Shed Hunting | When Do Bucks Shed Their Antlers?
Just when people think whitetail hunters can’t get any more obsessed after a long hunting season, sheds start to fall! The thoughts of white gold scurry through our minds all day and night. Is it still too early? Is it too late? Are you going to beat everyone and more importantly the critters to the sheds?
Our minds can be cruel, convincing us to walk miles in the snow looking for something we know that isn’t there yet. This season put your mind to rest and educate it!
What percentage of bucks shed antlers so far? When exactly do they drop? These are not simply answered…Many factors working together affect the when on shedding antlers. Nutrition, photoperiods, testosterone, injuries, and even number of does together work on that time of drop. Healthy bucks tend to keep their accessories longer, reversely injured or skinny rut worn bucks tend to be the first to shed. These early bucks start shed fever and premature shed hunting. An exceptional case would be if you injured a hit list buck this year, there is a good chance he will be dropping earlier than normal in your region. This would be a good reason to hit the woods early. If you know you have to many deer around you, or it was a bad year in terms of crops, drought, extreme snow or cold etc… there is a good chance the shed season will hit the area earlier than normal.
Photoperiod directs testosterone levels and therefore the timing of antler growth, velvet shedding, rut phases, and shedding of antlers. Photoperiod affects much in the deer world and sets the time frame for shedding, but number of does in an area is the big factor to consider when figuring out when bucks will shed. Just as photoperiods control testosterone levels, pheromones of un-bred does can keep the levels high longer than normal. High doe to buck ratios can lead to un-bred does. These does are not bred during the first estrous cycle causing them to come in later in the season. Doe fawns reaching sexual maturity also can cause late rutting activity. These factors contribute towards later dates in shedding. The northern regions of the whitetails range experience shedding earlier than the Midwest, so around January. The Midwest bucks tend to keep their antlers on until February, while the southern deer might still be rutting depending on the region, dropping their antlers anywhere from February to late march.
So what do these time frames teach you? That it is time do some homework! Just like killing a buck, finding a shed takes patience and work. The best answer to the question of when, or what percent, is to put out trail cameras and find out. Everyone has a general idea of when, but you can never pin point the day. Putting out a camera and recording dates will give you valuable insights to rest your mind. This will keep you from busting the deer out of your woods to early, but get you in the woods before your white gold is spoiled!
Finding sheds defines a bone collector! To help build your collection… http://bonecollector.com/bc-news/bone-collector-definition-top-2-places-find-deer-sheds/