Finding Shed Antlers: How To Find More Shed Antlers with These Pro Tips

Finding Shed Antlers

Shed hunting is a great way to introduce your kids to hunting. However, I find that it’s much more enjoyable when we actually find shed antlers. There are several ways for hunters to improve their odds of finding shed antlers.

If you have been struggling to find success and are wondering how to find shed antlers, just follow these tips and soon you will have a room full of antler sheds at home.

You Can’t Find What Hasn’t Been Lost

As they say, timing is everything.  One week later and that great spot you searched would have had an antler shed in plain sight. It was just waiting to be picked up but you went shed hunting a bit too early.  

Shed hunting is hard enough as it is, so it’s important to consider when deer shed their antlers.

When do bucks shed their antlers in West Virginia?

In West Virginia bucks typically shed their antlers from January to March. However, there are several factors that can influence a deer’s antlers to drop earlier or later than average.

how to find antler sheds

A drop in a buck’s testosterone levels triggers the eventual loss of their antlers.  Because of this, the timing of the peak of breeding season plays a part in when their antlers fall off. 

If does come into estrous later than normal, bucks wil hold their antlers later into the spring as the whitetail breeding season (rut) had a delayed start. 

The inverse is also true. An early start will lead to a drop in testosterone sooner and you may start finding antlers earlier.  

Advanced age, injuries, or malnourishment along with the harsh conditions of winter can also play a contributing role in the timing of when a buck loses his antlers.

This year when planning to go shed hunting, it may be worth waiting to check your best spots. The mild winter we experienced could contribute to bucks holding onto their headgear longer than normal.

Shed Hunting on South Facing Slopes

Some people search exclusively on south facing slopes when shed hunting. The reason for this is they feel that’s where the deer are currently spending the majority of their time.  Finding shed antlers is much more likely to happen in an area of high deer concentration.

During the winter, south facing slopes receive the most sunlight throughout the day.  During the cold winter months, deer will bed in areas that expose themselves to sunlight. This extra time in the sun can provide the extra warmth necessary for survival.  

Because of this, many people consider south facing slopes the best place to find shed antlers.

Focusing your efforts on where the deer are most often will increase your odds of coming across that needle in the haystack that fell from their heads.

How to find shed antlers
Learning how to find shed antlers can take many miles. It’s hard work but don’t give up too early.

Look Behind You

This one may sound simple, and it truly is. However, it is also the easiest to implement. 

Just stop, turn around, and look back in the direction you came from. 

How many times have you been looking for something that was right in front of you?  The same thing applies to shed hunting.  You may have walked right past a buck’s antler and not even realized. 

Looking back in the direction you came from will lead to you finding more shed antlers.

By turning around and surveying the area you just passed through, your perspective has changed. The shed antler you didn’t see a minute ago might jump right out at you.

Don’t Get Tunnel Vision

As we have mentioned, deer bedding areas and the spots where they feed are prime to locations for finding shed antlers, but you don’t want to neglect the trails they take that connect the two.  As you search the well-worn paths they create by moving from bedding to feeding don’t move too quickly. 

Remember, as an animal of prey, deer are constantly wary of their surroundings.  They are always on the lookout for danger, stopping and evaluating their surroundings to make sure they are safe. 

Because of this they aren’t walking a straight line directly through the woods from bedding to feeding.  There are lots of pitstops along the way, and their movements are slow and calculated for survival. 

It may take a deer several minutes to move just a few feet if they smell or see something that alerts them of possible danger. 

finding shed antlers

Caught up in the excitement of searching for shed antlers, I find myself walking too quickly quite often.  It’s easy to do when shed hunting, but I try and remember that’s not how deer travel through the area. 

Slow down. Stay on the path they’re traveling but be sure to look off to the sides. Finding shed antlers on the deer trail isn’t a guarantee.

They can be anywhere in the area.  A great set of antler sheds could be hidden just a few feet off the trail where the buck stopped to smell or examine some brush.

If you concentrate solely on the trail, you will miss them. 

Matched Sets of Shed Antlers

Finding one shed antler is always exciting, but the real prize comes from finding a matching set of shed antlers. 

Remember, when a buck loses an antler their head becomes unbalanced.  Imagine the aggravation of the left side of your head being pulled toward your shoulder all day long. 

The deer will actively work to get rid of the second antler and typically it is somewhere nearby. 

how to find shed antlers

It won’t be easy though.  Only on rare occasions do they drop right next to each other. 

If they don’t, stay close and strategically work out from where you found the first antler.  Try and figure out what the deer was doing when the antlers fell off. 

Think about the direction of travel from bed to food.  Work out the puzzle and oftentimes you will find the second shed antler within ¼ a mile. 

Stay Focused

You’ve already logged several miles without finding shed antlers.  Your mind begins to wander and the rub from last season catches your eye. 

Suddenly you’re scouting for next year’s treestand location and not paying attention to what brought you to the woods in the first place.  It happens to me all the time.  It is incredibly easy to get distracted while shed hunting.

Remember to stay focused and keep your eyes down, even though the allure of hunting is always in the back of your mind. The only way to find shed antlers is to maintain your concentration, otherwise you’ll walk right past them.

Bring Your Binoculars Shed Hunting

If you spend a lot of time searching for shed antlers in big open areas like fields where deer spend time feeding, try glassing the area with your binoculars from a distance. 

You can cover more ground without actually taking a step.  The magnification of your binoculars can help you pick out sheds from moderate distances even if partially obscured by brush. 

You can walk a bit less and still canvas the entire area you are searching. 

While this tip is far from essential for finding shed antlers, and one that I don’t always follow, it can come in handy in some situations. 

Shed hunting is a great way to get outdoors following the end of hunting season. It is challenging but knowing where to find antler sheds and how will lead to more success in the whitetail woods this spring. Follow these tips and you will be finding more shed antlers in no time.

Where to find antler sheds

Shed Hunting FAQ

When do deer shed their antlers in WV?

In West Virginia bucks typically shed their antlers from January to March

Is shed hunting legal in WV?

Yes, shed hunting is legal in WV.

Can you train dogs for finding shed antlers?

Dogs make excellent shed hunting companions. See this list of best dog breeds for shed hunting.

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