Should we delay shed hunting?

Over the last three months I haven’t seen many deer or deer signs. They’ve had a hard winter with deep snow starting in December and continuing into April. Parts of Maine have had four or more ice storms, two of them significant.

I drove to Grand Lake Stream on Tuesday and Houlton on Wednesday, and saw deer both days. About a third of them look terrible. They are thin, their coats are ragged, and they appear to be listless. It’s a sad sight. Moose are dying this time of year to heavy winter (moose) tick infestations. I read about a man who found four young moose dead and covered in ticks in one day last weekend.

Deer shed

Deer and moose shed their antlers in early winter. Found in 2012.

A sign at Old Town Trading Post last week offered $10 a pound for sheds. Sheds, in case you don’t know, are antlers shed by deer and moose. They’re found by following deer trails and visiting yards where deer  and moose congregate in December and January, the time when most antlers are shed. Shed hunting is a hobby that’s picked up a lot of interest lately.

I have a suggestion for this year. Considering how long and hard winter has been, how much snow we still have on the ground (30″ in my backyard), and how long it’s going to be until the deer have greens to eat, please hold off on shed hunting. Give the deer a break. Don’t make them burn more calories by running away from you. The antlers will still be there when the snow melts. They might be a little more chewed on by rodents but for the most part they’ll still be nice.

The deer and moose need a break this year. Let’s give it to them.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.