With spring comes a great outdoor activity – shed hunting, and as just about anyone who's done it will tell you, it's almost as addictive as hunting itself.
There are different factors that determine when he sheds his antlers; the age of the buck, his health, and where he lives. Most bucks shed them between January and April. Basically, it happens due to a drop in their testosterone following the rut. The tissues and bone at the base of the antler weaken until it falls off.
Where does it happen? Just about anywhere the deer roam. Many bucks live in the same area throughout the winter months. Others search for areas to winter where there is warmth and plentiful food. Find these areas, and you'll have a chance at finding a shed.
Some hunters have even had the good fortune to find the sheds from a deer they had previously spotted and targeted. Others are not even traditional hunters and just enjoy the outdoors. The shed pictured here was found by someone taking a walk in a county park shortly after a prairie burn. As she recalled, “Everything was black due to the recent burn. The shed was up a hill at a distance of about twenty feet, but the sun hit it in such a way that I spotted it.”
If you plan on shed hunting, there are a couple of important things to know. First of all, just like mushroom hunting, if someone knows a place where there are likely to be sheds, chances are they'll want to keep that information a secret.
Secondly, plan on covering some area when you go out. Remember that the sheds will be found where the deer live and eat. This can cover a good deal of area. For the shed hunter on foot, it's a great way to get some exercise.
Another way to search throughout a large area and have fun doing it is to go with a group. Other hunters find companionship and assistance from an eager hunting dog. These days, it is becoming quite popular to train your dog to search out and find sheds. Dogs like the taste of the sheds, and they can become as addicted to the hunt as their owners.
One great benefit for shed hunters if that you don't need a license. You do, however, need to make sure you have permission if you are not on public land, and if you find antlers that are still attached to the animal's skull, you must first contact a DNR officer.
An easy outdoor activity alone or in a group, good exercise, a chance to hunt with your dog, and the opportunity to locate a very fine trophy – it's no wonder shed hunting has become such a popular springtime activity.