These 5 items are things that you should ALWAYS keep with you when shed hunting:
1. Weather App: Looking for the glint off a shiney white antler laying on the forest floor might sound easy enough, so why not shed hunt when the sun is out in force? Well, there is typically so much other clutter on the ground (either leaves, sticks, branches, or cut crops and blades of grass in open fields) that antlers are very easy to overlook. Not to mention just how frustrating it can be when Mother Nature tricks you with these “imposters”. In these conditions, shed antlers are as camouflaged as a hunting crossbow! When possible, always try to shed hunt on overcast days when the clouds block out the sharp rays of the sun and shed an even light over everything.
2. Sturdy Boots: Footwear is one of the most important things a shed hunter can invest in. For us Midwest hunters, we don’t typically have to walk that far to get to where we hunt, but shed hunting is a completely different beast. In the end, the miles you put on your legs is what determines how many sheds you’re going to run into, so you have to protect your feet and stay comfortable at the same time. A comfortable, waterproof, and sturdy boot can go a long way to making your shed hunts that much more enjoyable.
3. Optics: In this part of the country, spotting scopes don’t have much purpose, but a good pair of binoculars do! On the fly, you can cover more ground with a good, sharp set of glass to extend your vision. In addition, the binoculars can be the ONE thing that helps you determine an imposter from the real thing without having to walk all the way over to it to check it out.
4. Topographical Map: You can download these on your phone or have a company print them out for you, but the “lay of the land” can help you determine exactly where you should focus your efforts. If you know anything about how to scout for terrain features that dictate deer movement patterns, you can predict where deer travel most often and, if you know where the bucks are bedding and going to feed, you’re armed with information that can drastically increase your odds of finding sheds.
5. Pack System: Whether it is a backpack or fanny pack, something to put your gear and any sheds you find is critical. Since you’re going to be covering a lot of ground, packing water and some snacks will help keep you fueled and determined to continue your search. You’re going to need a pack for that. If you’ve got your phone, a pair of binoculars, a print out map, and other gear, You’re going to need a pack for that. Plus, if you follow these tips you’re likely coming home with more “white gold” than you thought, and you don’t want to have to cary them all in your hands all the way back to the truck. You’re going to need a pack for that.
An alternative option is to use a dog. This method is growing more and more popular each year, but it’s not for everyone. Put miles under your feet and take advantage of these 5 tips and you stand a pretty good chance of coming home with more than a few shed antlers. Good luck this shed hunting season and may your efforts help you strategize and develop a plan for this coming fall so you can put that compount crossbow to work!