For the past 50 years, Jim Phillips has been collecting shed antlers, having a total of around 14,500. In cold climates, antlers shed yearly. He displays them in a 30 x 64 foot building which he constructed specifically for this purpose.
Fun animal facts I have learned being a zoo docent
1. There are several ways to classify the large cats, one of the more useful ones is into the roaring cats (tigers, lions) and the purring cats (bobcats, lynxes). The puma (also known as the mountain lion) is the largest cat that purrs. I’ve heard it up close, it’s amazing. A cheetah’s purr sounds like an idling motorcycle engine.
2. Kangaroos cannot move their legs independently of each other, they have to move them in sync - when they’re on land. When they’re swimming, they can move them separately. Hopping is their most efficient way to move - a walking kangaroo is awkward as hell. They swing both legs forward using their tail as a third leg to prop up while their legs swing.
3. People often think that flamingoes’ knees bend the wrong way. They don’t - the joint you’re seeing in the middle of their leg isn’t their knee, it’s their ankle. Their knee is up by their body, and it bends the same way ours does.
4. Giraffes only sleep 1-2 hours a day.
5. Bald eagles’ vocalizations are not what you expect. When you see a flying bald eagle in the movies and hear that majestic caw sound? That isn’t an eagle, it’s been dubbed over with another bird, usually a red-tailed hawk. Bald eagles actually sound…not majestic. Kind of like if a kitten could be a bird.
6. Elephants are one of only a handful of animals that can pass the mirror test - in other words, they can recognize their own reflection (and not think it’s another animal, as dogs and cats usually do). They tested this by placing a chalk mark on an elephant’s forehead and then showing it a mirror. The elephant investigated the mark on its own forehead, indicating it knew that it was looking at itself. The only animals that pass this test are the higher primates, the higher cetaceans (orcas, dolphines), elephants, and weirdly, magpies.
7. One-fifth of all the known mammal species are bats.
8. A kangaroo mother can have three joeys simultaneously at different stages of development: an embryo in her womb (kangaroos can do what’s called embryonic diapause which means sort of putting the development on pause until she’s ready for it to develop further), a joey in her pouch attached to one nipple, and a joey out of the pouch on the ground who nurses from the other one. The amazing thing? Each of her nipples make different formulations of milk for each joey’s different nutritional needs.
9. Bonobos, our closest genetic relative (they are more closely related to us than they are to either chimps or gorillas) are almost entirely non-aggressive, matriarchal, and use sex to solve all their problems. They engage in both same and opposite sex interactions, non-penetrative sex (oral, rubbing, manual) and with any age. That’s an interesting area to work in, lemme tell you.
10. Tortoises have super loud sex. Like, really loud.
11. All grizzlies are brown bears, but not all brown bears are grizzlies (grizzlies are a sub-categorization of the brown bear).
12. Reindeer are the only deer species where both males and females grow antlers. The males shed theirs the beginning of December, the females shed theirs in the spring. So all of Santa’s reindeer are girls, heh. I love telling little kids that.
13. If a rhinoceros knocks off its horn, it grows back faster than you’d expect. One of ours, Rosie, has knocked hers off twice.
14. Gorillas get crushes on each other. And on the humans that take care of them. Male gorillas also masturbate. I don’t know if the females do, I’ve never seen it. Sometimes it’s like a soap opera up in there.
15. Langur monkeys are silvery-gray in color - their babies are bright orange. Like Cheeto orange, I do not exaggerate.
16. Polar bear fur is not white, it’s transparent, like fiber optics. Also, their skin is black.
It hasn’t been easy! I’ve been studying tracking off and on for about a year, and really got into it in around september/october.
I spend a GOOD chunk of my time between when I get home from teaching til dark walking in the woods (so long as the weather isn’t bad). Usually this is like 1-4 hours on work days, if I don’t take a nap when I get home. I just really enjoy it! Anyways, while doing this, I’ve kept my eyes out on the local deer herd. I’ve seen maybe 3-4 distinct bucks that I know made it through the rut, and make a mental note of where I saw them.
I actually only found one teensy shed in the place I saw the biggest buck! Still can’t find his sheds yet, unless the largest one was one of his. I’ll have to check my photos.
One helpful thing is to note where the deer bed. Deer are crepuscular, so they’re most active around dusk and dawn. Knowing this, mid day and all is when you can find their bedding areas easily. You’ll hear them run off. When I start to see or hear them, I check the bedding areas out for reference when they leave. I hate to spook them, but it’s easy and I may as well get some info from it.
Anyways, beds are easy to see once you know what to look for. Packed down reed or leaves in a little oval. Apparently bucks can be identified around the rut bc of their tarsal glands leaving a mark. I’ve never seen that, but bucks don’t stay in groups like the does/the ones in my area are really young aside from the one big guy I’ve seen. Probably missing their bedding sites lol.
They make bedding areas where it’s sunny the longest, especially in the fall/winter. They move out depending on food availability, so watch when you can! Some people make shed traps where they bait deer near a fence or something hoping to knock the antlers off. Unfortunately, I’ve read mixed experiences. Deer baiting is legal in my state, so I tried leaving some feed in areas where there’s lots of trees clustered together/tangles of honeysuckle or something. HOWEVER. Extensive reading shows mixed reliability and dangers for your herd. Some bucks can get stuck in the wire or whatever while bending down to eat your treats, and that’s a really sad fate. Also, many people use corn, which can cause a pH imbalance and literally kill your deer if they don’t already eat corn regularly. A big nono. I live in a suburban area with big forest preservation areas, so there’s no corn for them. If you live in farmland or a rural area, they would probably be ok, but it helps to think of their natural diets and all.
This all being said, antler drop times are triggered by a testosterone drop post rut when food becomes scare. Heavy headgear just takes excess energy, and when you’re done fighting other males and laying down some genes, it’s just a calorie waste. They reabsorb calcium from the antlers through their pedicle, and back into the skull, which leaves the antler-skull connection spongy, and within about 6 hours (I’ve read) the antlers fall off.
Here’s where bedding sites are important.
They’re conserving energy as much as possible, so just sitting curled up in the sun usually. Often, they just wake up, shake a little bit, and the antlers fall off in the bedding site.
I found ¾ of my antlers today directly near beds! The other was an outlier near a feeding site.
Again, think about them conserving energy. They’ll bed, walk to food, and bed again. Knowing where they stay takes the guesswork out! Now of course they can drop other places, but that’s the best place to start.
Anyways, I hope that helps! I don’t even hunt, but I’ve been trying to find sheds for about 3 Springs now, and had no luck til this spring. I read a lot on hunting/tracking forums, so this is a lot of other people’s tips and my experience. Again, please think of the health and well being of your herd while in the woods! I try and pick up trash while I’m out, which is usually Dutch masters wrappers and coors cans since there are a lot of teens 😝 Deer baiting didn’t help me at all, but I did attract a turkey, which was nuts. Don’t leave garbage out, Don’t heckle the deer, and make sure not to trespass lol. I try and be really gregarious when I’m out so if I ruffle any feathers, hopefully they’ll recognize me and have mercy/ask me to leave instead of calling the cops if they think I’m too close to their property. I’m 5’ tall, show people cool rocks and rhings i find when i can/try and educate folks on the cook things in the woods, and have purple hair, so I’m not easy to forget.
Also a deer will totally kill you if it’s gotta, so don’t mess with them lol. Keep phones charged, let people know where you’re going, and if you’re also collecting bones and other things, remember good disposable gloves, some plastic bags, and to just be safe overall. Know your local laws, know the wildlife, and especially know your snakes hahaha. I ran into a water snake over the summer and even after trying to identify it, still wasn’t certain it wasn’t a water mocassin.
Binoculars help SO much.
Another thing I’ve read that I found helpful was to take a shed you find and just repeatedly throw it and try to find it again. You never know what you’re going to find, so may as well practice picking the color/texture apart from the brush and leaves. My first ever shed find was in a bramble of honeysuckle! That sucker was old and gnawed up, too, so it had been there at least a year.
Uhhhhh….. I think that’s it! I’m sure there’s a lot more, and like I said, I’m no expert. Remember that it’s not just about finding treasures! Slap some podcasts on, and enjoy what nature’s got to offer that you can’t take home. As you may remember from above, I’ve been at this for years because we have a small herd, are right near major roads and highways, and due to me having no actual mentors out there to teach me. I only JUST now am getting a pay off from my years of trial and error. Everything you do helps you gain a little EXP though, so don’t get upset if you can’t find anything!
Potterverse unicorns are never killed except by Complete Fuckers, yet their horns end up in potions with surprising regularity. Therefore, unicorn “horns” are actually antlers, shed every year. The spiral structure is actually two antlers that grow very close together and twist around each other.
Really nice 5-point mule shed I found the other day. I have the other one too, but the two prong fork was broken off earlier in the antler’s growth cycle.
The least believable thing about the movie ‘The Circle’ was how people were calling that kid a ‘deer killer’ for making stuff out of sheds. I don’t know that many California people, but I’m pretty sure they’re smarter than that.
I HIT THE JACKPOT TODAY TOO!!!! This makes for two matched pairs! The tiny one HAS to match the one I found monday. Looked for about an hour for the big boy’s match, but no dice. I’m ecstatic I even found this many. My tracking practice and research really paid off!
my bone collection! all of these were found by me and were dead when i found them; no animals were killed to be part of my collection. i’ve been collecting bones for about a year now and my newest addition is the shed antler in the front row! as of right now i have 10 deer skulls (6 does, 4 bucks) 5 ground hog skulls, a broken turtle shell, a fawn hoof, and a 4 point shed antler.
Also known as: Quiet Moon, Snow Moon, Cold Moon, Chaste Moon, Dusting Moon, Moon of Little Winter
Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies
Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts, cones, and seeds
Colors: brilliant white, blue-violet, black, silver, rose, and burgandy
Flowers: snowdrop, crocus
Scents: musk, mimosa, pine
Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase, Hematite
Trees: birch, Hazel
Animals: fox, coyote
Birds: pheasant, blue jay
Power Flow: sluggish, below the surface; beginning and conceiving.
Protection, reversing spells. Conserving energy by working on personal
problems that involve no one else. Getting your various bodies to work
smoothly together for the same goals.
Edibles: sugar cookies and apple juice
Altar Decor: pine branch, burgundy or rose candles, pictures of family and friends
Basil is an Actual Jackalope. He chills around the abbey after shedding his antlers and mysteriously disappears the rest of the year. In the the early months of his growth he can sometimes be spotted wearing random hats (or bowls. Or flower pots.) to hide the nubs.
Matthias’ cottage is loaded with sheds. The abbey has a chandelier of them. No one quite knows where all these antlers are coming from, but they all have their own ideas.
Only Matthias and Constance know the truth. They are sworn to secrecy. No one believed them anyways.
is a guide for finding bones in the woods, not how to clean bones
from carcasses or things to consider when picking up roadkill. I’m
talking about walking in the woods or other natural areas and
searching for bones. It will be a fairly simple guide. It is
important to know that it’s called bone hunting
not bone finding
you may turn up empty handed. But that’s part of the experience!
is reiterated by most people throughout the Vulture Culture community, but it is
very important to stress here again. This goes for every aspect of
wildlife parts, from knowing what you can and cannot legally obtain,
to knowing what you can and cannot buy or sell. This often varies
from state to state, so it is very important to know your local laws.
Something as simple as collecting a bird bone or feather can have
very serious consequences.
some states, it is illegal to find and keep an antlered buck skull
without calling the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or other
wildlife agency in order to obtain a permit. In other states it is legal to find shed
antlers, but illegal to buy or sell them. Bird parts are almost
always illegal to posses. There may be some restrictions on protected species
like bobcats or otters. So, please, know your laws. I do not know
every law about every state, so I cannot answer exactly for you, but
I can help point you in the right direction.
You don’t need many tools for bone hunting, but it is a good idea to
have a few things. Namely, gloves and a few bags. Plastic bags are
great to have on hand for carrying bones you may find, especially if
the bones aren’t totally nature cleaned. Gloves are also great in
this regard, because sometimes the things you find in the woods will
be a little gross. Those are the two items I really recommend.
Additional items you may consider – Drinking water, a compass, a
knife, etc. Really depends on where you are searching and how far you
think you will go.
Bones can be found just about anywhere. My personal preference is
the woods! Perhaps you live in the city and feel as though you do not
have any options. But you don’t need a huge expanse of land to find
bones, even an acre or two is enough! You just gotta get out there
and get to looking. Maybe your friend has a little patch of woods on
their property. Simply ask them if you can look around a bit!
Public Land - Public hunting lands are a great place to start
looking. Research your area and see if there is a public land near
you. Be mindful of the laws for the public land. Some of these areas,
although public, require that a person obtain a hunting license of
some kind to access the land. Hunting licenses are fairly
inexpensive. In my area, a small game hunting and fishing license
combo is only $34 for the year. With this license I can legally
access the public land year-round. Also, understand that even if you
are not hunting, during certain seasons, such as deer season, you are
likely required to wear a certain amount of BLAZE ORANGE coloring.
Usually a vest and a hat is enough. This is for your own safety.
State Parks - State Parks have different laws than public
lands. Often, animals in a state park are protected, and this
includes their parts. It is best to avoid collecting animal remains
from a state park.
Railroad Tracks - Avoid railroad tracks! Not only are
railroad tracks dangerous, but walking along them is illegal. It is
considered trespassing, as the railroad system is owned by the rail
company. Yes, it’s true that many an animal dies on the tracks and
bones are fairly common there, but you don’t want to join them! Keep
your safety first and you’ll stick around for years of fun bone
to Find Bones
no concrete way of bone hunting that is sure to turn up bones, but
there are definitely some tips to help in your search!
it slow. Look around. Walk a bit into the woods and stop every few
moments to take time to enjoy the scenery and assess your location.
Bones can literally be anywhere. Look at the ground right at your
feet and in a wide circle around you. Look at the bases of trees and
even up the base a bit. I have found a deer scapula stuck in a
V-shaped wedge in a tree before. I have even found nearly an entire
opossum that was partially clean right under my feet. It was under
snow, too, but I wouldn’t have seen it at all if I didn’t pause and
Fever - You will see bones
everywhere! I don’t mean that there will
be bones everywhere, but you will see them. It’s the same thing
in hunting called “Buck Fever.” Buck Fever is when a hunter sees
a buck when there is only a doe, or when there are no deer at all. If
you’re looking for antlers, you’ll see antlers. Same thing applies to
bone hunting, hence, Bone Fever. If you’re looking for bones, you’ll
see bones. That overturned leaf is totally a raccoon skull! That
wonky branch is clearly a huge antler! That weird mushroom is
definitely part of a cranium! The list can go on. But don’t be
discouraged! If you think you see a bone, you may very well see a
bone, so walk over there and take a look.
good place to search for bones on public land is right near the area
where people park. This is because some people will discard portions
of their hunted animals. There is rarely a concrete way to tell if an
animal was hunted just from a few bones, so this may only gain you
bones from hunted animals and not from natural deaths. If that is a
problem for you, perhaps avoid public lands altogether. However, if
this is not an issue for you, take a look around! I have found a dog
skull, numerous deer bones, and a cow jaw bone only a few hundred
yards or so from the parking area on public land.
NOTE! If you see
something suspicious, report it. If you see a deer carcass discarded,
especially without a head or missing the antlers / skull cap, please
contact a wildlife official. It is illegal to discard the food
portions of a deer and some other animals, and headless deer or deer
missing antlers are often a serious sign of poaching.)
Animals that have died on the top of a hill are likely to have their
bones scattered to lower ground. So take a stroll down the hill and
look around. It is even better if you can search near water sources,
such as a stream. I have found a deer femur and two turtle shells
when walking near creeks. Again, be mindful of the laws. Certain
types of turtle parts cannot be obtained in some states. If there is
a big river that is easy to access, check there too! I have found
fawn bones and even a mostly attached groundhog paw along river banks.
won’t always be white,
but there is a good chance that bones in nature will be cleaned
pretty well and often be very white. Again, as stated above, if you
think you see a bone, take a look! You may get a little discouraged
thinking you see a bone only to not find one, but imagine if you
check it out and it’s a really cool bone! Worst case is you get a
little more tired from all the extra walking, or, if you’re lucky
like me, get stung on the butt by an angry bug.
importantly – Enjoy yourself! Take
the time to enjoy your surroundings. Bone hunting is not a race or a
competition. You don’t have to compare your finds or your collection
with other people. The bones you find are uniquely yours and have
their own story, so enjoy them for what they are, and enjoy being out
in nature. One final note, please Leave
The Woods Better Than You Found It!
Don’t litter, and if you pass some garbage or other discarded trash
items, take them with you and dispose of them properly. Good luck,
and happy hunting!
Check out the newest addition to the Prehistoria Natural History Centre - a shed antler from a Père David’s deer! Currently listed as “Extinct In The Wild”, these deer inhabited the marshlands of the Chinese subtropics.
Driven to the brink of global extinction (and complete extinction in the wild) by land reclamation and hunting, their species was saved largely by the efforts of Herbrand Russell (the 11th Duke of Bedford). He purchased the few remaining individuals from European zoos and formed a protected herd at Woburn Abbey.
In 1985 reintroductions began in Chinese nature reserves and today they number roughly 2000 individuals in the wild. Others can still be found in captivity around the world. It is now only a matter of time until their IUCN status is upgraded (slightly) to “Critically Endangered”.
I’d like to thank the awesome folks at Papanack Zoo for this donation to the Prehistoria Natural History Centre! This antler will be mounted on our Wall Of Extinction exhibit.