Shed antler hunting can pay off in two ways. First, you can get a cash payout for selling your antlers. They are actually worth money in the dog chew and artisan market. Second, shed antlers can pay off by giving you a perspective on whether your management plan is working to grow big bucks.
Shed antler hunting junkies who repeatedly search properties almost always have a year-to-year record of a particular buck. By combining firsthand observations with your Nikons, trail camera history and the actual shed antlers, you glean a perspective of property potential.
Remembering body size seen through your binos and reviewing trail camera images helps you put an age on a buck. A sagging belly and Roman nose equals a mature buck. Measuring the actual antlers provides you with an idea of how much a deer may be growing from year to year. If you see a buck that isn’t growing to what you believe is full potential, then “Houston, we have a problem.”
Before you go bonkers with Purina Deer Chow, thoroughly research the genetic capability of the region. Peruse the files of both the Pope and Young Club, and the Boone and Crockett Club. Pope and Young records bowhunting trophy scores. Boone and Crockett records trophies taken with bow, firearm and picked up heads. Note dates of kill and look for your county, and surrounding counties. Do you see a current trend for big bucks? Was there ever a trend for big bucks?
Keep in mind that only a small percentage of bucks have the ability to grow into Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That’s why it is important to discover what the average is for an area and what the top end might look like via a record search. You don’t want to set your sights too high.
If your research indicates there is a possibility for the region to grow a monster, but your in-hand evidence doesn’t reveal future prospects, you may have to improve your management scheme. Is your property lacking sufficient minerals to boost antler potential? Have you been providing supplemental minerals throughout the property? Do you provide deer enough year-round nutrition, especially during the barren winter months? Do you need to supplemental feed your deer during winter to guarantee maximum antler growth?
Put all of these puzzle pieces together and you’ll have a solid idea of what’s possible on your property, and what’s not. Shed antlers can help you set realistic management goals.
Veteran shed hunter Joe Shead takes you on a journey through the late-winter and spring forests. With this great Shed Hunting Collection, learn what to look for and then go with Shead looking for white-tailed deer antlers along with a trip out west in search of elk and mule deer sheds.