By Patrick Long
Photo: BryanE on IStock
Shed hunting is a fun pastime that we can actually use to scout bucks and spend time with loved ones outdoors. It takes time and can be tough at times but it is super exciting when you find a shed, and even more so when you find a matching set.
If it has been said once it has been said a thousand times, but “miles make piles” when shed hunting. To find a lot of sheds, you just have to put in the work. Although there are a few things that you can do to improve your efficiency and make sure you are not missing sheds along the way. Here are five tips that you can use this year to find more sheds.
1 | Shed Hunt during the Right Time
Every state’s deer season ends at a different time, but if you want to find a good amount of sheds you should wait a while after the season is over. This also depends on where you plan to shed hunt.
If you want to shed hunt public land, you are going to have to go as early and often as you can, because everyone else will too. Just make sure bucks have actually started dropping their antlers before you go.
Although if you plan on shed hunting private land, I recommend leaving it be until at least the middle of February. By then most of the bucks around are dropping their antlers. If you are farther north, I recommend waiting until the snow melts in March before going out.
I go on at least two trips a year shed hunting on my private land. Your first trip will be the most fruitful. Then wait about another month and try again. This time you will be able to make sure you did not miss any from the former trip, and catch any sheds that bucks may have been holding during your first trip.
Other than the time of year, you will want to make sure you shed hunt during the right type of weather as well. Assuming the snow has cleared up, the best day for shed hunting would be a dark and gloomy day. This is probably going to be after a good rain.
This kind of weather just makes the color of whitetail antlers stick out from the regular brush. Ideally, that will help you find more sheds, but to be honest most of us shed hunt whenever we find the time.
Photo: Aaron J Hill on Pixels.com
2 | Bring the Right Gear
One of the best things about shed hunting is that you really do not need a whole lot of gear to do it. Of course, there are a few key pieces of gear that are going to make your job a whole lot easier though. Let’s go over a quick list of shed hunting gear that you may want to take with you.
- A Big Backpack – Hopefully you find a ton of sheds! If you do, you are going to need something to put them in or tie them to. There are plenty of backpacks out there that are good for shed hunting, and with the addition of a few gear ties, you can probably outfit your existing one to work well with sheds.
- Comfortable Boots – shed hunting is a whole lot of walking, so you better have comfortable shoes or boots. Otherwise, your trip is going to be cut short.
- Mapping System – this can be something like a hunting app that has a GPS tracking map. Then you can go through it and drop a pin everywhere you find a shed. This is a little above and beyond, but it can help a lot if you are using shed hunting as a scouting tool.
- Binoculars – like I said earlier, shed hunting is a lot of walking, but with a good set of binos, you can walk a lot less. If you have fields on your property, you can walk a ways to a vantage point and then glass over that field. Of course, you will still have to do plenty of moving to get different angles, but you may just be able to spot an antler without walking all the way through the field.
3 | Look In the Right Places
Great, so you are excited to go shed hunting, but where exactly are you supposed to look? Well without being too sarcastic, you should look where the deer are. The first areas you should look at are bedding areas and food sources.
These are areas that we commonly hunt, and if you were finding deer during the season, they are likely still there. Personally, I would double down on the feeding areas. After the rut is over, all deer have to focus on feeding and getting ready for winter. While it will technically be winter when you are hunting, deer will have been there weeks before trying to stock up.
The trails between food sources and bedding areas are also likely to have a few sheds. Bedding areas can be especially good for finding sheds. Deer are most likely to drop their antlers when they jar themselves, and getting up and down in a bed punches that ticket. Normally I would be wary of going into a bedding area, but deer are going to have all year to get over you spooking them so I say go for it.
After you cover those areas, you want to look in some more lucrative places. Again, you want to look in places that deer are going to have to jar themselves. This will hopefully make their antlers drop. Check places like creek bottoms, or fence lines they may jump over.
4 | Bring Someone Along
The best part of the outdoors is being outdoors with people you love. Shed hunting is the perfect opportunity to bring someone with you. It is an especially good time to bring someone outdoors that does not frequent the woods.
It is good fun to go shed hunting with your hunting buddies, but also try taking a buddy that is not super experienced, or your kids. Shed hunting is great for kids. It introduces them to the outdoors in a very safe way and is exciting enough to get them interested in whitetail and the outdoors.
Lastly, you should also bring your dog. Dogs are amazing at finding sheds. So much so that if you ever went with a tried and true shed dog, they would find probably three times as many sheds as you. Even if your dog is not trained as a shed dog, they are still fun to bring along.
All and all, shed hunting is a whole lot of fun and is a good tool for scouting. If you bring the right equipment, you can be out there as long as you like and find as many sheds as you and your buddies or kids can carry.