Life of a Shed

Hunter 257W

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Oct 4, 2012
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I had always heard that various rodents eat shed antlers within a few months of dropping or in some cases a few weeks. I thought this was because of a craving for the minerals in antler. Because of this, I had never spent much time at all looking for antlers. To support this scenario, I've found skulls where one antler was buried intact while the exposed antler was completely eaten way. Yet, this shed contest and the recent trend all over of hunters actively looking for sheds contradicts what I thought to be true. Apparently an old antler could lay in the woods for a couple of years or more in more or less good condition? Would this vary by region depending on mineral content of the soil in each area - meaning high soil mineral content provides rodents with their basic needs so they don't gnaw up antlers nearly so fast as in mineral depleted areas?
 

catman529

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Nov 10, 2010
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Franklin TN
rodents like to chew on things because their teeth never stop growing and they have to keep gnawing them down. I don't know if they are going for minerals or not, maybe they are. I have found fresh sheds with multiple chew marks and I have found 1 or 2 year old sheds in good condition. Depends on the rodent population in the area to some extent, but I'm not really sure why some antlers in a seemingly squirrely area will remain untouched for over a year. In overgrown CRP type fields, there are no squirrels but sometimes field mice, however I see very little chewing on old bones found in CRP because of lack of squirrels. But I have also found last year's sheds in good condition in hardwoods. Really don't know the explanation
 

Hunter 257W

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Oct 4, 2012
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Franklin County
Yeah, Catman, all the sheds you and a few others are finding have opened my eyes to the fact that they must last way longer than I always thought. Knowing my luck, the 1st really good one I'll find will be in a tractor tire.
 

nate17

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Aug 6, 2009
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Missouri
I recenetly read a story where a guy found the previous yrs shed off of a deer that he killed 12 years ago or something like that. completely untouched by rodents and still intact
 

woodsman87

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Sep 27, 2012
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south TN
I never really looked for sheds until I joined this forum and saw that everybody else was doing it. The reason why I didn't look is because I never found any when I would look. Now I have purposefly looked for them. Haven't found one yet. haha.
 

catman529

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Nov 10, 2010
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Franklin TN
pass-thru said:
I don't think rodents are the once chewing on sheds.....mostly other deer.
the teeth marks I have seen all look like rodent teeth, no way they could be made by a deer's incisors
 

Winchester

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Dec 5, 2003
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TN
Indeed it varies greatly, as some go for years untouched and some will get damage pretty quickly.
 

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