Jan 12, 2013

Shed Hunting Finding Natures Treasures       

I fondly refer to shed hunting as an Easter egg hunt for grown-ups. As an avid bow hunter for over 35 years, shed hunting was a way to scout deer that had survived the winter. Shed hunting for me now has taken on a whole new meaning. Getting out into the outdoors and getting some exercise is now equally as important as the scouting mission itself. Getting out this time of year also gives you an opportunity to survey your hunting area. Downed trees, phantom braches and debris can now be eliminated without the risk of spooking the deer out of your area. Also take advantage of this time to check all your tree stands and straps for potential problems. As trees grow and rodents chew, you don’t want to be in an unsafe situation.  As an active shed hunter, I have discovered a few consistent ways to find nature’s treasures. Here are a few of my shed hunting tips.

Having property in East Central Wisconsin with oak ridges, swamps, and creek bottoms, the majority of the sheds I discover are around food sources. As a beginner, I would search an area where I had seen a buck the previous season without much success. As the years passed on, I began to find more sheds on trails leading from bedding to feeding areas. I also would spend more time walking open fields and field edges. As winter progresses and the bucks begin to shed their antlers, some bucks may gather into bachelor groups. During this time frame they are likely to stick to a food to bed pattern to conserve energy and replenish their fat reserves.

If you live in a part of the state that is not dominated by agriculture, you may have to work a little harder. Some parts of the state present some serious barrios so make sure you have some comfortable boots. You’ll need to search those nasty thick bedding areas such as cedar swamps and heavy alder thickets. If you’re lucky enough to discover a deer yard, these are some of the best areas to search when snow is heavy. Don’t let snow slow you down; put on a pair of snowshoes and get the job done. Although snow covers up some sheds, trails become more identifiable. You will also want to pay attention to small drops of blood in the snow and look up into the brush. I have found sheds stuck in heavy brush near bedding areas. You may also want to pay attention to old rub and scrape lines they can produce some treasures as well.

To maximize your efforts, keep an eye on your local deer herd. Take a ride around the local fields and find out where the deer are. They may be concentrated and be feeding in a few select fields. Check with your local farmers.  They may have some information for you, and who knows, they may give you permission to look for treasures on their property. Once you have found a group of bucks, keep checking up on them to see when they drop their antlers. As time goes by, you’ll discover the group will start to look like a herd of does.  It’s time to lace up the boots!

Most importantly, treasure hunting will take you from public to private property. If you plan to shed hunt private property, always remember to make sure you have permission. Never shed hunt on property you do not have access to, and when asking permission, hold the highest level of courtesy and respect for the landowner. When permission is granted, do your best to maintain that relationship throughout the year. You may want to go as far as to ask if they need any help around the farm on occasion. You never know this may result in a future hunting opportunity.

Live life in the Outdoors