Though the terminology is sometimes interchanged, deer do not have horns, they have antlers. Horns continue to grow throughout the animal’s life and are not shed each year. This is why we do not find cow horns scattered about the pasture.
Antlers start growing in the spring, mature in the fall, and fall off or shed, in late winter. This provides outdoors enthusiasts something to do when the ponds and lakes are not frozen enough for ice fishing and it is too early to go turkey hunting. We all go wandering about the woods looking for deer sheds.
I have yet to determine why we do this, other than it is a reason to go for a walk in the woods and we do not have to call it going for a walk. Hunting sheds gives purpose to the walk. Fortunately, on the average walk, or I should say hunt, a person will not usually find too many shed antlers. This is a good thing, since I have yet to find something useful to do with them after they are collected.
I have had many suggestions, such as making a knife and use part of the antler for a handle. This is a fine idea, and may work well for some people, but I haven’t a clue on how to make a knife. I know I can buy a knife that works very well for a whole lot less than the medical bills would cost when I finished a hand-crafted one.
I have seen very attractive lamps and chandeliers made from both deer and elk antlers. This is something within my skill level, but there is limited demand for antler lamps.
My wife does not particularly want a deer antler lamp in the living room and I do not need a lamp in the office. A person could lose friends giving antler lamps or chandeliers as wedding presents.
Last Sunday afternoon seemed like a good day to go shed hunting. After being iced in the house for days, my wife, the dog, and I all had a severe case of cabin fever. We loaded the dog in the Ranger and headed out.
So far, the dog is not much good at shed hunting, but he has a good time. The poor animal is never sure what we are hunting, but hunts for all he is worth anyway.
My wife drove the fence lines with the Ranger. When deer jump a fence, sometimes the sudden jar on landing will cause a loose antler to fall off.
I walked into the woods to places I knew deer bedded down. When deer congregate in an area for extended periods of time, chances are an antler or two will drop off.
Over the next few hours, we saw numerous deer. Most of them were still carrying their antlers, and some, being does, never grew any. We found a couple small sheds, but nothing worth bragging about.
As the sun began to set, we headed back to the house. The last rays of sunlight reflected off the lake as we made our way across the dam. We drove back to the house and added the antlers to the antler collection in the little shed, hoping someday to find a good use for them.
Until that time, we will probably continue to hunt sheds, just because it gives us a good excuse to be outdoors, run the dog, and get some exercise.