Every year, starting sometimes as early as February, thousands of people head into the woods in search of gold. No, not that bullion stuff. Antlers.
For the uninitiated, most male members of the deer family drop their antlers as their hormone levels drop after the breeding season, known as 'the rut.' While timing varies by region, species, and individual animal, most males in North America 'shed' their antlers between January and April. When this happens, eager 'shed hunters' flock to hills looking for the freshly dropped antlers.
Many are collectors, others are hunters looking for beta on the mature bucks/bulls in the area, and some collect the antlers to sell them at a premium. It can be a very fun activity for folks of all ages, and a great way to get outdoors after being cooped up all winter.
Here is Oregon 2% Committee Member, Chris Henry, enjoying some time out shed hunting with his son recently!
Now, before we go any further, it behooves us to share a few things.
While inherently wholesome, like any outdoor activity, shed hunting can also have its downsides when not done mindfully:
- Social media will serve up plenty of examples of a few people acting overly competitive and generally awful towards other shed hunters. The actions of a few aggressive folks has really hurt the public image of what should be a fun and wholesome activity.
- Similarly, a few people not considering the seasonal needs of the local wildlife can have lasting negative effects on the population. From a conservation perspective, it is the time of year when many populations are at the highest risk. They are preparing or having their young, and being pushed around by human activity puts them at risk of undue exhaustion. In areas with heavy predator presence, people can inadvertently push vulnerable populations out of their sanctuary areas... making them easy pickin's for predators. Most state wildlife management agencies and ungulate conservation groups recommend staying out of habitat areas until the snow nearly (if not totally) gone, or you'll put the wildlife at undue risk.
With those things in mind, it's important to remember that though our choices in the outdoors are personal, there may be unintended consequences of our actions that affect wildlife, the landscape, and others looking to enjoy time outdoors.
Recently, 2% Board Member and Business Member, Dan Johnson, hopped on Mark Kenyon's "Wired to Hunt" podcast. In it, they discussed shed hunting and how shed hunters can really help conservation and the public image of the activity - all at once!
You can listen to the episode (#336) here:
How this wasn't already 'a thing' is mindboggling - it's such a straightforward and easy way to give back your time to conservation while being an asset to the local community.
We got in touch with Mark and Dan, and they had some more things to share on the subject.
"With the #TinesAndTrash hashtag, my hope is that we can encourage the shed hunting commmunity to pick up more than just antlers this springs, but also the trash that mars our beautiful wild landscapes." Mark shared, "A balloon here, an old beer can there, a crumpled up piece of newspaper. Every little bit can help."
Dan shared a similar sentiment, "You're outside anyway, and a lot of times, you are on public ground. You're almost always going to be walking by trash. It's easy and has a decent impact."
And it's not just the wildlife that benefits!
"When you're out and you run into someone, whether a recreator or someone managing the land, they often ask 'Why are you out doing this?' because they don't see people taking care of the land that often. No one's paid to do it, but it needs to get done." said Dan.
When you go out this spring, take a trash bag with you and use the #TinesAndTrash hashtag when you post your hauls online. It is such a simple and effective way to have a positive impact for wildlife!
Want to show your passion for shed hunting and conservation offline too?
You're in luck! A Michigan-based hunter has created a #TinesAndTrash T-Shirt! Initially unbeknownst to us, he chose 2% for Conservation to receive 100% of the proceeds from the sales of the shirts!
Jordan Riske recently became 2% Certified as an individual, in part because of his support and membership with groups like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Whitetails Unlimited. "With over 25 nieces and nephews, and a little girl on the way, protecting whitetail habitat and getting the younger generation to see the value in protecting whitetails is crucial in keeping the hunting tradition alive. I grew up hunting whitetail, and there are countless memories with family and friends that were brought together by the hunt and passion for the outdoors."
As for why he decided to make a #TinesAndTrash t-shirt, Jordan said, "No one likes walking through the woods and seeing loads of garbage. These places were and still are intended to be pure, clean and wild; not a dumpsite. We as hunters need to hold each other accountable and push each other to be better. It's simple, leave the places you hunt better than you found them. These are OUR lands. I decided to reach out to Mark and Dan to see if they would mind if I jumped on board and created a t-shirt for the cause with all profits going to 2%. This is my attempt to do my part, hold myself accountable, and help clean up the lands we love hunting."
You can order any of the four styles (which feature the "#TinesAndTrash" hashtag on the back) from Jordan's TeeSpring page, here: https://teespring.com/shop/tinesandtrash
We hope you enjoy your spring in the woods, no matter the activity, but if you go out shed hunting, please consider being a part of this awesome initiative!
"Get out there, use the hashtag and share what you find." - Mark Kenyon