You’ve hung up your hunting gear for the season. The opportunities to peer down the scope and squeeze the trigger, watching a crossbow arrow zip down range toward a healthy whitetail deer have come and gone. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still things you can hunt!
Shed antlers are a deer hunters prize for hard work in the off season. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and can be found in many different locations, seemingly at random. But there are a couple places to keep in mind that could help you find more shed antlers on your walks through the woods this time of year.
With a keen eye, picking up on the slightest irregularities on the forest floor, you can bet that you’ll come across some bone if you spend enough time in the woods. One land feature that can help you be even more successful is to find areas where deer, particularly bucks, are spending a large majority of their time. These include bedding areas and feeding areas. When it’s cold outside and there’s snow on the ground, bucks don’t really want to do much other than sleep and eat, so those two places can be hot spots for shed antlers.
Another great spot to look is anywhere a deer might experience any jarring forces. The antlers naturally begin to loosen from a buck’s head this time of year and anywhere a buck might have shaken his head a little more than normal is an excellent place to look as well. Focus on deer trails that cross a fence row where a buck would have to jump from one side to another and slopes in the terrain, including creek and river crossings, where he might have had to exert a little more energy and force. It’s no guarantee, but these are great things to keep in mind to up your odds.
At the end of the day, what you have to keep in mind is that not all bucks shed their antlers at the same time, but that ALL deer tend to travel great distances if they have to for food, water, and cover. So while the above tips can certainly help you better locate shed antlers, the best thing you can do is cover vast expanses of ground. And be thorough about it. Grid searching is a great way to stumble across a shed antler. No matter how good your binoculars are, you still might miss something unless it’s right under your nose. And don’t forget that all of this is information that can help you be more successful when you dig that hunting crossbow back out come fall.
Keep these things in mind when you head to the woods in search of sheds and we hope that you come home with a pile of bone in the bed of your truck!