Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - 34

antlers several yards below trails that
traverse steep hillsides. In all likelihood,
a buck was on the trail when the antler
dropped and rolled downhill.
I've also picked up antlers a few feet
away from a trail on level ground, likely
after they inadvertently were kicked off
the path by other deer.
When it comes to trails, certain types
of terrain and features can be consistent
hotspots for shed antlers. Where a deer
trail winds through thick brush, it's not
uncommon to find a shed antler suspended from a branch.
Once the layer of cells around the
pedicle begins to reabsorb calcium and
dissolve, it doesn't take much to dislodge
an antler.
Sometimes just a small jolt or bump
can do the trick.
Places along trails where a buck has to
jump over an object such as a fallen log,
stream or fence can be prime locations
for sheds.
In March 2016, I found my first matching set of shed antlers - lying 3 feet apart
in a hayfield, just a few yards from a steep

34

bank leading from another field. A set of
deer tracks pushed into the soft ground
between the antlers backed my theory that
when the buck jumped down, both antlers
fell off at once.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Food sources also can pay dividends
in the hunt for shed antlers.
In the woods, that means areas with
a thick understory that offers plenty of
browse. By late winter, the fall mast crop
essentially has been depleted and deer turn
to the swollen buds on low-hanging limbs
to fill their stomachs.
To conserve energy, deer will usually
bed nearby food sources, offering multiple
shed-antler hotspots in close proximity.
Anywhere deer spend a lot of time, you'll
want to, as well.
Food sources in farm country can be
a bit more difficult to search. While deer
sign might be easily noticeable around
a harvested cornfield, a bleached antler
intermingled with bright, shiny stalks
isn't. The best way to find sheds in a
cornfield is to simply walk up and down



Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020

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