Shed hunting enthusiasts are cashing in on a fresh crop of dropped antlers. If you’re wondering when the time is right to hit the woods in search of a dropped antler, it varies depending on a variety of factors. When is the time right for you? Read on.
Most Northern whitetails drop or cast their antlers from January through March ... a bit later in more Southern latitudes. Dropping testosterone levels after the rut regulate the dropping of antlers seasonally. The latest I’ve seen a buck carrying antlers is mid-April in South Dakota.
The casting process occurs quickly. One day a buck might have solidly attached antlers, and a day or 2 later both antlers might be missing.
Healthy bucks tend to cast their antlers the same week each year. This has been proven through numerous observations on pen-raised deer. But remember, wild whitetails seldom live a purely healthy, stress-free life. Injuries and stress can cause a buck to drop early. In hard winters it’s common to see most bucks jettisoning antlers in January.
The majority of bucks drop one antler and then the second within the week. Rarely do they drop both at once, which decreases your chances of finding a matched set in close proximity.
Even though the majority of white-tailed bucks might have dropped in your zip code, pay attention to weather conditions. Bumping or moving winter-stressed whitetails could lead to their death. Be ethical and wait if deer are strained from environmental conditions; these will likely be the same deer you’ll hunt this coming season.
Lastly, have fun. Some of my greatest memories are of shed antler hunting with my wife and kids. It’s a great activity to enjoy a nice day as winter’s grip slips away.
(Click here to see my personal shed antler collection. Click here to read a blog post from Jeff Foxworthy about shed antler hunting.)
Shed antlers are welcomed late-winter trophies for whitetail fanatics.