Shed Antler Hunting Tips
I love shed hunting. I’ll say that again: I LOVE shed hunting! Who doesn’t enjoy walking through a whitetail property on a sunny day with the anticipation of finding antlers on the ground? It’s literally an Easter egg hunt for grownups. Shed hunting is also an activity that everyone can enjoy and it’s a great way to introduce non-hunters to the world of whitetails.
As much of the deer hunting throughout the country comes to a close, dreams of finding shed antlers are at the fore front of most whitetail deer hunters minds. Deer season brings the utmost excitement for the avid hunter but unfortunately it comes and goes in the blink of an eye, leaving us longing for the next chapter to arrive. With a mid-February warm spell upon us, I personally find myself chomping at the bit to put boots on the ground in search white gold, so here are a few tips to help kick off your shed season with a bang.
Don’t Start Too Early
Much of the Midwest is currently experiencing well above average temperatures, which makes it tempting to get outside and hit your best spots right out of the gate but important to maintain low-impact on your shed hunting areas during this time period. This is because the deer population in your area has a plentiful amount of food sources due to the lack of snow cover, meaning concentration areas are widely dispersed. Starting too early may push deer away from your properties and with other options for food, they may very well stay off your property for the remainder of the Winter if pressure remains constant.
I prefer to use trail cameras to monitor bucks so I have a good idea of when the majority of deer are dropping. The latter part of February and the first week of March throughout the Midwest will be peak shedding for whitetails.
If you need to scratch the shed hunting itch before most of the bucks have dropped, try to stick to crop fields and other areas where deer are spending little time during mid-day hours. Save thick bedding cover for the last week of February or the first few weeks of March to ensure most antlers have dropped before you enter the area.
Concentrate On Food
This doesn’t require much explanation but concentrating on food sources is a great way to locate sheds and will bide you some time by staying out of bedding areas before the majority of antlers have dropped.
Supplemental feeding will hold bucks on your property and provides much needed nutrition for optimal antler growth during the Spring and Summer months.
Setting up a supplemental feeding schedule is also ideal, not only for locating sheds, but it also allows you to monitor and hold deer on the property and provides much needed nutrition when deer need it most. Big Tine Protein Plus is an ideal deer feed supplement for post season recovery and you never know, you might just find an antler laying close by a feeding area.
Change Your Perspective
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked a property in search of sheds only to come back the following Spring to find a year-old, white antler laying in an area I know I searched the year prior. Who else can relate? I believe this stems from two things: Only walking the property one time and not covering the area effectively.
To maximize the odds of locating antlers, I try to walk the same property two or three different times over the course of a month, beginning in late February or when my trail cameras are telling me the bucks have shed. Each time I walk a property, I like to change the route of travel as to how I cover the terrain so that it gives me a different perspective from the previous walk. When I find areas that are loaded with sign and recent deer activity, I will slow down and grid search thick cover to be sure I don’t overlook the details. Antlers are very good at staying hidden from the human eye so grid searching from a different perspective can reveal antlers that may be laying right under your nose.
KillinBuck Outfitters owner/operator Brad Snow & Salvo Magro with a day’s haul of sheds.
Take advantage of this mid-Winter thaw to spend some time outside and to help combat cabin fever. Whether you are post season scouting, supplemental feeding, running trail cameras, or just looking to spend time with friends and family afield, shed hunting is a win-win whether you cross paths with an antler or not. So get out there and put on some miles… you never know what you might find.