Shed Hunting Tips and Tricks
Hunting for sheds can be a great way to learn more about the deer herd in your area. Examining sheds can give you an idea of whether they were healthy or not, whether there are a lot of bucks in the area, and where they’ve been traveling. Here’s how to find them
Deer shed their antlers at different times during the season depending on how healthy they are. The antler shed season is generally from January through March. So, if a deer holds on to their antlers until the end of the season, they are likely healthy. An unhealthy deer will shed their antlers as early as the beginning of December. A healthy deer can keep them until April. So, if you already found some sheds months ago, that is a pretty good indication that those deer weren’t the healthiest in the herd.
When we say “healthy,” we mean they’ve been receiving adequate nutrition, aren’t injured, and have normal testosterone levels. Deer antlers are made up of calcium and phosphorus. Putting out a Wild Water® System with our supplements is a great way to ensure that they’re getting those vital nutrients. Osteoclasts are what turn antlers from cartilage to bone. Those osteoclasts also reabsorb the calcium from the area between the antler and the pedicle at the end of the antler cycle, causing them to fall off.
This calcium process coincides with a buck’s testosterone levels. The buck’s testosterone levels hit their lowest levels in the winter. This signals the end of the antler cycle and begins the shed process. After a buck goes through the rut process in the fall, their testosterone levels will drop in the winter.
Where to Find Them
When deer shed their antlers naturally, they can shed them as they walk from their bedding area to a food source or while they’re eating at a food source. Check near sources that are high in protein. During January and February, when it is still cold and possibly even snowing in many parts of the country, deer will be relying on woody browse and anything they can dig up under the snow. Brassicas and radishes from the fall will have root vegetables in the winter that will be appealing to deer because of their high carb content. Check around these food sources in March to find the sheds from earlier in the season.
If supplemental feeding is legal in your area, continue to feed the deer herd from your Feedbank Gravity Deer Feeder. You might get lucky and have a deer drop their antler while they feed from one of the ports on the feeder. Keep an eye on your trail cameras to see if there are a lot of bucks still with antlers or if you’re seeing a lot of antlerless bucks.
Make sure you’re keeping your scent controlled as you’re hunting these sheds. Because you’ll be looking near their bedding areas, you don’t want to leave your scent and taint their space. Even though you’re not actively hunting, it’s important that deer have certain spaces where they know they won’t smell or encounter humans.
If there aren’t a lot of natural food sources in your area and you’re seeing antlers drop early, that means the deer herd isn’t getting enough nutrition. Supplemental feed will give them the proper tools to grow their antlers. Make sure you’re searching the travel areas between the food sources and their bedding areas to find any sheds dropped along the way.
How do you hunt sheds? Let us know in the comments below!
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