Deer – Outdoor Empire Gear Up and Get Outside! Thu, 03 Aug 2023 23:20:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Deer – Outdoor Empire 32 32 Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) Tue, 09 May 2023 07:52:19 +0000 Shed hunting is a great hobby that gets you close to the thrill of the hunt without all the fuss of getting a hunting license, lugging around a gun, etc. Plus, most places let you pick up shed antlers outside of deer hunting season, allowing you to extend your adventures. But where are the best ... Read more

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Shed hunting is a great hobby that gets you close to the thrill of the hunt without all the fuss of getting a hunting license, lugging around a gun, etc.

Plus, most places let you pick up shed antlers outside of deer hunting season, allowing you to extend your adventures.

But where are the best places to find these sheds?

The best place to find shed antlers is where there is a high deer population, low human population, and lots of food for the deer to eat.

In the USA, you’ll have the best success shed hunting from Nevada & Utah to Illinois & Iowa. Virginia and West Virginia are suitable for people in the eastern half of the US. In Canada, people tend to have the most success in northern Alberta.

However, you can find shed antlers anywhere bucks spend their late winter and early spring.

What State Has the Best Shed Hunting?

Shed hunting is a thrilling outdoor activity that requires skill, patience, and knowledge. However, choosing the best state to go shed hunting can be a daunting task due to various factors.

One such factor is the fluctuation in deer populations, which can result in a great shed hunting spot one year being barren the next. Additionally, some states have imposed regulations that limit shed hunting during certain periods, restricting access to prime shed hunting areas.

For instance, Colorado could be one of the top states for shed hunting, but unfortunately, the activity is prohibited on public lands from January 1st to April 30th. However, if you have connections, you can still explore the state’s potential for shed hunting.

Wyoming also has similar regulations but boasts some of the best shed hunting in the US, especially if you can find private land. Here, you can discover a diverse range of antlers, including elk, moose, mule, and whitetail deer sheds.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a state with an abundance of sheds, Nebraska is the place to be. With its vast fields of corn, soy, hay, wheat, oat, and peas, deer thrive and leave behind many antlers for you to find. Coupled with Nebraska’s low human population, you’ll have a higher chance of discovering more antlers.

Choosing the best state for shed hunting can be tricky, but with the right information, you can increase your chances of finding impressive antlers.

Where to Go Shed Hunting in Canada?

The same criteria used to pick out the best shed hunting states in the USA also apply to Canada: You want to visit areas with lots of food and little human activity.

This means that you’ll want to head farther north of the border. Most shed hunters find success in Alberta, especially the northern portion.

The province has a suitable environment for deer and other animals to thrive. Plus, the fish and game departments are relatively permissive when it comes to picking up shed antlers. You can keep and sell them without a permit so long as you didn’t gather the sheds in a protected area.

Northern Saskatchewan and northwest Ontario also have great shed hunting opportunities.

Despite having similar specs, Manitoba is the best place to live, but not visit, if you’re hoping to pick up antlers. That’s because non-residents are prohibited from possessing shed antlers. Manitoba residents don’t have any such restriction, though!

Remember that bringing wildlife parts across the border may not be worth it (or legal) for American tourists.

You’ll have to follow the regulations of your home residence and the location where you’re picking the sheds. Also, you may need to file an expensive wildlife import/export permit if you’re transporting more than a few antlers across the border.

Where Should I Look When Shed Hunting?

shed antler during spring

An excellent way to understand where you’ll find sheds is to learn where the bucks spend their time.

After all, sheds are antlers that have fallen off of male deer. If a deer doesn’t visit an area, you won’t find any sheds!

This means you’ll want to prioritize areas that provide food, water, safe bedding, and also warmth.

7 Places to Look for Shed Antlers

  1. The southern-facing sides of hills and clearings are commonly-suggested areas to find sheds for a good reason. It’s often cold out when deer lose their antlers, and these locations attract deer that want to gather as much of the sun’s warmth as possible.
  2. Also, check out creeks, streams, and even rivers. Deer will visit running water to stay hydrated in winter because other drinking zones are likely to freeze over.
  3. Deer need food, too, and will travel to find plants that are still green even in winter. These are sometimes called late-season food sources.
    If you find such an area, then check around the edge for sheds. Deers prefer to stay at the boundary between food and safety whenever possible.
  4. As for where deer bed down, you will want to find areas where deer feel safe that are also close to food and water.
  5. Look in thickets, around evergreens, and in areas where trees and foliage provide protection against sight and wind.
  6. It’s also a good idea to search along the trails deer travel between these areas. Antlers can get knocked off as the deer travels through areas thick with branches.
  7. Similarly, fence lines can be a surprisingly effective location to find sheds. That’s because antlers can dislodge when the buck jumps over a fence or lands on the other side.

States to Avoid When Shed Hunting

Now that we’ve discussed the tips on where and how to find shed antlers successfully, let’s take a closer look at some states that may not be the best option for shed hunting.

While deer hunting is prevalent in the Sunshine State, Florida may not be the ideal location for shed hunting due to several factors. In fact, many of these reasons are common throughout most southern states, but particularly apply to Florida.

I’ve already covered the advantage of certain crop types. In a state like Florida, you won’t find nearly as many large corn and soy fields so the deer won’t be as well-fed.

And Florida is full of people.

But it gets worse!

Florida has a climate that is very friendly to deer. The mild winters mean bucks won’t spend as much time on warm southern ridges, so some of the best shed hunting tips won’t help you find shed antlers in the South.

And those warm winters mean that smaller mammals, from squirrels to coyotes, will be more active. This is bad for you because antlers are a great source of calcium and other nutrients. It’s hard to find good sheds when they get all chewed up by other little critters.

The South is also known for its denser foliage, which can make shed hunting much more annoying. Plus, all the extra underbrush will keep the antlers hidden from your view.

It can be quite challenging to find an uncrowded spot for shed hunting in southern states, as there is a limited amount of public land available.

And did I mention that shed hunting in the South can be dangerous? While venomous snakes may be hibernating during shed hunting season up north, they’ll be out and about when you’re tromping through their woods. They’re out even as early as March!

Add in the swamps and alligators, and it’s no wonder shed hunters don’t head to Florida to collect sheds.

The US’s Eastern and New England regions are also poor shed hunting areas because of their dense human populations.

The wild areas of Virginia and West Virginia are the best places to look for sheds if you’re on the East Coast.

The Best Places to Shed Hunt

The best places to find shed antlers are, annoyingly enough, far from most people.

If you’re in the United States, you’ve got a dozen states or so that are great for shed hunting.

And for our neighbors up north, you’ve got some prime locations if you’re willing to venture a bit farther north from the US-Canadian border.

You don’t have to limit yourself to these states to find sheds, though. Bucks will leave their antlers behind anywhere they spend the late winter and early spring.

So, if you have a monster buck in your backyard, that’s a good place to start looking!

The post Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them Sat, 22 Apr 2023 12:31:44 +0000 Shed hunting is a fun hobby you can add to your usual outdoor adventures, whether hiking or hunting. Did you know that you can also make money off of your finds? Shed antlers are used as decorations, knife handles, dog chew toys, and furniture. Naturally, the people selling those products must get the antlers from ... Read more

The post How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Shed hunting is a fun hobby you can add to your usual outdoor adventures, whether hiking or hunting.

Did you know that you can also make money off of your finds?

Shed antlers are used as decorations, knife handles, dog chew toys, and furniture.

Naturally, the people selling those products must get the antlers from someone. Why not be that someone?

On average, shed antlers can be sold for roughly $10 per pound. Since antlers weigh three pounds or more, that’s good pocket change with just one rack!

Where Can You Sell Shed Antlers

To sell antlers, you have to connect with people who want to buy them.

This can be easy or hard, depending on your existing hobbies.

Selling Deer Antlers Online

Perhaps the easiest way to get started with selling antlers is to put them up for sale online. There are several websites you can use that already have a large and willing audience of people seeking antlers.

If you’re willing to ship the antlers, then the two best websites are eBay and Etsy. Both are easy to use.


I’ve sold products on Etsy before! Before you’re ready to sell, you’ll have to sign up with the website and connect some financial information to pay fees and get paid.

Etsy has a listing fee for every item you sell, though it’ll cost you less than a quarter for a four-month listing. They also have transaction fees, roughly half the amount eBay charges.


eBay is free to use until you sell your antlers. Then they’ll charge a moderate fee based on the sale price.

Both websites will track your sales so you can accurately handle your taxes.

Once you’re notified of the sale with a *cha-ching!* noise, you’ll have to package and ship the antlers. Don’t worry. That’s easy, too.

Local Pick-up Websites

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of packing and shipping your antlers, then Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are good resources for selling to people within driving distance.

You’ll probably have less competition this way, too.

Your own website or social media accounts

Another option is to use a platform like WordPress to host your website.

This lets you avoid paying fees to eBay or Etsy. However, you’ll have to drive traffic to that website yourself, and that’s not easy!

You can also use social media, such as Facebook groups and hunting forums, to connect with potential buyers.

For example, I’ve seen antlers for sale on Hunt Talk’s classifieds forum.

Selling Deer Antlers in Person

Of course, you can make money selling antlers the old-fashioned way: By making social connections with people interested in buying antlers.

This can take many different forms.

As a hunter, you’ll probably meet people with knife-making as a hobby. They might be interested in buying antlers.

Historical reenactors often need antlers to make their period-accurate products, especially people engaged in “living history” because they demonstrate old crafting skills to the public.

I’ve also seen tables of antlers for sale at gun and knife shows.

You can also connect with companies that use antlers for making rustic furniture and offer to supply them with antlers. They tend to be more interested in bulk sheds than fancy antlers.

How Shed Antlers Are Valued

How much shed antlers are worth depends on the species, condition, color, and how much you’re selling.

Generally speaking, the larger the animal, the more valuable the shed.

Moose antlers are worth the most, followed by elk, caribou, then mule deer. Whitetail antlers tend to be worth the least.

However, this also depends on whether that species is common in your area. What’s common for you may be rare for a buyer in another part of the country!

Darker coloration tends to bring in more money. That’s because lighter antlers have faded from the elements. A darker antler is both fresher and tougher.

Somewhat faded sheds tend to be labeled Hard White. Fully faded antlers are called Chalk antlers.

And, naturally, perfect antlers will be worth more than ones with evident damage, such as chips, missing tines, and bite marks.

This is why some people use a 5-step grading system: Grade A Brown, Grade B Brown, Grade A Hard White, Grade B Hard White, and Grade C Chalk.

Symmetrical sheds are worth more, but only when sold as a rack.

Larger antlers are also worth more, of course. A large, symmetrical rack of brown moose antlers can sell for a grand or more!

Finally, whether you’re selling in bulk as a supplier or selling retail to a consumer will affect the price.

These factors make it difficult to convey how much any particular shed will sell for accurately. However, here are some guidelines:

  • Whitetail Deer: $6 to $18 per pound
  • Mule Deer: $7 to $20 per pound
  • Elk: $7 to $16 per pound
  • Caribou: $7 to $20 per pound
  • Moose: $6 to $15 per pound

(Though the above numbers make deer antlers look like they’re worth more than moose antlers, deer sheds are much lighter than moose sheds, so the larger species are worth more in the end.)

A Caution Regarding Antler Selling Legality

As with any animal product or any business endeavor, there are legal restrictions you may have to follow.

Some states have laws regulating how you can harvest sheds and whether or not you can sell them. Some states don’t.

Look up your local fish & game department’s regulations to learn if you can even go shed hunting, let alone sell the antlers for a profit.

For example, Missouri requires you to record detailed information about every antler sold and identify who purchased them.

Speaking of profits, the government will want its due. Make sure to record each transaction so you can pay the tax man his money.

Staying on the side of the law will help both you and the deer enjoy their antlers for generations to come.


Can you make money selling deer antlers?

Yes, though it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Anybody who can hike can make a few dollars finding and selling antlers.

Making an income with shed antlers requires just as much work as any other occupation, though.

The post How Much Shed Antlers Are Worth & How to Make Money on Them appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips Wed, 08 Mar 2023 13:05:26 +0000 Hunting is a great sport enjoyed by many. It’s an enjoyable challenge between you and the beast. However, regular hunting requires certain skills and equipment. And you’re limited to specific hunting seasons. Plus, you have to pay for licenses and fees, and… What if I told you there’s another type of hunting that just requires ... Read more

The post How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Hunting is a great sport enjoyed by many. It’s an enjoyable challenge between you and the beast.

However, regular hunting requires certain skills and equipment. And you’re limited to specific hunting seasons. Plus, you have to pay for licenses and fees, and…

What if I told you there’s another type of hunting that just requires you to go into the woods armed with nothing but your wits and some sturdy footwear?

Shed hunting, also called antler gathering, is a “hunting” method that’s been taking off in recent years. It’s fun, challenging, and free. All you need is some dedication and knowledge about where to find sheds. They are typically spotted in and around places where the deer bed down or where they eat and drink. You don’t need any special gear to gather them, just some hiking boots and a good set of binoculars.

Let’s look at what goes into this sport so you can go from beginner shed hunter to expert in just a few hunts.

What is Shed Hunting?

deer with one antler

The word “shed” can be used as a noun to refer to an animal part that’s fallen off the animal, whether it’s a snake’s skin, your dog’s winter coat, or a deer’s antlers.

So, when most people say they are going shed hunting, they’re telling you about their plans to search for discarded deer antlers.

That’s why some people refer to this activity as antler gathering. The word “hunt” implies more adventure, though. And some people call it bone-picking!

Any animal that sheds its antlers can be the subject of this activity, not just deer. Some people are lucky enough to find elk or even moose antlers!

Why Go Shed Hunting?

People can go shed hunting for a variety of reasons.

For some people, it’s a way to hunt deer without dealing with the expense or legal hurdles of actually hunting deer.

Plus, you can pay attention to where you’re finding antlers to learn the animal’s behavior so you can be more successful with a traditional hunt in the fall.

Other people find it to be an enjoyable hobby. It encourages you to head outside. And finding a high-quality set of shed deer antlers is satisfying.

There can be an economic purpose, too.

An antler makes excellent material for everything from knife handles to jewelry to chandeliers. This is great for craftsmen and DIY enthusiasts.

But deer antlers are also worth money.

A good set of whitetail antlers can sell for over $10 a pound. Some people make hundreds of dollars, or more, selling shed antlers to crafters and rustic furniture manufacturers.

Don’t expect shed hunting to be a get-rich-quick scheme, though. Finding enough antlers to make the big bucks takes a lot of time and effort!

Does Shed Hunting Hurt Deer?

A good question is whether hunting for shed antlers can harm the animals.

Well, antler shedding is a natural part of a deer’s life. They grow and then fall off every year. You won’t physically harm an animal by picking up its shed antlers.

However, shed hunters can disturb deer who are just trying to survive the harsh winter. Deer feel stressed when they’re disturbed by large numbers of shed hunters. They’ll expend precious calories trying to get away.

If repeated, this can reduce the animal’s chances of surviving the winter.

That’s why some states have limited antler gathering seasons. It’s also possible your state can shut down shed hunting across the state to help reduce the stress experienced by wintering animals.

Pay attention to your local laws when you go shed hunting and, whenever possible, avoid disturbing wildlife.

How to Start Shed Hunting: Beginner Skills

shed hunter

Antler gathering is the easiest possible way to go hunting.

At its easiest, you go for a hike and keep your eyes open for lost antlers. But you won’t find many if you stay close to the trail.

Put on some good hunting boots and grab a hunting backpack and prepare to go off the beaten path. You’ll find antlers where the deer, caribou, or elk spend their time, and these animals do not like to hang out around people.

This means you should look for feeding areas, bedding areas, drinking zones, and frequently used travel corridors.

But first, let’s look at when antlers are even available.

When Should You Look for Antlers?

While it’s theoretically possible to find shed antlers any time of the year, they degrade over time and are chewed up for their protein content. This means you should look for them when they’re freshly fallen.

Antlers are grown so the male animal can engage in mating behaviors. Once the rut is over, those antlers are excess weight so they fall off and a new pair grows.

The specific time when the animal starts to shed its antlers depends on the species and your part of the world.

Generally, though, antlers start to fall off in December and can continue into April. February and March are generally considered to be the two best shed hunting months.

Earlier is better for finding higher-quality antlers. They’ll have less time to be damaged by weather and other animals.

Later in the season is better for sheer volume. More deer will have lost their antlers so it’s easier to find some. If you’re new to shed hunting, I’d recommend starting later for this reason. It’s frustrating to tromp all over the forest and not find a single antler. You’ll still find good antlers from deer who delay dropping their rack, even late in the season.

However, if you’re in an area where the woods will be crowded with other bone pickers, you’ll want to start your search earlier in the season to avoid competition.

Where Do You Find Shed Antlers?

Deer love places where tree cover meets wide open areas. This lets them keep an eye out for predators as they eat or drink. This environment also lets them swiftly escape into the safety of the woods.

But they won’t hang out in an open field just because. They have needs to be fulfilled: food, water, and shelter.

Food sources are scarce in winter, and deer will search for as many food remnants as they can get.

Related: Best Places to Shed Hunt (Where to Look and Best States)

Crops such as soy and beans are frequent feeding grounds for deer. Corn is even better. Deer love corn and any stalks left over can help knock off old antlers.

Later in the season, though, look for areas of new greenery. Deer will snack on the freshest greens they can find when winter starts to give way to spring.

Hydration is necessary at all times of the year so make sure to check out all watering holes for freshly-dropped sheds.

Deer also spend a lot of time sheltered down in their bedding areas. Be careful when investigating known beds, though, since you don’t want to stress out the animal and force it to relocate.

What connects food, water, and shelter?

Travel corridors!

It’s worth finding need zones even if you don’t see any shed antlers because this lets you find the trails deer will make from point A to point B and back.

Follow these trails and you may find where a low-hanging branch has knocked the perfect rack off a buck.

How to Spot Fallen Antlers

Just like the deer that bears them for part of the year, antlers can be surprisingly tricky to spot.

They’re brownish or whitish objects found in nature, which is full of brownish and whitish objects.

Training your eye for spotting antlers in the woods takes a while. A big help is not actually to look for antlers.

Instead, look for specific antler parts.

Keep an eye out for tines. It can be easier to recognize a point instead of a whole antler, especially when there’s just a little nub sticking out of the snow.

Also, watch for the types of curves antlers take. An antler may be buried tine-down in the ground, tricking your brain if you’re trying to spot a whole antler. But that distinctively textured arch can draw the eye if you’re looking for a part of the antler, not the whole.

Binoculars can be helpful in your search so you can identify whether that bone-white object across the creek is an antler or something not worth your time. You can also use optics to glass a field for antlers.

And some people recommend going shed hunting during prime deer hunting time. The low morning sun can help cause an antler’s tines to pop out amongst its drab surroundings.

Once you’ve found one antler, chances are the other half of its set is nearby. Antlers come in pairs, after all. Stop where you’ve found the shed and look in a slow 360 degrees around you.

If you can, identify the deer’s direction and search in both directions. You may have found the first shed antler or the second one.

And if you can’t find that antler’s mate?

Well, sometimes a deer loses one antler and keeps the other one around for a day or two.

Tips to Help You Become a Better Shed Hunter

shed antler on the ground

You must get out into the wild to become the best shed hunter. There’s nothing like real-world experience for learning the intricacies of antler gathering, especially since animal behavior varies by location.

However, you can boost your knowledge by learning from other shed hunters’ experiences.

Tip #1 – Look Where Deer Jump

For example, a good bone picker will look over the land and take note of any features that will make a deer jump.

Rough terrain, fences, creeks, and anything that causes deer to leap or stumble can be the perfect spot to check for antlers. The impact can jostle antlers and cause them to fall off.

Tip #2 – Look Where It’s Warm in the Morning

Deer often prioritize warm areas in the morning to help fight off the chill of the night. This means the savvy shed hunter will look to the south and east of large geographical features.

Southern slopes tend to be excellent sources of sheds.

Tip #3 – Look From Up High

Speaking of high areas, don’t be afraid to climb boulders to take advantage of the height.

Being farther up lets you glass your surroundings better. You may spot a shed that you’d miss right next to you!

And, unlike when hunting animals, you don’t have to worry about spooking your quarry by being too visible.

Tip #4 – Map What You Find

If you’re serious about shed hunting, you will want to track everything you find, from bedding areas to individual sheds. This will allow you to build up a body of knowledge that you can reference in regard to the movements of deer in your area.

You can do this manually with a map or GPS unit and notebook. Or take advantage of a hiking or hunting app on your smartphone.

This will help make your antler gathering trips more and more successful in succeeding years.

Plus, with enough tracking, you can identify individual bucks and catalog their development.

Deer are animals of habit. Use this to your advantage.

Tip #5 – Train Your Dog to Shed Hunt

Speaking of animals, dogs can be trained to sniff out and recover antlers.

You’ll want to start training them when they’re young. Partly to teach them that antlers aren’t chew toys!

Many professional hunting dog trainers can teach your canine this skill. It’s one they can learn alongside other hunting skills, too.

Tip #6 – Wear Soft Soles

Finally, I recommend wearing footwear with a thinner than usual sole when shed hunting.

You won’t need a thick sole to handle the heavy weight of carrying out a deer carcass. Instead, you want to be able to feel what’s under your feet.

This is because sheds can be surprisingly hard to see. However, they do not feel like a stick or rock when you step on them. More than one shed hunter has found great antlers with their feet instead of their eyes.


All the gear you need to go shed hunting is the same type of clothing you’d use for a hike.

Add a good backpack, a pair of binoculars, and a phone or GPS, and you’re as well kitted out as a bone picker can be, especially if you have your trusty dog by your side.

Shed hunting is a fun and rewarding hobby. Get out there and you’ll find the perfect rack lying there, just waiting for you!


Can You Make Money by Shed Hunting?

It is possible to make money shed hunting but it requires a lot of time, effort, and luck.

Antlers can be sold on eBay and Etsy. Also, some companies advertise online when they are buying antlers.

Is Shed Hunting Hard?

Shed hunting is easier than usual hunting but is harder than hiking, though not by much.

Are Shed Traps a Good Idea?

Shed traps are a bad idea. They are designed to catch a deer’s loose rack and pull it off. However, bucks can get stuck in a shed trap before their antlers are ready to fall off and they can injure themselves as they try to escape.

The post How To Shed Hunt: A Complete Guide With Tips appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide) Thu, 16 Jun 2022 09:10:09 +0000 If you’re an avid outdoors person, shed hunting is probably something you’ve done before or something you aspire to do. Shed hunting, on the outside, seems pretty easy and simple. However, you should know a couple of things before you go, including what time of year is best in each region. The best time to ... Read more

The post When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.


If you’re an avid outdoors person, shed hunting is probably something you’ve done before or something you aspire to do. Shed hunting, on the outside, seems pretty easy and simple. However, you should know a couple of things before you go, including what time of year is best in each region.

The best time to shed hunt is typically right after deer and elk have dropped their antlers. This happens anytime between November and April. But the best time to shed hunt is during February and March. This is true for nearly all the regions in the United States. In Canada, the best time is usually March or whenever most of the snow has melted.

Now that you know what time of year you should be shed hunting, you should be good to go, right?

Well, not quite, because there’s a bit more to shed hunting than meets the eye. It’s also important to know a little bit about what kind of sheds to look for, what month is best, and the rules surrounding this activity.

Shed Hunting: Different Regions

So, when exactly should you go shed hunting? Most animals shed their antlers at the beginning of the year when the snow starts melting and spring begins. This tends to be anytime between January and April, but February and March are when the largest concentration of antlers can be found on the ground.

Regions of the USA

In the United States, it’s easy to determine the best time to shed hunt. All regions in the United States have populations of animals that shed their antlers, mostly in February and March.

A few variables might impact shed numbers, such as snowfall and hours of daylight. However, the drop time is pretty consistent among most species and regions.

As for the best time to go shed hunting, the earlier in the spring the better. You don’t want to go too early (January) because you’ll have a tough time trekking through the snow, and you may come up empty-handed. Waiting until February and ideally, early March, is probably your best bet.

By going in February and early March you’ll have some of the first pickings. This is especially true if you live near a region where it’s popular to go shed hunting. Many people will be competing to find the best antlers first. If you wait too long, you will be disappointed.

There will be plenty of other shed hunters to compete with, so if you go out too late, say mid-March or later, you’ll find that all of the good racks will likely be taken. This often happens early in the season.

Another thing to compete with is the snow. As mentioned earlier, most animals drop their racks when the snow has melted, and spring has begun. However, there can be many unexpected snowfalls in spring.

If too much snowfall occurs after most animals have shed, you are likely to come across a few racks that have been broken, weighed down by snow, or damaged by other animals. To avoid risking this, it’s wise to go as soon as the shed has started rather than wait until later in the spring.

Related: 25 Experts Give Their Best Shed Hunting Tips For Those Who Can’t Find Any

Regions of Canada

Canada is much larger in area than the United States. It has 5 distinct regions—the Atlantic region, Central Canada, Prairie Provinces, North Region, and the West Coast Region. Each region has its own territories.

While there is some differentiation/variability between some of these regions, the best shed hunting time is fairly similar to that of the U.S.

February and March are great times to shed hunt in all regions of Canada as well as the United States. The only difference is that Canada is often colder, and the snow might not melt until a little later.

Regardless of the snow, you’ll still want to get out and go hunting as soon as possible, ideally in March. You may have to deal with a little snow, but if you’re determined to get yourself a good rack of antlers, it will be worth it.

Best Month to Find Shed Antlers

82271929 l 1024x683 1

So far, we’ve been able to talk about two different months (February and March) which are ideal for finding sheds. The truth is, either one of these months works, but you may want to dedicate your shed hunting to one of them in particular.

February is a good month for shed hunting in both the United States and Canada because snow will have started to melt near the end of the month.

However, dedicating your shed hunt to just February is risky. Going too early means there could still be a lot of animals that haven’t dropped their antlers yet. Plus, if it’s still too snowy and cold out, you may not be productive.

If you have to choose just one month to go out for your shed hunt, March is the ideal time. In March spring has begun and, most of the time, there isn’t too much snow. So you’ll be able to find the freshest racks that are in good condition and haven’t been damaged yet.

Shed Hunting: Ethics and Rules

Shed hunting has grown increasingly popular in recent years. It’s a great way to spend the waiting time between hunting seasons. It’s also great for introducing family and friends to hunting in a simple way. Another bonus is your ability to scope out potential areas where there may be lots of deer, elk, or moose.

Since many people have picked up this hobby, many states and regions throughout North America have strict regulations. These are intended to protect animals during the winter and early spring months.

The period between mating season and spring is difficult for many deer-related species. The weather is harsh and food is scarce. The last thing they need to worry about is human harassment. This is why it’s all about timing and ethics.

Basic Ethics and Gear

The most ethical way to collect new sheds from an animal in the process of shedding is to give it space. Watch from a distance. A trail cam can be a great way to do this. We have a great article about the best trail cams. Often, the animal will shed one antler in one place, and as it moves away, the second will be shed in a location miles from the first.

If you want the full set from a certain animal, you’ll have to be patient. Do not chase or harass the creature, and never send a dog or other pet to chase them. Not only is this unethical and ineffective, but it is also illegal in many areas.

It is also important not to feed wild animals during the winter.

Some shed hunters have been known to use food to attract a shedding animal in an attempt to pick up their antlers more directly. Unnatural sources of food can increase the spread of disease, attract new predators, harm their unaccustomed digestive systems, and cultivate an unnatural reliance on sources that will not always be available during the winter months.

The most successful shed hunters are patient and respectful of the wildlife. As you take the time to observe these creatures from a distance, you will not only allow them to shed in a natural, stress-free environment, but you will also come to learn more about their behavior.

In turn, this knowledge will allow you to become an expert on the best areas to find antlers. You’ll also learn the typical habits of the animals. Shed hunting can be the ideal time of year to scope an area out.

Large deer shed with white points lying on the ground in mountains

State Shed Hunting Regulations

Those are the basics of shed hunting ethics, but here are the more specific details regarding state regulations for shed hunting in some states:

Arizona: Stay on approved roads and trails while shed hunting; review road and trail access with local USFS, BLM, and state offices.

Fish and game departments caution hunters to only pick up naturally shed antlers. Hunters who discover skulls or deadheads are required to report the location to Arizona Game and Fish for further research.

Colorado: No permits are required and no seasons are restricted, but the collection of antlers from public land is prohibited from January to March. From mid-March through mid-May, shed hunters may only collect antlers before sunset.

Idaho: No license is required and no public areas are restricted. Hunters must abide by rules regarding access to and travel on local trails.

Indiana: No permits are required for antlers, but a permit is required for the collection of a skull.

Iowa: Shed antlers can be collected on public land including state parks, but permission must be granted by the landowner on private land. Skulls cannot be picked up without a tag and approval.

Missouri: No authorization is needed to possess, buy, or sell shed antlers not attached to the skull plate.

Montana: Only bighorn sheep heads are illegal to collect. Other than that, Montana’s wildlife agencies typically open areas for shed hunting between May and June. Check local organizational resources for guidelines that may adapt to varying circumstances each year.

Nebraska: It’s legal to collect antlers that have been shed by antelope, deer, or elk. It’s illegal to collect any part of mountain sheep.

Nevada: Review open road/trail access with local USFS, BLM, and state offices. Follow the aforementioned rules and ethics in the treatment of the animals.

New Jersey: Shed antlers are legal to be picked up, but it is illegal to harvest antlers from road-killed deer.

New Mexico: No permit is required, and antlers may be picked up during any season, but local regulations may vary, so check to be sure. Heads, horns, and antlers from larger species require a receipt from New Mexico Game and Fish. Hunters must remain on approved trails using approved means of travel.

Oregon: Many of Oregon’s wildlife areas are managed by local and state departments, and shed hunting is prohibited to protect the big game. See pages 98-100 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for details.

South Dakota: Shed antler hunting is now allowed on GFP-owned lands, including state parks, recreation areas, and Game Production Areas. However, permission from the landowner is required for shed hunting on private land.

Utah: If you want to shed hunt between February 1 and April 15, complete an ethics course online. Children under the age of 17 do not have to complete the course if accompanied by an adult guardian who has taken and passed the course.

The course requires a printed verification and a signature, and in turn, you will receive a certificate of completion that may be presented to wildlife officials if necessary. This would only be requested during the aforementioned dates.

Review road and trail access guidelines, as certain areas are closed during the winter. Only naturally shed antlers may be picked up, not antlers attached to a skull or “deadhead.”

Virginia: Antler traps are illegal because they are designed to entangle or trap the antler while it is still attached to a living animal. Collecting, possessing, buying, and selling shed deer antlers is legal.

Washington: It is legal to possess naturally shed antlers of deer, elk, and moose.

West Virginia: Antler sheds are considered parts of wildlife. You cannot keep, maintain, or possess parts of wildlife unless you legally kill it.

Wyoming: Shed hunting is prohibited from January through April on most public lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding lands in the Great Basin. Winter ranges in Teton County are off-limits during the winter. Hunters should consult local resources for approved roads and trails.

Which Animals Shed Antlers?

Animals in the Cervidae family (any animal related to a deer) shed antlers.

A common misconception about antlers is that they are basically horns. But horns are permanent bones grown by animals in the Bovine family (bison, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, cattle, goats, and sheep.)

Among bovine species, both males and females grow horns. These bones are coated in permanent layers of keratin, the same material that makes up fingernails on a human.

Unlike horns, antlers are branched bones that grow incredibly fast and are shed annually. Mere weeks after an animal sheds its antlers, it will begin to grow a new pair.

Antler growth increases when the animal is exposed to more sunshine because the sun and Vitamin D are associated with increased levels of testosterone production. Testosterone is a necessary hormone for healthy antler development in the male of a deer-related species.

Deer antlers can grow as quickly as 1/4 of an inch per day, while elk antlers can grow up to an inch per day. Impressively, a healthy moose can grow up to a pound of antler material in a single day!

In the midwestern United States, the most common antler shedders are white-tailed deer, elk, and moose. Moose are the largest deer-related species, so their antlers are particularly impressive.

In other North American regions, mule deer, elk, and caribou (also known as reindeer) are common deer-related species, and they shed antlers around similar times throughout the spring. Caribou antlers are easier to find because they are the only deer-related species in which both males and females grow antlers.

Why Do Animals Shed Antlers?

Some antlers have an outer layer that resembles velvet. These antlers are likely immature because the velvet acts as a short, dense layer of fur that allows more blood (and therefore more oxygen) to reach the antlers and promote sustainable growth. The growth begins as cartilage and then calcifies into bone.

If the animal has a poor diet or lives in a habitat where it is difficult to sustain life, its overall bone density will likely decrease. This is because up to a quarter of the energy obtained from grazing will be directed toward antler growth.

Some biologists speculate that because growing antlers takes so much biological energy, females that do not grow antlers live longer than males.

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Mature antlers will have dry, itchy velvet layers. So you may see an animal with antlers rubbing it on a tree or other objects in the wild. Because the velvet is technically a layer of skin, the process may look bloody and gruesome. Rest assured that it is not harmful to the creature and is both natural and necessary.

Rubbing antlers on nearby objects is also a way that male animals spread their scent and claim areas of territory. After antlers are fully developed, the process of shedding the layer of dry velvet can be as brief as a single day.

Antlers are an important physical feature of animals in the Cervidae family. They are necessary for sparring during mating season. Dominant males may train younger males by sparring with them or may challenge other males for the right to mate.

The sound of antlers clashing will often draw other deer or moose to the surrounding area. This is important because it allows the animals to witness which male is the most dominant.

Usually, the animals simply posture to ward off competition, but occasionally, equally-matched males will be locked head-to-head until a loser concedes. The winner has his choice of mate.

At the end of the mating season, these animals shed their antlers because the extra weight is not worth carrying or sustaining during the winter months when it is already difficult to survive.

Shedding antlers increases animals’ mobility, lightens overall body weight, and lowers the number of nutrients they need to forage during snowy months.

When Should You Go Shed Hunting?

Because antlers grow so quickly and are shed frequently, hunting for sheds is humane and sustainable. Just be aware of the policies and standards associated with shed hunting in your area.

So get out there and find some trophies for your wall. Just make sure you are ready in February and March when the best shed hunting happens.

The post When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How Long After Shooting a Deer Do You Have to Gut It? Thu, 23 Dec 2021 13:03:44 +0000 One of the oldest rituals in deer hunting is cleaning the animal you just harvested. It’s a gory process, but there’s something satisfying when you’re arm-deep in a warm deer when it’s below freezing. However, we don’t always knock the deer down with our shot, nor can we always gut the animal where they fell. ... Read more

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One of the oldest rituals in deer hunting is cleaning the animal you just harvested. It’s a gory process, but there’s something satisfying when you’re arm-deep in a warm deer when it’s below freezing.

However, we don’t always knock the deer down with our shot, nor can we always gut the animal where they fell. Darkness is falling, but camp is an hour away. Do you clean the deer now or drag it back to the camp and gut it in the morning?

Spoilage starts immediately, so you should gut a deer as soon as possible. If possible, gut the deer in 2 hours or less. Even in below-freezing temperatures! However, it may not be dangerous to leave a deer ungutted overnight if you need to.

Want to learn why? Read on!

Do You Need to Clean a Deer?

Some hunters will be surprised by this, but you don’t always need to clean your deer!

There’s one circumstance in which I’d feel safe were I to leave a deer uncleaned. That’s when I’m hunting close to a venison processor.

If I can toss the carcass in my car or truck and make it to the nearest deer processing facility in an hour, why go through the mess of cleaning the deer? Have them do it!

The rest of the time, though, it’s vital you gut the deer as soon as possible.

What’s the Danger in Not Gutting a Deer?

Bacteria, mostly. 

A variety of microbes start trying to decompose the deer’s remains immediately after it dies in a process called putrefaction.

Once the deer is dead, you’re dealing with what’s effectively a large amount of raw meat, much like you’d get from the butcher. Just covered in skin & fur and filled with bones & guts.

And, just like raw meat, you want to keep it out of the “Danger Zone” that leads to the rapid growth of disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella. This is between 40 F and 140 F (Source: USDA).

Those microbes double in population every 20 minutes under good conditions. Don’t let them!

Do You Need to Gut a Deer Immediately?

whitetail deer trophy on wooden plank

The USDA recommends you leave raw meat out for less than 2 hours. A dead deer is more complex than just “raw meat” but that’s still a good timeline to hit.

Note that various factors can affect bacterial growth rates. Higher temperatures help bacteria grow faster. So does the humidity. If it’s cool and dry, then you have time to spare. If it’s warm and wet, gut the deer now!

But do you really need to gut a deer if the temperature is below freezing? That’s cold enough to safely leave the deer until tomorrow, right?


How Long Can You Wait to Clean a Deer?

Even in below-freezing temperatures, the inside of the deer can stay in the danger zone for a day or longer.

A deer’s body temperature is between 100 F, and 107 F. Deer are also fairly well insulated by fur. This means that their insides stay warm far longer than their outsides, allowing those nasty gut microbes to flourish and spoil the meat.

A large deer shot when the temperature is 25 F may maintain a temperature inside the thigh above 40 F for 24 hours (Source: University of Nebraska – Lincoln)!

This is why gutting the deer quickly is so important, even when the temperature is below freezing.

Once you have the guts out and the rest of the meat open to the air, it will cool quickly so you can take advantage of the cold.

So, how long can you wait to clean a deer?

You shouldn’t wait. You can finish field-dressing the deer later, but you need to gut it as soon as you can.

Which Part of the Deer Goes Bad First?

The guts, which is why they are often discarded.

Just like a human’s, a deer’s intestines are filled with bacteria. These will start to escape the innards once blood flow ceases, heading outward.

Stomach gasses can also escape, causing spoilage.

If you hit the deer with a gunshot, then you just gave those unwanted bacteria access to the delicious venison, kickstarting spoilage.

Also, any openings, such as the ears, mouth, and anus, can allow bacteria inside.

Related: Where to Shoot a Deer: 6 Kill Zone Shot Placements with Graphics

Is it Dangerous to not Gut a Deer Overnight?

While you should clean your deer quickly, that doesn’t always happen. You may have to give up the blood trail due to darkness and try again in the morning.

Is it still safe to field dress that deer and eat the meat?

Thankfully, bacterial growth at this stage affects the quality of the meat more than its safety. (You’re not eating raw venison, right?)

So long as the meat doesn’t have maggots, a green color, or other visible spoilage, and it smells like venison instead of rot, then cooking the meat should be sufficient to render it safe.

Spoiled meat is fairly obvious to the eyes, nose, or both. Don’t discard good meat just because you shot a deer in the evening and couldn’t find it until morning.

In cooler temperatures then the meat will stay safe longer, despite the innards staying warm. You may have to discard the nutritious organs if you don’t clean the deer in time, though.


It’s essential to gut deer as soon as you have the deer’s body in your hands.

After recording the kill and taking an impressive picture, of course!

Gut bacteria and stomach gasses will soon start spoiling the meat. It’s a natural part of decomposition, and, thankfully, it’s a process. This means that, depending on the ambient temperature, a little bit of spoilage may pass unnoticed when you’re tearing into that venison steak.

So, my advice is to gut the deer and get the meat’s temperature down to 40 or below as soon as you can. If you can’t get to the deer immediately, though, avoid being over cautious and don’t waste meat unless it’s obviously spoiled.

What’s more important than gutting a deer immediately, though?

Making sure it’s dead before you approach the body!

A scared, injured deer is capable of injuring an unwary hunter. Confirm your kill before you gut your deer!

Recommended for you:

The Art of Deer Stalking: Stealthy Hunting on Foot

Is It Cheaper to Hunt or Buy Meat?

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Does It Hurt When Deer Shed Their Antlers or Velvet? Wed, 17 Nov 2021 18:09:56 +0000 Antlers provide the trophy many hunters seek, whether they’re going after a monster buck or walking the woods looking for shed antlers. And those bucks stand proud of their antlers, too. It’s a symbol of their health, an indicator of their masculinity, and a warning to other bucks of their dominance. Those antlers grow bigger ... Read more

The post Does It Hurt When Deer Shed Their Antlers or Velvet? appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Antlers provide the trophy many hunters seek, whether they’re going after a monster buck or walking the woods looking for shed antlers.

And those bucks stand proud of their antlers, too. It’s a symbol of their health, an indicator of their masculinity, and a warning to other bucks of their dominance. Those antlers grow bigger every year. The process involves shedding the old antlers and regrowing a new rack, better than last season.

However, antlers are bone!

Anybody who’s broken a bone knows even a tiny fracture can be immensely painful. And a deer’s antlers are grown from the skull and are directly connected until they fall off.

Does this mean that deer experience pain every year when their antlers fall off?

The short answer is no. 

Deer can experience discomfort when they lose their antlers, but it isn’t painful. Once the velvet is gone, the antler is no longer connected to the nervous system. After mating season, osteoporosis occurs at the base of bucks’ antlers, which weakens then separates them from the skull without trauma.

I know I like learning all I can about the animals I hunt. It gives me more respect for the game I take and makes me a better hunter. I consider it part of being a responsible hunter.

Want to learn more about deer biology? Read on to sate your curiosity!

Why Deer Don’t Hurt When They Shed Antlers

The short answer for why deer antlers don’t hurt is because they are designed to fall off and regrow every year.

That’s not a satisfying answer, so let’s go into more detail.

Deer antlers are mostly protein and ash, cartilage. They start life as velvet, which is soft and has lots of blood flow to bring in nutrients.

Later, ossification adds minerals, mainly calcium. This makes the antlers tough enough for combat and turns them into true bone.

Once the antler is fully grown, a bony circular protrusion called the burr blocks off the nerves and blood vessels. This causes the velvet to wither and fall off of the calcified antlers.

Each antler is basically dead bone by that point.

Remember, antlers are weapons. If they were full of sensitive nerves, then bucks wouldn’t be able to clash with antlers locked together!

After the breeding season is finished, those minerals start to break down, especially at the pedicle, where the antler connects to the skull.

Osteoclasts are the cells responsible for this.

As this demineralization process continues, the connection between skull and antler weakens until it eventually falls off.

Think of it as a scab. If you leave it alone, like your mother told you to, it’ll eventually fall off on its own.

However, if you tear off that scab too early, you can catch the surrounding flesh. Ouch!

Do Deer Feel Pain If Their Antler Breaks?

But what if the antler gets broken after the velvet is gone but before it falls out naturally? Does the deer feel pain then?

This depends on which part breaks.

If the antler itself is chipped or fractured or tines break off, then the deer won’t feel pain from the antler directly.

The shock of whatever impact caused the antler to break can jerk the deer’s neck around and cause pain there, though.

But if the entire antler is torn out before the shedding process is complete, the deer will likely suffer some pain as the antler’s base is still partially fused to the pedicle.

Do Deer Bleed When They Shed Their Antlers?

Close-up of a Red Deer Having Recently Shed His Antlers

Deer can bleed a little when their antlers fall out.

The ring of bone at the antler’s base blocked blood flow before but cannot once the antler is gone.

This invariably opens up a few of the blood vessels, causing a minor amount of bleeding.

Minor bleeding like this is typically not a problem.

However, any break in the skin’s barrier can allow harmful bacteria to enter and cause disease.

In this case, Trueperella pyogenes bacteria can enter into the pedicle and make their way to the brain

This infection can lead to a brain abscess, which can lead to cranial abscessation syndrome (CAS) and cause weird or aggressive behavior.

CAS can not spread from deer to deer. However, it can lead to bacteria-filled pus in the deer’s head.

So, if you find signs of such an infection, you should not consume any part of the deer’s head.

Thankfully, scab forms rather quickly thanks to the small yet numerous blood vessels in the area, so deer are not left with an open wound for long.

Do Deer Feel Pain in Their Antlers?

Though deer do not feel pain in their antlers when they are fully calcified, they can feel pain before that process is complete.

Deer velvet needs more than just blood to grow the antlers. It needs nerves, too.

If you observe deer in spring, then you’ll notice the bucks are trying to avoid bumping their antlers into anything.

That’s because of the nerves in the vulnerable velvet. Those nerves can even help with proprioception, which is the feeling you have that tells you where your limbs are even when you’ve closed your eyes.

All those nerves are sensitive. Banging velvet-covered antlers into trees can hurt!

But a stubbed antler is not the only problem this can cause.

Any damage to velvet can disrupt the antler’s growth pattern.

This disruption can lead to malformed antlers, which are ineffective at blocking or locking the other buck’s antlers in a fight. This harms the buck’s chances at mating and can increase the chances of injury.

And, since the antler is cartilage and not bone at this point, a severe enough shock can break off points from the antler. This can ruin the rack’s score.

What’s worse is that this damage can reappear in the fresh antlers next year!

So, deer have more reason to avoid bumping their antlers than just a bit of pain.

Does it Hurt When a Deer Sheds its Velvet?

Does this mean that deer scrape off their velvet because it’s itching? Or painful?


Velvet is dead, with its blood flow and nerves cut off before it’s shed from the antlers.

Careful observation of adult male deer before the mating season and after their antlers are fully grown can reveal that bucks are perfectly fine with dead velvet hanging from their antlers most of the time.

Then their testosterone surges for the upcoming male dominance displays, and they scrape all velvet remnants off of their antlers.

What Happens When Deer Shed Antlers?

When a deer sheds their antlers, the antler’s base separates from the pedicle, the permanent nubs on top of the deer’s skull.

This can disrupt some blood vessels and leave a circular open wound on top of the deer’s head. It’s pink, not a full-on bloody red.

If you pick up a freshly-dropped antler, you will find a small remnant of fresh blood on the bottom of it. That’ll quickly dry and decompose, so most people won’t see that pinkness.

As for the animal, the first thing a deer feels when its antlers are shed is probably relief! They no longer have those weights above their head, catching on trees and brush.

However, the cycle continues.

Fresh antlers start growing almost immediately.

As for the antlers themselves, they become part of the ecosystem’s cycle.

Each antler is the perfect post-workout snack if your teeth are up to the task. An antler contains a large amount of protein as well as a large percentage of minerals and vitamins.

Calcium alone makes up 20% of an antler!

These nutrients are desired by the myriad woodland creatures who can chew into dried bone.

Rodents such as mice and squirrels are the furry beasts that try to snack on antlers before you can pick them up. Larger animals, from dogs to bears, can also supplement their diet with deer antlers.

You better get to the antlers quickly before they become some critter’s dinner!

Why Do Deer Shed Antlers?

Whitetail buck shedding antlers

This question can be answered in one of two ways.

Physiologically, we know why deer shed their antlers.

The post-rut period causes testosterone levels to drop. This triggers the localized osteoporosis process that weakens the connection between pedicle and antler.

As for why this process occurs in the first place…

Antlers are the fastest-growing bone structures we know about.

Deer don’t hunt down other animals to chow on them for the required protein and calcium. Even the healthiest buck doesn’t have enough nutritional stores to cover the antler growing process all at once.

So, their body has to use nutrients from elsewhere in the body to make up the difference.

This leads to weakened skeletons until the antlers have finished ossification and the deer can intake enough nutrients to bulk up before the rut.

Antlers are a harsh handicap on the animal’s survivability.

So, why are they regrown every year? Horned animals only have to grow their horns once.

As it turns out, antler size is an excellent predictor of male deer fertility.

A larger rack of antlers means that the buck is better at, ah, guaranteeing pregnancy.

As a buck grows older, he becomes healthier and more fertile. Growing fresh antlers every year shows this off to the curious doe.

And antlers cannot grow a little bit longer every year, unlike a horn.

That’s because the velvet has to fall off else; the buck’s biggest weapon is also his most significant weak point.

And growing from the base is out of the picture since too much growth there would cause the antlers to curve together, becoming entangled and useless!

Also, each year’s set of antlers causes its metabolic demand. This makes antlers an up-to-date indicator of fertility.

The buck cannot have a growth spurt one year, then get sick the next year and have almost no growth, but still, look like a large-racked monster buck.

The above points are all derived from available evidence and, though they are likely to be why a deer’s antlers are shed every year, it’s not like we can sit down with the deer’s designer and ask them why deer shed antlers.

Do Moose or Elk Feel Pain When They Shed Their Antlers?

All of the above information applies to other antlered animals as well, whether they’re elk, moose, or caribou. All are cervids in the deer family.

Elk and moose may have antlers of a different shape than your mule deer, but the growth and shedding process is the same.

Reindeer are the only exception, though that’s only on a technicality. Female reindeer can grow antlers, too!

Fun fact:

Male reindeer shed their antlers around November, while female reindeer keep theirs until they birth their calves in spring.

This means that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who has antlers in December, is a gal.

Be sure to annoy your hunting partner with this fact while sitting in your comfortable tree stand!


Deer biology is fascinating. No other animal has the metabolic demand of growing a fresh set of bones to throw them away every year.

This may seem like a massive disadvantage, but it does help the female deer identify which male is the healthiest, most fertile, and, therefore, the best mate.

And, while losing bones attached to your skull may seem like a painful process, deer aren’t hurt by shedding their antlers.

Does it bleed? Yes. Does it hurt? No.

Antler growth and shedding come with risks, and velvet can be sensitive, but a smart buck who doesn’t smack his growing rack into trees won’t feel any pain from his antlers.

Just be sure to get out there and collect the antlers you want before the various forest critters eat them up!


  1. Hall, Bones and Cartilage: Developmental and Evolutionary Skeletal Biology, 104 []

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Can You Fit a Deer in a Car? (No Truck, No Problem, Here’s How) Tue, 13 Jul 2021 16:55:22 +0000 Not every hunter has a pickup truck. But while your friends might say otherwise, you don’t necessarily need one for deer hunting. You can fit a deer in a car or SUV, no truck required. Weighing around 150 lbs, an average field-dressed deer can fit in the trunk of most passenger cars. You can also ... Read more

The post Can You Fit a Deer in a Car? (No Truck, No Problem, Here’s How) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Not every hunter has a pickup truck. But while your friends might say otherwise, you don’t necessarily need one for deer hunting.

You can fit a deer in a car or SUV, no truck required. Weighing around 150 lbs, an average field-dressed deer can fit in the trunk of most passenger cars. You can also strap a deer to your roof (or trunk), haul it behind your car, or quarter it for transport in containers (if that’s legal in your state).

Besides leaning on my own experience, I spent a lot of time studying hundreds of hunting forums and Reddit posts that go back more than a decade. Consider what follows in this article to be advice from a collection of practical car hunters who didn’t unnecessarily waste a load of cash on a truck.

So how do you transport a deer without a truck?

With a little creativity and organization, you can be ready to bring home that buck in a Honda Civic!

How to Put a Deer in the Trunk of Your Small Car

The preparation starts before you even leave your house. Start by cleaning all the useless junk out of your trunk so you have room for a deer if you get one.

If you don’t need something for the hunt (or maybe an emergency), then leave it at home.

Next, gather supplies for transporting a deer after your hunt. At minimum, you will need some items you probably already have in the garage.

Here is a list of some recommended supplies for transporting a deer in the trunk of your car:

Line Your Trunk

The goal of lining your trunk is two fold: (1) to keep the stink from taking over your car, and (2) to keep your venison edible.

If you are feeling optimistic, this part could be done even before you leave for the hunt. You could have your trunk lined and ready to go for a quick return once you fill your tag.

The tarp acts as a liner for your trunk so you don’t get blood and stench all over your car. It will also help the deer stay clean so as not to taint the meat with whatever could be collecting in your trunk upholstery. In addition, the tarp can help contain any ticks or insects that come off the deer, so you can get them out of your car after the hunt.

Take some old newspapers or cardboard to put on the floor of your trunk under the tarp. This helps to absorb any blood that might leak from the carcass and can help avoid a foul smell lingering after the hunt. A carpet scrap or an old rug laid down can help do the same thing, perhaps more than once if washed between uses.

Once the underlayment is in place, place the middle of the tarp in the middle of the trunk, and line the whole trunk with the sides of the tarp folded up like a tortilla bowl. A little excess tarp at the top doesn’t hurt. You may need it.

If you have an SUV or wagon, use some duct tape to secure the tarp up above the windows. This will help keep deer blood and grime off the sides when loading and unloading your deer.

Consider Scotchgard

If you plan to use your car to transport deer more than once, it might be worth treating the upholstery of your entire trunk with some Scotchgard protectant. You may even be able to find a local car detailing company who can do this for you as a service with commercial grade products. 

Even with Scotchgard, I’d still be putting down a tarp or something to avoid the mess. But the price is probably worth it to some for added reassurance.

Prepare to Load a Deer into the Trunk of Your Car or SUV

rsz chase with buckNow that you have successfully shot, tracked, and photographed our deer, you need to load it into your trunk.

Unless you have a really good reason not to, field dress your deer. Gut it and place it on an incline to drain as much of the blood as possible so it doesn’t end up in your car. You may even rotate it a couple times so all the open cavities have a turn to face downhill and drain.

Related: How Long After Shooting a Deer Do You Have to Gut It?

If you skin your deer in the field, go for it. Removing the hide as early as possible is best if you’re going to tan the deer hide. It can also help shed a bit more weight and keep some of the nasty ticks and insects out of your car. 

I prefer to gut the deer where I shoot it, drag it to my car with skin on, then skin it where I’m parked. This makes it easier to drag and keeps the meat cleaner.

It is best to cut the lower legs off at this point as well. This will reduce the length of awkward appendages you are going to try and fold into the trunk. The coyotes will thank you!

Once back at your car, prepare your car by putting all your gear in the front or rear passenger seats so the trunk has room for the deer. 

Most cars allow you to fold the rear seats down forward as well, but only do this if you need the extra space for the deer. Otherwise you’re spreading the nasty aroma needlessly. If you do fold the seats down, be sure and spread the tarp out enough to cover up the exposed upholstery and carpet.

Now you need to get the deer into the trunk.

How to Load a Deer into Your Trunk

Ideally, you have a hunting partner who can help you hoist the deer into the trunk. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, and all that good stuff. Grasp the deer by the legs and heave it into the trunk.

You could also use a portable game elevator to easily lift the deer into your car, but then you’ll need space in the car for the gadget as well.

rsz game elevator

Without a fancy gadget you can try to back your car up perpendicular to the base of a slope or into a low spot. A roadside ditch that isn’t too deep with a steep cut slope, or a berm could work. Maybe even get the deer onto a big boulder first and back up to that. 

The car will need to be basically touching the slope or boulder. The idea is to get the deer higher than the car so you can easily lower the deer into the trunk.

You could also suspend the deer from a tree with a rope, pulley it up so it’s hanging, then back the car up just below it. Gently lower the deer into the trunk and voilà!

Be sure and position the deer’s head to the right side of the car. If the deer cannot fit entirely in the trunk so you can close the hatch, you will want to hang its head to the right side of the car. This will help avoid hitting oncoming traffic and make it easier to drive carefully. Just watch out for sign posts and guard rails!

Strap Down the Trunk Hatch

Unless you drive a Crown Vic, there is a good chance you will not be able to entirely close the hatch. That’s okay. You’ll just need something to tie down your trunk and/or deer. This is where the tie-down straps come in.

I recommend the ratchet kind with smaller hooks or basic lashing straps that cinch down because they are usually longer and they give you a loose end to easily feed through little gaps. This is probably necessary to find an attachment point on a car that doesn’t have big D-rings or eye hooks built in everywhere.

rsz strap to car 1
I recommend basic lashing tie-down straps with ends like these.

Avoid the motorcycle tie downs with the heavy-duty “S” hooks or real thick straps. You probably don’t have many places to attach the S-hook and if so, they might beat against the body of your car and dent or scratch it. Thick straps aren’t necessary since the load is relatively light and they’d be harder to feed through small gaps.

Rope or some nylon paracord could be handy as a backup to the tie-down straps. It may also help bind up the deer to make it fit.

Run a strap through the latch hook for the trunk or around the hinge arms of the trunk. You can even run the straps under or around the deer itself. The strap should then run around the top of the trunk and back inside to ensure the trunk lid won’t bounce up and down too much, potentially damaging your trunk.

You may spend more or less time securing the load depending on the weather or how far you have to go.

How to Keep Deer Meat from Spoiling During Transport

It’s crucial to allow the deer carcass to have air flow during transport as much as possible in order to prevent the meat from spoiling. 

When you load a deer in your car, be sure to avoid sealing it in plastic garbage bags. This will trap in heat and moisture, creating a bacteria breeding ground.

I skin my deer in the field. I find it easier when it’s still warm and it helps cool the meat faster, which matters to me since I often have a long drive home.

Wrapping a skinned deer in porous cloth material allows the meat to cool and breathe while keeping the bugs and dirt off. During transport, it helps wick moisture and avoid bacteria buildup which can spoil the meat.

I keep an old bed sheet with my hunting gear that I like to use to wrap my skinned deer in for transport. I just wash it after each hunt so I can use it again next year. 

A big game bag could work as well, but I prefer not to spend money on something that’s disposable when I have something that already does the trick.

rsz deer in game bagIf you don’t skin your deer in the field, you can probably skip the sheet.

If the air is below 40°F, let the carcass cool as much as possible before putting it in your trunk. Consider propping the body cavity open with sticks to allow more air circulation inside. 

If it is warmer weather, you might stop and pick up some ice. Put it in plastic bags and set them inside the open cavity to assist with cooling. 

You should avoid putting a deer on the roof of the car in warm weather.

Once the deer is in your trunk, don’t leave it in there unattended for long, especially on a warm day. Get it home or to the butcher where it can be hung in a cool place.

Source: PennState Extension

In Which Cars Can You Fit a Deer?

Clearly deer vary in size by species, age, sex, and environment just like cars vary in size by make and model.

A young Whitetail doe can likely fit in a small hatchback while a big old Mule Deer buck might require a 1980’s Cadillac to fit entirely in the trunk.

Generally speaking, Whitetail hunters will fit a deer into just about any passenger car from a compact to a full-size sedan. The trunk may fully close or you may need to leave the hatch cracked open and strapped down as described above.

Mule deer hunters may need a full size sedan like a Toyota Camry to make it work with a big buck.

Related: What’s a Good Hunting Vehicle That’s Not a Truck?

Blacktail, Axis, or other small deer hunters may as well put a tarp on the passenger seat and buckle the little guy in!

SUVs shouldn’t be a problem, even for larger deer. Not only do you have more room in back, but you have a bigger roof. I have transported a deer myself on the top of a Toyota 4Runner with no issue. The main challenge if you put it inside is coping with the foul smell on the ride home.

If you cruise a hatchback wagon, you’ll likely be just fine. You’ll just want to be sure and line the cargo area really well and lay the tarp over the backs of the rear seats to keep things clean.

If you drive a little two-door hatchback like an old CRX, a WRX, or a Yaris, you could possibly consider the deer your rear seat passenger. Else, take a look at the alternatives to trunk transport below.

How to Transport a Deer on the Roof of a Car or SUV

For really small cars, or even larger cars and SUVs where you don’t want to mess with a trunk liner and all that mess, you can always put a deer on the car. 

There are three main ways to transport a deer on the roof of your car.

  1. Strap it down directly on the roof with flat, woven tie-down straps running through the interior of the car.
  2. Tie it down onto a stock roof rack.
  3. Secure it in a rooftop cargo basket.

Before you put a deer on the top of the car, be sure you clean off the deer and the car surface well. Whether you have skinned it or not, check to see that there are no pieces of gravel or other abrasive items on the surface of the deer. These will easily scratch or dent your car while driving down the road.

It’s also a good idea to use that old sheet you brought to wrap the deer up. This will reduce abrasion on the car’s roof and help keep the game clean. 

At the same time, wrapping the animal will help conceal the carcass from public view. This practice is often recommended, if not required, by officials in certain states. 

rsz deer on el camino
This might be taking it a bit too far!

As hunters, we can better gain public support when we consider how non-hunters perceive our actions and when we show respect for their views.

Strapping a Deer on the Roof of a Car

When strapping a deer directly to the roof of a car with no rack or special supports, be sure and use flat woven tie-down or lashing straps that aren’t too thick, like for whitewater rafting. They only need to secure a couple hundred pounds max.

Bungee cords alone are too risky and you’ll almost surely lose your deer while driving down the road. 

Rope could do the trick. Though, at best it will be hard to close your door and at worst you could bend your door’s window frame.

Use at least two straps to secure the deer to the roof. Three is better.

Loop each strap completely around the deer so that it tightens around it. Loop one around the neck or in the notch between the front legs and the chest, and another between the abdomen and the hind legs. 

Do NOT simply throw the strap over top of the deer as it could easily slide one way or the other and fall off.

You will want to run the two ends of the straps into the car’s cab so they join in the middle of the interior. Do this by opening your doors, running the straps through, then joining and tightening the straps. 

rsz strap to car 2

I once carried a bed box spring on a little 2-door hatchback and used this method. I found it worked best to keep the ratchet and buckle part of the tie-down inside the car. This way I could ensure it stayed taut. If it felt loose, I’d give it a quick tug inside to tighten it up while driving.

If you run the straps through the windows, you won’t be able to open the doors!

Tying a Deer on a Roof Rack

If you have a roof rack, whether stock or aftermarket, the process is essentially the same as strapping it directly to the roof. The deer will likely still be in direct contact with the car’s roof.

However, you won’t need to run the straps through the inside of the cab. You can probably even get by with some ⅜” rope or paracord.

Transporting a Deer on a Rooftop Cargo Basket

If using a rooftop cargo basket sounds like a good idea to you, be sure and check the weight capacity. Manufacturers usually claim they support a weight of 150 lbs, which should suffice for most field-dressed deer. 

These racks keep the deer (and weight) suspended above the actual car roof. This will help avoid damage like dents or paint scratches. They also have plenty of attachment points for securing the deer, so it really makes it fast and easy.

rsz roof cargo basketCargo baskets have been around forever, are simple designs, come in tons of sizes, and can be found relatively inexpensively. They can generally be mounted on any stock roof rack and they last forever.

The downside of rooftop cargo baskets is they can be noisy while driving and they reduce fuel economy. But it’s still cheaper to haul a deer this way than to buy a truck!

The enclosed Thule and Yakima type cargo carriers are often shaped more for aerodynamics than for big game. So it is likely that it will be a challenge fitting the deer in there. Unless you already have one and are willing to risk damaging it with a deer, I’d probably focus on a cargo basket instead.

I don’t recommend one of those rooftop cargo carrier bags for this. They are likely going to trap in heat and moisture and be difficult to fit the deer into. Not to mention their questionable weight capacity and durability.

They’re also more difficult to clean and get the smell out of later. Not great for family vacation time next summer. 

How to Tie a Deer To Your Car Trunk

Another viable alternative is to put the deer on top of your trunk. This could keep it cool and be less of a drag than on the roof.

To do this, take two pieces of rope or tie-down straps, about 5-6 ft long each. Open your trunk and tie the ropes to the trunk hatch’s hinge elbows, one on each side, from the inside. Now close the trunk and use the two loose (but secured) ends to tie down the deer. 

Tie the deer up at the hip and chest, using its legs as leverage.

This is really only a good idea for smaller deer. If you care about your car, be careful not to overload the rooftop or trunk top. Strapping a bigger deer on a car could leave a permanent dent on the car. 

What you for sure do not want to do is put a deer on your hood! Not only are you very-slow-cooking your meat (i.e. spoiling it), but you’re creating a huge safety hazard.

Check your vehicle manual. Consult your local laws. Proceed at your own risk!

Haul a Deer Behind Your Car with a Hitch Hauler or Trailer

Another option is to haul a deer behind your car with a hitch hauler or a small utility trailer.

rsz hitch haulerPros

  • Keeps the deer, mess, and smell outside the car
  • Keeps ticks found on deer outside the car
  • Easy to load and unload
  • Self-contained and quick


  • Deer is more exposed to road grime
  • Requires a hitch or tow package
  • Need to know how to tow a trailer
  • Exhaust will likely blow right on the deer

This is a good option if you’ve got a hitch installed and you’re comfortable hauling a trailer. But I wouldn’t go out and install a hitch and buy a trailer just to get a deer home.

The hitch hauler would be my preference over a trailer. I hate burning more fuel to tow an empty trailer, which would be the case on the way to the hunt. It’s just inconvenient to have to tow if it’s not necessary.

rsz 1deer on hitch hauler 2
Image source:

This option is not recommended in rainy or snowy weather. Slush and road grime will likely get onto your kill and spoil your meat. And car exhaust isn’t exactly my idea of smoked venison.

Even in good weather, you likely still need to wrap up your deer in a sheet or tarp to keep it clean and protected en route.

Quarter a Deer for Transport

The last option to get your deer home in a car is to quarter it in the field. Then you can transport it home in containers.

Before you consider this seriously, check your state hunting regulations to see if it is legal to transport a deer in this way. You likely need to keep evidence of sex naturally attached at a minimum (like in my home state of Idaho). But there may be other restrictions as well.

If a game warden pulls you over or you need to stop at a check station, keep things above board. Transport your game right.

It does the hunting community no favors when well-meaning hunters use poacher tactics, even if by accident. Know the rules and follow them.

If this does look like a good option for you, first make sure you know how to properly quarter a deer. 

Be sure and take portable containers that both fit in your car and can hold a whole quartered deer.

Use a Cooler to Transport a Quartered Deer

While plastic totes could do the job for a short journey, a solid cooler or two is even better. That way you can pick up some ice at a gas station on your way home to keep the meat cool.

To hold a quartered deer you will need a cooler with a minimum of 65 quarts of capacity. The optimal size cooler would be over 100 quarts. This leaves plenty of room for a bigger deer, quartered with bone in, and some ice. 

Something like an RTIC rotomolded cooler would be ideal and you’ll never need to buy another cooler again. The RTIC 110 QT Hard Cooler is a favorite and it’s probably the best for deer transport as well.

rtic 65qt coolerThere are some cheap collapsible coolers and tote bag style coolers now that are a good size and could do the trick. You would need a few of them.

The downside is I find them more difficult to keep clean and sanitized. They don’t keep cold for very long (less than a day) and they will wear out quickly.

Longer coolers would be wise as a hind quarter or the spine can be quite long on a deer and it would be nice to not have to do as much work in the field when the meat is as slick as snot.

Whatever you choose, measure the dimensions of your trunk or cargo area first to make sure you can fit what you get.

No matter what you drive, you can bring a deer home. Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way to get your deer home!

Related: Thinking About a Car for Hunting? (Consider This First)

The post Can You Fit a Deer in a Car? (No Truck, No Problem, Here’s How) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

How to Quarter and Pack Game out of the Backcountry - Conservation Field Notes with Steven Rinella nonadult
9 Best Deer Feeders Reviewed & Revealed (Hands-on Guide) Thu, 11 Mar 2021 17:12:44 +0000 For many hunters out there, it seems that they are willing to pay a little more for a reliable gear since a dependable one can give that edge when it comes to hunting. Purchasing a more expensive deer feeder will not only get you a better machine, but it will give you a greater sense ... Read more

The post 9 Best Deer Feeders Reviewed & Revealed (Hands-on Guide) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

For many hunters out there, it seems that they are willing to pay a little more for a reliable gear since a dependable one can give that edge when it comes to hunting.

Purchasing a more expensive deer feeder will not only get you a better machine, but it will give you a greater sense of peace of mind. Walking away from game cameras or deer feeders can give you feelings of uncertainty. It is as if they have to earn your trust by working perfectly for some time.

As a hunter, you want to know that your investment is going to give you the results that you want. This is when the old saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play.


The 9 Top Game Feeders of 2021: Outdoor Empire Reviews

These are our top recommendations for deer feeders in 2021:

  1. Best spin-cast: Take the Boss Buck Automatic Spincast Deer and Wildlife Feeder
  2. Best tripodTake the Moultrie 30-Gallon Pro Hunter II
  3. Best hangingTake the Moultrie 5-gal All In One Feeder
  4. Best gravityTake the Redneck Blinds T-Post
  5. Best automaticTake the Moultrie 15-Gallon Directional Feeder

Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:

Product51QwEac7ZrL. AC SL1068
Boss Buck Automatic feeder

30-Gallon Pro Hunter Tripod Deer Feeder
30-Gallon Pro Hunter Tripod Deer Feeder

Moultrie Feeder
Moultrie Feeder

Redneck Blinds T-Post
Redneck Blinds T-Post

Moultrie 15-Gallon Directional Feeder
Moultrie 15-Gallon Directional Feeder

Capacity200 lbs200 lbs5 gal80 lbs100 lbs
Digital ControlNoYesYesNoYes
Power -6 volts 6 voltsN/A6 volts
Solar Panel ReadyYesYesYesN/AYes
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

1. Best Spin-cast Feeders

The Boss Buck is a 12-volt automatic spincast feeder for deer and other wildlife. It comes in capacity sizes ranging from 200 pounds to 1,200 pounds depending on your needs.

The hopper is made of durable HDPE plastic and is constructed with galvanized hardware and stainless-steel inserts. All the metal used is weather resistant in order to ward off rust and corrosion.

The HDPE plastic used is not only UV resistant but also made to keep precipitation and varmints out of the feeder. The Boss Buck feeder also has the ability to switch from spin feeder to protein feeder if necessary.

The purchase of this feeder includes a 12-volt battery and solar panel.


  • Multiple capacity choices for customization
  • Made of UV-resistant HDPE plastic
  • All metal is galvanized to resist rust and corrosion from weather
  • Can convert from spin feeder to protein feeder


  • Many users state that legs should be staked to resist wind speeds
  • No feet pads for legs so that deer don’t tip over
  • Legs are not easily adjustable

The Boss Buck Automatic Spincast Deer and Wildlife Feeder is well reviewed by users and is best for hunters wishing to attract deer to their feeder.

2. Heavy Metal 200 lbs Box Feeder

The Heavy Metal 200 lbs Box Feeder is manufactured by Wildgame Innovations, which is under the spin casting category.

It has a heavy duty protective cage covering the discharge area, making sure varmints and other annoying pests keep out. The digital control gives the hunter the option of feeding four times a day and can disperse feed up to 30 feet.

Notable Features

  • Made of galvanized steel
  • Spin caster feeder
  • Varmint control cage
  • Digital control
  • Dispenses feed up to 4 times a day
  • Feed spread up to 30 feet

3. Best Tripod Feeders

Moultrie makes several tripod style feeders with their newest, the 30-Gallon Pro Hunter Tripod Deer Feeder. It has a rugged metal barrel with a capacity of 200 lbs.

The programmable mechanical spin casting feeder has a quick disconnect on the motor, giving the user the ability to remove the motor and place it on another barrel or hopper.

It has a fill height of nine feet so a ladder, ATV, or truck bed must be used to stand on to refill the hopper.

Notable Features

  • 30-gallon barrel
  • 200 lbs capacity
  • Digital control
  • Dispenses feed up to 6 times a day
  • Quick disconnect motor
  • Spin caster feeder

4. Boss Buck 350

The Boss Buck 350 is a tripod feeder that can be converted from a gravity feeder to a spin caster with ease right from the box.

It is powered by one 12 volts battery, and this feeder seems to have it all. However, just as most tripod feeders, it may be difficult to load it if you do not have a way to get above the 72″ legs.

Notable Features

  • Tripod stand
  • Galvanized steel rust proof
  • Gravity and spin caster attachments provided
  • 350 lbs capacity

5. Best Hanging Feeders

When hunting in a denser area, or an area with plenty of tree branches to hang a feeder, the Moultrie Feeder is the way to go.

It is a 5-gallon plastic tapered bucket and it compacts down to about one third of its operating size. The motorized feeder uses four AA batteries.

Notable Features

  • 5-gallon capacity
  • Spin caster
  • Collapsible
  • Solar panel ready
  • Batteries included

6. American Hunter 5-Gallon Digital Feeder

The American Hunter Feeders are more common to find since a larger variety of stores carry their product, easy to purchase type of feeder. Most of them are very affordable to the average hunters.

They are a hanging type mechanical feeder where their largest model can hold up to 225 lbs.

Notable Features

  • Built-in varmint guard
  • Solar panel ready
  • 225 lbs capacity
  • Digital control
  • Feeds up to 16 times a day
  • Feeds different days of the week

7. Best Gravity Feeders: Redneck Blinds T-Post

Redneck Blinds T-Post
View on Amazon
08/15/2023 07:14 am GMT

With all the talk about mechanical or programmable feeders, it feels good not to have to worry about battery life or anything mechanically jamming.

The simple gravity feeders seem to be the easiest to setup and maintain. With a capacity of 80 lbs of corn, Redneck Blinds T-Post is the most user-friendly gravity feeder out there.

There is a slot on the back of the molded plastic where it fits perfectly snug to a T-Post or one can use tie downs and ratchet the feeder to a tree.

Rat holing can occur with gravity feeders and because the opening must be exposed for the animals to feed, varmints have a season pass when it comes to stealing food.

Continue to the full Redneck Blinds T-Post review…

Notable Features

  • 80 lbs capacity
  • Heavy duty polyethylene
  • Can be strapped to a tree or t-post
  • Light weight

8. Best Large Gravity Feeders

The Banks Outdoors Feedbank 300# Gravity Feeder has a simple yet effective design. A single post elevates the feeder, eliminating any obstruction to food access.

This particular design holds up to 300 pounds of food that is dispersed via gravity. Four evenly spaced feeding ports are placed at an optimal height of 42 inches.

The large watertight cover will ensure the food inside remains fresh and dry. The Banks Outdoors Feedbank is made of UV-stabilized polyethylene, so it will last for years.


  • Holds up to 300 pounds of food
  • Made of UV-stabilized polyethylene
  • Four feeding ports placed at 42 inches high
  • Watertight cover to keep food fresh and dry


  • Post must be purchased separately
  • Hardware on lid could be sturdier
  • Nothing prevents squirrels from climbing up and in

The Banks Outdoors Feedbank is the perfect feeder for those wishing to observe wildlife. It draws deer, turkeys, and other animals for watching, depending on the season.

9. Best Automatic Feeder

Right out of the box, these feeders come with ratchet straps to mount the unit to a tree. It also comes with a bracket, allowing the user to attach the unit to a t-post if desired.

These feeders can discharge feed in a narrow 30-degree path, which is perfect for only placing feed exactly where you like it.

Notable Features

  • 15-gallon hopper
  • Directional feed pattern
  • Includes bracket and ratchet straps
  • Tree or t-post ready
  • 6 volts battery
  • Narrow 30-degree path

View on Amazon

View at Cabela’s

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing

Three whitetail does standing in a grain field

Any hunter who has ever felt the rush of sitting in a tree stand while the game they are hunting comes wandering right under them understands the time and effort that goes into finding and preparing that perfect hunting area.

Game feeders can give a hunter a huge advantage as they can draw in and retain a larger number of game if they are allowed in your state or country ( if not, use alternatives ). Maintained and correctly used feeders also give added nutrients to the deer aiding in antler growth.

However, if you purchase a faulty feeder or one that is prone to malfunctioning, it can be very frustrating, discouraging, and even a costly mistake.

Just like any other major hobby, there are countless products with varieties of option and setups that a hunter can purchase when it comes to game feeders such as tripod spincaster, hanging spincaster, and gravity feeders.

Where do you begin when you have decided to invest in deer feeders? Because of all the different brands and the large variety, the process of looking for the perfect game feeder can become a very overwhelming task.

Purchasing one should technically be a simple process, although it can seem daunting until you begin to focus on the key factors which include but are not limited to the following.


Steel Outdoors
Steel Outdoors

The location is a great place to focus on first. Where do you plan on setting up your game feeder? If you own the land or can drive up to the feeder, then you have more options when looking at different styles.

A larger hopper, heavy duty, and extremely sturdy are easier to unload and setup from your truck. If you plan on hiking into your spot, you want something light weight and easier to transport.

Refilling the Feeder

The initial setup is important, but you also need to be able to refill it periodically throughout the season or even year-round.

If you are by your truck, you can haul up large amounts of feed, as well as use a ladder to fill it each time. For those hiking in, you need to keep in mind how much you can pack and if you are able to load the feed by yourself.

For those feeders that are too tall, you will be required to use some step stool or even a ladder to reach the top ( or buy feeder which already has it ). It will be very cumbersome to pack food and a ladder each time you need to load the feeder.

However, some feeders are designed to allow the person to stand on the ground to load, which is a desirable feature to many as well as having a larger hopper to space out how often you need to refill since it can hold so much more.


Durability is another point to consider. A feeder is designed to be outdoors day and night for an extended amount of time. Keep in mind that not all manufacturers produce products that can last as long as a hunter expects a feeder to last.


When investing in a deer feeder, you have to be aware of all the different elements that it needs to overcome to survive such as the wind, rain, sun, and even snow.

Another common factor is the durability that a feeder must have to protect itself from the abuse that it will naturally encounter with animals. This contact can include things such as rubbing, eating from it, bumping it, which may result to tipping it over especially if the animals are larger in structure.

Varmint Proof

racoons on deer feeder

Deer are not the only animals that are drawn to the feed. Varmints may attempt to chew through the hopper or anywhere that is vulnerable to retrieve the food inside. These varmints are a big concern for many who have previously setup deer feeders.

Raccoons are especially a nuisance since they can climb and curiously interfere with all your hard work. They are capable of spilling large amounts of your corn or deer feed onto the ground which will force you to buy more feed and refill it far more frequently.

An important detail that you want to look into is the type of varmint protection compatible with each type of deer feeder.

Some styles include a cage around the automatic dispenser, as well as certain attachments that go around the legs to prevent these small animals from climbing to the access area, or even some that will send an electric shock to the smaller lower animals.

Mechanical Parts

Buck Stop control box
Buck Stop control box

Along with structural integrity, mechanical parts also need to be durable. Many options of feeders include automatic feeders that entail a clock to initiate the times when you want the feed dispersed and the allotted time that the food is released.

Some feeders will fill a trough and others will shoot the feed out on top of the ground encircling the feeder. You must remember, that with more moving parts there is a greater chance that those parts might break.

It is very important to have a dependable feeder, one that you don’t have to worry about between visits.

Setting Up the Feeder


The process of setting up of the feeder is another thing you need to think about. For many hunters, they may prefer to keep their honey hole a secret from others and need to rely on themselves to be able to setup the feeder independently.

Many manufacturers who understand that concept have made a large variety of feeders capable to be setup by one person.

Still, it is important to evaluate the bulk, weight, size, complexity, and the height of the feeder so you can range if you’re able to fill the it independently.

You may need to bring a ladder if your location is next to a road. You may also be able to stand on the bed of your truck as you load it.

If you are packing the feeder in, you need to purchase one that you can transport, setup, and fill completely on your own. It isn’t just the physical labor of setting up your feeder; with the different styles, a few varieties require you to setup things such as solar panels, batteries, and even program the timer.



Regardless of popular beliefs, not all hunters are wealthy. Hunting is a sport or hobby that takes quite a bit of money to get into, and it doesn’t always leave enough money to get the “top of the line” items. So price is usually the main point of concern for the average hunter.

It is common to look at the cheapest item in the category you want and to still assume that the quality is not substandard. In some cases, you can skip on the bells and whistles and get a good-quality basic feeder which might be desirable.

Although when you look for a cheap automatic feeder, you need to do more research to understand the integrity of the product and to see if it still fits your purpose.

Also keep in mind that if you purchase an inexpensive feeder, you may end up spending a lot more for repairs, feed, or even replacing the entire unit down the road.

Consider Your Goal

Deer Hunters

Think about the goal you are trying to achieve and how you want to feed the animals.

Some styles like the gravity feeder, which tend to cost less, may take the deer a bit longer to trust and feed out of. Where as the mechanical spin caster styles, which are more expensive, sprays the feed to the ground where the deer adapts quicker.

If these options still don’t work for you, you can always use a homemade deer feeder.

Also consider how you will hunt for the deer. Often times people hunt a feeder area from a blind or a treestand. You’re probably going to be there a long while waiting for deer to arrive, so make sure you get a comfortable treestand!

Overview of Leading Deer Feeder Brands

Boss Buck  

boss_buckBoss Buck not only sells feeders, but also stands, blinds, and even feeder parts. Their feeders are light weight and versatile.

You are able to swap back and forth from automatic to gravity with ease. They have a tripod, four-leg stands, and ATV feeders.

Their feeders are very durable and light when empty which makes them really easy to move and setup. Its price is a little on the high side though.

Shark Teeth

They understand the frustration of hunters when varmints try to access their feeders so they also have Shark Teeth Deterrent Strips.

These spiked strips help keep squirrels from climbing and hogs from rubbing against the legs.

On Time Tripods

on_time_tripodsFrom hanging to gravity feed tripods, it seems On Time has each type of feeder for every hunter.

One downside of On Time tripods though is that they don’t have plates at the bottom of their legs.

Customers gave their feedback saying that if the ground is damp, the weight of the feed inside the hopper pushes the leg into the earth resulting in an unstable base with a very high possibility of the unit tipping over.

Of course, homemade foot plates can be rigged to help resolve this concern. However, this is not something a customer should have to worry about taking the unit right out of the box.


moultrieMoultrie seems to be a brand that understands the fact that hunters come in a variety of wealth.

From bucket feeders, gravity feeders, and of course tripod feeders, they have it covered.

Moultrie makes most of their hoppers out of plastic. This, unfortunately, allows small dedicated rodents somewhat of a soft material to chew through and get into the feed.

American Hunter

american_hunterAmerican Hunter is the most flexible feeding system available. They have tripod feeders, hanging feeders, feeder kits, chargers, and batteries.

It is one of the brands that has analog timers with their feeders.

However, it has some reviews from customers stating that the analog timer malfunctions and engages the motor at the incorrect times or does not work at all. Some of the units completely quit working after a short period.

They also seem to be very temperamental. And if the user spins the timer the wrong way, they have a very high likelihood of breaking.

You Decide

All you have to do now is to go over the considerations stated above based on your necessities, and take a closer look at the recommended products.

These factors will definitely guide you pick the feeder that you need.

What is the game feeder that works for you?

Learn more about deer hunting gear here.

Also check these resources: 

Whitetail nutrition calendar – whitetail seasonal feeding habits explained

The post 9 Best Deer Feeders Reviewed & Revealed (Hands-on Guide) appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

]]> 1 How Many Deer Feeders Do I Need on My Land? nonadult
Interactive Map: Shed Hunting Laws and Restrictions By State Thu, 11 Mar 2021 14:57:25 +0000 shed hunting If you want to become better shed hunter check out shed hunting tips from 20 experts. Alabama N/A Alaska N/A Arizona If not contrary to federal law or regulation, an individual may pick up and possess naturally shed antlers or horns or other wildlife parts that are not fresh. Shed antlers may not ... Read more

The post Interactive Map: Shed Hunting Laws and Restrictions By State appeared first on Outdoor Empire.


This article is for information only and is not a legal advice.

Please check with your state DNR before going shed hunting for regulations on:

  • antler traps
  • shed dogs ( unleashed dogs )
  • antlered skulls ( most likely these require an approval and permit from a DNR officer )

Summary Of State Shed Antler Laws

  • West-Virginia is currently the only state where shed hunting is illegal
  • Utah is the only state that requires completion of online education course before issuing antler gathering certificate
  • States close certain areas temporarily or permanently for shed hunting

If you want to become better shed hunter check out shed hunting tips from 20 experts.


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  • If not contrary to federal law or regulation, an individual may pick up and possess naturally shed antlers or horns or other wildlife parts that are not fresh.
  • Shed antlers may not be collected or possessedwhile on NPS lands.
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  • Seasonal closure on shed antler and horn collection on all public lands west of I-25 from January 1 through April 30 annually. Decision will take effect on these public lands beginning March 2, 2018.
  • Additionally, in order to maintain protection for the Gunnison sage-grouse, the new regulations include a closure to collection of shed antlers on public lands May 1 to May 15 from sunset to 10 a.m. in the Gunnison basin (Game Management Units 54, 55, 66, 67, 551)
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  • Antler hunters do not need a license, but they need to be aware of travel and access restrictions on the land and follow all wildlife possession laws.
  • In addition, several areas are closed temporarily during the winter and early spring to all human activities


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  • It is the policy of the DNR Law Enforcement Executive staff that citizens may collect shed antlers that have been naturally discarded without the need for a permit.
  • The presence of a skull with the antlers identifies that a deer has died. Our interest is in what has caused the mortality of the deer and the circumstances surrounding it, therefore a permit is required to allow for investigation, if needed.


  • It is permissible for people to hunt for shed antlers. Shed antlers are antlers that have naturally fallen from a whitetail deer. Shed antlers can be collected on public land including state parks. Permission must be granted from the landowner on private land. (See trespass law on p. 13.)
  • Antlers that are still attached to the skull or any other parts of a deer can only be possessed with approval and tag from an Iowa DNR conservation officer.
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  • Antler trapping illegal
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  • Individuals may possess, transport, sell, or purchase naturally shed antlers, or the antlers with a skull or portion of a skull attached from a game animal that has died from natural causes and that has not been illegally killed
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  • It shall be lawful to pick up, possess, buy, sell, or barter antlers or horns which have been dropped or shed by antelope, deer, or elk.
  • It shall be unlawful to pick up, possess, buy, sell, or barter mountain sheep or any part of a mountain sheep except (a) as permitted by law or rule or regulation of the commission and (b) for possession of mountain sheep or any part of a mountain sheep lawfully obtained in this state or another state or country.
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New Hampshire

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New Jersey

  • Possession of naturally shed deer antlers is legal. Parts of deer possessed, other than shed antlers, must be from lawfully harvested deer. Proof of lawful harvest (Confirmation Number or seal) should be retained for verification. Road killed deer with a permit are intended only for consumption; antler possession from these deer is not legal.
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New Mexico

  • Possession of shed antlers is legal, possession of antlers attached to a skull found in the field is not.
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New York

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North Carolina

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North Dakota

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  • Shed antlers do not require a certificate of ownership or receipt by a wildlife officer
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  • Shed antlers do not require a certificate of ownership or receipt by a wildlife officer.
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Rhode Island

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South Carolina

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South Dakota

  • Shed antler hunting is now allowed on GFP owned lands, including state parks, recreation areas and Game Production Areas. However, permission from the landowner is required for shed hunting on Walk-In Areas, CREP, CHAP, or other privately-owned lands leased by GFP for public hunting. Regulations differ for lands owned by other state or federal agencies. Contact the respective agency for more information.
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  • From Feb. 1 to April 15, you need an antler-gathering certificate on your person while collecting shed antlers or horns. You can obtain this certificate free of charge by visiting and completing an online education course. You do not need an antler-gathering certificate at any other time of the year


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  • Antler traps are illegal because they are designed to entangle or trap the antler while it is still attached to a living animal. Collecting, possessing, buying, and selling shed deer antlers is legal.
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  • It is legal to possess naturally shed antlers of deer, elk and moose.

West Virginia

  • Antler sheds are considered parts of wildlife. You cannot keep, maintain, or possess parts of wildlife unless you legally kill it.
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  • No person shall collect shed antlers or horns from big game animals on public land west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin, from January 1 through April 30 of each calendar year.
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If you spot a mistake, let us know here.

RELATED: Does It Hurt When Deer Shed Their Antlers?

The post Interactive Map: Shed Hunting Laws and Restrictions By State appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

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How Long Do Deer Live – White-Tailed Deer Lifespan Explained! Tue, 09 Jun 2020 13:04:19 +0000 Ask four deer hunters how old they consider a mature buck to be, and you’ll get four different answers. What’s interesting is that each could be correct, based on several factors that affect how long it takes a specific whitetail to reach shooter age and size. In the wild, most experts agree that the average ... Read more

The post How Long Do Deer Live – White-Tailed Deer Lifespan Explained! appeared first on Outdoor Empire.

Ask four deer hunters how old they consider a mature buck to be, and you’ll get four different answers. What’s interesting is that each could be correct, based on several factors that affect how long it takes a specific whitetail to reach shooter age and size.

In the wild, most experts agree that the average lifespan of a white-tailed deer is 4.5 years, about a fourth as long as a well-fed captive deer can be expected to live.

The majority of captive deer are fed abundant amounts of high-quality feed, predation is usually minimal or absent, and some of the whitetails are even administered medicines and vaccines — all health factors not afforded to whitetail in the wild.

According to studies shared by the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, the average life expectancy of a free-range deer is 2.9 years, while the average lifespan of a wild doe is 6.5 years.

Factors of Whitetail Longevity

Some of the factors that influence how long a wild whitetail remains on the hoof include the following.


deer in a snow covered forest

A biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism found the oldest documented wild bucks he could locate were found in Texas and Georgia. Areas with strict, quality deer management and mild weather conditions, as are prevalent in those two states, allow wild deer to grow older.

For example, a sample of teeth collected from some 10,000 deer harvested on the King Ranch in Texas showed that hunters there were killing a lot of bucks that were age ten or older.

On the other hand, according to the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), an average of only 37% of 1.5-year-old bucks on public land survive deer season, while 75% of like-age, private-land bucks are still on the landscape at season’s end.

Several location factors determine a herd’s age class. A primary one is hunting pressure. As might be expected, where hunting density is greater, deer on average don’t live as long.

deer and feeder in the field

The same goes for regions with harsher weather conditions: whitetails in Michigan’s upper peninsula, where winter temperatures and snowfall can be brutal, do not live nearly as long on average as do deer in south Texas, where weather conditions allow browse to remain easily available year round.

One Wisconsin whitetail study documented starvation as being the cause of death for 17% of the deer herd in a farmland setting, and weather is pointed out to be a critical factor. Drought can cause vegetation to dry up and wither, snow can cover browse, and flooding can drown or submerge feed.

The effect of harsh winter weather on a deer herd is most apparent in early spring. By that period of the season, the whitetails are at their weakest after depleting body reserves while enduring the elements.


doe in between tree trunks
Female whitetail deer

As with most species, female deer typically outlive their male counterparts. In the case of deer, bucks are larger that does and require more food to maintain the health of that bigger body mass.

And as with other big-game species, a male deer’s behavior, especially during the rut, exposes it to more injuries than his female companions are likely to encounter.

As for those does, a recent QDMA report documented wild does that survived into their late teens and captive females that reached 23 and 24 years of age. Those are extremes, but they show the potential for doe longevity.


Deer Hunter in Iowa with a trophy Whitetail Buck

The biggest threat to yearling whitetails in the wild is predation by other wild animals. Studies show that exposure, predation, and abandonment claim the majority of fawns in their first three months of life.

Once deer reach 1.5 years of age and older, data show that predation by humans carrying guns and bows is the leading cause of whitetail demise, followed by deer-vehicle accidents, winter kill, and disease.

The State Farm Insurance Company estimates there are approximately 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions in the United States annually, most of them fatal to the whitetail.

Recent data from QDMA reports that nationally, hunters harvest about the same number of does as bucks. For example, during the 2015/16 season, the buck harvest by hunters was approximately 2.7 million, and the doe harvest was about 2.8 million.

It’s notable, and no surprise to local whitetail hunters, that across their expanding range, coyotes claim a growing number of fawns each year, actually rivaling the hunter harvest in some parts of the south where the canines now thrive.

Studies shared by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina documented some 70% total fawn mortality, with coyotes responsible for approximately 80%.


young whitetail sucking milk from mother

Most bucks that are killed by hunters in the U.S. are between the ages of 2.5 and 4.5 years old, according to wildlife biologists, while most hunter-harvested does average more than double that age range.

That said, even under the best conditions and circumstances, it’s rare to find examples of wild deer living more than 15 years even in nonhunting areas such as wildlife refuges. After a decade and a half, a whitetail’s body is in decline to the point that the teeth may be worn down to the gum line, hindering its ability to eat.

The oldest wild whitetail documented to be harvested by a hunter was a doe shot in Vermont during the 2018 hunting season. According to a report by the Rutland Herald, tooth analysis indicated the deer was 20.5 years old. What’s interesting is that same season, a Vermont hunter bagged a buck aged at 12 years old.

The oldest accepted captive deer on record was also a doe, raised by Joe Hamilton, the founder of QDMA. The deer lived on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area in Texas and was at least 23 years old, reportedly having a fawn in her final year of life.

Wild Records

tagged deer
Tagged deer

It’s not unheard of for some free-ranging whitetails to reach ages common with pampered captive deer. Accounts of known-age wild deer shared by the QDMA reveal that some free-ranging deer have been known to actually surpass the average age of well-kept whitetails.

In one case, a doe tagged on the Webb Center Wildlife Management Area in Garnett, South Carolina, was killed 14.5 years later in the same field where she had been tagged as a fawn.

Retired Michigan deer researcher John Ozoga has documented known-age wild whitetails from studies in the upper Midwest that include a 15-year-old doe in north-central Minnesota, a 19-year-old doe in northern Minnesota, and a doe in upper Michigan that was 19 years and 10 months of age — as well as a buck from northern Minnesota that lived to the ripe old age of 17 — all thriving in a region known for heavy hunting pressure and harsh winter weather.

The Antler Factor

deer antler on the forest ground
Shed antler

Whitetail bucks shed and regrow antlers every year. As soon as one rack is shed, when hormone levels reach their annual mid-winter low, new antlers start growing again. The act represents the fastest organ regeneration in the animal family, with a potential for several centimeters of growth per day.

An antler is comprised of veins, vessels, arteries, and cartilaginous tissue covered in a thick tissue called velvet during the growth period. Throughout the summer months, the antler begins to calcify and harden, and the velvet dries and is rubbed off by the buck.

Three components determine the size of the buck’s antlers: age, genetics, and nutrition. An average buck will usually maximize his antler size between five and seven years of age, after which the deer and his rack will usually decline slightly in size.

Related: When’s the Best Time to Shed Hunt? (A Regional Guide)

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