If you’re stuck in a rut and need something to do, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation suggests it’s a good time to go out and look for shed deer antlers.
In late December and continuing through March, whitetail bucks shed their antlers as testosterone levels drop in response to lengthening days. When the snow begins to melt in late winter, some hunters and antler enthusiasts head out to the woods and fields in search of these hidden treasures.
To the inexperienced, the thought of walking the countryside in search of randomly dropped antlers can seem like an unsurmountable task. But for the avid shed hunter with a trained eye, it’s worth the effort. Some shed hunters enjoy having a trained canine friend with a keen sense of smell accompany them into the woods. Others rely on hard work and scouting to determine where deer have frequented over the winter months.
If the idea of searching for shed antlers intrigues you, be cautious not to begin searching too early. Deer may still be congregated on their winter ranges and susceptible to disturbance. Shed hunters should also refrain from making “antler traps,” which are baited devices intended to snag an antler as the deer feeds. Not only is it illegal to feed deer, but these devices can cause antlers to be pulled off prematurely, potentially leading to infection and slow death of the deer.
For those that do it the right way, shed hunting can be a fun family activity and a rewarding reason to get outdoors in the late winter and early spring. As hunters choose to pass up those younger bucks and let them grow for next season, shed hunting can also provide clues as to what type of bucks might be around during next hunting season. Give it a try, you might discover your next hobby!