Shed season is here and while they say you have to put on the miles to find the piles, we want to help you make the most of your time. Familiarity with property and your whitetail population’s habits and the location puts you at an immediate advantage. If you’re new to shed hunting or a property, try to not wander! Bucks typically shed antlers in five particular areas. Think of areas where you would want to place your Shadow Hunter Blind.
Here are the five places you should spend your time searching for sheds.
Whether there are food plots, agriculture fields or wood browse, finding food and water sources is a great and easy way to locate sheds. If you live in an area where supplemental feeding is allowed, then you’re at even more of an advantage. Nutrition during winter months is imperative to whitetail survival, especially in areas with heavy snowfall. During this time, it’s a given that the deer travel to a food source to load up on whatever fats and carbohydrates they can in order to replenish lost fat and body weight from the rut and sustain themselves into the Spring. This makes food sources an excellent place to start looking for sheds.
Although deer spend a lot of time feeding in these harsh winter months, they spend a lot of time bedded as well. More times than not, I have found sheds in a buck’s bed. Many assume that the biggest, most mature bucks, bed in some of the densest, thick, inaccessible areas, but that isn’t always the case. Bucks will bed where they have the right wind direction, range of vision, cover, sunshine in harsh winter months, and when they’re not pressured, near food and water.
Living in the northern part of the Midwest, we get some heavy snow. This can be rough on the deer population, but there are many ways to use it to your advantage for shed hunting. As stated previously, in the winter months, bucks will bed where there is sunshine. If you find spots where snow is melting faster, these are typically areas where bucks may bed.
If you’re searching marsh or swampland, look for islands or peninsulas. If you hunt terrain that has steep elevation, climb up to ridge points and slopes. For flat farmland, find dense cover on the edge of agriculture. If a river or creek flows through the property, consider searching points where they bend or hook. When I find a bed, I’ll typically mark that area on my onXhunt app or make a mental note for the future. Although bucks don’t constantly bed in the same spot, they may return to that bedding area.
Locate travel corridors and funnels to continue your shed hunt. These may be natural or sometimes man-made routes that bucks use to get from point A to point B. Although man-made travel corridors are often created to benefit hunters during the hunting season, they can also come in handy during the shed season.
Bucks are strategic in their bedding habits, they’re pretty simple when it comes to paths they take. Whitetails often choose a path of least resistance while using terrain and cover to their advantage. If you can deduce where the chosen bedding area or the food and water source is, you’re one step closer to figuring out a travel route.
Travel corridors or funnels can be fencelines, creek crossings, ridge saddles, strips of dense cover, and valleys. Topographic maps may be beneficial in locating funnels and corridors ahead of time, but if you live in areas with snowfall, it’s usually obvious where the deer are traveling. When in doubt, follow fresh trails and poop. This is a basic and less strategic approach, but it can work. This can be invasive and may require more walking, but it’s possible to find sheds.
Fencelines and ditches are other great places to check. Any areas that may require a buck to jump can dislodge shedding antlers on impact.
Shed hunting can be difficult. You have to put in the time and the miles for the piles, but with these five locations, we hope to help you expedite the process. If you can locate a bedding area or food source, you can be lead to a travel corridor! When you find these areas, you’re likely to increase your chances and number of sheds.
Not only is shed hunting a great way to take inventory but use this time to scout for the hunting season. If you’re unsure of where food sources, bedding areas, and travel corridors are, this is the best time to look!