Think you can only find shed antlers in the spring? Think again.
While it's true shed antlers get harder and harder to find the later in the year you get, you should never stop looking completely. I will explain why in today's #WhitetailWednesday.
Never stop looking.
Now, when I say never stop looking, I don't mean continue to wear out boot leather by walking miles a day all through the summer and into fall. Usually traditional shed hunting becomes impractical once green-up really sets in and hides the antlers.
But, if you're like the typical outdoorsman or woman, you likely spend a lot of time in the outdoors doing things other than shed hunting. Turkey hunting, morel hunting, hiking, camping, fishing and geocaching are all year-round outdoor hobbies.
At the very least, I keep my eyes peeled year-round while participating in many of these activities. You just never know when or where you'll find an antler.
They don't all get chewed up.
Popular opinion will have you believe that if you don't get to the antlers soon, they're gone. Many believe they get chewed into oblivion by woodland critters like squirrels, chipmunks, mice, porcupines and even other deer.
While this can be true in some instances, it isn't a hard and fast rule. Case in point, I've found sheds in late May and untouched buck skulls in June and July before. The latest in the year I've ever found a shed was Sept. 19, and the antler was completely untouched in the middle of an old two-track here in southwestern Michigan. I've even found them the following season. While this is more common in western states, it can happen everywhere.
The point is, there are always antlers out there waiting to be found. Just because it's the wrong time of year doesn't mean there's nothing to find.
Looking all the time makes you a better deer hunter.
That shed I found in mid-September was on a dead-end road between an army base and a four-lane highway. It was just about the last place in the world I'd expect a deer to be hanging out. Yet, a closer examination of the area revealed tons of deer sign where bucks had been holing up during the rut.
When I thought about it, it was genius on the deer's part. There was nowhere for a hunter to legally set up anywhere in the vicinity. This loud (due to the highway) location was actually a mini safety zone being utilized by local deer. It really got me thinking more about the type of sanctuary deer seek out in the fall and winter.
Keeping an eye out for sheds all the time will also make you better at spotting deer sign. And, you might find a totally new hunting spot in the process.
Fine-tuning your shed hunting eyes.
If there's one thing I've learned from years of looking for sheds, it's that finding them is an exercise in patience. It took years for me to train my eyes to be able to spot antlers to the point where I could search an area with confidence.
Keeping an eye out year-round will help you keep your eyes sharp for when antlers start hitting the ground again. I noticed my success going way up since I started these habits.