During the late winter months, deer, elk, and moose begin to shed their antlers in order to grow a new set during the summer. Many people like to collect shed antlers, but what are the benefits of doing so?
|Photo Credit: GoHunt.com|
Some people like to collect sheds due to their aesthetic value, for crafting, or to sell. If you are a hunter like myself, antler sheds help give you an idea of the size of bucks you have roaming the property you hunt. It also means that the buck survived the hunting season and the winter. Some hunters who manage the deer herd and property they hunt are able to collect sheds from the same buck year after year. Finding multiple sheds will also give you insight to the size and age of deer you have on your property. Typically, a buck will grow larger antlers each year as it gets older.
Shed hunting is also a good way to get out and exercise during the late winter, rather than being stuck inside. Many people walk for miles looking for sheds, but shed hunting can also be done from ATVs or horseback. Taking your dog is also fun, and dogs can even be trained to find sheds far more effectively than humans. (Make sure your dog is trained not to chase wildlife). Sheds can be found in areas where deer like to bed down such as tall grass, thickets, and densely wooded areas. Feeding areas such as fields, orchards, or food plots are also good places to look. Fencerows and deer trails may also turn up sheds. I like to look for sheds in late February and March, but shed hunting can be done into the spring as well.
It's important to keep in mind the harshness of the winter months, which can affect shed hunting. If the winter has been particularly harsh, wildlife might be stressed and shed hunting should be avoided until the weather gets warmer. Please keep wildlife in mind first. Some agencies and wildlife preserves also have regulations and seasons when it comes to shed hunting. In Nevada, shed hunting is closed from January 1-April 30 in Elko, Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye, and White Pine Counties. This allows deer and elk to use their winter habitats without being disturbed.
Even if you aren’t a hunter, shed hunting is a great way to get outside, exercise, and collect a cool item from nature. It’s also a great opportunity to get kids outside, and the reward of finding a shed is appealing to adults and kids alike.
Good luck and happy hunting!