Shed Hunting: Another Deer Season
3/6/2012 8:17 PM
Shed Hunting: Another Deer Season
By Ian Eckerstorfer
Over the past few years, I have become fond of the season between seasons in the deer woods known as “shed season.” As many of my friends and family can attest I’ve become pretty serious when it comes to looking for and finding shed antlers here in South Eastern Wisconsin. In the time after late bow closes and before turkey season begins getting out and putting in some miles on the boots is a great remedy for cabin fever. In this blog I will share some tips I have learned over the years and the benefits of searching your local hunting grounds for shed antlers.
Tip #1: You can’t find sheds on the couch.
You have to be in the woods hoofing it out to find sheds just as you have to be in the woods to punch that buck tag. This tip may seem pretty obvious but every season I’m shocked at the number of people that say, “yeah, I didn’t find any sheds last season,” only to find out they went out for 3 hours at one spot or never even went at all. Get up, get out, eat your carrots, and keep the eyes sharp for picking out those tines in the marsh.
Tip #2: Location, location, location
Yet again often overlooked, choosing the right location for your efforts could very well be the best advice I give in this whole blog. Simply put, you need to scout before you go stomping through your hunting spots. Areas that were covered in deer in the fall may be barren waste lands come March. Spend some time driving the back woods and post sighting here on biggamelogic.com. Figure out where the bucks are likely bedding, where they are feeding, and zero in on these locations just like you would for hunting.
Tip#3 Bring some buddies
Make a day out of it. Get all the hunting buds together and comb each other’s farms with all the eyes you can get. A 200-acre corn field seems a lot smaller when five guys are searching it. Spread out 15 yards apart and try not to let any slip between the bodies. Keep those eyes peeled. Everyone can keep the sheds they find unless it happens to be from a buck that another guy has a history with. Talk trash, place bets, and have a blast. Memories in the outdoors are priceless; make them with the whole hunting crew and they will last a lifetime.
Tip #4: Timing
Don’t look too early. I know you get stir crazy but spooking bucks off your farm before their antlers drop is equivalent to hunting a stand on the worst wind. Just don’t do it! It doesn’t help you one bit if the buck you’re after drops his antlers where you can’t go look for them. Closely related to timing, snow is a shed hunter’s worst enemy. White antlers blend in with the white snow and you can walk right past many sheds. Wait until the spring rain hits. The rain makes those antlers glow in the wet leaves and grass. Another benefit of waiting until later is that all the sheds will have dropped. More sheds on the ground equals a higher probability of you finding one. It also limits the amount of ground that will need to be walked twice.
Tip #5: Funnels and Food
Any place deer have to funnel, be it a high spot between cattail, a gap in a line fence, or, my personal favorite, a creek crossing where they must jump to clear it, is a shed antler hot spot. I have found most of my shed antlers at these locations. When a buck jumps a creek or a fence the force of jumping and landing can knock his antlers off. Finding shed comes down to odds. Where the bucks spend most of their time is where they will most likely drop their antlers.
Benefits of Shed Hunting
This is the only time of the year I walk my property without a care in the world. I break branches, make noise, and scent is the last thing on my mind. During this time of year I do almost all my scouting for the upcoming season. I take notes of where deer runs are, if they have changed from seasons past, where the rub lines are, and plan possible stand locations. Learning the lay of the land is also much easier when the leaves are off and the landscape is much more visible. Finally, finding a shed adds to the history and story of a buck. Finding the antlers off of a buck you have harvested or harvest in the future can be almost as rewarding as taking the buck itself.
Spend a couple hours in the early spring walking trails, competing with friends, and getting some fresh air. After a long winter a hike and some time in God’s creation can refresh the souls of someone in the worst of spirits. Remember, just as it is when trying to kill a deer, timing, location, scouting, and knowledge of deer will help you on your path towards your first antler. It took me three years without any tips or help to find my first shed antler. I remember it just as vividly as my first buck. Stay focused, pack a lunch, and remember that there are two antlers for every buck. The odds are in your favor!
Suburban Standout Outdoors
Edited by Clint Birtzer.