Shed hunting can be nearly as fun as deer hunting and it gives you an excuse to hit the woods. Finding a shed off a hit list buck will certainly get your blood pumping. Knowing a good buck, or one with potential made it through the season can raise the excitement for next season. Whether you’re an experienced shed hunter or a beginner, there are some shed hunting tips that should make your hunt more successful.
1. Be sure you aren’t too early. On that first warm day in late winter I get excited to do some shed hunting. But I know going too early could screw up an area and push un-shed bucks to another property. As hard as it is to wait, it’s best to make sure the bucks have dropped their antlers first.
2. Check trail cameras. Move your trail cameras to winter travel routes, food plots, or over a feeder. Checking the bucks on your trail cameras will let you know whether it’s time to go shed hunting or not.
3. Train your eyes. I like to use an exercise to help my eyes adjust to finding sheds. Grab an old deer shed and continuously throw it in front of you with your eyes closed. Once it lands, open and let your eyes find it. Like with mushroom hunting, once your eyes adjust you can spot sheds much easier.
4. Take some binoculars. Having some binoculars with you can help debunk a bone colored branch or a pine cone reflecting the sun 20 yards away. This makes things a little easier and may even help you find a few deer sheds that you might not have investigated otherwise.
5. Take a pack or rope. A hunting pack is useful for bringing some lunch if need be and definitely some water to stay hydrated. It also gives you a way to carry all the buck sheds you find. You can also bring some lightweight rope to tie onto the sheds so you can toss them over your shoulder. It just makes it easier than holding them and frees your hands up.
6. Find a good stick. Just like when I go mushroom hunting, having a good walking stick is a must for me. It’s good for moving briers out of your way, giving you support on steep ridges, and just makes walking easier.
7. Walk slow. This is one that I catch myself not doing sometimes. But walking slower will help you be more successful. Let your eyes dictate your speed, not your legs.
8. Check southern exposures. Deer like to lay on the south side of ridges and wood edges to soak up radiant heat. The snow also melts in these ares first and makes it a good place to look for sheds.
9. Look down. This may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many times you’ll catch yourself looking ahead for deer or at the terrain while you’re walking. I’ve almost stepped on deer sheds while looking too far ahead.
10. A little snow is good. If possible, it’s nice to have a little bit of snow on the ground. It makes it easier to see travel routes and fresh deer sign when deer shed hunting.
11. Check around evergreens. In the winter deer love bedding under pine trees even if it’s one lone pine tree or a small group of them. Check on the south side of evergreens for some fresh antler sheds.
12. Check waterways. Look in and around the thicker cover of ditches, river bottoms, and creek banks. The overgrown brush can easily knock a loose antler off a bucks head.
13. Feeding patterns. Be sure to look in food plots and wherever the deer are currently feeding. If you are not sure, this is where a little snow can help as well as just doing some glassing in the evening. Many bucks have lost their manhood while looking down and feeding all night.
14. Bedding areas. This is the one time that it should be permitted to check in known bedding areas and deer sanctuaries. Don’t go into these sacred areas until you are sure the bucks have shed. It can be a honey hole and you don’t want to go in prematurely and spook bucks out still sporting their headgear.
15. Look for parts of an antler. When glassing for deer your eyes are trained to look for a flickering tail, the glare of the sun off an antler, or the white of an ear. The same goes for antler shed hunting. Don’t make the mistake of looking for a whole shed lying in the open. Instead, look for tines sticking up or the bottom of a main beam.
16. Put out a deer feeder. During the winter is a good time to put out a feeder. Not only can it help the deer survive a harsh winter, but it makes a great place to find sheds.
17. Look any where deer jump. Finding deer sheds any place deer have to jump is very common. The shock of landing can cause an antler to fall off. Scout near ditch and fence crossings for bone on the ground.
18. Do a grid search. When you find a shed be sure to grid search the area for the second shed. Many times a buck will drop both his antlers within 100 yards of one another. Mark the spot the shed was found and search a 100 yard radius around it.
19. Take a GPS unit. This isn’t so much to help you from getting lost although it could be. But assuming you know the property pretty well, the gps unit is handy for marking locations where you find sheds. Taking this data with you can give insight to winter travel patterns and a buck’s core area which can be helpful for hunting season.
20. Take a child with you. Anytime you allow a child to be involved in outdoor activities, it’s a positive experience. Plus it can help pass time and you’ll appreciate the extra pair of eyes.
21. Follow these antler shed hunting tips and have fun. The point of getting out and doing some shed hunting is to connect with nature and the outdoors. Enjoy this time as much as you can and most importantly, have fun.
Thanks for reading and happy shed hunting!