By Alex Comstock
In many areas around the country, bucks are just starting to shed their antlers. If you are planning on putting on some miles this spring in search of some bone, there are a couple things you can ask yourself before hand. These are three things I usually struggle with, so I'm going to guess a few others do as well.
1. Are You Willing To Put on The Miles? There are two types of shed hunting that come to mind - Paradise and Normal. Paradise is the highly managed properties with loads of late season food, standing crops, and antlers seemingly laying everywhere. There is still strategy that goes into shed hunting a property like this, but what I'm used to is much different.
If you shed hunt areas that are anything like where I do, it's not uncommon to have to walk literally miles in between antler finds. This isn't always 100% the case, as you never know what you might stumble on to. There might be a great bedding area or food source you know of, but other than that it can be a lot of walking. The furthest I walked in one day last spring was about 15 miles and we came up with six or seven sheds, along with a couple dead heads (between four guys). Are you willing to put on the miles?
2. Are You Going Shed Hunting or Scouting? This is my number one downfall as a shed hunter. In order to be successful finding antlers, you need to 1: have your eyes on the ground and 2: be walking where the deer have been most recently. Too often I set out on a mission to find sheds and the moment I notice I rub or scrape, I find myself scouting, and hours later I realize I just spent a whole afternoon scouting, without even hardly looking for antlers.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this at all. By all means, spring can be the best time of the year to scout, but there is a difference between scouting and shed hunting. I like to go into a day with a goal of either finding sheds, or scouting. The more I keep them separate, the more successful I am at shed hunting, and ultimately scouting as well.
3. How Easily Will You Get Discouraged? Shed hunting can be a funny thing sometimes. There is so much anticipation and excitement right away to go out and find these precious antlers. But how much anticipation and excitement is lost after you've gone out and walked three times, and don't have an antler to show for it?
I get stupidly excited to go out every spring the first couple of times I hit the woods. But to this point in my life, I haven't been a good shed hunter at all. I've got hunting buddies that love to go shed hunting with me because they joke that they get to find them all. So trust me, I know how it feels to be discouraged after a few walks. Keep that head up (not literally) and keep walking. The more you find, the better you'll get at it.
I know I'm excited to get out there and start finding some bone. Good luck to everyone this spring, and remember to ask yourself these three things. You might just find some answers that will end up helping you pick up a few more antlers in the coming months.