Why You Shouldn’t Use Shed Antler Traps

The Dangers of Shed Antler Traps

Shed antler traps, a dangerously popular tactic of collecting sheds. I’ve seen all the designs, safe or otherwise, and they all do the same thing…threaten the well-being of a buck. Using shed antler traps can cause major damage to a buck’s pedicle or even cause death. This article should persuade you to shed hunt the ole’ fashioned way, and hopefully allow you to educate other hunters who might be using antler traps.

How do Antlers Naturally Shed

Shedding of an antler actual occurs when testosterone drops below a certain level in a buck. The osteoclast layer of cells between the skull and the antler absorbs calcium from the antlers….once absorbed the antler is rough and porous and will separate. A deer’s antler can be hard and stuck like glue one minute then 5 minutes later fall off, it’s all about the timing of the testosterone getting low enough to complete the process.

Like many things related to deer such as the rut, antler growth, and fawning, all is based on photoperiod (the amount of daylight). However, many factors can influence the actual drop date, including social stress, nutrition, and herd dynamics that may increase or decrease testosterone.

The Issue With Antler Traps

Putting corn or bait around a trap like this in order to get sheds is often more risk than reward. You may have found a shed before with a piece of the pedicle or skull still attached. If so, this is what you are in danger of doing when using a shed trap. You will most likely not get a shed unless the deer is stuck and rips his antlers off before they are ready. This can cause injury of the pedicle or to the growth platform of the antler, causing one of two things…a deadly brain abscess or abnormal growth next year!

Photo Credit: Karl V: Miller of the UGA Deer Research Lab

Why is potentially harming the buck a better option than shed hunting and learning more about the property? Is picking up antlers around a metal or bungee cord trap your idea of shed hunting? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself when considering the use of an antler trap.