As outdoorsmen, most of the activities we enjoy involve quite a major investment to be successful. Equipment, tackle, gas, and bait all cost money.
Over the past two years, I have fallen in love with an activity that requires little cost and is probably my favourite thing to do. Shed hunting for deer antlers has become a huge addiction for me these days.
Not only are there thousands of sheds waiting out there for folks to find, but it is a great way to scout and explore hunting areas—whether they are the places you usually hunt or new areas you have yet to explore.
You just have to get off the road and start walking to find sheds.
I started shed hunting two years ago, and in my first year I found around 200 sheds. Last year, I went just about every day in April and found nearly 400.
Now not all of these are big, fresh brown beauties. Most are faded, chewed up, weathered sheds, but they all have a value to finder. All offer some insight into the quality of deer in the area.
And the more you find, the better you get at finding them.
The first thing a shed hunter needs to do is get geared up to head into the woods. An absolutely critical tool to take with you is a hand-held GPS. When you go shed hunting, you are walking a great deal of the time with your head down and it does not take much to get turned around.
A GPS will keep you in the right direction to get you where you want to go and back.
Now for finding sheds, the biggest thing is to keep your head down. Do not try to look too far ahead of yourself (you will walk past a lot of sheds if you do this).
Keep moving all the time, and slow down once you find a shed or two. Usually if you cover enough ground, you will find a “sweet” spot where there will be a bunch of sheds in a relatively small area.
These are the areas I search for, and this is where you will find the most sheds. The best day I had last spring, I went for four hours and found three antlers, then walked up on a hill and found 15 in less than five minutes.
I proceeded to pick my way really slow through the area and found 65 sheds by the end of the day (I had to leave two piles of them in the bush; I was two miles from the truck and could not carry them all out).
Obviously that day I found a really good wintering area that had never been shed hunted. Lots of the sheds were old, but I got a few fresh beauties.
Try to pattern where you find the most sheds and then try to shed hunt more spots just like it. Just like we pattern fish in fishing.
I’ve had many days where I only found two antlers, or even none, but the more you go, the better you get at it.
Get your butt out in the woods and start looking for some sheds.
You will have a great time, probably find a new “hot spot” to throw up a stand, and you even might find the giant shed from the buck you have been dreaming about.
Look for more on shed hunting in my next column.