Last week I covered a few of the basics about shed hunting for deer antlers. It is a hobby I’m absolutely addicted to.
Since last week, I have been putting on the miles in the woods every day, searching out some big antlers. My findings have been fair; I found a couple really nice fresh sheds (dropped this winter) and a few big old ones.
The older sheds are all faded white, sometimes chewed up by critters, and just plain weathered by the elements.
What you wear will go a long way in helping you to enjoy your walk in the woods. Remember that you’re going to be on the move the entire time, so you want to be careful you are not over-dressed.
Unless it is really cold out, long underwear are unnecessary. I like to wear tough pants, like Carhartts, that will withstand some snags on branches and keep you warm on a cool day.
Quality, waterproof boots are important as you are going to be putting on the miles looking for bone.
On the upper body, quick-drying shirts like Under Armour or the like are key. Cotton does not dry very quick and believe me, you will sweat when you start climbing big hills and battling through thick brush to get to the bone yard.
As for places to look, there’s definitely some strategy to it. Pull out a map and find the highest south-facing hills (ridges that run east to west). They are, far and away, the best locations to start looking.
Deer lose their antlers in the winter and they drop most of them in places where they bed. You would think they would drop them on trails while they walk, but the majority of them fall off where they bed.
The reason the south-facing ridges are the best is the deer can lay on the front side of these hills in the most direct sunlight and absorb as much heat as they can.
The best hills have “benches” on them—places deer can lie down on a flat spot. Ridges that are really jagged and round are not nearly as good.
The other high percentage areas for finding sheds are cedar stands or swamps. In the harshest winter storms, whitetails will retreat to these thick cedar areas as they offer the best available cover from the elements, as well as a healthy food supply, since deer absolutely love to eat cedar.
Walk the trails through these swamps and you’ll likely score some bone.
Aside from finding sheds, walking through the woods at this time of year offers many rewards. It is absolutely a great time of year to spend time outside, and the exercise you get from this activity is excellent.
It is a great time to scout hunting areas, as well, since all the rut signs from the previous fall (like rubs, scrapes, and trails) are visible after being covered up with snow all winter.
Finally, sheds are not the only things you will find on the forest floor during these outings. Over the course of the past week, I have found several wolf-killed deer and a few arrowheads, and seen plenty of wildlife.