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.
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:
My weirdest shed find: Deer season, watching a gray fox in binoculars. He lifts a leg to mark his territory, and then I see he’s peeing on a shed! It went home with me, pee and all.
What’s your weirdest shed find? Best one-tweet stories will be shared in an upcoming blog post.
— Lindsay Thomas Jr. (@LindsayThomasJr) February 6, 2019
Around 2008? Previous year’s sheds found the following late winter / early spring in the pasture next to the barn. The pasture had been brush hogged several times the summer before. It’s a wonder none of the sheds were found by a tractor tire. pic.twitter.com/3OJlEe27pk
— Diane – Rabbit (@mmmadcccow) February 6, 2019
I was standing by round bales that deer were feeding on. I surveyed the area thinking there must be a shed here when I felt a rock under my boot. Thinking it’s weird for a rock to be on top of the snow, I lifted my boot and there lay the smallest shed ever – about 2″ long.
— Reese Johnson (@reesejohnson7) February 6, 2019
Found this on the MA/NY line laying in the middle of a trail. Stunned me to find this there BUT 2 weeks later I came back to try n find the other n busted a sleeping 8 pointer. This shed has led me to a nice area to hunt. pic.twitter.com/ARwidFuMrq
— Larry Sheedy (@sheeds214) February 6, 2019
Found a shed. Hung a stand. Shot the buck who shed the antler. Found the matching shed in his blood trail.
— Eddie Morgan (@EddieJMorgan) February 8, 2019
Watched two young bucks go inside this cypress and bed several different times during the season. I walked by shed hunting later and saw this in the tree. pic.twitter.com/iZamxT8SYb
— Chad Cazes (@CazesChad) February 8, 2019
Last day of the season in Alabama. Saw a spike yesterday afternoon, so today I followed his trail. Found his shed less than 24 hours after it hit the ground. pic.twitter.com/aYBRXLSSZc
— Jonathan Roberts (@Ron6108) February 10, 2019
We had a buck have his antler break off right after his G1 tine out at our facility. He was darted in October and the shed was found last week (With a tiny part of the pedicle) by the same undergrad who darted him! pic.twitter.com/bzyatiryqV
— Monet Gomes (@MonetAGomes) February 11, 2019
One of the weirdest shed finds I have encountered. Found this while marking a timber sale where the buck lost both antlers while working a rub. pic.twitter.com/U72tEG7irv
— David Aumen (@daveaumen) February 6, 2019
I’ve only found one hanger. About 4’ off the ground in some brush. I should of took a picture of it.
— Eric Kincaid (@KincaidEric) February 6, 2019
A hanger, I think I still have pics somewhere it was a decent 5 point side and nearly impossible to get to right in the slap middle of about a 20×20 greenbrier thicket!
— John M. Adams (@JohnMAdams4) February 7, 2019
Yep..in a mock scrape I made by hanging (tying a branch) into a tree that was being hit so hard that the licking branch was trashed. I should have taken a pic of it 2 yrs ago, but was amazed to see the rack tangled in the branch I put there. Wasnt big, but big enough to get stuck
— This is Salty Dog (@ThisIsSaltyDog) February 6, 2019
Once found a pair just minutes off and blood dripping in snow. Seen him with antlers while coyote hunting and cut his tracks in fresh snow. Followed, cuz that’s what I do and wham. A sapling cedar was bent over from snow, as he walked under it, he lost 1. 20′ later he lost other
— Brian Rossignol (@BrianRossignol1) February 11, 2019
— NW MN Biologist (@NwMnBiologist) February 6, 2019
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.