Gear up for a shed search
Anxiety, restlessness and behaving completely out of character all are symptoms of a common mid-February malady.
If you’re beginning to look forward to sitting down with a nice cup of hot tea and watching “Quilting with Nancy,” or if you suddenly understand why “the colors in the kitchen are all wrong,” you’ve been cooped up too long and have a serious case of cabin fever.
Luckily, Mother Nature has provided us with a cure for this potentially debilitating ailment. In this neck of the woods, most white-tailed bucks already have shed their antlers, and the rest are soon to follow. Hunting sheds is more than good exercise. It presents the opportunity to get outside and get moving before rearranging furniture sounds like a good idea.
Finding sheds can help you pattern the bucks where you hunt. On one level, it’s pretty simple. When you find the sheds of a big buck, you immediately know two things. One, he survived the hunting season. And two, he has been in your hunting area, because he dropped his antlers there. It’s also possible that where you find a shed is the same place that buck spends the winter, and it could be where he was hanging out when the weather turned cold late in the hunting season. That could be useful information the next cold, December day you are out deer hunting.
Around here, the best time to search for sheds is now until the grass starts getting tall in April. Looking early can be better than looking later. Dropped antlers may not last long. As soon as one hits the ground, it’s fair game for mice and other critters that want to add more calcium to their diets.
Start looking for sheds the same places you look for deer — around feeding and bedding areas and places where deer go to water. Successful shed hunters say if you’re after big sheds, hunt the tough cover and find a big buck’s Fortress of Solitude. While it does happen, it is unlikely that a buck will shed both antlers at the same time. When one side falls off, the other will drop soon, but soon could be the next day and several hundred yards away from the first drop.
I find more sheds by accident than I do looking for them. Until you train yourself to spot them, a shed antler on the ground is hard to distinguish from brush and dead branches.
Mike Willard of http://www.huntingnet.com has some advice: “Look for the tines (extending) from the main beam,” he writes. “These are sharper than the twigs and leaves that are easily mistaken for sheds.”
Some devoted shed hunters find antlers from the same buck year after year. They can see his antler development and growth, sometimes without seeing the deer. If you’re going out after trophy class sheds, get permission to cross property lines and lace up your boots. Dedicated shed hunters may walk many miles for every quality shed found.