Shed hunting is incredibly fun and rewarding, but what are you supposed to do you do with them?
Being an avid outdoorsman comes with many possibilities, especially in the hunting world. There are so many different types of animals to hunt and numerous styles of hunting, but there are lulls in hunting seasons as well. An often overlooked hunting opportunity during the late winter and early spring lull is shed hunting and the possibilities that come with it.
Making money from shed hunting is possible. It may not be a sole source of income, but it could be a great side hustle for the hunting or outdoor enthusiast. Selling and/or trading shed antlers can be great if you can find large quantities. Crafting sheds into other useful items is popular thing these days, and many of the folks interested in using them aren't great at finding them, or don't even know where to start.
Shed Hunting's Benefits
Shed hunting can be a fun activity to take the dogs or the kids out into the wilderness and do some roaming around. All across the country, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and other antler-bearing animals drop their antlers in mid to late winter after their respective breeding seasons. This gives hunters and outdoorsmen many opportunities and chances to stay out in the wild searching for these dropped treasures.
Getting outdoors and searching for antler sheds on the ground can be fun, challenging, and rewarding, not only in finding antlers but exploring potential hunting grounds for the following season as well. Shed hunting can sometimes feel like a real-life game of Where's Waldo?, but once you get your technique down, finding them will become easier.
If you're looking to make money from shed hunting, it is important to know the quality or grade of the shed antlers that you find. They are commonly graded out into three different categories based on the quality of the antlers found.
Grade A sheds are, as you'd assume, the best kind of antlers. They are the freshest and have not been weathered, broken, or chewed on by other animals. Grade A can have both brown or white coloring to them. More brown usually means they are the most recently dropped. Grade A white antlers are faded and weathered but are still in almost perfect condition.
Grade B sheds are still great antlers but probably have some more major flaws in them, typically due to being exposed to the weather. These flaws can be breaks, chips, chewing marks but are still smooth to the touch. Again these can be white or brown in color, depending on how long they have been dropped and weathered.
Grade C sheds are the worst of the sheds to find and will have less value to them if any. These are usually shed antlers that are white, rough to the touch, and give off a chalky feel. They will have large cracks, chew marks, and maybe a few pieces broken off them. These have been out in the weather for a very prolonged period of time, usually more than one shed season.
Selling and Trading
Once you have found some shed antlers and graded them, it's time to decide what to do with them. There are various options for selling and trading these shed antlers, especially grade A and B antlers.
Shed antlers have a wide variety of uses for many different people. They can be used for dog treats, crafts, medicinal needs, or as collector's items. Finding people to buy them near you is the trick, but there are a variety of ways to sell them. Once you have established a connection with a buyer, future sales should be easier.
There are a few websites that are dedicated to buying and selling shed antlers, which act as a conduit to connect buyers and sellers. Other options are selling them outright yourself through eBay or Etsy. While these might seem like the easiest option, keep in mind that trying to pack up and ship large quantities of shed antlers can and will be difficult.
Facebook is also an option. There are many dedicated groups and marketplaces for selling and trading antlers where buyers and sellers can make connections to each other to arrange sales.
Be creative in looking for connections to make sales, both big and small, and give it time. Don't expect to make huge sales right from the get-go. Think of it as growing a small business. It will be slow at first, but as you learn the ropes and word spreads, things will get better and the pace will pick up.
You could consider setting up a booth at a craft show, farmer's market, or other community or neighborhood sale events. As long as you're within your rights, just about anywhere could turn into the setting for an antler sale.
Selling shed antlers can be done in a variety of ways, either in bulk or in matching sets. Bulk deer antlers can be sold by the pound for somewhere between $8 and $15 per pound depending on the grading of the antlers. Matched sets of antlers can be sold to the right collector for hundreds of dollars based on the grade and score of the set.
Trading can also be an option, especially first starting out. If you are good at finding matching sets of antlers that score really well, collectors may be willing to trade some hunting supplies or other goods that you may be interested in. Play the bargaining game.
Also, though it takes more work and requires a certain location, shed hunting for moose or elk antlers can produce more money and more of a market, if you're able to consistently find them and develop a customer base.
Using Sheds Yourself
If you don't want to go through the process of listing, selling, and shipping shed antlers and you have some artistic or creative qualities that you might want to use, that is always an option. You could also find friends that have those qualities to work with creating products from shed antlers. There are many options out there.
Shed antlers are great for making dog chew toys. They are tough and durable and can be safely made into dog chew toys with ease. Use power tools like saws and sanders to cut and smooth out any pointy and rough edges for the dog's mouth safety. Then boil in water for 30 minutes to kill any possibly harmful bacteria. As you get more experienced, this might be an avenue to make money by selling antler chews to other dog owners.
Using some artistic work, shed antlers can be used for a variety of things. A popular use is for homemade knife handles, which are very popular amongst hunters. Some cut them down to use for cabinet handles or even a chandler or other home decor centerpiece. People have even constructed Christmas trees out of shed antlers!
If you are creative, you could take requests for different types of projects that people might want you to craft from shed antlers. Scroll through Pinterest and you'll see all the cool possibilities that are out there. You can also pitch this idea to other people in your area that make unique arts and crafts, with you as their supplier.
Get To Work
Nothing about shed hunting for profit will come easy. It will take hours of work to perfect your techniques and tactics, and there's no set way to do it.
Once you decide what route you prefer to start monetizing your shed antlers, you'll need to be patient and find which process works best for you.
But the first step is to get to work and start building that shed hunting side hustle!
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