Shed Hunting

by Roger Raglin September 23, 2016

Shed Hunting

This one is easy. If you don’t want to mess with it. Then don’t. If you do I’ll give you a couple of tips in order to help you be more successful at it. First of all I get it if you don’t shed hunt. I don’t do a lot of it myself. Oops did I just say that? OK I admit it. I don’t spend a lot of time shed hunting. I mean lets face it. It’s time consuming and it really can be quite frustrating to boot. Come on let’s get real here. I don’t know of anyone who has the raw talent or good fortune and just being able to set out in the woods, look down and find a matching set of 180 drop sheds off a monster whitetail buck. Do you? Even if you’re doing everything right (and we’ll talk about that) anybody can quite simply stumble over and miss a big shed laying right in front of them. It’s sort of like misplacing your car keys. You tear the house apart searching for 2 hours and then you look up and see them setting on top the dresser in plain sight.

Several years ago during the hot month of August I made about a 4 hour driver over into Missouri to look at a potential property to hunt in November. While cruising around on an ATV with Jim Mitchel the landowner I noticed and quickly pointed to a large shed laying in the grass right next to the trail we were riding on.

“Oh my Lord. Look at that,” Jim yelled.

He slammed on the brakes so fast he almost threw me right over the top of the rig.

“We’ve combed every inch of this property for months looking for sheds and we’ve driven down this path a 100 times and never saw this laying there,” he exclaimed.

I didn’t say much because I know it just happens to everyone. By the way I’m really glad that it happened. There wasn’t much question after finding that shed that I was coming back to try and hunt that monster buck. I didn’t shoot him or even see him but I did knock down a giant 8 pointer with 14 inch back tines the second day of the Missouri rifle season. And of course that’s the best reason to shed hunt in the first place. You find a big shed on the property your hunting you know you’ll be excited about hunting that buck in the fall.

Finding that big shed in August was an unusual situation because normally here in the Midwest sheds don’t make it that long. Squirrels and mice are notorious for devouring a shed in a very short amount of time. Rodents like the calcium in that bone and gnawing usually begins the second those racks hit the ground. So if your going to be serious about shed hunting you need to get out there after it by the end of January and really get serious during the month of February.

South facing slopes with heavy cover are a good bets to find winter bedding areas. This is not rocket science. Look for sheds where the bucks are. With it being late winter and the rut being over deer revert back to the survival mode. This time of year whatever left over crops there might be you can count on whitetail’s being in and around these areas. Deer are heavy browsers in later winter and the early spring months. So many times they are feeding and bedding right in the same area.

Usually when a buck drops one side of his antler he’ll drop the other side within a few hours. A buck’s rack may just drop off or he may knocked them off hitting them with low hanging limbs as he goes about his daily routine. Either way by focusing on a buck’s bedding and feeding area which will be much more limited in late winter you can narrow down your choices when beginning to search for sheds. Take your time. Don’t get in a hurry. Scan the ground hard. There are several reasons that actually determine when a buck drops his rack. And really in the end, none of them are really important for you to know. It’s going to happen sooner than later and you can count on it.

I usually like to carry my .22 rifle or .410 shotgun and do a little rabbit hunting while I’m looking for sheds. The same kind of cover that’s good for rabbits is also good for deer. I’m not worried about spooking deer. They’ve got 7 months to settle back down.

Once again if shed hunting is just not your thing then don’t worry about it. Whatever buck or bucks are out there will drop those racks and grow new ones with or without your assistance or not.  You aren’t any more or less of a hunter because of your lack of participation in this particular activity, but it can help you see what kind of bucks are roaming the property you hunt.




Roger Raglin
Roger Raglin

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