As the snow begins to melt and reveal some of the green stuff we haven’t seen in many months, anticipation of shed hunting is eating me up. The thing with shed hunting is there are such varying levels of experience. Some have picked up dozens, while others have found a handful, one, or none. Shed hunting success has a number of contributing factors, ranging from acreage, quality habitat, food availability, etc… I have a few words of advice which I believe will help all shed hunters, beginner to seasoned veteran.
1.) Invest The Time
The number one killer of shed hunting enthusiasm is discouragement due to lack of success. Increasing your chances of success is simple: more "boot hours" equals more sheds, plain and simple. Even though there are other contributing factors to shed hunting success, you can control the amount of time you want to invest. Am I saying that if you put in one more hour you’ll find 10 more sheds? You may or may not. But keep positive and make it fun. Gather everyone you can - family, buddies, kids - and don’t get discouraged!
2.) Timing Is Everything
This is the time of year that deer are the most stressed, especially in a northern climate, such as New York State. Does are growing and nurturing one or more fawns, while bucks are recovering from chasing during the long rut, a difficult NY gun season, and dilapidated fat stores. Food is at its lowest availability and lowest quality! DON’T PUSH THEM MORE!! More stress and the displacement of deer equals fewer calories available for the tasks ahead. Does need to develop fawns and recovering bucks need to rebuild their taxed bodies and begin to set the building blocks for antler growth in the upcoming months.
I wait till Late March and early April to do most of my shed hunting. Why? Because that is typically when 90% or ALL snow is gone. When I’m putting in my hours I don’t want there to be sheds under my feet buried under the snow. The sheds will still be there when the snow clears and easier to see from a distance too. Also, if you bump the deer out of an area before they shed, you risk running them off the property where you have permission to shed hunt. Patience and timing is everything.
3.) Location, Location, Location
Fence lines, ditch crossings, food plots. These are the typical “hot spot” places people say to look for sheds. There is no doubt these locations can be productive and yield antlers, but these aren’t necessarily the first places I’m looking come snow-out. While waiting for snow-out, I’m keeping notes as to where I see the most deer activity during the winter. If the deer aren’t there, the sheds won’t be there — period. And just because you find sheds in a spot one year, you are not guaranteed success the next year. Find the deer and you'll find the sheds.
4.) Posted Private Property
If you see deer on piece of property you currently don’t have permission to use, simply ask permission. Many land owners who may be against hunting allow a recreational activity such as shed hunting. Some of my properties have neighboring pieces that yield sheds. I don’t have permission to hunt on them, but I do have permission to shed hunt these parcels. Tell a land owner your reasoning about seeing a lot of deer on their property and the higher probability of finding sheds due to larger deer numbers. For me, finding a shed is one of the best feelings in the world…. unless you find it in your truck or tractor tire, then it's an expensive, unpleasant find. Use this as another possible card to play when asking for permission.
5.) Make It a Family Event
Bring your friends, kids, wife, girlfriend, brother, sister, mom, dad — anyone who will enjoy time in the woods together shed hunting.
6.) The Stuff You Shouldn’t Forget
Shed hunting is one of the best recreational activities and, relatively speaking, it’s the cheapest. With that being said, here is a brief list of the must-haves to bring with you.
That’s my brief guide to shed hunting. I hope you took a few things away from this article. So now the only thing to do is to grab your gear, some buddies, and hit the woods! Sheds Happen Pick em Up.
Ol' Tin Cup Habitat Restoration and Enhancement
Phone: (315) 879-7802