So you’ve decided to try shed hunting, maybe because you read our last article and were so moved by the poetic prose that you want to lace up the hunting boots and head outdoors on a sunny winter day. Or maybe it just sounded like something cool to do.
What are sheds? A basic refresher: male deer (bucks) shed their antlers each year. Elk and moose do, as well. So shed hunting is literally hunting for sheds – not hunting for deer. And what can you do with those sheds? Well, a lot. Like making antler lamps. Or a million other cool things.
Either way, now that you’ve decided to try shed hunting, you’ll need some basic know-how to succeed. It’s not rocket science, but a little background information can turn your first shed-hunts into truly memorable experiences. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Location, Location, Location
This cliché applies to everyone from realtors to business owners across America. It’s also true for shed-hunters. You must shed-hunt where you know you’ll find deer.
What if you don’t have a little slice of deer-hunting heaven to call your own? Not to worry. Wildlife-management areas and public-hunting grounds are great places to start. And the best part? Most people don’t visit these places after the season. Chances are, you’ll have the run of the place. Not to mention, by scouting while looking for sheds, you get a leg up on where to hunt in autumn.
Where to Look?
Once you find a location to shed-hunt, knowing where to look is almost as simple as following deer trails. Do you know a place where you found giant rubs and scrapes during the rut? Follow deer trails coursing through that site.
Have you seen deer feeding in a winter wheat field as you drive by late in the day? Walk the field – with the landowner’s permission, of course – and check the main trails leading into and out of the field. Don’t overlook fence crossings. When deer jump fences, they’ll sometimes jar an antler loose.
Make A Shed Trap
If you own or have access to private land, you can build a shed trap and possibly save some walking. All you need is a little chicken wire, some corn and well-placed trees.
Start by finding a group of small trees and encircle them with the chicken wire. Next – assuming it’s legal to place food for wildlife – sprinkle corn at the base of the chicken wire. Voila! You’ve made a shed trap. When bucks feed, their antlers will scrape or catch the wire and pull loose, leaving you with antlers. Check out http://www.wideopenspaces.com/build-antler-trap-collect-sheds/ for more details.
Join Your Friends!
Maybe you have a spouse, friend or hunting buddy you take along when you hunt sheds. You can expand your circle further by reaching out to shed-hunters across America who share this passion.
Just like everything else these days, you can meet like-minded people by using the hashtag #ShedRally. The brainchild of Whitetail Properties – a nationwide real-estate company that unites buyers and sellers of hunting, ranch and farm lands – this unique event encourage Shed Rally participants to chronicle their experiences by posting photos of their hunts and successes. Check out the 2015 #ShedRally trailer here.
Like everything related to bowhunting, the idea is to have fun while enjoying the outdoors. And, like all things hunting, if you come away with a ton of sheds, that’s great. But that’s not the ultimate goal. Enjoying nature, spending time with friends and family, and doing something a little out of the ordinary are the most-lasting benefits.