New England Antler Sheds
Yes, antler shed season is here in full force in the Northeast. As the snow continues to melt after a winter to remember, hobbyist and professional
antler shed hunters are about to head into the woods to gather antler sheds from nature herself.
Annual Antler Growth & Shedding
Deer, moose, elk and caribou shed and grow back their antlers each year. They shed (or drop, as locals would call it ) in the winter depending on region. The re-growth process starts with what is called velvet stage in the summer, where they can grow 3/4″ in one day on larger animals. Once Mother Nature decides when the antler growth process is completed, usually in late summer, the velvet dies and the mineralization of antler to hard bone occurs. The animal then rubs off the dead velvet revealing these beautiful white antlers. The antlers change in color as the animal continues to rub against trees marking its territory for the upcoming mating season. What triggers the shedding (or dropping) of the antler is the length of the day in the dead of winter, making it difficult for antler gatherers to retrieve these antlers due to snow cover.
#1 Antler Sheds
There is a small window of time to retrieve what I call #1 shed antlers that I use in my creations. Squirrels, field mice and porcupines love to eat these works of nature, thus making the antlers worthless to antler artists like myself.
Professional shed hunters venture out in the dead of winter tracking these animals and, yes, some have outdoor field cameras to assist them in knowing the location and timing of the shed process. They get top dollar for their antler discovery if unblemished. Most people wait until late winter, early spring to venture out to find the ‘holy grail’ of antlers and beat cabin fever. Some use man’s best friend, the dog.
Dogs retrieving shed Antlers
Dogs can be trained to sniff out antlers throughout the forests and fields. The dogs are rewarded very well with awesome treats they don’t normally receive. They have a great sense of smell. Humans can’t detect any smell of the antler at all. When I first got into the antler artistry trade, I came across Jerry Carlson while surfing the web for information related to real antler sheds. He developed a dog shed retrieval training guide that actually works. In fact, I purchased a number of moose sheds from a person locally that provided the pictures of his dog in action.
I’ve purchased a number of #1 top quality sheds this season and Mad River Antler is in full production for 2015, creating one-of-a-kind works of functional art provided by Mother Nature herself. I’m preparing for this years show season and even have my work in a few galleries.
I always welcome custom work which is my specialty and enjoy working with the customer, directly, to create a custom piece of antler art for their home and/or business utilizing a physical media created naturally and truly renewable.