By Alex Comstock
Shed hunting is quite the popular activity to do in the spring time for most deer hunting enthusiasts. For a number of reasons, shed antlers captivate people and it's something we look forward to after the conclusion of each and every deer season. Recently, I was thinking about how popular shed hunting is, and wanted to touch on a few reasons why we love to go out in search of antlers as much as we do.
1. Getting To Know Bucks
One thing about shed hunting that is enjoyed by many is the fact that you can seemingly get to know a buck, especially if you find multiple sheds off him throughout the years of his life. Holding an antler from a buck can be a very unique thing. It's a piece of a buck that grew from him, was carried all throughout the fall, and being able to hold that in your hand gives you a sense of having a better idea of who that buck was. Each antler has specific character to it, and the next year you will be able to better identify that buck through sightings and trail cameras, because you have a greater understanding of his characteristics.
2. Proof of Life
Something that shed hunting does, is it affords you the knowledge of knowing if a buck survived the season. Though a buck can surely survive a season and winter without you ever finding his sheds, when you do find antlers, it gives you a sense of hope for the future. The photo pictured above is the perfect example. In 2016, I shot a buck in November, but figured it to be non lethal based on the blood trail, and never finding the buck. Before the day I shot him, I had only a couple trail camera pictures of him and knew he was elusive. I never got another trail camera picture of the buck the rest of the year and started to get slightly worried. As soon as season was over, and I started shed hunting I was hopeful I could find his sheds to know he made it through the year. I ended up finding one of his antlers (holding in picture) and was very relived. This is definitely a big aspect of shed hunting, and can give you peace of mind in a situation like mine, or can give you excitement when you find a younger deer's shed that might become a target buck the following year.
3. Another Way of Success
What I really like about shed hunting is that it gives you something else to celebrate, and I think this contributes to the popularity of the activity. You aren't always going to shoot a big buck each fall, but by getting out and finding a few antlers, it's something that can create a level of success doing something deer hunting related. By no means is hunting just about the end result, but it never hurts to have something cheer you up, or give you an excuse to celebrate success. I know I get pretty pumped when I stumble across an antler, whether it's a giant one or a spike.
One of the major intrigues with shed hunting is simply the curiosity and infatuation we have with deer antlers. You get a bunch of guys/gals together that just went and had a great day shed hunting, odds are they could pass antlers around, talk about them, and look at them for hours. Besides the fact that antlers are just cool, there is the impending curiosity of what that buck will look like next year when he grows new antlers. Will he add tine length? Mass? Will that small nub on the bottom of the main beam turn into a drop tine? There are so many questions to ask, and we want to know the answers. And this is a large reason I think shed hunting is so popular.
5. Make a Profit
I highly doubt this will ever be me, but I've seen it more and more, and know some people that participate in this - selling sheds. In order to sell sheds and actually make some money doing it, you're either finding an absolute boatload of antlers, or a lot of giant ones. Regardless, I think the fact that people know they could sell them has increased the level of popularity with shed hunting.
Shed hunting is a popular thing to do, no doubt, and for a lot of reasons. For some it's more important than others, but I'd venture to say most deer hunters participate in shed hunting on some level.