As winter loosens its grip and the snow recedes, signs of a new season begin to appear. New anticipation that is lined with excitement revives our souls as deer enthusiasts. Shed hunting is the light at the end of winters tunnel.
During the off-season winter months, the bucks we perused, never seen, and even the bucks we didn’t know existed, begin leaving behind a little piece of themselves. Shed antlers are like our fingerprints, no two are alike and each is unique to a specific animal. These small treasures are scattered across the vast and varying landscapes that surround us. They are waiting for us. To find them and to honor them.
Finding sheds can be a rather daunting task, but a very rewarding one at that. They virtually can be anywhere. To be more effective and capitalize on your shed hunting outings come up with a plan of attack for the ground you intend to search.
A solid rule of thumb is to focus on areas where the deer have spent a significant amount of time. The more time a buck spends in an area the higher the chance he drops his antlers there. Pinpoint these areas and give them a thorough searching.
Food sources can be one of the most productive shed areas. Deer spend a lot of time on their food sources, especially during the cold winter months. Agriculture fields, food plots and even oak flats can produce antlers. Be very thorough in your efforts. Don’t just look in the fields. Look around them as well. Fence lines, edges, and nearby thickets always require a good inspection.
Deer also spend a great deal of time in the confines of their bedding grounds. This is the perfect time to penetrate these once sacred sanctuaries. Bedding and any security cover should be investigated to great lengths.
Another solid element to finding sheds are travel routes. Walk along any trails you happen to cross. Trails leading to and from food and bedding, are heavily traveled, and offer great opportunities for that buck to drop his prized headgear.
There is something to be said in the way to actually look for the sheds as well. The best way to shed hunt is to move slowly. Very slowly! Let your eyes adjust to their surroundings and focus tightly on anything out of place. Don’t look for an antler, instead look for the shape of an antler. Search areas from different angles and don’t be afraid to kneel down for a different lower perspective.
At the end of the day shed hunting is about opportunity and observation. The opportunity to crawl out from our winter dens and once again inhabit our great wilderness. The observations we make our countless. From new rub lines to song birds. They all make our lives better. Finding the treasured shed antler truly is the ultimate bonus.