A Few More Shed Antlers For You

Give me a break! Sure it's spring, but the snow's still deep in my antler hunting locations, with forecasts for more snow every week. I enjoy picking up an antler as much as the next guy, and I know every day I spend in deer and elk country I ramp up my knowledge of a particular area. Those are my two main reasons for hunting jettisoned antlers, but I also do it just to get outdoors.

If you're wrapping up your spring antler hunting or just getting started like me, you're likely looking for locations that others haven't scoured or places you might have intentionally, or unintentionally, skipped. The following are a few places where I find antlers that others often overlook.

Steep drainages
In my backyard of Wyoming, steep is . . . well, it's steep. Because of the vertical nature of the canyons, many shed antler hunters avoid the lower portions. They know that the deer and elk prefer the upper, south-facing slopes, but big game move from canyon to canyon, and that means crossing steep drainages. When big animals hit the bottom and leap to the other side, they occasionally cause an antler to pop off. I've lost count on how many antlers I find at the bottom of draws, but they lure me in on every trip.

Thick cover
It doesn't matter what flavor of ungulate I'm shed antler hunting for, I bust into the brush. Animals always duck, dive, roam and bed in thick cover, so it makes sense they'd drop an antler along the way. They do. Thick cover is also where many critters hole up to die, so if there's a die-off in your area you'll likely uncover it deep in the bush.

Ledges and cliffs
This might be more of a Western thing, but I've seen the same pattern on benches and ridges in whitetail country. In the winter, big game animals will sometimes pick a high outcropping with a view to bed. While there, they might drop an antler. The high spot does need one thing: an escape route different than the entrance point. Few animals like to have only one exit flight path.

Long stretches of trails
I know many whitetail shed hunters follow trails from bedding to feed, but out West I think many overlook trails in the trees. You might have to slog through snow, but every so often an antler shows up trailside, making the trip worth the extra calories.

Shed season is winding down for some, but for others, there's always time for one last outing and one last shed antler treasure. If you have any other shed antler tips, please share them in the comments section below.


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