(UNDATED) – White-tailed deer provide more than just tasty venison and magnificent sights. They also help create a scavenger hunt for shed antlers every winter.
Through summer, male deer grow a new set of antlers in preparation for the fall breeding season (rut). After the rut, bucks’ testosterone levels decline and trigger the dropping of their antlers.
The antler growth cycle then repeats as bucks begin growing new antlers in velvet. While shedding antlers each winter, bucks scatter thousands of these “prizes” across Indiana, and they can be picked up by anyone who finds them.
The best time to search for antlers is shortly after bucks shed but before spring green-up covers them and makes them difficult to see. Most bucks in Indiana shed antlers in February or March.
Shed hunters should search where bucks spend the most time in late winter, which includes places with food sources and areas with bedding cover. These include crop fields, areas with oak trees, food plots, and bramble thickets, old fields, or logged areas. As with any other outdoor activity, shed hunters need to acquire landowner permission before entering private property.
This year try this fun outdoor activity as winter turns to spring to get exercise, explore, and find some new home décor.
To find a Fish & Wildlife property near you to shed hunt, visit on.IN.gov/dfwproperties.
Remember to contact the property manager for permission prior to collecting sheds on a state park property or state-managed lake. To legally pick up antlers that are still attached to a skull, you need a permit issued by local law enforcement or a conservation officer.