Antler Shed Hunting
Hunting for antler sheds is rewarding not only if you’re selling your finds, but also just because of the feeling of excitement you get every time you find an antler hung up in a tree branch or half-buried in a pile of leaves. It’s a legitimate way to feel like a kid on an Easter egg hunt or experience the same sense of satisfaction as an avid birdwatcher who spots a rare specimen. It’s a hobby that costs nothing but time, provides exercise and fresh air, and is a great way to bring families together with a common goal. In short, it’s like a game that people of all ages can enjoy immensely!
Learning the Ropes of Shed Antlers
As with any hobby, there are things you’ll have to learn to be any good at it. What are the habits of deer, elk and moose? Where are they likely to shed their antlers? What are the signs to look for?
- Deer are “edge” animals, according to Sean McCosh, avid shed “hunter”. They live on the edge of food resources, water, and cover for security.
- Check bedding and feeding areas. Learn to identify the forest plants deer like to feed on. Coniferous areas of the woods are prime bedding spots because fir trees offer good shelter from snow and wind.
- Check travel routes. This will be easier if there’s a little snow cover on the ground, and you can simply follow their tracks.
- Every 50 yards so so, stop and scan the ground behind you. Sometimes, shed antlers may be hard to see from one angle, and easier from another. Scan slowly from a few different angles if you’re in an area where you’re sure deer have been.
- Check southern exposures. According to shed harvesting expert Joe Shead, deer like to soak up the winter sun “like a cat sitting in a windowsill”. Check the southern edge of the forest or the south side of a hill.
- Look where deer jump — as in over a creek or fence. The sudden jarring movement will often be just enough to let them drop a loose antler.
Reaping the Rewards
- Antlers are not going to “pop out” on the floor of the forest or a field. But once you’ve trained your eye on what to look for, you’ll start to spot them more easily and more frequently.
- When you find them, especially a nice specimen like this, you’ll feel a rush of excitement and pleasure!
- Start your own collection, make them into simple home decor like a quirky hat rack, or one-of-a-kind wind chimes, or sell them to an artisan to make some extra money. There’s something for everyone in this great outdoor hobby!
If you’d like to learn what artisans do with all those shed antlers found by people like you, contact us at the Peak Antler Company. We think you’ll be amazed at the organic beauty of the chandeliers, furniture and home decor we offer!
Jeff Musgrave – owner/artist