Monday, 18 February 2013

Deer shed hunting for Family Day!

yearling Tigger
Everyone who knows me knows I'm not into any kind of hunting except with a camera. Often, when my granddaughters visit, I ask, "Do you want to go outside and find some deer poo?"
"Sure!" is the usual response! Now I have something new to search for.

Tigger's twin brother in December
Tigger's twin under the bird feeder!
An on-line acquaintance is an avid deer shed hunter. After the fall rut is when the male deer shed their antlers. Rather than hunting deer at that point, you can simply hunt for the shed antlers!

There are some tricks to it.
When are they shed?
I spotted Tigger, our young buck, on December 13th.
He'd lost one antler.
You are best to watch for deer trail in December and January. In December I spotted Tigger with only one antler! Rutting season is in the fall, and they shed them after this in winter to save energy.
How to search
Firstly, you should find them as early in the shedding season as possible. Many forest critters gnaw on the antlers for the calcium content. This can happen quite quickly.
Secondly, look for a stream where you know the deer to cross. There are places on the far side of a stream where the deer will jump and jar the antlers.
Thirdly, a tree line, where the deer frequently walk nibbling leaf buds.
young buck, with antlers just beginning to grow
Fourthly, deer leap over tall fences, and can crawl under them, too. Look for shed beside fence lines, where you see their tracks in the snow.
White tail - Following the trail
Fifthly, look for regular trails. As Justin points out, it takes less energy to follow a well-worn trail, rather than trodding through deep snow. We find our deer like to trod a path they follow in the deep snow. They change their schedule and beds, to keep predators on their toes, but they do stick to the same paths. If I go out in the snow in snowshoes, they will follow my trail. Look for trails with low-hanging branches or brush thickets!
deer bed in the forest
Next, look for deer beds where they sit during the day in the sun and chew their cud.

deer scat
A young deer, sitting in her bed!

Signage for a winter yard
Also, deer will congregate in winter yards, this is a place to look, as well.
Tigger follows Oliver

Our wetland is a place where the females gather for warmth. We seldom see the bucks, though. I will have some hunting to do!
Tigger (foreground) and his twin brother

Tigger and Ollie were great buddies!
He'd follow us on our forest walks,
his twin close behind in the forest.

Looking for something to do on Family Day/Presidents Day? Why not give shed hunting a try |   


eileeninmd said...

Great post, Tigger and Ollie together is a great capture!

Jidhu Jose said...

nice snaps

Reflections | Snapshot

Christine said...

sounds like a wholesome family activity! Thanks for your nice comment on my art, really appreciated!

TexWisGirl said...

very cute deer.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

My kids and grandkids would have loved that activity! Me too actually ;>)

Red said...

You have to be really good to find antlers. You can do all you say and you still have to be lucky. Most people think antlers are like rock and will last forever...they don't. Have fun looking for antlers.