The single greatest shed collection in North America.Q&A with the Antler ManGive me a little introduction about yourself: What\u2019s your name? Where do you live? Where do you do most of your shed hunting?James C. Phillips, I have lived in Three Forks Montana all of my 66 and a half years. I always tell people that 80 to 85% of my antler collection comes from within a hundred mile radius of Three Forks.\u00a0 I\u2019m extremely lucky to have grown up in an area with almost unlimited shed hunting opportunities for elk, moose, and mule deer.\u00a0 I never saw a whitetail in this area until the late 60\u2019s.\u00a0 Before I was old enough to drive, my mother would drive a few miles from town to the foothills that surround it and drop me off to hike for the day.\u00a0 I would collect mule deer sheds.\u00a0 The elk population has expanded so much that I find elk sheds in some of these areas today.In the late 70\u2019s, Jim built two antler archways.\u00a0 Each one was constructed using more than 400 sheds.\u00a0 His daughter is standing in the center and she was just over 5\u2019 at the time.How long have you been shed hunting and how old were you when you found your first shed?I found my first shed at the age of 10 and I get the same thrill 56 years later.\u00a0 It was an old chalk white elk shed not far from where we had a summer trailer along the Gallatin River, about 20 miles north of Yellowstone Park where 10 to 15 thousand head of elk used to winter. I spent the summer packing sheds back to the trailer a few at a time. I\u2019ve been doing it ever sinceHow many shed antlers have you found to date?After the first of every year, I count out the antlers from the previous year.\u00a0 2014\u2019s total was 201, which brought my collection up to 16,023.\u00a0 I don\u2019t count the 1500 deer sheds and 700 elk sheds I sold to help put three daughters through college in the late 80s.Here’s one view within Jim’s Horn House. \u00a0So many antlers!How many sets have you found?It is hard to believe, but when I was collecting elk, deer, and moose sheds in the Gallatin drainage in the late 60\u2019s and 70\u2019s, I didn\u2019t use a backpack.\u00a0\u00a0 On most days, I would find a winter killed bull and wrap the sheds I found around it.\u00a0 I would stand in the middle and pick the set up with the shed antlers on it and carry them out that way.\u00a0 In those days, a lot of hunters never retrieved the antlers, so I would come across those sets also.\u00a0 Up until the mid 80\u2019s, I had a dump ground route that I would drive about three times during hunting season.\u00a0 Many hunters threw away the antlers and I might pick up a dozen sets on a 200 mile loop by stopping at small town dumps.\u00a0 I have also traded fresh elk sheds for some of the freak sheds and sets I have.\u00a0 The severity of the winters over the years has also contributed to my number of sets.\u00a0 I have found as many as five winter kills in a day, but some years I have only found ten or twelve for the entire year.\u00a0 Right now I have collected 2,090 deer sets. 200 of them are whitetail, 150 elk sets, 11 moose sets, and the rest are muley sets.This was just ‘a pretty good day\u2019\u2026 Jim packed this load of bone out four miles.Do you do most of your shed hunting on public or private property?I do most of my shed hunting in the same areas I looked 50 years ago.\u00a0 I do most of it on public land because I\u2019m lucky enough to live in an area with hundreds of square miles of public land.\u00a0 I also do some on private, but it isn\u2019t exclusive to me.\u00a0 Some of my shed hunting is on BLM, school sections, and national forest lands.Are you a successful hunter as well?\u00a0 More successful than shed hunting?This is the first year since I was 14 years old that I never went deer or elk hunting. I bought the necessary license to do so, but didn\u2019t go.\u00a0 I was born and raised on venison.\u00a0 Beef was something my parents had once a year when they went out for their anniversary.\u00a0 I always got an elk every year when I was first married because we needed the meat, but I never enjoyed elk hunting.\u00a0 I\u2019m not sure why.\u00a0 I love to hunt for mule deer, but our populations are so low that they are almost an endangered species. I haven\u2019t shot anything in over ten years.\u00a0 I\u2019m usually too busy looking for sheds.\u00a0 There have been numerous occasions when I had to rattle an arm load of sheds to the ground while a big buck ran away.\u00a0 I\u2019m just not much of a killer anymore.\u00a0 It is hard to explain, but I would rather look for sheds. \u00a0You can see some of Jim\u2019s previous mounts here.What\u2019s the biggest shed antler you have ever found?The biggest elk shed I have weighs 16 pounds and has 10 points.\u00a0 I have several 7 and 8 point sheds in the 12 to 14 pound range.\u00a0 I have a few shed sets in the 25 to 30 pound range.\u00a0 My biggest mule deer has 13 points plus the brow point, but it is not my favorite.\u00a0 My favorite is a spike deer shed that is two and half inches long and I have it attached to my truck keys.\u00a0 I found it while peeing in the bushes.\u00a0 I have over 50 deer sheds with 9 or more points.\u00a0 I have some deer sets with 10 points to a side.\u00a0 I\u2019m more interested in the freak sheds and sets than the biggest.This elk got entangled in some stiff telephone wire and finally lost the whole bundle when he shed his antlers.How many hours do you spend looking for sheds during any given season?\u00a0 What was the yield of your best season? Best day?I spent a 10 hour day a couple years ago and never found a shed in an area that I have found sheds in the past.\u00a0 I figure now that if I find a shed in a little over an hour on the average, I\u2019ve had a good day.\u00a0 I keep a record of where I go and what I have found on a daily basis ever since 1969.\u00a0 I hike a lot more now than I ever did back in the 60\u2019s 70\u2019s and 80\u2019s and find less.\u00a0 Over the years, I have had a half dozen days where I have packed out 80 or 90 deer sheds.\u00a0 I have had many days when I packed out 25 to 35 elk sheds.\u00a0 I would carry part of them for a ways and then rest while walking back to pack out the rest.\u00a0 I might be 4 or 5 mile back in an area.\u00a0 Most of the time I leave my vehicle in the dark and return to it in the dark.\u00a0 There have been several years where I have collected over 500 antlers, but there have been several years where I haven\u2019t found 50.\u00a0 It is all about the effort and where a person is in their life\u2019s journey.A look down the center of the \u2018Horn House\u2019 . . . antlers, antlers, and more antlers!Was shed hunting easier back in the day?\u00a0 Have you noticed more competition in recent years?For the first 30 years of my antler collecting, I was the odd duck.\u00a0 I was the only one and even my friends made fun of me.\u00a0 I tried to get my younger brother interested when he was in his teens and twenties, but his focus was on Harley motorcycles and the opposite sex.\u00a0 Once he came to his senses, he became as possessed as I was.\u00a0 There is only one time that we ever shed hunted together and that was in the state of Colorado.\u00a0 In the first 30 years if I didn\u2019t find 25 to 30 deer sheds in a day or over a dozen elk sheds in a day, then I had a bad day.\u00a0 This year I picked up 10 elk sheds for the year.\u00a0 My best day this year with deer sheds was 15 and I was pretty excited for my 12 hour effort.Even in the late 80\u2019s when the price of elk antlers were $5, I know hunters that wouldn\u2019t even pick up a deer shed no matter how big.\u00a0 Now everyone picks up everything.\u00a0 There are a lot of people out there looking for sheds.\u00a0 I\u2019m a fair weather shed hunter and always have been.\u00a0 I\u2019m not running around in the snow looking for sheds.\u00a0 I wait till the snow is gone because I\u2019m afraid I might miss something.\u00a0 Last spring, I hiked in a small area and found the tracks of two other individuals who were shed hunting.\u00a0 I ran across their footprints in the mud.\u00a0 I picked up a dozen sheds that day that they had missed.Here you are looking down the east side of the building. Wow!Have you bought any shed antlers?\u00a0 Have you sold any?I have never bought an antler.\u00a0 I have traded antler for antler to accumulate some of the freak sheds and sets I have.\u00a0 I have traded elk sheds to accomplish this, but never deer sheds.\u00a0 In the late 80\u2019s, I sold 1,500 deer sheds and 700 fresh elk sheds to help put three daughters through college.\u00a0 They all graduated with double majors and are using their field of study to earn a living.\u00a0 But if I had to do it all over again, I think I would find another way.Do you hunt solely on foot?I have never used an ATV, horse, or antler sniffing dog to do my shed hunting.\u00a0 I do have a four wheel drive truck, but park it at the trail head.\u00a0 The odd thing about my antler collecting, as if the amount I have collected isn\u2019t odd enough, is that I enjoy the packing out as much as I do the collecting.\u00a0 It is the same way today.\u00a0 I love the challenge of hiking around looking for sheds until I find myself hiking out in the dark four or five miles.\u00a0 I have been so tired that I have run into a bear approaching me on the same trail and didn\u2019t care what his intentions might be.\u00a0 Mountain lions have followed me while screaming their irritants at my presents, but I\u2019ve been too tired to pay any attention.\u00a0 I have fallen in a red ant pile and been too exhausted to move.\u00a0 I\u2019ve made it to the truck long after dark and had to let the numbness subside from my shoulders and arms before I could slip out of my backpack and open the truck door.\u00a0 I\u2019ve returned to a very sparse camp site and crawled under a bed roll too tired to eat.\u00a0 I\u2019ve also gone back the very next day and did it all over again.While searching for a Christmas tree one winter, Jim found this antler which had been there long enough to be completely grown into the trunk.\u00a0 Jim believes the shed was hanging there somewhere between 35 \u2013 50 years.\u00a0What\u2019s your favorite piece of advice to give to others who want to be successful shed hunters?My best advice is to stay out of my area – just kidding.\u00a0 Well maybe.\u00a0 Shed hunting for me is a solitary business.\u00a0 There have only been a half dozen times in 56 years that I have ever been shed hunting with anyone else out of the hundreds of times I have gone.\u00a0 I have gone for a week at a time and my only contact was a phone call to my wife in the middle of the week to tell her I was still alive.When I started shed hunting, I was just a kid and I knew nothing about wintering areas or antler packing herbivore habits.\u00a0 I looked everywhere.\u00a0 I still look for sheds that way today.\u00a0 In warm winters with little snow, I find sheds in the heavy timber on north sides.\u00a0 In winters with lots of snow I look in more open, but protected areas.\u00a0 Last spring, I was up in some rock cliffs looking for deer sheds.\u00a0 I was trying to find my way out when I came across a huge fresh shed moose antler.\u00a0 I never had found a moose shed in the area before or even seen a moose.\u00a0 I spent three days looking for the other side and never found it either.\u00a0 I crawl down in the brushy draws where you would never expect to find a shed and often don\u2019t, but on many occasions, I have found a winter killed buck or bull or maybe one that got away from a hunter.Jim welcomes visitors to view his Horn House anytime he is home and you are in the area.\u00a0 But until you can actually witness it in person, you need to check out the photo gallery on his website Antlerman.com!Feel free to email him any questions, as he loves to share his passion for shed hunting with others.\u00a0 After all, that was the purpose of building a \u201cHorn House\u201d and the website.