Hunting for whitetail antler sheds is becoming one of the fastest growing aspects of deer hunting. Bucks begin to shed their antlers in late winter, but depending on snow coverage, most sheds aren’t found until early spring. Shed hunting is a good way for hunters to get into the woods and enjoy the warming weather and scout out their hunting grounds.
Sheds are an important tool in learning what size of deer are in your hunting area. Some sportsmen will also use sheds as an opportunity for tracking dogs to keep their skills sharp. So let’s talk about some key points of shed hunting.
Why do bucks shed their antlers?
Antlers are shed in mid winter when daylight shortens and bucks’ testosterone levels drop post-rut. The drop in these hormones cause the tissues at the antler base to deteriorate thus allowing the antlers to fall off. Climate, nutrition, antler health, age, stress, and genetics can influence when antlers will fall off.
When should I look for shed antlers?
Most shed hunters begin in early spring when the snow has melted away. The more serious you are about finding sheds, the sooner you should begin. Not only are you in competition with other hunters but animals like squirrels and mice. The ground animals can completely chew an antler in a matter of a few days when food is sparse.
Where should I start searching?
Antlers are hard to spot since they blend in well with fallen leaves and forest floor brush. Places that could be a food source or bedding areas for the bucks is a good start. Fields with cover crops, food plots, or unpicked crops are common winter time sources of nutrition. Thick brush or secluded areas near the food are common bedding grounds for bucks. For more experienced hunters hillsides and hollows are great spaces to check, too. Locations that have obstacles to get to are unlikely to hold the prized shed your searching for,
How do I find sheds?
The more distance you can cover, the better. Shed hunting is a slow process. You should try to only scan about three feet at a time and keep your eyes focused downward. If you are trying to cover a large area of ground, try dividing it up into quadrants and conquering one at a time or making it a team effort. Beginners sometimes have better luck on rainy days when antlers have a sheen to them in comparison to the dull ground cover.
Most of the time you won’t find a pair of antlers side by side, but chances are they aren’t far apart. A common trend has been appearing with hunters making digital pins of where they found sheds so they can return to the area in following years. If food and shelter opportunity remains similar, chances are the deer will be in the same area. This is especially true for hunting for Whitetail antler sheds.