The Secret to Finding Big Sheds
Before I divulge the secret, I want to tell you a little story about a shed hunt I was on this past weekend. Here in Minnesota our sheds have basically been covered by a glacier since mid-January (see previous blog), so now with all of the snow melted, the bone that hit the ground early is finally seeing the light of day. A few friends and I knew it would be a great opportunity to hit some of the open fields around where we hunt to look for sheds. The fields we were targeting were newly established alfalfa, which isn’t as attractive as a standing bean or cornfield, but it’s all we had to work with on this property. At the beginning of the day we talked about the deer living on the farm that made it through hunting season and made a plan of attack. We quickly looked at OnX Hunt maps to see the elevation changes we were dealing with as well as where the deer could possibly be bedding.
We had super high hopes at the start of the day. After 3 hours of walking and nothing to show for it, our hopes dwindled. I wonder how many sheds we walked past in that amount of time. Someday I wish there was a device that could be attached to a buck’s antlers while he sleeps and then when the antler falls off, all you need to do is turn on the tracking device. Until that day comes, I guess I’ll just have to keep wearing out my boots.
Toward the end of the day I decided to give one more bedding area a quick look. I was dog tired and the thought of climbing another bluff without finding a shed was disheartening. I sucked it up, and climbed this bluff to get to the top of the ridge. When I got there I found a lot of signs that deer wintered in the area. Trails covered with tracks and deer poop showed where the majority activity occurred. I came around an inside corner of a field edge and spotted a base sticking out of the last remaining snow. It was one of my hit list bucks! It was the right side to a buck we called “damaged goods” because he had a deformed G3 on one side.
Any shed is a prize but, having history with a buck makes the find that much more enjoyable. As if that weren’t enough, within 10 minutes I was on the other side of the bedding area and found one of the coolest sheds I have ever scooped. This buck was appropriately named “tall brows” because he has some crazy tall brow tines (clever huh?).
The tall brows buck was missed by my lease partner during archery season, so we know where he spends a lot of his time. It should be an easy buck to recognize later this year, which I am extremely excited for!
I can’t recall how many shed hunting articles I’ve read (and written) that mentioned south facing slopes, fence crossings, ditches, feeding areas, and bedding areas to find antlers, but to be honest that narrows it down to about 80 percent of the landscape instead of 100 percent. In reality, sheds can be anywhere! I know it may be a little disheartening that the secret to finding big sheds is that there is no secret, but it’s true. If it were really easy, then it wouldn’t be so rewarding when we actually find a nice antler! The reality of shed hunting is that if it’s possible for a deer to stand in that spot, then there is a chance a shed could be in that same spot. If you can afford to have 30 acres of standing beans, then by all means, you will find more sheds than your neighbor, but this blog is about those of us mere mortals that walk a ton of miles for each shed.
The area I hunt does not have a deer density like southern Iowa, so when I see people finding 20 sheds in a day I sometimes wonder what I’m doing wrong. It can be a mental challenge staying alert for hours upon hours without finding any antlers, but when you do find one, it makes the work totally worth it. Keep a positive attitude, stay hydrated, and keep walking in prime habitat and eventually you will find what you are looking for. If you do find a nice shed, feel free to share with Ani-Logics Outdoors social media pages. Good luck!