Weird Ways to Find Shed Antlers

February 13, 2019 By: Mark Turner

With shed antler season already underway, many deer hunters are already working on their goal of finding a large number of sheds or locating the antlers from a particular deer. Since I’ve never been particularly successful at racking up numbers or finding sheds from shooter bucks that survived the season, I take pride in finding sheds in the most unique ways possible. Here are a couple of my craziest shed antler finds as well as a few contributed by other hunters.

All Rolled Up

A few years ago, we had a buck on our family’s farm that had a distinctive drop tine on his left antler. While I never saw him during the season, I searched for his sheds in vain. This was early in my shed-hunting career, and I had only found a couple prior to that season. As I would later find out, his shed would have been difficult to find anyway, as it was lying in a tall fescue hayfield.

In early June, I was driving around the field on the way to spray grass in a clover food plot. When I rounded the corner of the field, I happened to glance at the row of haybales along the edge of the field. Much to my surprise, I saw something unusual sticking out of the top of one of the bales. When I walked over to the bale, I realized it was a drop tine! I’m still not sure exactly how the shed was picked up by the baler without damaging the equipment, but this find ranks as one of the craziest shed stories I have ever heard.

Leaf Blower

Aside from shed dogs and (apparently) hay balers, one other tool stands out in my mind for finding shed antlers: prescribed fire. It’s not only great for improving deer habitat, but it also makes shed antlers easier to find. To my surprise, burning also provides another chance to find sheds in some instances, as I’ll explain.

To improve deer forage availability in hardwood stands with an open canopy, prescribed fire can be applied in a manner similar to how it is used in pines. In these hardwood stands, a leaf blower is an extremely effective tool for preparing firebreaks. While the odds of uncovering a shed that was dropped inside a 6-foot wide strip are low, apparently it isn’t impossible, as I recently uncovered a spike that was buried in the leaf litter while clearing a firebreak with my backpack blower!

More Weird Finds

NDA asked hunters on Twitter to share the weirdest ways they had found shed antlers. Here are some of the responses:

Clearly, I wouldn’t recommend breaking out the leaf blower and tearing apart haybales to locate shed antlers. Scouting and boot leather are the only effective ways to find sheds, and the NDA has many resources to improve your shed hunting skills. Shed hunting is a lot of fun and may even lead to more venison in your freezer next fall!

Now add your own weird shed stories to this post in the comments below.

About Mark Turner:

Mark Turner is an NDA member and Level 2 Deer Steward who is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Tennessee working under the direction of Dr. Craig Harper. His research is investigating how nutritional carrying capacity and land use influence deer body and antler size across the eastern United States. Instagram: @markturner442

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