A week or two ago, my dad found a shed from a really great buck on the farm in North Missouri. It’s gettin’ to be that time of year where more and more sheds are falling off and people start hunting again…shed hunting that is.
For those of you that don’t know what a shed it, it’s the antler of a horned animal (whitetail, muley, moose, elk, etc.) that falls off when mating season is over. The reason for this, according to some research, is because the testosterone level in the male antlered animal drops. His current shed falls off in hopes to grow an even bigger and better one the following season.
I’m a newbie when it comes to shed hunting. I’ve never been but plan on changing that in the next couple of days. Apparently some consider it a sport just like regular hunting. There are techniques and tricks to make it a successful hunt. I’ll share some of those with you shortly.
After sharing this shed photo my dad sent to me with a friend of mine, we’ll call him Phil, we got to talking about shed hunting and the following conversation occurred (while it may not be that funny to some of you, I got a little tickled during it because he had a typo that confused the heck out of me, especially since I’m ignorant when it comes to shed hunting):
Beth: Check out this shed my Dad found. He found it not far from where I shot my doe.
Phil: I need to go look for some.
Beth: Is it time for them to start falling off already?
Phil: Not really, some may start falling, but it is still two to three weeks early. Some of the ones that are found now are ones that broke off during fights.
Beth: I asked Dad if that’s what this one looked like and he said no, but I’m no pro on sheds.
Phil: If it still had the know on the bottom, then it probably did drop.
Beth: The know? I don’t know what the know is!
Phil: The know is a typo from an idiot that cannot spell KNOB!
Beth: Man…I was thinking that would be a great blog post! I could educate people on what the know is, for those who didn’t know what the know was.
Phil: There are a lot of people, several around here, that don’t know what the know is. It would do several of them some good to figure out what the know is.
Haha…thanks for the laugh Phil. While there is a lot I don’t know about hunting and shed hunting, I was pretty sure I was going to have to learn a lot to keep up with the terms Phil was throwing at me.
I stumbled upon another site that offers some great advice on shed hunting, from master shed hunter and author Joe Shead.
1. Look for southern exposures, such as south-facing hills and the south edge of a forest. The south face receives the most direct sunlight in winter. Deer bed here to soak up radiant heat, much like a cat lying in a window. Direct sunlight also reduces snow depth here first, making it easier for deer to bed, travel and find food.
2. Check under scattered evergreens. Whether it’s a lone cedar in the middle of a fallow field or a handful of scattered pines in a hardwood forest, check under every one, particularly under the south side. Deer are drawn to these odd features on a landscape the same way a fish is drawn to weeds, rocks or logs in an otherwise featureless lake.
3. Walk slower than you think you need to. There are a lot of things on the ground that look like sheds and many other things that can cover up sheds. Sheds look a lot like sticks, brush and cornstalks so your eyes need time to separate the grain from the chaff. Your pace should be dictated by how fast your eyes can thoroughly scan the ground, not how fast you can walk.
4. Look for pieces of an antler. Sometimes you see a deer’s tail twitch or you see a glint of antler before you spot the whole deer. It’s the same way with sheds. Sheds can be buried under snow or grass or may be projecting only part-way from behind sticks or logs. Look for a piece of tine, a round base or the M-shape of an antler lying tines down or a W-shape of an antler lying tines up. Many times that 3-inch piece of antler you see sticking out behind the grass is attached to a much-larger antler.
5. Keep your eyes on the ground. As simple as this sounds, it’s amazing how often you’ll catch yourself looking at deer, birds, rubs or other things above ground level. Last week I watched 2 deer jump up out of their beds and bound uphill. On the way out of that area that night, I spotted a 4-point shed that I had stepped within 3 feet of when I was watching those 2 deer.
If you go shed hunting this season, be sure to send me your pics and I’ll post them on my Facebook page!