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  • Chris Campanelli

The Antler Drop is On

Just a week ago I penned a quick article debating when we should begin shed antler hunting. We took several factors into consideration and painted a broad window of opportunity for eager shed hunters to attack. We're now firmly seated within that window of opportunity and we can confirm that the antler drop is on.

Now, before you head off to the field we should preface everything by saying that things will vary greatly from region to region. Something that I tried to reiterate several times during last week's article linked above. When it comes to finding shed antlers, there are no blanket statements. You may find piles of antlers at one property and absolutely nothing at another property in the same county.

The timing of when antlers will drop is very specific to the individual animal.

With that being said, all signs are pointing toward antlers on the ground across the greater Midwest. Thanks to almighty social media and a small taste of personal success, I feel pretty confident in saying that it's go-time for those of us who enjoy shed antler hunting. All of the stars are aligning for a pretty traditional mid-February antler drop.

February 15th is actually a pretty early start for my shed antler hunting season in recent years. With local bucks holding antlers into March with regularity over the last 3 or 4 years, I've been delaying my start quite a bit. Thanks to an abnormally beautiful February Friday in Ohio, I felt a random urge to throw my dogs in the truck and roll the dice on an early shed hunt. I had very little intel on whether bucks were still holding antlers, so the plan was to intrude as little as possible and simply enjoy the stroll.

It didn't take much longer than an hour until we stumbled across our first piece of antler for the 2019 season. A pretty hassle-free find near a corn feeder that has continued to run following the close of deer season.

As you can see in the video above from the AO Facebook page, I was pretty pumped up to come across a bone so early in our first shed excursion of the season. Never mind the fact that this shed dropped off of a buck no more than 2 years old. It was a fresh shed antler off of a real whitetail buck. Finding absolutely anything on my first shed hunt of the season made the entire trip a success.

Who doesn't like finding deer antlers? They're just plain cool. They are also insanely hard to spot in most scenarios, so finding a smaller antler is actually more of a feat. See what I did there?

More than anything, it was personal proof that shed hunting season is here. It gave me something of a free-pass to start hammering those prime areas in search of much bigger pieces of bone. For a dedicated shed hunter, that's like the starting gun going off. It also means that I can bid farewell to those boring days between deer season and shed hunting season. So long as Old Man Winter continues to take it somewhat easy on us.

This brings me back to something that I discussed several times in last week's shed hunting article. That being the need for each of us to gauge the proper time to shed hunt based upon what is happening in our respective areas. Not being persuaded by dates on a piece of paper or pictures of some big buck guru collecting massive sheds in Iowa. You have to find your own proof in the pudding.

You truly cannot go wrong by playing it safe and monitoring trail camera results to determine when your window of opportunity is open. I truly believe in that strategy. With that being said, sometimes you just have to get out there and enjoy life. You have to throw caution to the wind and put on the miles to get your hands on shed antlers. That is precisely what I did.

As you will see in our most recent AOTV installment documenting the hunt, I threw caution to the wind entirely after I got that cold-hard confirmation of antler in my hand. While I would always recommend taking a gradual approach to shed hunting, there's nothing like trying to string together a couple of successful shed finds.

Surprisingly enough, I got something of a throw-in second pickup when I strolled down a power line that was recently clear-cut. I still don't know how I spotted it, but we picked up on a spike shed that has to be every bit of 2 years old. It looks more like a piece of decaying wood rather than a deer antler. Hey, I'm going to put any piece of antler on the scoreboard!

While these small pieces of bone will likely serve as nothing more than short-lived chew toys for my dogs, they definitely got my juices flowing for shed hunting season. Jogging my imagination enough to keep me plugging for that next mile in hopes of finding something special. It's just a treasure hunt for deer hunters, and we have confirmation that the treasures are officially on the ground.

If you have yet to check out our first shed hunt in its entirety, just go ahead and watch it via the player below!

#AO #AOTV #AffiliatedOutdoors #February #Winter #ShedAntler #ShedAntlerHunting #Deer #Whitetails #Ohio #Midwest

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