Looking for, finding and collecting shed antlers has become a popular activity among not only hunters, but all segments of the
population. Lots of folks are now spending late winter days looking to bring home
a pile of discarded whitetail deer antlers.
There seems to be no limit to the uses for these shed antlers. The
creativity of some of these decorative pieces is truly amazing. I have seen
them made into everything from centerpieces to lamps to door handles. Others
just like to pile them up and make their piles bigger each year. Either way,
the mice and squirrels are getting fewer and fewer antler treats each season.
In the past, the only sheds I collected were ones I accidentally stumbled
over while turkey and mushroom hunting. I have a modest collection of various
sizes. I also have other items in my collection such as skulls and skulls with
the antlers still attached. There are lots of surprising things to find on the
forest floor if you are intentionally looking for them. I realized this recently as I participated in my first organized shed hunt.
I spent several days last fall hunting with new great friends Luke Terstriep, Sr., Luke Jr. and younger brother Lance. We had
some outstanding hunts and we are already gearing-up for spring turkey season.
After last season, Luke Jr. and Lance called and invited me to go with them to
look for sheds on one of their properties. I happily accepted.
A Method To Shed Hunting Madness
I figured shed hunting was nothing more than "bailing out and milling around"
looking for antlers on the ground, but I was wrong. These guys had a plan, they
were organized and wanted to systematically cover the farm. They intended to
cover every square yard of the property.
Their plan was based mostly on the data they had already collected about
buck activity since deer season ended. Trail cameras showed a large number of
bucks using a particular food plot during the big snow of early February. They
also found dozens of beds in the snow while coyote hunting the farm. They had a
really good idea of where the sheds might be and the plan was to cover the area
in a grid so as not to miss anything.
Luke Jr. drew first blood and got us on the board with a small 3-point
antler. As we moved down the hill I was between the two Terstrieps.
By the time we had hit the field edge Luke Jr. had found three more sheds,
including the match to the first find.
As we emerged from the timber I was walking north when Luke Jr. yelled out
about his find. I turned to walk toward him. Lance was behind me and
laughed as he picked-up an antler just a few steps from where I had been.
"You would have stepped on this one if you had not turned around," he said
as he raised the shed to show me. That's my luck!
An Unusual Find
Luke Jr. was telling me a story about something interesting he had found the
day before when they were shed hunting on another one of their properties. He saw a
number of tine points sticking-up in a field and thought he had found a huge
non-typical antler. It turned-out to be pair rattling antlers attached by a
small nylon cord! This farm had been leased to an outfitter last season and
these were obviously dropped by a hunter.
By the end of the day, the Terstrieps had found 18
nice sheds and whole bobcat skull. I, on the other hand, had found two
vertebrae, two leg bones and a doe skull. Twice I walked away from spots where
Lance stepped in and found a shed. It just was not my day.
And to add salt to this little wound, Luke Jr. and I took a walk on one of
my properties a week later. Not only did he find a great shed, but it was still
hooked to the skull which was still hooked to the carcass. The buck had gotten
his rack caught on the tree and could not get free. There he died and there
Luke Jr. found him.
But I had a great time and learned a lot about this growing sport. These
guys, along with their father, Luke Sr., have a barrel full of sheds in their
basement. Maybe my turn to find some sheds will come during turkey season when
I am watching the ground for mushrooms.
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