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Shed Hunting
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Shed Hunting

April 4, 2003

       Hunting for antler sheds has become a very popular activity for hunters and non-hunters alike.  The shed season can begin as early January and last well into April. Some of the variables that affect shed hunting is winterís heavy snow cover and below zero temperatures. Both of these factors can prevent people from getting out into the woods to search for last years antlers. Recent winters have allowed people to get to the woods and fields earlier, so that they can hopefully beat the rodents and animals that devour the antlers for their mineral content. Itís amazing to see how quick animals can chew up antlers.  Animals can mar a nice rack in a few hours.

       Shed hunting is hard work and like most things worthwhile you have to put in many, many hours to be successful. Compare shed hunting to the scouting you do for deer every year. The more time spent in the woods, the better your chances of finding some antlers. The exercise you get while searching the woods and valleys is welcomed after a long winter. Also remember, the more time you spend in the woods looking for sheds will also help you to become a better hunter and outdoorsman.

       The first and most important step to finding sheds is to locate the area where the deer are spending their winter. Deer can be in a completely different area than they were in the hunting season. The key is to find the food source that the deer are using this time of the year. In Wisconsin, there are plenty of corn, wheat, beans, and alfalfa fields, which even when harvested, leave plenty of waste grain for deer to feed on in the winter months. Drive around late in the afternoon looking for deer from the road with a good pair of binoculars (Nikon, Zeiss, and Bushnell). Once, you find the deer, then start looking for the bucks, which are usually hanging around together in loose bachelor groups.

        Next, you need to get permission to walk the land where you have spotted deer. Get a plat book and start knocking on doors. Youíll find most people will give permission to walk their land looking for antlers. This can be much easier than getting permission to hunt.

        Once you have permission, the best way to cover the land is to get out and start walking. Concentrate on feeding and bedding areas.  Focus on thickets, fields, grassy areas, and any place where you can see that the deer are bedding. Many antlers are found in these areas because that is where the deer spend most of their time. Also, check the same feeding and bedding areas that the deer used last year because deer can lose their antlers in the same places as before. If I had two places to check for sheds, it would be the bedding and feeding areas without a doubt.

       Shed hunting can be a great hobby for the whole family. It also is a great way to spend time till the next hunting season starts. Itís relaxing and another way to get through the winter and at the same time get some exercise. The time you spend in the woods will greatly improve your hunting skills.  Concentrate on used trails and paths, fencerows, and the edges of fields and woods. Some hunters say they find lots of antlers within 30 to 40 yards of the woods, next to the fields where the deer are foraging. The reason fencerows are good is because deer have to jump over them and the impact on landing often jars the antlers loose. If you find half a rack keep looking because the other half can be close by.

       Shed hunting is much like looking for morel mushrooms. Itís hard to find the first ones, but once you do, finding more is easier.  Some people take vacations and trips to well-populated deer areas to look for antlers the deer have lost. Sheds are used for decoration and some talented people make wall hangings and chandeliers from their racks. Times wasting, so get to your favorite deer spot and start looking! The word is that half of the deer have lost their antlers by the time you read this.



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Last modified: April, 6, 2003