By Alex Comstock
This year, I've enjoyed my best shed season thus far. In fact, I haven't gone shed hunting a day this year and not found a shed yet. By no means am I trying to brag, this isn't an article to talk about how good of a shed hunter I am, because I am light years away from what you would consider an expert. But, I do think there are a couple key reasons I've been finding more bone this year, and I thought I would lay them out for you, and maybe help you find a couple more antlers as well.
1. Slow Down!: I honestly believe this has been the biggest reason for my success the last few weeks. In the past, I have always been under the impression that if I covered as much ground as I could, I would eventually start finding sheds. The quicker you walk, the more you are bound to miss. Lately, I have been consciously walking much slower, and have been much more observatory. In turn, not only have I been finding more antlers, but I have been picking up on minuscule details that I never would have noticed before.
2. Check, and Check Again: This key applies to you if you've searched an area that seems like there "should" be antlers around. For instance, if you've shed hunted an area that holds an amount of promise, or is torn up with deer sign, including beds, lots of poop, trails everywhere, etc. and haven't found any antlers, it doesn't hurt to go back and look again. In the past few weeks, I've gone back to the same spot to shed hunt multiple times. This area is holding a ton of deer, and I know that there is no way I'm covering all of the terrain in just a few hours of walking, and it has paid off for me. In three trips to this spot, I've found nine antlers, and all of those sheds have been spread out over the three trips. It's no surprise you'll find me back there again this coming weekend.
3. Practice: You might be thinking to yourself right now, "How do I practice shed hunting?" or maybe even "Why should I practice?". The way I look at it, if you want to improve any part of your all around deer hunting skills, which can include the ability to find sheds, practice will help you immensely. Think of it this way, if you want to be a better shot with your bow, what do you do? Practice shooting lots of arrows. If you want to improve upon your ability to understand a property, what do you do? Practice identifying how deer use the property by scouting and finding sign such as travel routes, rubs, scrapes, beds, and so forth. With all of that said, wouldn't it make sense that if you wanted to become a more proficient shed hunter to practice? There are a couple ways you could potentially go at this.
The best way that I have found to practice locating or seeing sheds might seem a little rudimentary or basic, but I have found it to be very effective. First of all, if you have the ability and have a patch of woods behind your house, or somewhere nearby, simply walk out there with a shed antler, and toss that antler behind you, and then turn around and see how quickly you can locate that shed. If this isn't applicable to you, I will either bring a shed antler with me when I go shed hunting and do this, or I will do this after finding an antler while out shed hunting. Like I said before, it's a basic idea, but it helps. Every time you throw the antler behind you (without looking), it will land in a different spot, and in a different position. One time, you may turn around and it will be sitting tines up, and be easy to spot, and the next time it could be behind a log, with only part of a tine exposing itself. By doing this constantly, you should become more apt to picking up antlers with your eyes, and it could help you the next time you head out.
Conclusion: By employing these keys, it doesn't ensure that you're going to go on your next shed hunt, and all of a sudden drive out with a truckload of antlers. That shouldn't be groundbreaking news. But, hopefully they will help you become a better shed hunter, and you'll be able to pick up a few more in the process.