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Shed Hunter Finds $10,000 Mule Deer Antler, One of Five Hidden Across the West

Some Western shed hunters are still searching for three antlers worth $10,000 apiece, but critics question the wisdom of further commercializing shed hunting in the aftermath of a brutal winter
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Utah $10K shed
Kreed Keele holds up the specially marked mule deer shed he found on public land in Utah over the weekend. Courtesy of Kreed Keele / via Instagram

A shed hunter in Utah recently found a mule deer shed worth $10,000 in the Cricket Mountains near Delta. This makes Kreed Keele, of Price, the second winner in the ongoing $50K Bitcoin Shed Hunt that is currently taking place across the intermountain West.

Billed as “the ultimate treasure hunt for the modern-day hunter,” the competition is a PR stunt sponsored and organized by Scout to Hunt, a GPS app designed specifically for Western shed hunters. The treasure hunt involves five individual shed antlers that the company has hidden on public land in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. This includes one moose shed, two elk sheds, and two mule deer sheds. Each specially marked shed antler is worth $10,000, which can be located by solving riddles and redeemed in cash or bitcoin.

The promotional treasure hunt is open to residents of all 50 states, but participants must create a free Scout to Hunt account to be eligible for the prize money. Participants who purchase an annual “Shedicated” subscription (at a cost of $30) also get access to a series of five riddles, which offer hints as to where the individual sheds are hidden in each state.

The first hidden shed worth $10,000 was found earlier this month in Idaho. Idaho Falls resident Bryan Haccke found the moose shed in southern Idaho, roughly eight miles from the Utah border. Haccke found the hidden antler within a few days of when the five Idaho riddles were sent out on May 4, according to Local News 8 in Idaho Falls.

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“The riddle [was] quite long,” Haccke told the local news station. “It started at the Raft River, and I followed the Raft River back to Narrows Road—the riddle mentioned that the path to the antler will be narrow.

Scout to Hunt released the answers to the Idaho riddles, along with the location of the moose shed, soon after Haacke reached out to claim his prize money. This involved taking a picture of the shed, marking his GPS location, and sending that information to the phone number that was attached to the base of the antler.

Keele, who was declared the competition’s second winner on Monday, found his hidden mule deer shed on May 14. Keele’s discovery means there are still $30,000 worth of specially marked shed antlers dropped on public land somewhere in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

A Boon for Western Shed Hunters or a Promotional Gimmick?

If you think the whole idea behind the treasure hunt sounds a bit gimmicky, you’re not alone. By simultaneously promoting their digital mapping app and cryptocurrency, some would say the contest turns a simple pastime into a digitized frenzy for money and attention. This is something that several critics pointed out last year, when Scout to Hunt held its inaugural $50K Bitcoin Shed Hunt.

“WTF. Putting more people out on wintering grounds pressuring stressed animals for your own social media promotion,” one user wrote on the company’s YouTube channel. “This is freaking shameful. Cancel this and donate the $50 G’s to a conservation org.”

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Besides, do we really need more financial incentives for shed hunting in the West? Dog chews are already selling for steak prices on Etsy, antler theft is on the rise, and it seems like every year people get busted caching sheds on winter ranges when they should be giving big game herds a rest. In February, Utah banned shed hunting until May 1 to avoid pressuring already vulnerable wildlife.

And speaking of the resource, any wildlife manager in the region would tell you this spring is not an ideal time to build your social media following by shed hunting. A brutal winter has caused huge losses in herds throughout the West, with Utah seeing some of the worst winterkill in decades. State agencies are already cutting tags while some hunters contemplate sitting out this hunting season altogether.