I love picking up shed antlers. It’s been a passion of mine for many years and I have some great stories, great racks, and also some tales of the long hours of frustration that comes with going home empty-handed. A few years ago, I decided to try some things that would increase my odds of collecting more bone; I created a couple of what I call “shed antler traps.”
My first crude attempt involved pounding five fence posts into the ground and using chicken wire to create a “W” shape. I put corn in the three corners of the “W” and expected to haul the sheds home by the armload. This turned out to be a bad idea because the antlers got hung up in the chicken wire and bent it all up, and I felt that there was potential to endanger a buck that might get tangled to the point he could not escape. I quickly dropped that idea and I also scorned any mechanism that used bungee cords to entrap the antlers.
Today I use two methods, the fence method and the brushpile method, and they both work terrific. I have never taken antlers home by the armload, but I collect enough to keep me interested.
The Fence Method
For this I use a firm welded wire fence, similar to what you can buy at any home improvement store for keeping critters out of your garden. Please note this is not legal in all states so check your laws; I only use this in states where it is permitted.
I attach about a four- to six-foot section of the fence in a “V” shape between three trees. I use bungee cords only to attach it to the trees and I keep the bungees away from the bait far enough that the antlers will not contact the bungee cords. The stretch provided by the bungee cords allows the fence to flex and will not force an antler to fall off. This setup simply increases the odds that when the antler is ready to fall off, it will fall right there.
I use corn and sometimes a deer feed that includes a mixture of corn and alfalfa pellets. I put these out in late January and check them until I feel all the sheds are on the ground in late March.
The Brushpile Method
If you do not like the idea of constructing a mechanism for this purpose, or it’s illegal in your state, consider using a more natural approach. Dump a bucket of corn in a brushpile. Yes, it’s that simple and really works quite well.
The deer will poke around in the brushpile to get the last kernel of corn. The buck’s antlers rattle on the limbs as they eat the corn and when the antler is about to fall, the gentle jarring of the antler on wood can often cause it to fall right into the brushpile.
Over time, they will knock the brushpile down from feeding in it so you will have to throw a couple more limbs on it from time to time.
Antler traps do not replace the fun and excitement of walking the woods collecting shed antlers, they just add to it. Check your local laws regarding what’s legal in your state and consider adding the excitement of an antler trap to your late winter activities.
Follow Bernie’s bowhunting adventures on his blog, bowhuntingroad.com.