Tips for Finding Sheds

As shed hunting season kicks into high gear, Bob Robb has put together some tips for helping you score some nice horns. Here are some proven tips for maximizing your shed hunting efforts:

1) Always be on the lookout for new shed hunting grounds. I have friends who travel all over horn hunting, and have found shedding Meccas in strange places like cemeteries, city and county parks, and municipal wildlife sanctuaries. Even folks with “No Hunting” signs posted often permit access for other activities, like mushroomingand if you find sheds in the process nobody will complain!

2) In winter, deer spend most of their time eating, sleeping, and trying to stay warm. Thus, feeding and bedding areas are key shed hunting locationsespecially when located on sunny southern exposures on the edges of woodlots, hillsides, and brush tangles.

3) Where might a buck lose an antler because he jarred his body or perhaps struck an overhanging limb? Places like fence crossings, trails on steep embankments, creek crossings andfallen logs on trails all fill the bill here. So, too, do trails going through thick brush or with low-hanging branches.

4) Agricultural fields are prime shedding areasespecially high carbohydrate crops like corn, winter wheat, rye and soybeans, which deer love in winter. In fact, bucks often forego lying in sheltered areas and will bed right in open fields if the food source is good enough. Searching a large crop field can be mind-boggling. So much ground to search, and sheds can be anywhere. There are a few ways to help maximize your time. If at all possible, watch where deer enter the field and where they feed most commonly. Tracks in either snow or mud can help; find the largest concentration of tracks and start there. But first, glass the field. If the stubble is low and the grass has just started to come up, get to as high a vantage point as you can and glass using both a binocular and spotting scope. After that, it’s all about walking. Employ a grid search pattern and cover the field thoroughly.

5) In woodlots it is all about choosing areas most likely to hold sheds. Rather than walking back and forth through the woods; look for thick brush, lone pines and other places that differentiate themselves from their surroundings. Pick the woods apart and try to determine where bucks would spend most of their time. You should maximize your time by searching in the high-percentage areas, looking in marginal areas only if you have extra time. It’s all about maximizing your opportunities.
 I like to start at the southern edge of a woodlot, especially if it is right along a crop field. Here, deer have quick access to a prime food source, and they can soak up direct sunlight. Look first under tall pines, which stand out from the surrounding hardwoods. A row of pines on the north edge of the property is also a good spot for the same reason. Also, concentrate on deer trails that run both parallel and perpendicular to any waterways.

6) There’s only one way to shed hunt the big woodseliminate marginal territory. Begin by searching the edges, where deer were likely to stage before leaving the woods to feed in neighboring agricultural fields at night. Follow any obvious courses from the edge of the woods to the interiorstreams, trails, and so on. These pathways should eventually lead to areas where deer hang outa clearing where deer can lie on high ground and soak up the winter sun. Look for food sources and natural funnels like such saddles connecting two ridges that concentrate deer movement.

It’s all about maximizing your time, which means eliminating areas where deer most likely do not hang out in late winter and early spring. Good luck!

              -- Bob Robb, contributor

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2 Responses to Tips for Finding Sheds

Michael Cook wrote:
January 30, 2012

I live in WV we don't have a lot of crop fields all of my sheds come from power line cuts and big woods.Thanks for the info I'm always lookin for tips to help me find more sheds

Danny Napier wrote:
December 14, 2011

Thanks for the imfo