It’s time to start work on the “sheds!” Well, to work to find shed deer antlers, that is!
Perhaps you saw the recent news release my NE Game and Parks compatriot Jerry Kane did with me about the unofficial start of shed deer antler hunting season in Nebraska? Nice job, Jer, by the way! If you didn’t see it, here it is.
Get Outdoors for Shed Deer Antler Hunt
LINCOLN – Mid-February is a good time to get outdoors with the family for some fresh air and exercise and go hunting for shed deer antlers.
White-tailed and mule deer have begun to shed their antlers for re-growth purposes. Nebraska law allows a person to pick up, possess, buy, sell, or barter antlers or horns that have been dropped or shed by antelope, deer or elk.
Greg Wagner, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission public information officer, says there are several reasons to hunt for shed antlers. “Shed antler hunting is a wonderful way to get an idea of what bucks most likely survived the hunting seasons and are frequenting your hunting area,” he said. “Shed antlers can be used to make many crafts, such as knife handles, lamps or picture frames, and some people just like to collect them.”
Wagner said found deer antlers also can be officially scored by the North American Shed Hunters Club.
Any place where the antlers of a deer can fall off, be jolted off or intentionally knocked off can be a location to search for shed antlers in Nebraska. Wagner has the following suggestions:
— Look for main deer trails in woods leading from feeding to bedding areas, especially where there are lower-hanging branches.
— Do not overlook deer bedding areas, especially bedding areas along south-facing slopes with conifer trees or plum thickets nearby.
— Fence crossings for deer are also excellent spots to look for antlers as are creek and ditch crossings.
“Remember to obtain permission from landowners before hunting sheds,” Wagner said. “Go with a partner, walk slowly so as not to miss them and take a plastic bucket along to carry the antlers.”
Now, let me add a bit more info to what Jerry had in that news release.
I think folks such as myself who are serious about finding shed deer antlers should gear into (or around) what I call the “special” days to hunt at spaced intervals. These are President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th), April Fool’s Day (April 1st) and Tax Deadline Day (April 15th). Going more often though is better!
Regarding weather, believe it or not, rainy days are great for finding sheds because they can shine and catch your eye. Also, I don’t let snow cover stop me from shed hunting either as the antlers (or parts thereof) can stand out and be easier to spot!
Do I use my game cameras in shed antler hunting? You bet! Install those digital game cameras close to areas where the deer are feeding. Trails that enter or exit fields are ideal places to put the cameras. Once you see one-antlered bucks on the cameras, begin the shed hunting.
The biggest mistake people make in shed antler hunting is to haphazardly walk around with no plan to cover a given tract of land. Coordinate efforts to make certain all ground is searched and it’s even a good idea to use binoculars in the process.
Shed antlers are a renewable, recyclable resource. Shed deer antler hunting is an outdoor activity the whole family can enjoy. It’s a fantastic way to get kids more interested in the outdoors and truly experience “hands-on” nature. To me, shed antler hunting is one of the best ways to excuse yourself from having to help with spring cleaning, HA!