Who doesn’t want to find more sheds?
These 14 tips will make you a better shed hunter.
1. Virtual scout first
Deer are “edge animals” and tend to live in places on the edges of food, water and security cover. Before you go lacing up your boots, spend some time on the computer. There are many apps out there that can help you with this. Google maps is a really easy one for this. Just as you can save time and improve your deer hunting and scouting success by using virtual scouting and mapping tools before hitting the field, you can also use these tools to improve your shed hunting success.
2.Keep them in their core
If you have a group of bucks fairly well patterned in the late winter, do not attempt to go shed hunting until you are sure they’ve dropped their antlers. If you bump them too early, you may bump them out of their core area and onto another property in which you may not have access to shed hunt. Have patience.
3.Cover the basics
Shed hunting and hiking can be a strenuous and athletic activity. So prepare yourself as you would for any other athletic activity. Hiking for 3 hours on hilly terrain and carrying under a 10 pound load burns 1180 calories for a 180 pound man. If you weigh more, or carry more you will burn even more calories. Carry a small backpack with a bottle of water and some snacks. Granola bars, nuts, raisins, energy bars or even a Snickers bar are good options when you’ll be burning through the calories.
4. 50 / 360
Every 50 yards or so, do a slow turn around a full 360 degrees and scan the ground behind you. Often, antlers that are obscured from one angle may visually “pop” out at you from another.
5. Check bedding and feeding areas
Since deer spend a lot of time in these areas it is an obvious place to look. In grassy areas or places with a lot of ground cover or snow, you may only be able to see a small tip of a shed, so look for even the smallest clues and stickups.
6.Check travel routes
If you have fresh snow or damp ground you will sometimes be able to follow deer tracks to great shed hunting locations. Following travel routes can be very effective.
7.Check crossing areas
Stream crossings can have steep banks that cause deer to have to jump up or down to cross. And the momentum changes created by the jump can shake antlers loose. Fence crossings can have the same effect. And streams often have heavier vegetation around them, which can pull an antler loose as well.
8.Slow and steady
If you have the time and access to a property where you are the only one shed hunting, the number one thing you can do to improve your success is to SLOW down and be methodical and patient in your search. Some shed hunters use a speedy approach to cover more ground. This can be useful if you have limited access to the area and not the only one with permission.
9.Walk the grid
There are two techniques to mention here. The first is, you can walk your entire property like a grid if it is of manageable size. This will help ensure that you give it the best coverage possible.
The second grid strategy is used once you have found a shed and are looking for the other. Often times a buck will lose both antlers within a fairly short distance of one another. Once you found one shed, walk a grid pattern 75-100 yards in each direction from the spot of the original found shed.
10.Carry a GPS
Use your GPS to mark places where you find sheds. Then add those places to your online maps and journal. Keeping track of this information will help you hone in on a buck’s core area and improve your odds of hunting success in the coming season and in seasons to come.
11. Bring binoculars
Even if you are not a fan of glassing to scan for sheds, they can still be helpful, allow you stay in your gridline and verify that something bright and antler shaped which you see in the distance really is bone and not a piece of bleached wood or stone.
12. Glass from a high point
If you are hunting in an area that has ridges, try getting atop of one them and glassing the opposite ridge or other low, lying areas with your binoculars. It can speed things up and it is really, really cool to spot a pair of sheds from a long distance.
13. Bring your family and friends
Bringing others along can add a lot to the experience and help you cover more ground with more sets of eyes.
14. Above all, have fun
I make it my goal to simply have fun in the outdoors and learn more about my deer herd, rather than to fill my backpack with bones. That way, if I am fortunate enough to find a few sheds it is simply a bonus to an already enjoyable activity and a great day in the woods.
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