Hunting For Deer Antlers: Fun Things To Do Outside
A walk through the woods is a great way for the whole family to unplug from the digital world, recharge, and make some wonderful memories. And if you’re looking for fun outdoor activities, try spending a summer afternoon under the pines, hunting for fallen deer antlers (shed hunting), also known as “sheds” by professional antler hunters, is about as good as it gets.
What are deer antler sheds?
Every year, buck deer grow fantastic spiked antler crowns as if by magic. They all appear to be kingly, which is a problem since each of them believes he is the king of the woods. The only solution is for the bucks to engage in antler duels. In this way, they determine who is the true king and who will inherit the beautiful queen’s harem (the does). By late winter, the woods have fallen silent, sleeping beneath a blanket of snow. With the rut over, the bucks are no longer in need of their antlers and lose them by January.
Where can you find deer antlers?
Where can you find shed deer antlers? Deer populations are thriving across the country, so you’re probably not far from some excellent deer shed hunting grounds. First, find some public land like a park or national forest where you have access to hunting sheds. Once you have a spot, a water source is a good place to begin. Deer are attracted to springs and other waterholes because they drink at least twice a day, and the woody plants that deer eat will grow in this area.
All deer eat nuts, particularly beechnut acorns, pecans, and hickory nuts. Before you go hunting, look for a dense grove of oak trees. These animals seek the safety of acorn thickets and will travel long distances to eat the fallen nuts beneath the trees. The deer need to fatten up after the rut, so they’ll spend some time in these groves and are likely to lose antlers there.
Deer Antlers, And So Much More.
When you go shed hunting, find an antler, and hold it in your hand, you know you’ve found something special. If it’s from a whitetail deer, it’ll have one long main beam from which individual tines (the points) branch off. The antlers of a mule deer grow in forks, which means that the points that come off of their main beam are split into two points. Antlers are extremely hard, smooth, and tapped to dagger-sharp points–a true weapon.
But there’s something more here. You’re holding a year in the life of a deer in your hands, not just a piece of old bone. With that antler, what battles were fought, won, and lost? Perhaps this deer used this antler to defend itself against hordes of coyotes, ferocious pumas, and hungry bears. What else did this deer go through in the woods: long, dark nights, summer afternoons, and the first snowfall of the season? What stories are tucked away in that antler’s graceful curves and dagger-like points?
If you find a deer antler, consider yourself blessed to have received such a great gift from the wild. And consider yourself even more blessed for having spent time with friends and family and having had lots of fun outdoors.