Just Ask Mr. Sneiv: How to Get Paid for Taking Nature Walks

Payback time Mr. Deer
Payback time Mr. Deer, Photo: Mshake/Fergregory/TaiChesco/iStock/Thinkstock

In years past, there have been numerous stories in Dan’s Papers related to the “out of control” white-tailed deer population, but in 2017–18, there were only two stories regarding these East End pests. According to Dan Rattiner, the deer have been adapting to the presence of cars, getting smarter and better at avoiding people with each generation.

This reclusive behavior, while beneficial to both deer and humans, makes these forest dwellers more desirable than ever, worth a pretty penny to the right buyer. It’s the same old “playing hard to get” trick that always works in the movies. For those who don’t enjoy the act of hunting and killing, there’s a deathless way to make a quick buck off of these elusive creatures.

I’m talking about “shed hunting,” which is the process of looking for discarded deer antlers in the woods. Every year white-tailed bucks shed their headgear, like how snakes shed their skin. Depending on various factors, this is typically done between mid-February and mid-April. Some sheds are found clean, while others are covered in blood and velvet (not the same velvet famously adored by Seinfeld’s George Costanza). Almost immediately after the shedding process concludes, a new set of antlers begins to grow in.

The best thing about shed hunting is these antlers are worth big money, because of the various ways they can be used. Artisans can turn discarded antlers into knife or gun handles, designer lamps or striking conversation pieces. On eBay, an 11-pound set can sell for over $500, while smaller antlers sell for under $100. Aside from size and weight, the color (darker is best) and number of points (the more the merrier) can also greatly affect the worth of shed antlers. With so many bucks on the East End, this venture could prove to be quite a bonanza for those who could use some extra cash.

There’s also a health benefit to shed hunting, because most people have to walk through several miles of forest before finding anything interesting. Bringing the kids and dog along is a fun way to get the whole family outside for a little exercise.

Enjoy a relaxing nature walk and make some money doing it. Who would have thought that the East End’s biggest nuisance could provide such enriching entertainment?

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