Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shed Antlers

A few weeks ago on a gray blustery day with some mist in the air I walked through L’s woodland to see what I could see. In places the tall trees were festooned with grapevines that must have had a good crop of grapes last fall – turkeys had scratched beneath each tree where grapes grew.
When I stopped to look around a bit, something on the ground that was lighter than even the palest fallen leaf caught my eye; it was a tine from a white-tailed deer’s antler. I went over to look and it turned out to be an antler shed last winter. A nice 4-point but not heavy or large, so it was probably from a buck that was two and a half years old last fall.
The antler showed no evidence of gnawing by squirrels, chipmunks or mice, unlike many I’ve found over the years. Rodents usually find shed antlers quickly and gnaw on them both for their mineral content and to keep their own ever-growing incisor teeth worn down.

In the many years I’ve spent in the woods I’ve found a number of shed antlers - 

Once, while looking at a large property I stopped to take a short break, looked between my feet and there lay a shed antler –

and less than 24 inches away was its mate –

It’s the only matched set of antlers I’ve ever found and they now hang in the house to remind me that any day spent in the outdoors can yield a treasure –

I’m not a shed hunter, only gathering sheds that I come across by accident, but some folks are active shed hunters and spend hours afield as soon as the snow melts looking for them. An acquaintance has an extensive collection of sheds that he's found over the years. Many of them are of impressive size – truly significant since each of the bucks that bore those antlers survived the previous hunting season. Actually, the bucks must have survived multiple hunting seasons in order to grow some of the large antlers in the collection.

No comments: