are Duke, a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix and Happy, a Lab and Golden Retriever mix. Duke started training at four months and was fully trained at seven months old. Pups take a little longer. Happy was started at one year old and in a mere six weeks was graduated. Happy is a "Hall of Fame Shed Dog."
Using my specialty method, your dog should train just as fast. So if you want my complete detailed instructions to train your dog to be a shed hunting machine, send only $ 16.95 to:
Be sure to include your Full Name, Full Address, and check. I will send your detailed instructions within one week of receiving your check.
P.S. I am happy to report that this site has been on the Internet for five years, and we have not had a single complaint regarding our training program. We have had 100% positive feedback from our customers!
Male white-tailed deer grow and shed their antlers every year. Antlers are composed of true bone. Antler growth begins in late March or early April and the growing bone is covered by skin with numerous blood vessels (velvet). In late summer and early fall, testosterone levels increase. This hormone elevation results in the antlers hardening and the buck rubs off the drying velvet. When testosterone levels begin to drop, antlers start to shed beginning in mid January. Deer that are in the best physical condition will lose their antlers later in the winter.
He's still alive!' I thought as I reached down and picked up 71 inches of calcified happiness on my hunting land in central Minnesota. The shed antler I held belonged to a buck I saw once during the 2006 hunting season. He's a symmetrical 5x5 with an inside spread of about 20 inches – putting him in the 160+ category.
Finding his left shed told me that this bruiser had made it through both the hunting season and winter unscathed. Given the mild winter we've had, I have no doubt he's in good health as spring arrives.
I've since scoured the area looking for his other shed, but haven't found it yet. YET! I'll keep searching, in part because I desperately want his matched set. And also because I just love shed hunting. It's a late winter/early spring ritual that offers excitement, exercise and also makes me intimately familiar with travel patterns of the deer I hunt.
If you haven't tried shed hunting yourself, I strongly encourage you to do so. There are few things more thrilling than wrapping your hand around a big antler – even if the antler isn't attached to a deer you've harvested.
So to help you get started, I've compiled a list of tips that might help as you go in search of that elusive whitetail headgear. And remember, if you find a big shed, it could be lying in the heart of that buck's core area. I say “could” because a deer's wintering grounds might be in a different location (based primarily on food sources) than where you're likely to find the same animal during hunting season.
At any rate, you'll know a particular buck is alive and will gain some insight on setting up an possible ambush point for him during the next season. Even if you don't find any sheds -- the trails, rub lines, scrapes, bedding areas and other things you discover will make you a better hunter come fall.
HAVE THEY DROPPED?
Whitetails can drop their antlers over a wide span of time. Here in the north (Minnesota), one buck might shed in December, while another male in the same area may not drop his antlers until March. Health, stress level and many unknowns can account for when a particular animal sheds. The best way I monitor when the deer in my area are shedding is to put my Cuddeback cameras out where most of my deer activity is taking place. By routinely checking your Cuddebacks in late winter/early spring, you can unequivocally discern when the “drop” is on.
THINK LIKE A DEER AND FIND THE RIGHT SPOTS.
Simple advice, but you won't find a buck's artifacts unless you're crawling around where he lives. The savvy shed hunter is one who is prepared to put in some miles walking. An ATV can really help you cover more ground too. I'll hop on my Honda and slowly drive my food plot edges first, keeping a watchful eye for antlers as I go.
Focus most of your efforts at or near food sources, because that's where most antlers will be found. During the winter, whitetails must feed heavily. And they also need to conserve energy. So you'll find that most deer will bed close to feeding areas, to minimize the energy spent walking to and from their food. When you find these concentrated areas, there's a good chance you'll find antlers too.
When I cut well-used trails that connect main food sources to bedding areas, I go on foot and walk the trails. When on the trails, pay close attention to spots with thick overhanging cover that can snag a loose antler and knock it free. Also, fence lines, creeks and ravines that force deer to jump can also be falling-off points for treasured antlers.
When you find the thickest, nastiest cover in a bedding area, get right into it. Having a bit of snow on the ground will help you locate actual beds in these areas and sometimes, an antler or two will lie right there next to a big bed.
Also, investigate the highest ground on the property you're searching. Bucks like to bed on these vantage points to have a good, defensive viewing position. Plus, high spots and the south-facing slopes of these locations typically have less snow cover than low-lying areas. This means easier browsing opportunities for deer and an increased likelihood that a buck has dropped his antlers nearby.
When you find a nice shed, keep searching the area for the matched set. Often times it will be within a couple hundred yards from the first one. When good tracking snow is still on the ground, back-tracking and forward-tracking the buck can lead you right to the match. From my experience, it seems like the bigger the rack, the more likely the antlers will be dropped in close proximity to one another. This could be because a big-racked buck doesn't like the lopsided weight on one side of his head, and intentionally shakes the other side free.
TIPS FOR SPOTTING ANTLERS.
First of all, try to look for “parts” of an antler vs. looking for the whole enchilada. Keep an eye out for the curve of a main beam, the tips of tines, etc. You can even train yourself to spot these telltale things by tossing an antler into tall grass, leaves and brush and then “hunting it up.”
When you take to the field, wear your polarized fishing glasses. They'll cut down glare if there's still snow on the ground and will also improve contrast for better spotting. And never go out shed hunting without a good pair of binoculars. I recommend Nikon Premier 10x42s. They're compact, lightweight, powerful and crystal-clear. Binoculars are the key for surveying fields, hillsides and other open stretches. They can also save you a long walk for what you “think” is an antler off in the distance.
MAN'S BEST FRIEND.
More and more shed hunters have put a dog's keen nose to work finding sheds. In fact, many breeders/handlers now offer shed-hunting training – right along with training for waterfowling, upland hunting and other canine tasks.
If you have a pup you'd like to train, it's a pretty straightforward process and not too different than training a dog for blind retrieves on birds. A solid foundation of basic obedience skills is a must. From there, playing retrieval games with a shed antler sets the groundwork. Start by playing “fetch” in the yard where the dog can plainly see the antler. Remember to round off any sharp points from antlers to avoid injury to your dog. And it doesn't hurt to reward him with little treats when he performs well. Reward training vs. forced training is definitely more beneficial when it comes to creating a good shed dog.
As you move into blind retrieves with your dog, this is where his skills will really develop. He'll find the antlers with his nose and (if all goes well) will become obsessed with locating the scent of antlers, finding the source and delivering the prize to your hand.
I read a recent article by an outdoorsman who owns an accomplished shed-hunting dog. He reports that for every shed he finds himself, his dog finds 10. That's a pretty good ratio (for the dog). Makes me think I should take my springer spaniel Scamper out and throw him a 5-point retrieving dummy.
Good (shed) Hunting.
What is antler hunting?
Male deer, elk and moose grow impressive antlers each year, some reaching impressive sizes by mating season in the fall. These antlers eventually fall off in the late winter/early spring, and the cycle begins again. The size of the antler rack usually gets larger each year as the animal grows and matures. The dropped antlers, or sheds, are sought by people who enjoy getting out for recreation and finding a 'treasure' and by people who sell the antlers to those who use them for commercial purposes. The activity of going out and searching for shed antlers is called antler hunting. For some people in Wyoming it is a casual sport, for others it is a competitive business.
When are antlers shed?
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. Younger animals retain their antlers longer than older animals. It also appears that animals in good condition drop their antlers earlier than animals in poor shape. Shed antlers typically don't last more than a year in the wild. Rodents and other animals like to chew on them to get the calcium and by summer not much is usually left. It is also rare to find a matching set of antlers near each other in the same location, as the antlers typically drop independently from one another.
Difference between antlers and horns
Animals such as pronghorn antelope and bison have horns instead of antlers, which stay permanently on their heads and are not shed. Pronghorn antelope do shed their horn shells every year and grow new ones, so antler hunters may find the black, hollow, fibrous horn sheaths when out antler hunting. These are ok to keep.
Sheep, goat and bison are the only ones to keep horns permanently.The only way to get horns is to retrieve them from the carcass of a dead animal, which often requires meeting hunting license proof requirements.
Antler hunting is sometimes called "horn hunting" (even though they are really looking for antlers, not horns).
Antler hunting - Horn hunting
Antler hunting can be a fun and enjoyable activity for the whole family. Many people do it each year to get outside on nice spring-like winter days and fend off cabin fever from the long winter.
Wyoming Game and Fish officials ask that antler hunters be aware that winters are hard on the animals also. Their energy reserves very depleted. Prospective antler hunters are asked to keep their distance from wintering animals to minimize stress and disturbance on winter ranges. Some areas of public land have restrictions on times when human presence is allowed, so be sure to know the rules for the area in which you wish to go antler hunting. Motorized vehicles, ATVs, and off-road presence may be prohibited in certain winter range areas between certain dates. Permission is required from landowners to go onto private land to search for antlers. G&F walk-in hunting and fishing areas are only open to hunting and fishing and are closed to antler hunting.
Minimizing stress to wintering animals while antler hunting
Antler hunting, when done after the elk and deer have shed their antlers and left their winter ranges does not pose a problem to wintering big game. However, displacing deer and elk from their winter habitat is the most serious of all problems associated with antler hunting in early spring. Give animals plenty of space. Stay away from areas you know that are "holding" elk and deer, and do not intentionally move them. Disturbance causes stress at a time when cows and does are heavy with calves and fawns.
Where to go antler hunting?
Avid antler hunters learn to spend the winter months watching the herds and observing where the big bucks are spending their time. Deer typically move to the open sagebrush areas on exposures where there is food and snow isn't too deep. 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. Moose antlers are typically found near riparian corridors. Most antler hunters scout antler hunting areas well in advance, learning the areas where the animals overwinter, and carefully selecting their antler hunting locations based on where the animals have been observed. Locations change, so we can't tell you exact locations where you might have the best luck. A big part of the fun of "the hunt" is the preliminary scouting process and watching the herds to find the big bucks and waiting for their antlers to drop. "I know it has to be around here somewhere because he still had it yesterday," is a common remark of dedicated horn hunters. Experienced antler hunters learn to scan the sagebrush and quickly spot the distinct bleached white color of shed antlers on the ground. Many people make this a family event, taking the kids out with them year after year for family recreation enjoying the outdoors and scenery.
Game tag required to take shed antlers across state lines
An interstate game tag must be affixed to all shed antlers taken across state lines. Plus, if antlers are found still attached to the skull, approval from a G&F officer is required before removing the antlers from the site. All attached antlers also require an interstate game tag.