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.
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
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.
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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Contact Gary Engberg
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