The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

February 11, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Nearly 219,000 white-tailed deer bagged

(Continued)

Head for the sheds

Some consider the pursuit as an Easter Egg hunt for hunters and as a great cure for cabin fever; whatever your reason for heading outdoors to hunt shed antlers, it’s always a good time. And in addition to finding antlers that reveal important clues about the deer in the area, you can also use the antler hunting trips afield for several other hunting-related purposes. And if you want to widen the eyes of the next generation of hunters, invite some kids to go with you on the antler hunt. The warming days of spring will soon be upon us; it’s time to get out after those antlers!

For some this rite of early spring is as exciting as the hunts for complete bucks that were undertaken months earlier. After all, it is the bony antlers that most hunters seek and dream about. Finding and grasping a big shed antler will bring a tingle to most any hunter and foster dreams about hunting opportunities in the fall ahead.

Get your gear

Before you begin the hunt you’ll need to gather some gear, most of which you probably already own. The first is a pair of comfortable waterproof boots, as you should expect to walk many miles. Next, grab your binoculars. Binoculars can save you many unnecessary steps and help spot distant antlers. You will also want a daypack for water and food when making a day trip, and to haul back your recovered antlers when the day is done.  Warning: after you find that first antler, you’ll be hooked.

The X factor

Many hunters often start looking for antlers along the deer trails that snaked past their favorite hunting stands. These hunters also know where deer bed, where they feed, and the routes taken between. And most hunters also know where the deer in their hunting areas spend the winter days. The hunt for antlers begins around bedding areas and along game trails.

As you come to intersections of deer trails, take the time to scan left and right, and up and down, trails. Anything with a noted curve or that comes to a sudden point needs closer attention, as does any item that looks chalky white. After you find a few antlers, finding more shed antlers seems to be easier. And some hunters return to the same areas year after year to hunt for antlers. They know brushy areas where deer hunker down to escape raw winter winds, and bedding sites that are close to late winter food sources are prime for locating sheds.

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