Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
RulesIllinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Marc Anthony of Goodfield owns and operates Look Alive Taxidermy and Non Typical Hunter magazine. Anthony grew up in central Illinois and spent eight years as a commercial pilot before giving that up to spend more time with his wife Jan and three children, Victoria, Drake and Elesa. Anthony hunted on and off as a child but started seriously at age 30 and focuses on bowhunting for deer and turkeys. He's arrowed four bucks that meet the Boone and Crockett Club (net) standards and 20 Pope and Young Club qualifiers. Anthony is on the Pro Staff for Muzzy broadheads, Bear Archery, Vital Gear, Natural Predator, Non Typical Hunter and several other companies. He also is a member of the Outdoor writers Association of America, OWAA.

 

Non-typical Hunter

A Web log by Marc Anthony

Illinois hunting and fishing

Shed hunting!

January 13, 2009 at 11:25 AM

If you’re a buck hunter, now is the time to get back into the woods! This is the time to find out which bucks survived the last hunting season so you can begin to pattern them. There is no better time to locate first class bedding areas, preferred sanctuaries and best of all, THE SHEDS!

There is no better piece of evidence that can be found other than the sheds left by a monster buck. Finding large sheds solidifies the existence of exactly what you are hunting. Once found, you can bet this is a primary stomping ground of a monarch just waiting for you to find him this Fall. January, February and March are excellent times to locate sheds & travel routes to and from major bedding areas, before the Spring greening takes affect. What happens now, argumentably changes very little until the rut. The sooner you get a jump on the big buck’s habitat, the less likely you are to spook him later in the season as you keep track of this elusive creature. Setting trail cameras, using the string method and just some plain ole’ detective work can really pay high dividends in the rack bank once a little time is invested in all year scouting.

Lets get back to the sheds!

Did you know the difference between antlers and horns are that the animals that drop their head gear every year carry antlers, and the animals that never dispose of their bone carry horns. So, antlers are dropped every year and horns are never dropped. Since whitetails carry antlers, lets find them!

We need to first look at some scientific reasoning why antlers are dropped. After the rut, the buck’s testosterone level decreases. (The increase of testosterone levels are directly related to the diminishing sunlight). This lack of testosterone will cause the antlers to weaken and ultimately fall off. Some think that this is nature’s way of conserving energy since these animals are heading into winter with very little to eat and antler development consumes a fair amount of nutrients.

So where do we go to find these dropped sheds? In the wintertime, deer move very little as to conserve energy. Bedding near feeding areas will save the extra steps thus burning only the minimal amount of calories. These tend to be great spots to begin. The feeding areas themselves are actually the best places to look. Corn, soybean fields, etc., are excellent places to comb. The more snow cover there is, the less area there is exposed. For shed hunting, bad weather can actually shrink your scouting area, which is a good thing. Small sections of exposed fields will invite a concentration of feeding by deer thus increasing your chances of finding sheds. Heavily beaten trails exiting to crop fields also offer stellar opportunity and they are easy to find compared to their surroundings. So when do we have the best opportunity to locate sheds?

Shed antlers can be found as early in late December here in the Midwest, all though it is mostly uncommon at that time. In January, your chances pick up a bit. February through March is the most optimum time. Hunting antlers is a lot like hunting for morel mushrooms. You can comb over the same spot over and over and not see anything, then one day in the very same spot you looked previously, there they lie. Expect to cover large distances and to spend a lot of time, as this process can be very time consuming.

Shed hunting has actually caught on as a hobby in itself. There are shed hunting clubs, magazines and so forth. Having said that, there is a market for shed antlers also. The prices vary in correlation to the size of the antlers. Of course, matched sets are worth even more. Shed hunting can be a great excuse to get the family outdoors when traditionally it is customary to stay cooped up indoors. Making scouting fun can be a great way to locate not only shed antlers, but ultimately to find that big buck hiding place.

Tip of the week!

Tip of the week comes from Larry LaMorey from Naperville, IL. Larry says he has better luck finding sheds near fences, where deer jump across and near staging areas where deer hold for a given amount of time before heading out into the fields. Thanks Larry for the tips!

 

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