A Shed Hunter’s Worst Nightmare

So far, this has been one of the most depressing shed seasons I have ever encountered.  Most years I have accumulated 5-10 sheds at this point, but right now I’m at 2, and I found those in December.  My trade show schedule has kept me from hitting all of my prime spots, but with the amount of snow my hunting property has received, I’m probably not missing out on much that would be available for me eyes to see.  Where I hunt in Southeast Minnesota, they have received over 40 inches of snow in the last month.  Along with heavy snowfall, winds have exceeded blizzard category on several occasions, leading to massive snow drifts.  By my house in SW Minnesota, we have one drift well over 8 feet high.  As you can see in the pic below my wife is keeping a positive attitude about it by standing on a drift next to my garage (eye level with the roof).    

When snow piles up this much, it can sometimes create awesome shed hunting opportunities if you happen to find where deer have been “yarding” up together.  When a lot of deer are in an area of heavy snow, they tend to pack it down and you can easily find these areas, because it’s easy to walk around as there are so many tracks in one area, the snow is flat.  If you are feeding deer this winter, you know what I’m talking about as well.  

This year however, the bulk of the snow piled up late enough that many of the bucks had already shed before they started congregating to survive the harsh winter conditions.  This year is a perfect storm against shed antlers in much of the Midwest:  A massive amount of snow combined with sheds spread out across landscape.  Below is what the current snowpack looks like in SE Minnesota now.  This past weekend we received another 4 inches, accompanied by more blizzard category winds, which will no doubt bury antlers even further into the white abyss.      

I haven’t really gone shed hunting, because I don’t have a good pair of snow shoes to reach my property with.  At this pace, I will be doing most of my shed hunting in early April.  No doubt I will be dealing with a lot of rodent chews on antlers, as mice will bury holes into the snow and will run across a few antlers in their journey.  It looks like there will be a small window of opportunity before turkey hunting that some snow should melt, but looking a month ahead to begin shed hunting has me seriously depressed.  I hope I’m not the only one.  If you are having the “bad shed season blues” feel free to reach out to me and we can talk it through.  We can reminisce about when we had bare ground on March 10th last year.  On a more positive note, the days are getting longer and by the end of March, our average high temps will be in the upper 40s, so I am praying very hard that March will indeed come in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Good luck out there, and if you do happen to be lucky enough to find a nice shed, feel free to post it on our Facebook page.

TIM NEUMAN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST 

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