ON THE LOOKOUT  — Stumbling across shed antlers is way more uncommon than one would think.  Still, hours of walking will hopefully land you a few.
Herald Photo / Provided
ON THE LOOKOUT — Stumbling across shed antlers is way more uncommon than one would think. Still, hours of walking will hopefully land you a few. Herald Photo / Provided

After witnessing a friend pick up a beautiful shed antler this weekend within ten minutes of starting our day, I was really amped up for what the rest of the day had in store. By the end of the day, I was reminded of a couple of things.  First off, that finding sheds isn’t easy. We spent the rest of the day combing the ground in search of more bone, but came up empty handed. Second, I found out that spending time with family and friends in the outdoors is never bad.

Since the majority of the bucks around here were still carrying their antlers last week, I knew that finding some could be a tall order.  Even during those times when it seems that none of the bucks around have any bone left on their heads, finding them laying on the forest floor is just as tough. No matter how many bucks have shed them, finding one is a treat and not the norm.

Once a buck’s antlers hit the ground, squirrels and other rodents will begin eating them for the calcium content.  Just how long they will begin to be devoured once they are on the ground can depend. I assume that they generally get eaten pretty fast for the most part, however, on occasion; you will stumble across an antler that may have been there for several weeks, or even months. Occasionally you will even find an antler that is a year old.  It all just depends.  Even then, rodents don’t always eat the entire antler.  It is not uncommon to find some that have been partially eaten.

Bucks can begin dropping their antlers as early as the start of January and as late as the end of March. The majority of bucks will do so in the period from mid-February to mid-March, however. During extremely harsh winters bucks  tend to shed their racks a bit early than during mild ones. This is because during tough winters, deer spend more energy trying to survive and forage for food. Their bodies burn up more of their reserves, and as a result this can sometimes lead to them losing their antlers a little earlier.  

Likewise during harsh winters, I feel that the rodents tend to eat the antlers a little quicker than they normally would. I remember the more severe winter we had a couple of years ago. That year it seemed as if the antlers were being eaten nearly as fast as they were being dropped. Needless to say we didn’t find any that year. Last year was a good year for finding sheds for us. But alas, so far this year it hasn’t been, so my theory may be all wet, who knows?

All I do know is that although it is hard to find the time to get out and do much of it, especially given the window of time that is usually short, shed hunting has been yet another great way for my son, friends and I to get outside and enjoy each other’s company while being involved in the outdoors. I am reminded of that each time I look at the coffee table and see the first shed that Nicholas found a few years ago. Each time I see it, I grin and remember that day. I also remember the other days and am reminded that they don’t come easy or often, but when they do it’s pretty darn cool.