Shed antler hunting is a time that many outdoors men and women look forward to all year long. A time when we have an equal opportunity to get out into the woods, put some miles on our feet with the hopes of finding the fallen antlers off of our dream buck or bull. There is now even a trophy record book for those who are fortunate enough to find matching sets of the biggest sheds.
Shed hunting has taken such a craze that in my home town of Bend Oregon numerous people camped out and followed the legendary 200+ inch drop tine mule deer buck around hoping that he would drop his antler(s) on the tiny bits of public access that he passed through. The neighborhoods to which the buck frequented were quite the zoo with hopeful hunters seemingly everywhere.
This is no spectator sport, if you want to find the big ones, you have to be willing put on some miles, forego some sleep and be vigilant in your search. Each passing day holds the opportunity to finding a newly dropped antler. Shed hunters keep their honey hole antler spots an iron clad secret so asking one where to go will most likely get you nowhere. The best answer that I would give is, if you see deer or elk, get to walking. It’s pretty much that simple.
The mule deer bucks in my area begin to shed their antlers as early as mid –January and the bull elk typically begin to shed no earlier than mid-March. This gives us avid shed hunters the opportunity to hunt species specific areas, focusing on the bucks first and later on the bulls.
Shed hunting has become a family tradition around my household, everyone wants in on the hunt; my sister Lesley, brother in law Tony, niece Haley, nephew Brody and of course our four legged family, Kruger and Zoie included. The kids love getting out and about exploring the outdoors, having a few laughs and living a little bit of adventure.
This year, I spent extra time in the field training my puppy Kruger to find and retrieve shed antlers. After only four times out, he is just as excited, if not more with a find as me. Bounding over to the fallen antler, he quickly picks it up, does a victory circle or two to show off his trophy before bringing it to me. We make quite a good team, in fact, Kruger’s zest for shed hunting landed him on a 3 minute video that I co-produced this year featuring him on the hunt for sheds.
This year I had varying degrees of success on the hunt, each trip producing antlers for me. My first trip out, I was lucky to find a nice 4 point side, some trips I found forked horn antlers or old white chalky antlers. Even the chalky, moss covered 4 point that I found hidden in sage brush was a trophy to me.
For me, shed antler hunting is all about the adventure, laughs shared with friends and family, time spent with my dog and simply being out in nature a little closer to the good Lord. If you didn’t get out this year to hunt shed antlers, it’s never too late. You just never know where you are going to find a prize shed so lace up your boots and get to hiking.