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As winter progresses 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.
Trying to find a shed antler among the brush and melting snow may seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack, but with some diligence and practice, your efforts may be rewarded. Winter deer yards are good places to start. During bouts of extreme cold and snow, deer will congregate in lower elevation areas with good southern exposure and evergreen cover to break the wind. Experienced shed hunters scout these areas pre-season in hopes of increasing their odds. 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.
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 Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow, 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
For more, see the Conservationist articles “Searching for Sheds" (PDF) and “Antlered Art" (PDF). Both documents listed below.
Searching for Sheds: