Shed hunting is a pretty good pastime for hunters who would like a glorious new centerpiece for their dinner tables. A deer sheds its antlers once every year and grows a new set, which makes their awesome shed a good pick up for a passing hunter. But how to find deer sheds?
In my time, when my interest in shed hunting was at its peak, I’ve found that like in any other type of hunting, hunting for antlers is as tedious and complicated as hunting for its owner. You won’t get your pair on the first try, and there are a lot of researches you need to do before being able to find a good deer shed.
So, here are a few tips that I’ve formulated myself, based on my experiences while out shed hunting:
Tips About How To Find Deer Sheds
1. Know when is the best time to go shed hunting
It is known that the best months to find deer sheds are between March and April, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t find a shed in other months. However, during the summer months, male hormones slow the growth of antlers, which causes vasoconstriction and cutting off of blood and nutrient supply. The antlers then slowly fall off, aggravated by the deer rubbing its antlers against trees or bushes.
A deer will most likely shed its antlers after the rut season. This is because of the drop in testosterone levels, which causes weakening of the tissues in the base of the antler. When this happens, a buck will most likely shed its antlers within two days.
2. Look for traces of deer
Just as you do when hunting the deer itself, you may have better chances of finding a deer shed when you look for the traces of deer. The first and most obvious factor is to look for deer trails. As expected, these deer trails will be a bit far from the trails that humans usually take. Tip: you may also want to look for fresh droppings.
It’s also a good idea to focus on your surroundings instead of training your eye to spot huge, white antlers. Deer sheds aren’t usually easy to find and you’ll have a much easier time if you take in everything on the forest floor, raking your eyes over every surface as much as possible. You wouldn’t want to miss any good deer sheds, do you?
Moreover, you would also want to check out beddings as I did when I hunted for deer sheds. In the winter, deer stay in their beds to conserve energy. Most likely, you’ll be able to find a deer shed near these spots that deer frequent.
3. Check places where a deer could have lost its antlers
In some cases, deer lose their antlers abruptly when the bone is weakening and they have come across an obstacle, say, a low branch or a log that they have to jump over to get across a ditch. While traversing the deer trail, you can check these “obstacles” and be extra wary of your surroundings, just in case there’s a deer shed lying around.
Another tip is to check bushes and trees just in case the deer tried to shed its antlers against them.
4. Observe the bucks
In the winter, bucks will separate from the does and form groups of males. If you find out the area where these groups frequent, you can be luckier with finding a deer shed, so keep a lookout.
Moreover, bucks without their antlers are a top tell-tale sign of deer shedding nearby. In this case, scour the area where the antler-less bucks frequent.
5. Train your dog
Hunting breeds can also be taught to find deer sheds, and sometimes, man’s best friend may be better at it than we are. If you have a hunting dog or are thinking of getting one, consider having it trained to smell out deer sheds so you can use it as a guide.
Training dogs to smell out deer sheds is not a complicated regimen (since they can master the smell of a shed). In fact, it requires only a simple training program before your furry friend can find you some antlers.
6. Shed hunt in areas with low hunting pressure
Deer tend to stay away from areas that are stressful for them, such as areas with a lot of hunters in it. Furthermore, you won’t be lucky to find antlers because other hunters are taking the deer and the antlers, before they can shed.
With this fact in mind, you may be twice as fortunate finding a pair of antlers when you search in areas where hunting is not allowed, or areas where other hunters are scarce. Of course, these areas may be far from roads and your trucks, but you may have a better chance of finding your prize in these places.
7. Find deer food
If you find areas where deer feed, you’ll most likely find a lot of bucks and a lot of shed antlers. These areas are most likely those with thick foliage, plenty of plants, fruits, nuts, and acorns.
8. Walk slowly and mark your path
One of the most common reasons why shed hunters fail to find their prize on the first try is walking too fast and walking in circles. An important tip is to walk slowly, keeping your head down and scouring the forest floor for any sign of antlers. Walking slowly can help you spot antlers which are most likely hidden in thick brush or under forest debris.
Another tip is to mark the areas that you’ve already traveled. This way, you can cover more undiscovered areas. However, it is also wise to go back to the areas you’ve already discovered a few days after, just in case a buck came losing an antler in that area.A
Shed hunting is a great pastime when you don’t feel like hunting live animals. In this way, you can get a beautiful set of antlers but without killing off a buck. It is almost as difficult, perhaps even more difficult, than hunting live animals, but the results are just as rewarding.
Did you like these tips on how to find deer sheds? If so, comments and shares are most appreciated. Thanks for reading!
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