Shed hunting isn't always as simple as walking around and hoping to get lucky.
For those who aren't familiar, shed hunting is the act of searching for antlers that have naturally fallen off of antler-bearing mammals after the rut season.
Bucks usually start to lose their antlers in late winter, starting around January and ending about March the majority of the time. However, I have found sheds and "dead heads" all year round. Dead heads are skeleton remains of animals that have died and have not been retrieved.
Shed hunting gives hunters and non-hunters another reason to get outside even earlier than they normally would in the spring. Think of it as an Easter egg hunt for all ages!
Additionally, people use sheds for decorations, dog chew treats, jewelry, tools and much more.
Here are just a few well-known tips and tricks for where to shed hunt:
- Well-worn deer trails: Following some highly traveled paths can produce some great sheds.
- Food sources: Many antlers have been found in old cut cornfields and hayfields.
- Bedding areas: Deer spend a large amount of time sleeping or resting in grassy-covered areas.
- River and ditch crossings: The gravity of walking up and down the slopes of rivers can be enough to help them fall off.
- Fence lines: Antlers dislodge and fall off when bucks jump over fences.
- Winter sanctuaries: Deer move to a more sheltered sanctuary in the winter months. They need the warmth of the wind break that hills, slops, clumps of trees and brush can provide.
- Open fields: While open fields don't offer obstruction to help bucks shed their antlers, they do offer hunters the ability to quickly scan a large area.
- Brush and thickets: I have found some stuck in thick brush about waist-high, as well as many that dropped right on the edge of the woods.
- Shed dogs: Some folks train their dogs to be excellent shed hunters. They love to chew on them as they are a natural chew treat. Dogs can help locate them through their scent.
- Miles on foot or ATV: Putting in a lot of miles walking or riding ATVs can be a fun way to spend the afternoon. Keep an eye out for the white gleam and bent curved shape of antlers. You would be surprised how easy it gets to train your eye after a little bit of practice.
Before you start your hunt, be sure to check out your state's laws. Please observe their rules, regulations and zones for your own shed hunting season.
Now, get out there and have fun!