By Mark Kenyon
I’ve got to be honest with you all, I’m really excited about today’s post. Now that the first days of March have dawned, the floodgates have been opened for shed hunting and bone should start being found in bunches! That being said, I know there are tons of people looking for helpful shed hunting tips every day. And while there are plenty of tips available all over the web, it seems like you usually just get one random person’s opinion and a few small pieces of advice. There seemed to be a need for a more definitive and comprehensive shed hunting resource, so it only seemed right that we should make this available on Wired To Hunt!
So with this being the case, I reached out to a number of expert shed hunters from across the hunting industry and with their help I was able to put together an incredible array of shed hunting tips. Read on for some super helpful shed hunting insights from the who’s who of the hunting world! And then at the bottom of this article, you’ll see link to a number of our other top shed hunting resources. Enjoy!
Bill Winke – Midwest Whitetail
“A very experienced shed hunter told me that you find the sheds in the places where the deer spend the most time during the winter. In winter, it is sometimes hard to tell fresh sign from old sign, especially right after snow melt. He recommended looking for fresh droppings and lots of them. A deer can’t hide droppings and the melting snow won’t wash them away. He really slows down and spends a lot of time in areas with lots of fresh droppings.”
Mark and Terry Drury – Drury Outdoors
“Shed hunting is definitely a numbers game. The more eyes the better chance you have, the more ground you cover the better. We’d also recommend you use Reconyx cameras to establish when the deer have shed. The worst thing you could do is hunt too early and push them on to your neighbors where they drop their antlers.”
Scott Bestul – Field & Stream’s Whitetail 365
“Unless you’ve got a photographic memory (I don’t), find a method for labeling your antlers. This will help you remember the location, date, and score of every horn. Write the information on a piece of masking tape or a small piece of paper and attach it to the antler.
Mix it up: If you’re in an area where you know there should be sheds, but you’re just not finding them, vary your routine. I’ve spotted some of my best sheds after walking hard, then just sitting in one spot for awhile, looking around….Or walking loops or squares in a pattern. Another trick, which I learned hunting morel mushrooms, is to kneel down and scan from a different angle. I don’t know if these changeups just reset my inattentive brain, or if weird light angles are just preventing me from seeing antlers…But I do know they’ve let me spot a shed I was missing before. And yes, I’m usually looking for antlers a whole lot smaller than most guys!
Jason Smith – Whitetail Properties
“Before you start, throw a few sheds on the ground and stare at them, get your eyes accustomed to looking for them. It’s easy to lose your concentration when shed hunting and walk right past them. A few years ago I actually stopped right next to one to take a break and didn’t see it until I looked back because I heard one of my fellow shed hunters coming. It seems crazy but if you don’t train your eyes you can miss them. When I am walking I identify everything I see on the ground. I am constantly looking at one item and I say to myself what it is… stump, stick, grass, droppings, snow, ice, acron, walnut, thorn, branch, cedar….I name everything I see and it helps me to look at each and every item on the ground.
When you find one antler the other side is probably close. I begin walking a circle around the location I found the shed. If you bring a bright cloth with you, tie it to a branch where the first shed is at so you can keep track of your location in relation to it. If you are in grass lay it out on top of the grass. If I still can’t find it I get in a high location and use my binoculars to try to spot the other side.
Feeders help me concentrate sheds in one area. Deer don’t like to move far from food sources in the winter. I keep my feeders full after season closes and besides getting great photos, my sheds are always within 3-400 yards of the feeders.”
Kandi and Don Kisky – Whitetail Freaks
“You have to look at the right slopes. 75% of our sheds are found on east and south slopes and food is key.”
Todd Pringnitz – White Knuckle Productions
“Like in most cases when it comes to hunting whitetail deer, I hunt the sign, whether I’m shed hunting or bowhunting. Like during hunting season, you are hunting deer on a pattern between food and bedding. You have to locate the primary food sources in your area to locate the likely positions of most of your deer, including bucks after the hunting season. I continue to use trail cameras to monitor shedding throughout the winter months and don’t start walking until I start to see the my primary shed animals dropping. Once I know there are sheds to be found, I walk starting from the feeding areas and moving outward toward the bedding areas. If snow is present, this will make your job easier in determining the primary travel routes. Re-walk all your best stuff every 10-14 days to find the antlers as they drop. If you aren’t finding sheds, you aren’t where the deer are.”
Mike Hanback – Remington’s The Buck Stops Here with Mike Hanback
“A rainy day is great—sheds shine and catch your eye. Bones can be tough to see in brown grass lit with harsh sunlight.
The biggest mistake people make is to wander around, looking too far out front and all around. Mark off small grids of land, walk slowly over each grid and look straight down at the ground for sheds.
Wear soft-soled boots. One April day Iowa shed expert Don Kisky stepped on a stick, or so he thought. He dug through the leaves and uncovered a five-point 75-inch shed. With the other antler and an 18-inch spread, that giant would have pushed 170. With his new rack, he would go Boone and Crockett that fall.”
Bryhn Craft – Whitetail Properties
“Looking for shed antlers takes a little practice to become efficient. It’s like when you first started deer hunting. You know what I am talking about, your dad is trying to show you a deer and you just can’t seem to see it until it moves. It was because you were looking for the whole deer. As you learn to look for just parts of the deer, maybe an ear or a leg, or maybe just the tine of the antler, you all the sudden increase your sightings. It is the same with shed hunting. If you walk around just trying to spot a whole antler lying on the ground, you may find a few, but you will be missing a whole bunch more. Try looking for the just the tip of the tines, or just the base of the antler and you will increase your odds of finding more antler significantly. You can always tell if a guy is a good shed hunter if he not only comes back with the big ones, but comes back with the spikes as well.”
Tony Hansen - Realtree.com Contributor
“Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to spot the movement of antlers in the timber on rainy or overcast days? Well it seems to be the same with sheds. Bright sun makes everything glare. I have a much easier time spotting antlers when it’s overcast — not sure why that it is, but it holds true for me. I also have a friend who ‘collects’ sheds by using rubber bungee straps pulled tight across two trees near a feeder or food plot. He picks the most used path of entry or exit and stretches the bungees across about chest-high (he’s about six feet tall). Then when bucks duck under to pass, they brush the straps and often leave sheds behind. It looks kind of goofy but there’s no arguing with the results. He finds a lot of sheds lying right under those straps.”
Jeff Lindsey – Drury Outdoors
“My favorite places to look are on south facing slopes as close as you can get to the last available food source. I also like to look in the grasses on the edge of crop fields that bucks like to lay in and mill around in throughout the night.”
Pete Alfano – Whitetail Properties
“If your crunched for time and want to get in the most effective walking on your boots, I would start with south facing slopes located not far from late winter food sources where I’ve seen deer herding back up in January and February. Another great spot that is over looked is grass water ways or areas in fields that are the first to be exposed from melting snow.”
In addition to all of these great tips, I’ve listed many of our prior shed hunting articles and resources below for you to reference. Between the expert tips above and the strategies you can learn about in the articles below, you truly will be ready to make this your best shed season ever!
Have any other shed hunting tips that folks should know about? Share them in the comments!