Deer seasons always seem short and hunters often have a tough time easing into Winter when the season has closed. For many, shed hunting is the best way to combat those Winter-time blues. Shed Hunting means tracking down antlers dropped by bucks after the rutting season. Sounds like an easy task but there is an art to it.
When to Look
Bucks shed their antlers after the mating season has ended, but that occurs at different times depending on the region. In the Northeast and Northern Midwest, expect to start seeing antlers hit the dirt anywhere from late January through February. In Southern regions, Bucks start to shed their antlers between late February and late March. Some deer will even hold antlers into April. Chances are you won’t have a massive amount of success if you’re walking around on February 1st. Your chances go up with each passing day and you’re not going to find antlers that haven’t dropped yet. Understand the timetable for the bucks in your area.
Be Methodical, Know What You’re Looking For
If an archeologist is looking for buried treasure, they set up a grid and search square by square. If you’re mowing a lawn, you go back and forth in rows. The best way to go about covering space is to be organized and methodical in how you move. Most likely, a shed won’t be sitting in plain sight. There is often detritus or snow covering up the antler. When hunting you don’t look for an entire animal, you look for a nose or a tail or another part of the whole animal. When shed hunting, focus on looking for antler tips, anything white on the ground that doesn’t look totally natural. Know what you’re looking for and what it will look like.
This is perhaps the most obvious but one of the hardest parts. Being in the outdoors is exciting and there is so much to look at. To get the best results out of your shed hunts, keep your eyes on the ground and focus on not getting distracted by birds, squirrels, and everything else around you. Eyes on the prize.
While finding a good-looking set of antlers is always exciting, there is actually a more strategic purpose to shed hunting. In many cases, deer drop their antlers in the places they spend most of their time. Shedding is triggered by a drop in testosterone caused by the same light-cycle that increases testosterone before the rut. By finding a shed you’re shining light on an area that is most likely a high-traffic deer zone. Whether it is a feeding or bedding area, you’re gaining valuable insight and finding areas that could land you a buck in the future.