Finding sheds can be great way to get outside after a long winter when cabin fever starts to set in, get some exercise due to holiday meals, or do some preseason scouting. Maybe there is that target buck you’re after or simply wanting to add to your growing shed collection. Whatever the reason, here’s a few tips to help you find your next shed!
1. Take it easy! Trying to walk too fast will often make you walk right past a shed. I like to cover trails, fence lines, and open fields, but when I get in the timber… its best to scan the area. Maybe walk a few steps and look 360 degrees with your eyes. That shed could be on the other side of some blow down and if you don’t look behind you, you will never see it. Bring a set of binos with you. Pick a spot to sit and scan a cut bean field, or pond dam. Too many times when I first got into shed hunting that I walked right past a shed only to have a buddy scoop it up that was slowly bringing up the rear.
2. Partly Sunny or Partly Cloudy? Cloudy days are your best friend. Shadows caused by bright sunny days can hide sheds in plain view. The sunlight can also make everything look bright and shiny, like a big tine sticking up. Cloud cover allows you to not have to squint and makes shed stand out easier.
3. Wet and Wild! I absolutely love shed hunting right after a rain or even during a light rain. The rain will knock down leaves, revealing those tines of white. The water will also darken up the dirt, timber, and leaves, making those shed pop out to your eyes. As far as scouting goes, mud trails become much more obvious to let you know where the deer are concentrating their movements.
4. What are you looking for? Sounds elementary and I have done this to myself and my kids. Bring a shed with you in your backpack. Get to spot on the CRP, or field edge. Throw the shed on the ground, and look at how it lays. Are you looking at tines up or the curve of the main beam up? Sometimes seeing a shed its natural state might look way different at first then holding one up or how it looks on a deer. Also, having a shed to throw out in a field does well with kids that might be getting bored of walking and not finding one. My youngest found the same shed one day 3 times before he caught on. But now, he loves shed hunting whether we find one that walk or not.
5. Grid your area! Don’t try to cover 200 acres at one time by yourself. Chances are you will be running through it so fast, you wont find much (see tip #1). Section it off to walk areas to hit one day and come back to hit the other. Plus you will know that an area has been searched and you can mark it off the list.
6. When do you start? This totally depends on your area. Trail cameras can help you out when its time to start walking. There will always be 1 or 2 bucks in your area that seem to hold until end of march or early April though. Its always a race to see who will find the sheds first, you or the squirrels. You don’t want to go too soon in fear of bumping bucks to another area that might not be available to you to search as well. It only takes 1 second for an antler to fall off. Where will that deer be at that second. I try to focus on a 24 hour period of that bucks day. How many hours will he bed, how many hours will he be feeding, what could he be feeding on? The areas that have the largest hour blocks is where I focus most of my time.
7. Think like a farmer… What does this mean? Row crop farmers typically rotate their crops. If you found a ton of sheds in a bean field one year and the next it was corn and you found none, then you might be on to something. Personally cut bean fields have always been good to me. I cover all edges, the field, and the timber surrounding them. South side facing slopes near ag fields are dynamite as well.
These aren’t all the rules of shed hunting because there are no rules to shed hunting. There is still a ton of luck involved but if these tips above yield a few extra sheds, then thats simply awesome! Good luck!!!