Over the past couple weeks I’ve overheard several students discussing shed hunting. As most of you know, deer shed their antlers during the winter, so during late winter and into spring you can do some trophy hunting of a different sort.
Depending on where you live, the prime time for shed hunting may be past. With the snow melting over much of our region, the brown, leafy ground makes it tougher to spot them. The chance a mouse or other animal has chewed on one of these calcium mother-lodes has also increased. Still, a walk in the woods or grassland can provide you with one of natures more sought after trophies. If you’re really lucky you could find a matching pair.
Good places to walk would be deer trails, areas between known bedding and feeding areas, as well as any other place where you know deer spent some time. Often times both antlers from a particular buck may be found within a hundred yards or so of each other.
Finding a shed is one of life’s simple pleasures, and one that never fails to bring out the childlike fascination in us. The sight and feel of a shed brings a whole host of thoughts: What was this buck like? Will he be around for next year’s deer season, and if so, what will his rack be like then?
Antlers are more than just armor used to fight off other bucks for access to the does. The does are certainly going to have considerable influence on what results from the rut! Antlers are, in part, showy billboards aimed at does. The size and mass of antlers are strong indicators of the bucks genetic make-up and ability to acquire energy and nutrients. Large massive antlers indicate the buck has superior genetics and the ability to secure resources. The does will respond accordingly. This plays out, of course, to help ensure the continuance of a strong and viable species. That’s natural selection.
Go for a few walks this spring, and choose a place where you have the opportunity to find a shed. You’ll get some exercise, become a little better acquainted with nature, and maybe you’ll experience that childlike sense of wonder at finding one of these interesting trophies.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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