Here's a quick list of what I like to have with me when I venture out:
Backpack for carrying everything. Pretty standard.
A map of your property is a nice thing to have, too. You can see where you are, where you want to go, and mark of the places you have already searched.
Binocs - rather than try and walk every single square foot of an area, they allow you to scan the distance to check for distance sheds (or lack thereof).
A camera is a great thing to have with you. Not only can you document the sheds as you find them, you can snap photos of any other cool stuff you come across, like rubs/ scrapes, or a particularly well traveled game trail. Or old Pepsi bottles. That sort of thing.
A knife or multitool might also come in handy - you never what you might need to use it for.
Lastly, 3 items that can make or break your shed hunting adventure - water, a snack, and some tp. Nothing makes you want to head in faster than being too thirsty, too hungry, or... well, I think you know where that last one is going. Always better to be safe than sorry, no?
Now don't you feel prepared to embark on your own shed hunting adventure? Let's go!
If you've got access to one, a 4-wheeler is your go-to mode of transportation when it comes to shed hunting. Besides your own two feet, that is. Even though shed hunting requires lots, and I mean lots, of walking, an ATV is the best way to get from one spot to another when you are trying to cut down on travel time and get into the best spots in the woods.
So - when you're not finding the miscellaneous pelican skulls or turkey feathers, what are you looking for in a place to find sheds? Well, let's take a minute to think about the behavior of deer. Wherever a deer spends the most time is likely the best place to start your hunt. Deer are creatures of habit, and often feed/bed in the same places, using the same paths to get there. That being said, winter food sources (food plots, acorn flats, etc.), winter bedding areas (thick places that provide cover from the elements), and paths/bottlenecks that connect the two are some good starting off points. Your trail cam photos and videos from hunting season will often provide good insight to the most active places. In fact, keeping the trail cams out can help you see when bucks have actually started to drop their antlers so you don't begin your search too early.
When it comes to the actual hunt, be aware of where your eyes are focused. Don't look too far out, or you could miss a shed that is right beside you. They can blend in incredibly well, so a close, sharp eye is key. In an open field, look for clumps of tall grass that would provide a bit of cover for a deer to rest in the afternoon sun. Similarly, check around fallen trees that would be a nice spot to cozy up and ride out a storm.
When venturing into the woods, look for game trails and fire lines that deer would often use to get from where they bed to where they snack. Check the spots where those trails get thick, as an antler may have gotten snagged on a branch or vine. A water source that a deer would need to jump to cross could mean finding an antler that was knocked loose when he landed. Similarly, if a buck knelt down to take a drink from said water source, an antler may get caught on a low tangle of branches - a perfect spot for you to find it. A scattering of pines near a small stream or creek tend to produce good finds*. Also be sure to search around low/wet areas in the woods - those shallow valleys near a food source/bedding area that face east/south.
*“Check under scattered evergreens. Whether it’s a lone cedar in the middle of a fallow field or a handful of scattered pines in a hardwood forest, check under every one, particularly under the south side. Deer are drawn to these odd features on a landscape the same way a fish is drawn to weeds, rocks or logs in an otherwise featureless lake.”
– Joe Shead, Shed Hunting
Of course, as soon as I tell you all of these tips and tricks on the best places to find sheds, you'll stumble across one in the most random of places. That's what happened to me last weekend. We were on the 4-wheeler heading to put out a trail cam and, sure enough, spotted a shed right on the side of the road. Just sitting there as if someone placed it for us to find. It's just a little guy - a young 6 pt - but exciting nonetheless.
Well, I think that's about all I have for you! As we continue to shed hunt over the next few weeks, I will hopefully have some fun updates for you. Until then, if you want to find out more about shed hunting and how to increase your finds, I leave you with this short list of helpful articles. PS - Did you know you can train your dog to hunt sheds, too?
QDMA: Six Shed Hunting Tips
Shed Hunting - A Guide to Finding White-tailed Deer Antlers
Shed Hunting Improves Your Trophy Chances
The Ultimate Shed Hunting Resource – Expert Shed Hunting Tips, Strategies and Suggestions
Shed Hunter - Gun Dog Magazine
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