Hunting for shed antlers
I get a surprising number of questions about shed antlers for some reason, with the leading inquiry being the best time to go. This is a loaded question, of course, because the best answer is to shed hunt whenever you can before spring green-up. That’s not typically the answer most people are looking for, however.
They want to know when to stroll through the woods so their odds are highest of finding the most antlers. This is not unlike bowhunters waiting for the pre-rut to kick in before they get serious about stand time. In my experience with antlers, I like March the best. This is because where I live, some of the most productive shed hunting days are those when the snow first melts. When we have normal snowfall years, this is a pretty good strategy.
This year looks like it might not be so wise to wait. We’ve had very little snow, which means antlers that fall now are visible now. To a shed hunter such as myself, who spends most of his shed time on public land, that means that my competition can find antlers right now. And they are out there in full force.
It has become evident over the past five years that shed antler hunting is growing in popularity, which means they are harder to find for most of us. I don’t mind that because I know enough about shed hunting to know that I’ll never find that many to begin with, which is a topic for another blog.
The reality of anyone looking to find sheds is that the antlers are most likely to hit the ground between now and the end of the February. There are outliers, naturally. Bucks can drop anywhere from December to April, with the latest I’ve ever seen a deer still carrying both sides being April 8. Exceptions aside, the bulk of the bone will drop in the next month, you can count on that.
If you have to pick and choose your antler hunts, wait until mid-February, at least. If between here and there your deer woods gets dumped on with snow, bump back your dates to coincide with warmer temperatures in March.
Or, just go now and go later. That’s what I plan to do.