How to Find Antlers That Deer Shed Each Year

by AngelaJohnson

Male deer shed their antlers every year and later grow new ones. You can find antler sheds in winter and early spring if you know where to look.

Very young bucks often called "button bucks" only have small bumps for antlers.

A buck’s first set of antlers begins to grow when it’s about 10 months old. Deer antlers can grow as much as a half inch per day, making them one of the fastest growing tissues known to man.

Deer antlers begin growing in early spring. Usually deer antlers begin to grow out of the head in a backward direction and then quickly changes direction and grows forward. By August or early September, antlers are fully-grown.

Many people collect antler sheds for decoration or use them in craft projects.

All photographs taken by author.

About Deer Antlers


Some bovine animals such as pronghorn, bighorn sheep and bison have horns instead of antlers.  Horns grow throughout the animal's life and except for the pronghorn, are never shed.

Male deer shed their antlers each fall; the shedding process takes about three weeks.  

Antlers can just fall off, but they are often pulled off by a low hanging tree limb and the antler may even be hanging on it.  Deer often jump across small streams or ditches and an antler may be jarred off when the deer lands.  
Antler sheds are gray and often look like tree limbs.  They are hard to find just by looking around on the ground. That’s why it’s important to know how to track deer and be able to follow their path. You can start hunting for sheds from early November until perhaps April.  After that, you won’t be able to spot them because grass and plants will cover them and rodents may eat them.

Since deer shed and then re-grow antlers every year, you can make hunting for antlers an annual event, teaching your children about nature and how to track animals.

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Deer Antler Sheds

See How Well They Blend in With Dead Leaves?
Deer antler sheds
Deer antler sheds

What to do with Deer Antler Sheds

deer antler sheds used to hold back curtains

Some people like to display their deer antlers on a wall or shelf.  Others use them to make things such as table lamps, chandeliers, hat racks, dream catchers, and ink pens. 

I've also seen antlers used to decorate picture frames, to hold wine bottles, tied to the end of a walking stick. and made into a wreath.

My cousin used these antler sheds as curtain decorations.

Ideas on How to Use Deer Antler Sheds - on Amazon

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Use Binoculars to Look for Antler Sheds in Fields

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Small Rodents Eat Deer Antler Sheds

When deer antler shed close upantlers are shed, they are full of calcium and other minerals.  Some rodents such as mice, squirrels, porcupines, and chipmunks will chew on antlers for this reason.

If you don't find a new shed soon after it's dropped, there may be several gnawed tips or even whole spikes devoured.

If animals are especially hungry, there may eat the entire antler!

Have You Ever Found Deer Antler Sheds?

Deer Antlers Attached to the Skull

Deer Antlers with Skull
Deer Antlers with Skull

This Skull with Antlers is From a Legally Hunted Deer

If you find a deer that still has antlers attached to its skull, leave it alone and contact your local game warden. Don’t disturb or remove the carcass or anything from the area around it. Remember the location of the animal so an officer can come out to investigate.  If you can give a GPS coordinate, that would be great.

When hunters shoot a deer, sometimes it is able to run for a while before dying.  If someone is hunting illegally (poaching) he won't want to hang around trying to find the deer's trail  If you find a deer carcass, it may have been killed by a poacher or have died from disease or starvation.  Game wardens need to determine the cause of death of most wild animals.

Antlers that fall off naturally (sheds) are the only antlers you should pick up and take home.

Updated: 12/16/2015, AngelaJohnson
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AngelaJohnson on 12/19/2015

Susan - good luck finding one. If you take your dog along, he might find one before you do.

Susan on 12/19/2015

My dog likes to chew on deer (or elk) antlers, which are rather expensive to buy so I'd love to run across one out in the woods. Now I know better where to look.

AngelaJohnson on 09/21/2014

Cynthia - Keep looking even if you hike in the same area all the time. My cousin told me about deer antlers and he goes out almost every weekend, following mostly the same trails and streams. Sometimes he finds an antler and other times he finds nothing.

Cynthia on 09/19/2014

I live in PA in a heavily wooded area & I literally just mentioned the other night, that with such an abundance of deer, Im surprised we aren't tripping over them while hiking. Now after reading your article I realized that maybe we actually are! As long as there is no snow Im going to try finding antlers this year.

frankbeswick on 09/19/2014

Interesting article. In Britain antler collecting is uncommon, but it is an activity that might be taken up, as there are plenty of deer around.

dustytoes on 09/19/2014

I live in an area where there are a lot of deer, but I never see any with antlers and I've never found antlers. Maybe that is because there is usually too much snow on the ground. This was a very interesting page, as I've always wondered when they grew antlers and lost them.

pawpaw on 04/27/2013

I have a couple of shed antlers that I own. They came from my Grandparents farm. One has 6 points, and the other 4. And one has chew marks made by rodents.
They can be used by hunters to call bucks during the rut. Can be a little dangerous though, if another hunters hears you.

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