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Get ready for shed season

Article and photos by Jason Haley
Shed horns will be hitting the ground pretty soon. Maybe they already are where you live? Hunting for sheds has become quite the rage in recent years. What started out as a springtime hobby for antler lovers, and has probably always been around in some form, has become a craze that now requires state regulation in some places.

If you’re a hunter like me, you understand the strange attraction to horns that many of us have. They’re fun to hold, feel, examine, compare, wonder about and, most of all, talk about. Some folks like high horns, some wide, some heavy, some non-typical and many like the ones that score high. Besides the horn admiration/fascination factor and the pre-season scouting benefits, looking for sheds can be good springtime outdoor exercise. Your mind is busy so it doesn’t realize your body is tired while you pull hills and cross creeks. The entire family can get involved too.

I’ve never actively looked for them, but I used to stumble upon deer horns in the spring turkey woods or quail hunting in the oaks. I’d often wonder. Did it drop right here or did a coyote carry it here only to drop it for something better? Is this buck still alive or did he get taken by a hunter or a cougar or was he hit by a car? Maybe he’s in the shade watching me right now. Where is the other horn? It seems like the sun-bleached antlers often end up in pack rat nests.

My own shed horn interest peaked a few years ago after finding a beautiful matched set only four feet apart while deer hunting. I also saw a display at last year’s outdoor show in Medford that was remarkable. One collector had trophy blacktail sheds from Southern Oregon and he had over five season’s worth of matched sets from a single buck. It was a great study in age-class.

Now people have a new reason to collect sheds; they’re valuable. There are antler buyers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and exporters. Deer and elk sheds are normally sold by the pound, but unique or trophy antlers can garner much more at auction. People are training and breeding dogs, usually Labradors, to find and retrieve sheds. Over-exuberant shed hunters have harassed big game herds on their winter ranges, sometimes following them for days waiting for the second horn to drop or chasing them on quads causing antlers to drop prematurely. Some are selling horns to supplement their incomes. This has led states like Utah and Wyoming to regulate the activity. For example, in some cases collectors can’t enter the winter ranges until late spring and ethics courses are mandatory prior to searching. Shed hunting is unregulated in California and Oregon, so enjoy it for what it is and be sure to educate yourself on the legalities and ethical considerations before entering the field.

I found my prize set of sheds in Siskiyou County, but the buck undoubtedly summered in Jackson County, which is known for trophy blacktails. The horns now belong to a friend.  He already had a nice shed collection and enjoys the hobby. He had also put me onto a great archery elk spot a few years earlier. This made the decision to part with them a bit easier.

More Hunting News

2016 General Pheasant Hunting Opener

Pheasant, photo by CDFW
10/26/16 -- The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season. Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and... Full Story

Fall Apprentice Pheasant Hunts Announced

Pheasant, courtesy of CDFW
10/25/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for apprentice pheasant hunts in 17 counties throughout the state. The hunts, which will be held on various dates throughout...  Full Story

USFWS Allows Import of Wild LIon Trophies

10/25/16 -- Last week, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service David Ashe, announced new regulations for the importation of lion trophies into the United States under the Endangered Species Act. The new regulations allow for the... Full Story

Habitat Restoration Projects Help Waterfowl

Mallard drake, CDFW photo
10/24/16 -- It might seem incongruous for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to fund a habitat restoration project located somewhere outside of California. Yet, doing so is a very important part of biologists’ efforts to protect and... Full Story

2016 essay contest for young hunters

10/23/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Wildlife Officers Foundation are again co-sponsoring the annual “Passing on the Tradition” essay contest for young hunters. The California Wildlife Officers Foundation will... Full Story

Deer virus confirmed in Coos County

10/19/16 -- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists confirmed one Coos County black-tailed deer died from a viral infection and suspect several others succumbed to the same disease this past summer. Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease... Full Story

$ Increased for Info Leading to Suspect

Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr., suspect,, CDFW
10/16/16 -- A multitude of organizations and private donors have contributed to the growing reward fund for information leading to the arrest of a man who shot at a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law enforcement... Full Story

CDFW Tule elk study requests input

Tule Elk, CDFW photo
10/14/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is partnering with researchers at the University of California, Davis on an innovative multi-year study of tule elk herds in Colusa and Lake counties.... Full Story

OSP seeks info regarding poached deer

poached deer, ODFW
10/12/16 -- On 10/6/16 an ODFW Biologist received a mortality signal from a radio collared doe deer while conducting telemetry work. The biologist discovered the radio collared doe dead in a clear cut near mp 1 on the 1000 Line Rd... Full Story

Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest

Upland game winning entry by Roberta Baer, courtesy of CDFW
10/09/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is conducting an art contest to select the design for the state’s 2016-2017 upland game bird stamp. The California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest is open to... Full Story

Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Opening Soon

Flying Mallards, by CDFW
10/07/16 -- As California’s 2016-2017 waterfowl hunting season approaches, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) advises hunters to stay informed about the status of wildlife areas. Limited opportunities or closures in... Full Story

2016-2017 Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Youth hunter with ducks, courtesy of CDFW
09/16/16 -- As in years past, California’s young hunters will have one weekend to hunt in the Northeastern Zone before the general waterfowl seasons open around the state. The Youth Waterfowl Days in the Northeastern Zone for... Full Story

General Deer Season Opens in CA. Sept. 17

buck, CDFW photo
09/13/16 -- California’s 2016 general deer season will open in zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6, D7, X9A, X9B and X12 on Saturday, Sept. 17. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds hunters to pay close attention to... Full Story

SD Qual Season Hunt Applications Now

Sunset behind the mountains, by CDFW
08/30/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for two quail hunts in San Diego County. The first hunt opportunity is slated for Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, from 6 a.m. to noon. The second will... Full Story

CDFW Mandatory Deer Tag Reporting

08/30/16 -- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds deer hunters that all deer tag holders are required to report their harvest, even if they were unsuccessful or did not hunt. Harvest, survival and... Full Story

First Dove Season Opener Approaches

Mourning Dove, Courtesy of CDFW
08/17/16 -- The first of two opening days of California’s dove hunting season is fast approaching. This year’s season for mourning dove, white-winged dove, spotted dove and ringed turtle dove will run from Thursday, Sept. 1 through... Full Story

OR Rocky Mt. Goat tag cost $30,000

06/01/16 -- ODFW’s 2016 auctions and raffles for Oregon big game hunting tags grossed a record $755,963, of which $537,816 will go to the Access and Habitat Program and $218,147 to big game research and management... Full Story

​I Was an Indoor (Outdoor) Slave

Don Webster, author badge,
04/07/16 -- I wish to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all those kind folks who sent me "get well" cards and flowers during my recent, self-imposed stay at the Broken Antlers Rehabilitation Clinic. I'm especially indebted... Full Story

Nash Buckingham

Don Webster, author badge,
Theophilus Nash Buckingham (1880-1971) was an American author and conservationist from Tennessee. He is known for being an avid shotgunner and wingshot, and a best-loved outdoor writer of his time... Full Story

How much venison do hunters harvest?

Venison Bourguignon (Venison Stew), photo by Daniel Bledsoe,
06/17/15 -- The Dallas Safari Club (DSC) intends to find out. A study launching in 2015 will measure the actual amounts of venison and other wild protein harvested annually in North America. Researchers will assess the nutritional... Full Story

Pups & Partridges on the Calapooia Prairie

Liesl, 11 month old pudelpointer, photo by Gary Lewis
By Gary Lewis
02/18/15 -- They say a great pointing dog only comes along once or twice in a hunter's lifetime. Some dogs don't have the heart or the desire. Others don't seem to have the nose or the brain. We brought home our pudelpointer in... Full Story

DSC convention goers raise $1M in 1 minute

01/19/15 -- Responding to a heartfelt appeal for youth outdoor education, DSC convention goers on Saturday night raised $1 million in about 60 seconds. The fast flurry of fundraising was a highlight of the 2015 DSC convention and expo... Full Story

It’s Not over Till the Lady Sings

mountain lion on rocky edge, photo courtesy of UDWR and Carrie Wilson, CA DFW
By Gary Lewis
01/19/15 -- If you want to avoid being attacked by a mountain lion, conventional wisdom says, you should travel in groups. If you encounter a mountain lion by yourself or with children, stop and make yourself look as big as possible... Full Story

Vintage Waterfowler

old black and white photo of a skiff loaded with ducks and a man with his shotgun, courtesy of Don Webster
By Don E. Webster
09/16/14 --Having been pursuing waterfowl for over 60 years, I was exposed to its history as a mere child by my grandfather, Wilbur S. Pechin. He hunted ducks and geese along the Platte River in Nebraska in the late 19th... Full Story

The buck we didn’t get and two we did

Tyler Low with his 3x4 buck shot at 100 yards with a Weatherby Vanguard .300 Winchester Magnum. Photo by Kyler Olson
By Tyler Low
08/10/14 -- “Can you see him? He is just below the sky line to the left of the big live oak.” The respectable three-point stood only 500 yards away, but my hunting partner, Kyler Olson, couldn’t quite get an eye on him... Full Story

Where Are All the Pheasants?

Sacramento Valley Pheasant, Steven T. Callan, Where Have All the Pheasants Gone
On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
The other day a neighbor stopped by my house after two days of hunting pheasants in the Orland area. He said that he and his golden retriever, Milo, had probably walked ten miles and only flushed three birds. Knowingthat I had grown up... Full Story

Ham on the Hoof

Article and photos by Gary Lewis
12/17/13 -- We were climbing a steep gravel ranch road in Charlie’s Toyota when we saw it, as big as a full-grown bear and on a dead run. Charlie hit the brakes and switched off the engine. There was no time to load the rifle. The shaggy, gray... Full Story

Never say never

Never say never, rifle buk, Francisco Garcia,
By Francisco Garcia
Most of you have heard the saying, patience is a virtue, and I would say persistence is a virtue. If you want to fill your deer tag each season you have to put your time in. If you don’t give in and hunt hard you should be... Full Story

Hunting trip gone bad

Deer holding tight in cover during times of heavy hunting pressure as I was about to find out. Francisco Garcia hunting story.
By Francisco Garcia
If you asked me what I’d rather be doing, most of the time I would emphatically say, deer hunting. For me nothing gets the juices flowing and the imagination spinning like the arrival of bow or rifle season for deer. When... Full Story


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