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What you Can Learn by Searching for Deer Antlers


John Phillips | March 26, 2012

Bob Zaiglin, well-known deer manager and outdoor writer, explains:

Shed hunters also may find one of the most-discouraging sights in all of nature – two bucks with antlers locked in combat, and both deer dead. When a hunter discovers two locked racks, the first thing he knows is that the sex ratio of the deer herd is probably approximately one buck for each doe, because bucks fight more and therefore lock horns more often when there are fewer does.

Finding two bucks locked in combat was thought to be very uncommon in past years. However, one time, the ranch I managed had 15 bucks radio-collared. Out of those 15 bucks on the 100,000-acre ranch, one of those radio-collared bucks locked-up with another deer. One year we found two sets or four bucks that locked antlers – one pair in December and the other in February. These bucks were a tremendous size. Two of these deer had racks that scored 170 points on Boone and Crockett.

When you're out hunting sheds, you may discover bucks with locked antlers. The outdoorsman who wants to become a trophy hunter and consistently take big deer must learn to hunt all year long and carry his gun into the woods only during hunting season. Not-enough time is available during hunting season in most states for a trophy hunter to unravel the mysteries of the big bucks. Even if the sportsman does determine what the deer in his area are doing, the season may be over before he has a chance to intercept a buck in the woods. Although deer are not that smart, they have learned to avoid hunters.

Most always on any given piece of land, a few bucks continually will escape hunters. These deer seem to have a sixth sense about how to avoid hunters. Unless a hunter is willing to hunt trophy bucks all year long, he never may find a trophy buck to hunt, but also he'll never develop a strategy for taking that deer. If you truly want to hunt a trophy, the odds of bagging that trophy buck are best for the hunter who makes the commitment to hunt deer all year long.  Shed hunting is an integral part of trophy-buck hunting for outdoorsmen who understand what sheds mean, where to look for the sheds, and what to do after they find them.

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