How to ... find shed deer antlers

  • Article by: BILL MARCHEL SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
  • Updated: January 23, 2014 - 6:55 PM
hide

Look for deer antlers in sheltered bedding areas, such as the south-facing edge of evergreen trees.

Photo: Bill Marchel • Special to the Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

A winter stroll through the woods and fields of Minnesota is always rewarding. It clears the mind and renews one’s spirit. And if you are lucky, you might come home with a keepsake of some sort.

Like an antler shed by a whitetail buck.

If finding a shed antler intrigues you, the next few months are prime time to be afield. In Minnesota, most bucks shed their antlers about mid-January. In nature, there are no hard and fast rules, but the physical condition of a buck roughly determines when the animal will shed its antlers. Therefore, the largest bucks usually drop their antlers first because the rigors of the rut have them worn down.

This winter, many bucks dropped their antlers during December because of stress incurred by the early snow and severe cold. A friend of mine found three shed antlers very early this year, during the first few days of January.

In my experience, the best places to find shed antlers are the north edges of fields in which the deer were feeding during the peak antler-shedding period. At night deer often bed in or close to these fields, especially along the north side. In such locations, you’ll often find an abundance of tracks and beds, and with a bit of luck, a shed antler.

Daytime bedding areas are also good locations to find sheds. Concentrate your efforts in areas with a southern exposure. Deer seek these locations because the temperature can be several degrees warmer than surrounding spots.

You might find an occasional shed antler by following deer trails that connect feeding areas with daytime bedding locations. But, over the years, I’ve found relatively few sheds along deer trails. Think about it: Deer spend most of their days bedded or feeding. They spend less time traveling to and from those areas.

That said, I’ve found shed antlers in some strange spots. Once I discovered a dropped antler lying in the middle of a country road only a short time after a snowplow had passed.

One early spring day, I found two shed antlers as I was carrying a photography blind to a remote pond where I hoped to photograph ducks. The blind was a burdensome contraption. Once it was strapped to my back, I was forced to walk in a hunched position, which left me staring at the ground. I would not have found either shed had I not been encumbered by the heavy load.

Finding a shed antler is usually not that easy. Because of the current deer management system in Minnesota, heavy hunting pressure is put on bucks, and the majority of animals that carry antlers are killed each fall. Also, antlers don’t last long once on the ground because squirrels and other critters consume them.

For whatever reason, antlers have enthralled man since the beginning of time. Though I can’t explain the magnetism, I can attest to the thrill of discovering a shed. I find myself examining the antler from end to end while wondering where the buck is now and if I’ll see him next year when he is wearing his new headgear.

Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 7:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 7:30 PM
Houston
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Colorado 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Carolina
Washington 6:00 PM
Columbus
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Montreal
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Canisius
Temple 6:00 PM
Delaware
FIU 6:00 PM
Long Island
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Richmond
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
South Florida
Ga Southern 6:00 PM
Stetson
Yale 6:00 PM
Vermont
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Virginia
Wright State 6:00 PM
Western Carolina
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Morgan State 6:30 PM
Rider
Idaho State 6:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oakland City 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Eureka 7:00 PM
Bradley
Appalachian St 7:00 PM
Charlotte
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Duke
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Coastal Carolina 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Montana State 7:30 PM
South Dakota
LSU 8:00 PM
UAB
Ohio 8:05 PM
Evansville
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
Idaho
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 4:00 PM
Howard
Southern Miss 4:00 PM
Ole Miss
UMBC 4:00 PM
Rider
Miami-Florida 5:00 PM
UCLA
St Mary-KS 5:00 PM
South Dakota
William & Mary 5:00 PM
Wofford
Troy 5:30 PM
Evansville
Loyola Marymount 6:00 PM
USC
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
Indiana-Southeast 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Tenn Temple 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
West Virginia St 6:00 PM
Radford
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Ball State 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Trine 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Tenn Tech 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Samford 7:00 PM
Tulane
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Ark-Little Rock 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
CS-Northridge 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Oklahoma St 8:00 PM
Weber State
Washington 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Cal Poly 8:00 PM
New Mexico
(10) Louisville 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close