Shed-Hunting: Antler Trivia

Big Buck Nation Milk River 2008 003Did you know…some fun facts about antlers and shed-hunting:

The #1 Typical Whitetail Antler in the Shed Record Book is a 6-point 104 6/8” left side picked up in Illinois 1992.

The #1 Non-Typical Whitetail Antler in the Shed Record Book is a 24-point 156 5/8” right side found in Saskatchewan 2007.

Individual bucks often shed their antlers the same week every year.

Antlers are the fastest-growing tissue in the animal kingdom.

Increasing daylight and a buck’s falling testosterone cause antlers to shed.

Once a buck drops one antler, the other one usually falls off within hours.

Huge whitetail antlers can be found in many city parks and suburbs. Get permission to shed hunt these type areas if you can.

When you’re out looking for antlers, mark off small grids, walk slowly and look straight down for a brown or white piece of bone.

Look for pieces of antler as you hunt: a tine or the white gleam of a beam.

Rainy days are good for shed searching—wet antlers shine and stand out.

Squirrels and porcupines chew on antlers for the calcium they provide.

Sheds are valued by size and grade, from Grade A Brown (best) to old, white chalk.

Deer antlers can fetch $5 to $18 a pound, depending on grade and size.

A matched set of grade A fresh sheds from a trophy 6-point elk can be worth $500 to $1,000.

Alabama: New Bill Would Expand Baiting for Deer

alberta sheldon synchro feed bucksThe Montgomery Adviser reports that a bill working its way through the Alabama legislature would allow hunters more options for using bait to lure deer and hogs. It passed the house Tuesday and heads to the state senate for consideration.

The new bill would not only expand baiting in Alabama, but also clear up confusion due to a law that went into effect just last hunting season. That current law allows hunters to use “supplemental feed” if the feed source is at least 100 yards away from the hunter and out of his or her direct line of sight.

That law caused confusion among hunters and, I suspect, game wardens last season. Just what does “out of sight” mean?  Suppose a corn pile is 101 yards away from a tree—if you sat on the ground you could not see it, but if you were up in a ladder stand you could conceivably glass the bait.

The new bill would do away with the distance and view requirement to the bait, so you could set it right out front your stand. But the bait would have to be in a container, like a corn feeder. Apparently it could not be poured out on the ground near a stand.

But the Alabama legislature seems intent on keeping any final baiting bill they come up with confusing. As of now, the new bill being considered would be a supplement to the current baiting law; it would not replace it. If a hunter wants to abide by the current requirements that bait must be 100 yards away and out of line of sight, he could still hunt that way and not be required to pay an additional fee.

If the new bill is enacted into law as written, and if a hunter wants to put a corn feeder out front of his stand, he’d have to purchase an annual $15 baiting license in addition to the regular deer hunting license. Of the $15, $1 would be an administrative fee and $14 would be returned to the state conservation department. Estimates have the bait bill raising an additional $1.2 to $1.5 million for Alabama Fish and Wildlife. That part of it would be good.

How this new bill ends up is unknown, but it seems like changes are coming to the current and confusing “line of sight” bait law that was enacted just last year.

That aside, there are millions of hunters, in Alabama and elsewhere, who do not like or accept hunting deer over bait, so that must be factored into it. Also, with the recent spread of Chronic Wasting Disease across America, many wildlife departments and experts do not like or recommend baiting because it congregates whitetails, which could accelerate the spread of disease.

Chuck Sykes, Alabama Director of Wildlife and Fisheries, has weighed in on the topic. “Supplemental feeding, when used properly, is a great management tool,” he said. “When it’s used improperly, it’s terrible. It’s just like anything else; it’s how you use it. It’s not a magic bullet. You can’t go out and pour a pile of corn and expect to kill a 160-inch deer. It doesn’t work that way. It’s one piece of a management program. If you want to use it, that’s fine. If you don’t, that’s fine, too. We’re not making you put feed out. It’s a choice.”

To Sykes, all the hoopla of hunting deer over bait in Alabama has taken away from the true meaning of supplemental feeding. “You need feed with 16- to 18-percent protein from February through October,” he said. “When the does have little ones and are lactating, and the bucks’ antlers are growing, you’ve got to have protein. Corn is like candy. It’s energy. In the winter, when it gets cold, corn will help them out when they need energy to stay warm.

“But a supplemental-feeding program is totally different than baiting. With supplemental feeding, you’re doing it for the wildlife. With baiting, you’re being selfish and trying to kill something instead of getting out and hunting.”

How do you feel about baiting?

South Dakota Shed Hunter Up to 70 Antlers and Counting

sd kelly shed 1

Update from our expert, Kelly “Shedhunter” Kirsch:

Mike: Walked 17.8 miles on Saturday, it was very warm, and picked up 15. One real nice set, maybe in the 160s. I found the antlers about ¾-mile apart.

Sunday I hurt, so I used the Quad to cover a sunflower field and picked 12 more. Total for the year is right on 70 sheds, not a bad start.

SD kelly 3

Take a look at that sunflower field. A lot of people I run into that think that antlers have to be knocked off by tree, fence post, or something. But there’s really nothing like that out here in places. Sometimes the antlers just fall off, and I have watched bucks hit the ground with their antlers to remove them.—Kelly

Southeast Deer Study Group 2017

Southeast-Deer-Study-Group-450x337The Southeast Deer Study Group meets annually for researchers and managers to share the latest information on whitetail deer. The 2017 study just concluded last week in St. Louis, and here are a few of their findings:

As always there was interesting new info on the whitetail rut. Researchers from Mississippi State’s Forest Resources revealed a study that shows when bucks of similar age and body weight are present and available, does in estrus prefer to breed with the buck with the largest antlers.

Another finding confirms why during peak rut you need to keep as many trail cameras rolling across your land as possible: Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia noted that you’ll get the most cam photos of mature bucks during peak breeding days.

There was new info on Southern whitetail herds, many of which were established from northern deer that were trucked in and stocked in parts of Dixie many years ago. This caught my interest, as I recently hunted the rut in late January in south Alabama.

Researchers from Miss. State studied dozens of herds in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and found that only 1 deer (from Alabama) showed a genetic link to its northern source (Michigan). While Southern deer have all Southern blood nowadays,  they still rut more than 2 months later than northern deer in some parts of the South.

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have been studying whitetail vision for a couple of decades. Their latest finding: A deer’s eyes and vision are acutely adapted to detect movement at dawn and dusk, which makes perfect sense since those are the times when does and bucks are on their feet and moving the most.

fawn

Lastly, my favorite new finding that in no way will improve your hunting, but which is another of nature’s fascinating trivia: A wildlife student from Georgia was able to identify 28 unique fawns out of 1,454 trail camera images by their unique spot patterns on their little hides!

Amazing Wild Turkey Trail-Camera: Kansas Birds Gone Wild!

 

kansas 83 turkeys and countingMy friend Brian Helman, who lives in southeastern Kansas and works for 180 Outdoors, sent me this image the other day with the message: If you get a chance come on out this spring, these turkeys are waiting on you…  

The more I study the image the more amazed I am. I can definitively identify at least 18 longbeards, and surely there are many more, though some of the black blogs must be hens. Moreover, looking back to the far wood line, I count at least 83 birds marching out into the field, and who knows how many more are still back in the woods?

How many turkeys do you count? Isn’t this the most interesting turkey image you’ve ever seen?

BTW, I hunted deer with Brian last December and had a great hunt, which you’ll see on BIG DEER TV later this year. In fact I hunted a ladder stand in that same field where these turkeys are one evening and saw and filmed a lot of the same birds, though not as many. I definitely plan to return to hunt deer with Brian next fall, but for now I’m thinking I might take him up on it and go back for a few days in April—can you imagine how much gobbling you could hear in those surrounding woods at daybreak?

Note: To enlarge the photo above and get the full effect of it, just click on it.