In some parts of the country, shed antler hunting has been actively underway for a month or more already, while in the Mountain West, antler addicts are patiently waiting for the opportunity to enter winter range in search of prime elk and mule deer sheds.
But if you thought you love to hunt dropped headgear during late winter and early spring, we’d like to introduce you to Jim Phillips, also known as The Antler Man.
Last time we visited with the Three Forks, Montana, native, his phenomenal shed collection comprised some 14,500 antlers displayed from floor to ceiling—and everywhere in between—inside a 30 x 64-foot building he constructed specifically for its display.
And, yes, he personally found every one of them.
Phillips, 64, has been hunting shed antlers in the Gallatin National Forest and on other Montana public lands for the past 54 years. Now retired from the Montana Talcum Company, he spends most of his free time hunting—mule deer, whitetails or their headgear—depending on the time of year.
Until recently, Phillips and his antlers were relatively unknown outside of Three Forks (population 1,735), where local folks know they’re always welcomed to bring visitors to view the impressive collection.
But these days, thanks to the Internet, Phillips is becoming a cult hero among the growing legion of shed collectors who have recently discovered his website, along with his photographs, descriptions and stories about his elk and deer castaways.
Not only does his vast collection of antlers provide a visual feast to the viewer, but each shed also has its own individual story—thanks to The Antler Man’s meticulous record keeping. Yes, Phillips has kept a detailed diary of every shed hunting trip he has taken since 1969!
Does he ever get tired of looking at the shed collection?
“I go out into the horn shed a couple of times every week,” Phillips said, “and each time I always see something new.”
The next time you’re out Gallatin County, Montana way, we suggest a side trip to the little town at the headwaters of the Missouri River. Tell Jim we sent you!