SHED HUNTING GAME PLAN
In today’s world, who doesn’t love to shed hunt? I mean let’s be realistic about this, not only is it a great time of the year to get outdoors after being inside all winter, BUT who doesn’t dream of picking up a freshly fallen, antler? I know I sure do! So, with that being said, let’s make the most of these times outdoors and try to find as many sheds as we possibly can! A plan of attack, when it comes to shed hunting, has always yielded me the best results, aka BIGGER piles of antler! Here are my top 4 tips for shed hunting!
Searching With A Purpose
We’ve all been here before, we start off shed hunting a ridge, a beautiful oak ridge that should be loaded with deer sign and hopefully antlers. BUT, then we spot a big rub, so we go investigate. Then we spot a big scrape, so we go look at it….Before we know it, WE ARE IN A SWAMP and a mile away from that ridge that we wanted to cover, but barely spent 30 minutes on. I don’t know about you, but this has been me soooo many times that I could scream! At the end of these days I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing because I had no plan of attack and just stumbled around! Let’s NOT do this anymore.
Have a plan! And what I mean by that is a mapped out plan of attack for the woods and fields, that we are about to cover. For myself, I use OnX maps to track where I’m going and mark reference points of where I’m heading. I keep my “tracker” on which shows me where I’ve been and I mark points of interest. These “lines of reference” keep me on task and allow me to cover a ridge completely, or fully search a field, knowing my tracks and seeing what I’ve covered. If I miss spots or areas, it’ll show me and then I can go back to these spots! By having a plan, I spend more time finding antlers and less time letting my ADHD mentality take me on wild goose chases, with no purpose.
South Facing Slopes
If I had one spot to shed hunt the rest of my life, it would be a south facing slope in March and for great reasons! When we break down why a buck does what he does, in late season, it all revolves around bedding and food. South facing slopes not only provide great bedding, due to the abundance of sunlight that they receive, but they also provide the newest growth in the timber, as well! These two qualities combine together to form the perfect place for a buck to spend a lot of his time! With that being said, during this time of the year, the most sheds will be where the buck spends the majority of his time and these slopes are the perfect spot!
I like to hunt these spots from the top, down and I like to work back and forth with my eyes, as I sweep across the slope. Once I get to the end, I’ll move down another 40 yards, or so and do the exact same thing walking back. I will repeat this until I’m at the bottom of the hillside! DONT FORGET to turn your tracker on, on your mapping system to make sure you’re staying on point and not missing big gaps on these hillsides. We want to cover these, as best as possible! Pay close attention to thickets and good cover on these slopes, as these areas will be likely bedding areas.
Hunt On the Bad Days
A lot of us want to shed hunt on warm, sunny, spring days! Sounds great, right? Well in my opinion, this is a mistake! I love to hunt antlers on rainy, cloudy days because it makes the antlers stand out! What I mean by this is that when an antler is damp and wet, it resembles a shine to it, which is much easier to spot than a dry antler.
Also, on these days specifically, the woods are more dull and dim, which is a lot easier on our eyes, than a bright, sunny day! The sun shining on an oak covered ridge, for example, is extremely difficult to look at for long periods of time because of how bright everything looks. Sure, glasses can help, but compare that same ridge on a rainy day vs. the sunny day and let me know how much easier it is to scan the forest floor, or a corn field, without all of that glowing sunlight!
Also, rainy and colder days typically relate to less people and crowds to deal with. This is specifically important on public land pieces, or tracts of land that have a lot of hunters on it. These “bad weather” days could provide YOU the opportunity to basically have the woods to yourself, while everyone else is inside!
Grid Search Fields
Fields provide me with a ton of sheds, every year! Crop fields are a gold mine for deer in the late season and when the antlers are dropping because these deer need calories and fat reserves to survive the winter and replenish from the rut. Naturally, where deer feed and where they spend a lot of time and that makes fields a perfect spot for antlers to drop. The problem has always been, how do we effectively hunt them and not get burnt out staring at a 50 acre corn field? We grid search!
By grid searching a field and with a purpose, we can effectively cover a field and with a plan of attack. Aimlessly walking around a field not only wastes time and energy, but it’s also frustrating to try to remember what you’ve covered and what you haven’t! So my plan is to have a plan that keeps me on track!
My plan for corn fields consists of using the 6-7 row method. This method involves starting on one side of the field and walking over 6-7 rows. Next I’ll start walking towards the other end, scanning 6-7 rows on both sides, which is allowing me to cover 12-15 rows per pass. Once I’m at the other end, I’ll move over another 6-7 and repeat this process until the whole field is covered! This keeps me on track and provides me with a plan of attack, which keeps my head in the game and lets me cover a field effectively and efficiently.
For soybean fields, winter wheat and food plots I love to turn my tracker on, via my OnX maps and run as straight of a line from one end to the other as I can, until the whole field is covered. It’s important to note, that on odd shapes fields, this tracker will really come in handy when making sure you are covering the entire field and not missing spots!
All in all, shed hunting is a fantastic, outdoor activity that’s a lot of fun for anybody and any age! Put a plan together this spring and I guarantee you’ll not only find more sheds, BUT you’ll cover more ground and more effectively, than you ever thought possible! Have fun and don’t forget to take those little guys and gals with you, as they love to search for antlers too!
– Clint Casper