In between turkey hunting and possibly bear hunting, dedicated outdoorsmen are picking up shed antlers. These wilderness treasures left behind each year from aging bucks can bring a nice paycheck. Hand craftsman use antlers for knife handles and other tools, while a pair of deer antlers can sell for as much as $600 for ornamental use.
Finding them is another story. In the above video recently posted, Casey Lavere makes it look easy. He does show, however, there are some tips to making it worth your while. Here are 6 ways to make your next spring shed antler hunt a success.
1. Scout the location
Just like hunting for the animals to shoot, finding where the bucks shed their antlers takes knowing their behavior and their habitat just the same. Whether it’s moose, elk or deer shed you are searching for, you can’t just go into the woods on a wild goose chase. You have to know where you’re going. Just like in hunting, rely on local knowledge, search the ground for scat and visit areas where animals are likely to settle in pastures with edible grasses.
2. Look for obstacles
Knowing where animals are likely to reside is one thing, now predicting where they might drop those valuable antlers is yet another. For this aspect of the hunt you want to narrow your location prospects to places that contain obstacles like rocky outcroppings or river crossings as these are places animals are likely to rub against something or lose their footing and shed those horns.
3. The trail less traveled
As often the case, the best chances for hunting or just overall enjoyment in the outdoors hinges on getting as far away from other people as possible. The same holds true for shed antler hunting. Don’t expect to find the prized pair you’re after by tromping down the most popular weekend hiking trail. You are going to have to work for it. That means hoofing it into the valley over that peak.
4. Low hunting pressure
As if this search for your prime shed antler grounds could not get any more narrow, you will also need to seek out potential areas that are not heavily hunted. This will ensure that the antlers you find are some hefty age, making them most valuable and worth the effort.
5. Locate the pair
Discovering matching antlers can drastically increase the value of your find. Deer antlers typically sell anywhere from a dime for a young buck to $10 per pound (most deer antlers weigh 2-3 lbs) or possibly more than $200 for a nice old large one. Whitetail deer sheds are especially valuable. As a pair they can fetch up to $600. Often searching downhill from the location you found the first antler can lead to the second, but there’s no telling how long that buck might struggle to free the second one loose.
6. Get out there early
Most deer and other large animals do their shedding in March or April so getting out there early and often, ensures the best chances of picking a nice shed. Other hunters will be out looking and you will get to the antler before the critters. A squirrel can reportedly devour an entire antler for its calcium in a less than a week.