Antler sheds can give you valuable information for the hunting season ahead. They show how large the deer are, the areas they frequent, and how healthy they are. The off-season is a great time to shed hunt to gather intel for the season head. Here are a few of the best techniques for shed hunting.
1. Train your dog to be a shed hunter.
Who wouldn’t want another reason to hang out with their dog? Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and could track a deer’s scent for miles in the right conditions. A fresh shed has a distinguishable smell. If you train your dog to recognize the scent using a bottle of antler scent, they should be able to pick up the trail during crunch time.
To train your dog to hunt sheds, focus on short, but frequent training sessions. If you train your dog for too long, they’ll begin to get frustrated and the training will be counter-productive. They need consistency in order to learn, so providing short training sessions multiple times a week is a good balance.
Start by having your dog play fetch with a soft antler shed (one with a realistic shape) until they get used to it, then start playing hide and seek with real sheds. Once they’ve made the connection between the object and the command to search, introduce the antler scent by putting it on the shed. Eventually, your dog will connect the scent with the item and the command to seek and they’ll be bringing you sheds instead of sticks.
2. Use your trail cameras to capture deer behavior.
The weather is turning warmer, so deer will become more active, which will give you more footage to analyze. You should remain cautious of leaving your scent when setting up trail cameras. Even though your scent may not be scaring the deer away from your Stump blind, it will still scare them away from your property, which will decrease activity on the cameras.
Monitoring deer on your trail cameras during the off season will give you insight into the types and size of deer you’ll be hunting in the fall. If you have a frequent visitor that you catch on camera on a consistent basis, you’ll be able to see their antlers develop. If you always catch the deer coming and going from a certain direction, your cameras will lead you to their frequented paths.
3. Check the areas of your hunting property that you previously held off limits.
Some hunters like to designate a certain area of their property as a deer sanctuary. It is a no-hunting zone and is not to be touched by humans. Leaving part of your property untouched by hunters will encourage deer to come to your land and they may eventually venture to other areas. If you start hunting or touching the area, you’ll push the deer away from your land completely because they won’t feel safe.
Try to place your deer sanctuary in a different area of your property than your Wild Water® system so that you encourage the deer to travel to the water. Then, you can hunt the deer during their trek while they’re in the hunting zone.
It’s okay to go into your sanctuaries during the off-season because there is no hunting pressure yet. If the deer feel comfortable in your no-hunting zone during hunting season, there’s a good chance they will continue to visit in the off-season. This could lead to a lot of sign and sheds.
Sheds provide insight into deer behavior and help hunters prepare for the season ahead. Training your dog to shed hunt, monitoring deer with trail cameras, and checking your deer sanctuaries are all great ways to shed hunt this spring and summer.
What techniques do you use when you shed hunt? Let us know your success stories in the comments below!