These shed hunting tips can provide you with valuable intel on the bucks in your deer herd, particularly the ones you had your eyes on last season.
If you’re like me, whitetails never leave your brain. Even now, my thoughts drift back to the hunting season and what could have been. Eventually I realize opening day is still many months away. That’s when reality hits. Anticipation starts to build. I get antsy.
When a friend mentioned he was spending a spring weekend looking for antlers, I was intrigued immediately. He offered plenty of shed hunting tips so I could get started. I quickly found the practice to be an invaluable scouting tool and a perfect way to subdue my off-season restlessness. I picked up some quality racks of bucks I’d seen the previous year, letting me know they had survived another hunting season. I also discovered bedding areas I had managed to gloss over while scouting the previous fall.
These days, looking for sheds is an integral part of my pre-season preparation. In fact, it often affects where I hang stands and position feeders. Aside from the practical aspects, shed hunting is quite fun. It’s an activity you can enjoy with your kids, wife or a group of friends.
Search Bedding Areas and Food Sources
Start your search where you’ve seen deer. As winter fades, natural food sources like honey locusts, mushrooms, forbs and green leaves will become more abundant. Focus your efforts there. Of course, if you have food plots or feeders on your property, check these locations as well.
Scour bedding areas, especially those that are secluded in thick brush. These tend to be where bucks hide out. Keep your eyes focused on trails connecting them and a food source, particularly near obstacles like tree falls or hollows. Often, if a buck has to duck or jump, that jolt can pop their antlers free.
Cover as much ground as possible. Don’t feel tied to areas you’re already familiar with. This can be a good time to explore parts of your property that may lead to new information about the deer herd.
Planning Management Practices
While trail cameras are invaluable scouting tools, it’s not impossible for a buck to escape getting photographed for multiple seasons, even if he’s a regular on your hunting property. That’s the added value of shed hunting. Not only can you find new bucks, but you can gauge their age and gather insight into how the herd is progressing.
Consistently finding sheds can answer questions pertaining to antler growth. Are bucks putting on mass each year? Is antler growth stunted? These important questions affect your management practices. Stunted antler growth may require you plant additional food this spring or add nutritional supplements to your Feed Bank feeders. While healthy looking headgear can give you reassurances that your management practices are working just as they should.
As hunters, we’ve learned to never underestimate the game we pursue. It’s why we take so much care to prepare, with shed hunting quickly becoming a crucial part of many obsessed deer hunters’ spring routine. While those preparations put us one step closer to harvesting an animal, it’s also all part of the passion that has come to define who we are.