3 Reasons You’re Not Finding Shed Antlers

In recent years, shed hunting has become the biggest pre-turkey season springtime fad for hunters. The “white gold” of a buck’s shed antlers has become something to keep our desire to hunt at bay while nothing is in season.

Now is the time in most states to look for and find shed antlers, which is a great way to get an idea of where bucks are hanging out so you can plan for next season. (Photo: Darrell Nieschwitz)

Now is the time in most states to look for and find shed antlers, which is a great way to get an idea of where bucks are hanging out so you can plan for next season. (Photo: Darrell Nieschwitz)

But what if you’re not finding any bone? You see all your friends flooding Instagram with images of their treasure yet you have no luck when you’re out scouring the woods looking for the same thing. There are three main reasons why you might find yourself in this situation.

  1. You are not looking in the right areas. Bucks are only going to shed their antlers where they spend time. If your farm or plot of woods is great hunting during the rut but the bucks move elsewhere for early and late season, odds are they do not spend enough time on your ground to increase the likelihood of them shedding there. Hence, you will not find any shed antlers.
  2. You’re simply missing them. A 150-inch 8 point, walking proudly through the November woods, is an unmistakable sight and can often be seen from several hundred yards with a keen eye and the right optics. However, that same antler will look dwarfed lying on the mat of leaves on the forest floor when it is not carried by a moving object, the whitetail deer, that we as hunters instantly recognize.

    If you’re not out on the right day, with the right weather conditions, taking careful observation of your surroundings, you are far more likely to simply walk over them or past them without ever batting an eye. This is why grid searching is such a successful method. You ensure that no piece of ground goes unchecked and you’re constantly looking at roughly the same area from different angles, which can be just the trick to noticing the gleaming white of a shed.

  3. Bucks in your area haven’t dropped them yet. Depending on the availability of food, the harshness of winter, pressure from humans and other predators, bucks can carry their antlers long into the month of March. So, your lack of turning up any shed antlers could be the simple fact that there are none in your hunting area.

    Trail cameras can be a huge asset in this regard. If a deer shows up on camera with fresh holes in his head, you know that deer just lost his antlers. When you start to see two or three deer like this, that is the time to get out and start looking.

Of course, the other possibility is you and your hunting buddies put your hunting crossbows to good use last season and killed a few good bucks on your property. Some might fear this, but we would caution against this. Odds are much higher that, with the right food close by and the right amount of cover for bedding, other bucks will move into your area!

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