Every year around late February or early March, male whitetails will shed their antlers. They begin growing a new pair sometime in the spring. I can’t describe the thrill of finding these naturally casted crowns. This activity can become very addictive. Shed hunting will also help you with your post-season scouting. Here are a few tips for finding sheds:
- Search in areas where deer typically winter, close to bedding areas and food sources.
- Walk the trails they use during the winter. Walk slowly. Keep your eyes on the ground.
- Spend time along south facing slopes where deer seek the sun’s rays and they escape those northern winds.
- Look for part of an antler and not the whole antler.
- Look around fences or creeks where deer have to jump. Sometimes the jump will jar an antler loose.
- Examine trails that go through thickets. An antler might get snagged and fall off in these areas.
- Try to keep the sun to your back. Antlers will stand out more in reflected sunlight. Binoculars come in handy.
- Some people have trained dogs to hunt for sheds. I’ve never used dogs, but it sounds like an efficient method.
- Be patient. It does take time and a lot of scouting to find these natural treasures.
Once you find sheds, what can you do with them? You can collect them, sale them or make various crafts. Depending upon what type of tools and skills you have, here are some antler craft applications:
- Knife handles
- Cane handles
- Lamp stands
- Writing pens
- Letter openers
- Necklaces or key rings
- Buttons and bolo ties
- Decoration and art
- Coat rack
I personally use sheds to make writing pens and letter openers. Here are some pictures of my antler crafts: