Hunting for deer, elk or moose shed antlers can be a fun and rewarding activity for the whole family. It is a great way to dispel “cabin fever” and get outside on a nice spring day. Be sure and check the regulations in the state where you live, and please do not disturb active herds. Do not take antlers from winter kill animals without first checking with your local Fish and Game office. Ask permission to search on private land, and if you do find antlers and follow the landowner’s rules you might be able to ask permission to hunt there in the fall.
Late winter and spring are the best times to look for shed antlers–after the snow melts and before the grass greens up and grows too tall to see them. These sheds can tell you a lot about deer or elk in the area. The animal that dropped them survived the last hunting season, and it’s a pretty good bet it survived the harsh winter months. Hunting sheds is also a great way to get an idea of the size of the animals in the area for the upcoming fall hunting season.
The best places to look for sheds are where the herd moves from its winter ground and begins to make its way up to the summer range. Check the ridges of south facing slopes as it is generally warmer there. Also check fence lines and narrow creeks where a deer might jump across. Landing tends to jar the antlers loose. Brushy areas might also be a good place for elk and moose antlers that drop while the animal is moving through.
Take plenty of water, a picnic lunch, a camera, maybe even a mushroom or bird book, and make a day of hunting for sheds. Who knows, you might find that monster that will fuel your dreams for this fall!