Shed Hunting: Why would you leave them for the mice?
It is the perfect time of year right now to get off of the couch and into the field in search for deer sheds. Deer season is now just a shallow memory, and the prospect of turkey hunting is beginning to occupy our thoughts. So, turkey scouting, combined with shed hunting is a great way to get back into the woods after being couped up these last boring weeks.
As we all well know, shed hunting can be a difficult way to spend the day. Crawling around through a thorny thicket, and trudging through the muck of a beaver swamp is draining, but the rewards of success can grace your mantle with a trophy antler forever. Before dispatching yourself into the nearest deer thicket, you must first set yourself some realistic expectations regarding what you will consider a successful venture . If you expect a brisk walk through the open woods, picking up antlers like you are on an Easter-egg hunt, then you are probably in for a disappointing experience. But, If you set yourself a goal to find one antler per day, that is attainable, and anything beyond that is a bonus.
Finding sheds is not easy, and there are a few key elements that will make the difference between picking up headgear or taking a nature hike through the thorns. First, you need to develop a sharp eye. Even if you have perfect vision, you will need to train your eyes to be able to pick out an antler in a pile of sticks, which is not easy. Until you develop your “antler eye,” slow your pace and scan the area you are searching more carefully. As you gain experience, and your eyes get keener, and you will be able to move faster and cover more area. Find a comfortable distance of vision, whether it be ten or twenty feet away, and work your area like you are spreading grass seed.
Where you search is even more important than how you search. You obviously will not find any antlers in areas where bucks have not been traveling during the winter months. Focus in on areas that hold late season food sources, and also look for bedding areas that offer deer protection from the elements. As you gain more experience shed hunting, you will find yourself looking at every hanging branch on the trail as a potential target area for a drop.
Think about the bucks this past deer season that skirted your tree stand just out of range or just after shooting light. Missed opportunities while deer hunting will haunt you to the extent of physical illness. But, those are the same deer that now have their racks just laying somewhere for the taking. No matter how sneaky or elusive, every buck will shed it’s antlers this spring, and all you have to do is find them.