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    Deer: Post Season Scouting, Part 4 – The Significance of Shed Antlers

    Deer: Post-Season Scouting Part 4 – The Significance of Shed Antlers I’ll be the first to admit I’m a shed antler fanatic, especially when it comes to blacktail sheds. Each time I find an antler, a surge of energy rips through me as I frantically begin scanning the ground for the match. Unconsciously my mind conjures up images of the buck on the hoof and what he was doing - and more importantly, why. Looking back, there was a time I didn’t care too much about sheds. I might haul one out with me during a fall hunt from time to time but I certainly never put any thought into looking for them in the winter or early spring. All that’s changed over the last decade. Today, I look forward to the late winter and early spring nearly as much as the opener of early bow season. There are sheds to be found and they play a key role in my overall blacktail strategy. Before we dive in, let’s examine the physiology involved.  The Science Behind Shed Antlers The length of daylight, or photoperiod, decreases in late fall. The diminishing amount of daylight ...

    

    Deer: Post-Season Scouting

    Part 4 – The Significance of Shed Antlers


    I’ll be the first to admit I’m a shed antler fanatic,
    especially when it comes to blacktail sheds. Each time I find an
    antler, a surge of energy rips through me as I frantically begin
    scanning the ground for the match. Unconsciously my mind conjures
    up images of the buck on the hoof and what he was doing – and more
    importantly, why.
    Looking back, there was a time I didn’t care too
    much about sheds. I might haul one out with me during a fall hunt
    from time to time but I certainly never put any thought into
    looking for them in the winter or early spring. All that’s changed
    over the last decade.
    Today, I look forward to the late winter and early
    spring nearly as much as the opener of early bow season. There are
    sheds to be found and they play a key role in my overall blacktail
    strategy. Before we dive in, let’s examine the physiology
    involved.
     

    The Science Behind Shed Antlers

    The length of daylight, or photoperiod, decreases
    in late fall. The diminishing amount of daylight reaching the back
    of the deer’s eye triggers the pituitary gland to produce fewer
    hormones, which in turn, drops the level of testosterone coursing
    through a buck’s body. This reduction in testosterone is the major
    catalyst that drives antlers to drop.
    When testosterone levels drop significantly,
    bone-eating cells called “osteoclasts” form at the
    pedicle, where the antler attaches to the skull. These osteoclasts
    reabsorb calcium from the antler, drawing it back into the skull.
    Eventually, so much calcium is reabsorbed that only tiny,
    threadlike connections called “spicules” hold the antler
    in place. When these connections become too weak to support the
    antler, it falls off. The process happens so quickly, scientists
    have noted you could literally hang a moose by its antlers one day,
    and the antlers would fall off under their own weight the next. As
    a result, antlers release from the pedicle

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