I m-m-m-missed a turkey the other day (it’s hard to say those words, they sting a little bit).
But in running out to try to get a 3rd shot on him (yes, 2 had already been fired, it was that bad), I tripped on something and nearly fell.
I looked down in the grass and it was an antler. It distracted me just enough to let the turkey make a full and complete escape.
As I trudged back to my hiding spot, I stopped to pick up the antler.
Lo and behold, the matching antler was about a foot away from the first.
I never find shed antlers in the woods. So while it was disappointing my spring gobbler got away, the antlers made a nice consolation prize.
As I showed off my prize, some to non-hunters, interesting conversations arose. Was the deer already dead? Had I killed the deer and gotten them off? And so it went.
It struck me that a little education about antlers might be in order.
Buck deer shed their antlers every spring and re-grow them over the summer. It’s how their antlers get larger as they age. A key difference in horns and antlers is that animals with horns keep them throughout their lives, while animals with antlers shed and re-grow them.
Our deer shed their antlers in late March or early April, generally speaking. I remember having a buck deer almost run over me once upon a time in mid-April when I was a kid and he already had foot-long velvet covered antlers coming out of his head.
The velvet covers the growing antler and the bucks will then shed the velvet in late September or early October, again speaking very generally on the timing.
There are people in deer-rich areas who thrive on hunting shed antlers in the spring. A few people even have special dogs that help them find sheds.
As I said, I almost never find sheds so it was really cool to find a matched set at once. I don’t think these had been shed long. In our area, mice and squirrels chew on shed antlers. Folks say it’s a great source of calcium for them. If you find a shed that has been out a long time, it’s likely to be all chewed up.
If you’re wondering how in the world I missed a turkey, I misjudged the distance badly. I thought he was about 50 yards – which would have been stretching it – but he was really about 70. That’s way too far for a shotgun. About half that is better.
But I have a few weeks yet and maybe the worm will turn and a gobbler will get to come home with me before long.