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By Robert Loewendick

   Most of the United States are enduring a lengthy, frigid winter. Is cabin fever beginning to affect your family? If so I have a cure. Go on a treasure hunt while enjoying a nature hike. Is this something your children would enjoy? Then take your kids shed deer antler hunting. It's a nice change of pace, different scenery and good exercise. As a father it's a opportunity for quality family time. As a hunter it gives an opportunity for some late season scouting.

 Kids naturally have one of the most important components needed to be a successful shed antler hunter, curiosity. My own children, Robbie and Danielle ages nine and twelve respectfully, can't wait until the local deer drop their antlers. Normally in our part of Ohio that is around late January to late March, sooner in the south and later to the north.

 Most children love to play games. Because of the thrill of today's advanced true to life computer games kids spend more time indoors with their eyes and thoughts glued to television screens. Getting the kids out more into the woods and fields teaches them many real lessons. Watching the eyes of a child beam with excitement of a found antler, gives encouragement to explore the outdoors more often. After hours of walking and searching, that discovered antler is equivalent to a trophy to put on a shelf. A shed antler is the main treasure but not the only one to be found. Don't rush the search team. They will discover many other interesting finds. Let them explore. The more they become interested in the outdoors the longer they will carry their excitement for nature and memories of their adventures with them. Hopefully they will persuade others to get out and enjoy as well. It's so important that we teach our youth to preserve our natural environments and to carry on good management practices of them.

 Exercise, most of us know we need more of it. Especially our children who are growing up in a world of electronic recreation. On a average antler hunt we cover approximately one mile in two hours, a nice workout that includes stretching and flexing of the upper and lower body. During the shed season we try to get out at least three times a week, even if only for a twenty minute walk around our home. It's not rare to find antlers close to human dwellings, as long as you have seen deer in those area's.

 Sheds are found in all types of the deer's habitat. Bedding, feeding and watering area's have all yielded shed antlers. The best location that I have found is on travel routes. These transition areas that deer move from one site to another. Think about the most likely event when a loose antler will become unattached. Swift head movements occur more often during travel. The places we check first are where trails intersect streams and heavy brush, any situation that a buck would encounter causing him to jump. The landing from a jump will jolt the antler to release. Feeding areas are our second choice, again because of head movement. Head down feeding and then a sudden jerk upward to check for danger will send a loose antler to the ground for your search party to retrieve.

 Some antlers are dark in color and some bright depending on the deer's feed supply and genetics. Sunshine on a light colored forest floor makes the shed antler somewhat camouflaged laying on the ground. Cloudy days give the best opportunity for a find. Better still would be after a rain has fallen and darkened the forest floor. A cloudy, rainy day may not be the best for a walk but it will make those antlers stick out like a light in the dark.

 So what can you do with your find? Most collectors mount their antlers on a wood plaque for display. My kids like to carry their antler finds around showing them off so they simply lay theirs on a shelf where they can have easy access to them. I take many photos of the children with their trophies and make several copies for us to share. Antlers make a nice show and tell item for school as well. If finding the antlers is the most important part and not so much an addition to a collection, there is a market for them. Many craftsmen use the antlers for knife handles, belt buckles, jewelry as well as many other items.

 So then, turn off the television, tell the kids to get their boots on and get out there to cure that cabin fever. After they find their first shed antler you may have another dilemma. Trying to convince them it's time to terminate their adventure and go back inside. By Robert R. Loewendick

 Backwoods Bound wants to thank Robert for sharing this article with us. We are truly grateful.

About The Author:
Robert lives in Hopewell, Ohio with his wife Linda and children Danielle and Robbie. He is an avid wildlife observer and enjoys outdoor writing as well. You can reach him by e-mail at rrloewendick@yahoo.com

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