How to find deer antler sheds

By Dan Richter
a buck, the larger his antlers
Jupiterimages/ Images

If you're like most deer hunters, one of the reasons you hunt is for the chance to bag a buck with a huge rack of antlers. While a lot of hunters make the woods their second home during hunting season, many of them don't realize that some of the biggest racks can be obtained after the season is over. Every winter, male deer shed their antlers so that they can re-grow another, usually larger, set later in the year. During this time, a deer's antlers can get knocked off anywhere at any moment. Any outdoorsman, if he knows where to look and searches hard enough, can find these deer antler sheds and keep them for himself.

Start looking for antler sheds in late winter and early spring. Bucks start to shed their antlers in February, shortly after hunting season ends. Sheds can be easier to find during this time as they stand out against the snow on the ground. Looking in early spring before grass grows too high is also recommended. Wear snowshoes if needed to walk areas with high snow levels.

Search areas where you most commonly see deer during hunting season. Bucks typically shed their antlers within a mile of their home range (where they usually live). If there's a buck that eluded you all hunting season, check in the area where you saw him the most. Look in areas with dense brush or under a grove of trees where branches may have knocked the antlers off when a deer passed through or bedded down.

Scour areas where deer may travel to, such as food plots, corn fields and along stream beds. Check around bodies of water and natural springs that haven't frozen over for the winter as they are likely places deer go to drink. Wear waterproof boots in these areas so that you can safely and comfortably search. Search designated trails that the dee may have resorted to taking due to high amounts of snow during the winter. Look off the beaten path too. While humans take trails and designated roads, deer usually don't after the snow is gone.

Walk slowly and scan the ground thoroughly. Take your time as you search and walk at a slower pace to avoid rushing by any antler sheds. Scan the ground all around you for sheds and pick up anything that looks like a shed (i.e. a tan-colored stick or branch) to see if it is. Also check the crotches of any small trees that a deer may have passed by.