The season of antler-hunting is upon us. At the onset of January, deer shed their antlers, trying to adapt to their surroundings and the changing weather. You might rummage through the woods nearby as the snow melts, foraging for shed antlers.
If you are only just developing an interest in the hobby, you might find yourself in a twist.
Hunting for deer sheds is not the most straightforward task you can find; however, it is something you can learn quickly with the right guide.
The most challenging part of shed hunting is finding a place to search for them. But finding the proper place to start looking for buck sheds can be confusing and often intimidating.
To help novice hunters get started, here are a few places where you can begin looking for deer sheds. Remember that you may not always find everything you are looking for in your first attempt.
However, these places give you the highest probability of getting your hands onto shed antlers.
Think of unending fields of corn or soybean in the American Midwest. Add a few apple orchards right next to those fields. What do you get?
A paradise for herds of deer. These herds thrive on carbohydrates and proteins throughout the year, and these two crops form a majority of the deer diet. Additionally, deer also love fruits like apples.
So, once you locate a place that deer would want to come, such as apple orchards, you increase your chances of getting some deer shed.
If deer find a place where they can feed easily, they will continue to gorge on that land.
Such fields of food grains, fruits, or other crops like beans and tall brassicas become great locations for deer shed hunting.
A standing field of corn can be very illustrious in looking for shed antlers. Deer find standing areas efficient for food compared to harvested fields as they do not enjoy working hard for their grains.
However, they are made to scavenge for their nutrition in a harvested field. So, agricultural fields make for an excellent place to start hunting for deer sheds.
Find a nearby standing farm, and you will be very close to finding some quality antlers.
The only drawback to an agricultural field such as a standing cornfield is its rare occurrence in most hunting terrain. While deer may frequent these spaces, such areas are reasonably difficult to find.
Are you looking for deer sheds in the wilderness amidst the woods?
The best way is to look for a distinct patch of evergreen trees. Similarly, if you are hiking in a plateau-like region, you may spot a dense gathering of evergreen plants on the ground.
These evergreens are generally disconnected from the rest of the flora and usually form a thick cover on otherwise open land.
Herds of deer prefer the branches and leaves of these evergreens, i.e., cedars, small pines, hemlocks, etc., as their bedding.
Since evergreen patches are significant natural barriers against wind, rain, and snow, deer frequent these patches for rest. In addition, these patches also provide warmth during haphazard weather changes.
Thus, individuals have a great shot at bagging quite a few antler sheds in every evergreen patch they see. These patches stand out in the wild and show clear indications of nearby deer activity.
For instance, you can observe clear pugmarks around an evergreen vegetation growth to decipher the location of a nearby herd. A handy rule is to inspect every green patch along your deer shed expedition.
CRP, or Conservation Reserve Programs, are specialized fields where farmers do not plant crops. Instead, these lands are used to grow unique species of plants that will enrich the environment and the soil.
Such CRP Fields are a commonly known habitat for deer. The thick, brushy parts of a property are converted to CRP lands, which deer frequent. Deer frequent CRP fields because they provide fodder in abundance.
You can spot a herd of deer easily and frequently in CRP land. Once they leave the land, you may proceed to comb the area to find the antler heads you desire.
The presence of deer in CRP land indicates that the process of sustaining the land is taking shape.
With plants growing and herds of animals frequenting the field, CRP lands might be very successful hunting grounds for deer shed hunters.
However, a poorly planned CRP land can be hunting grounds for predators. So, choose your CRP field wisely.
Thick Brushy Areas
As deer move in herds, you rarely find them solitary meandering around. These herds of deer run by the basic rules of survival in nature – they are constantly looking for food and shelter.
Dense and brushy areas in the wild can often provide impeccable protection from dastardly weather conditions and predators.
So, a thick bushy area in the middle of the plain can mean life for the deer, especially in a fight-or-flight situation.
Moreover, a few lands may have the presence of thick and tall grass, which can form comfortable bedding for the herds. Any dense vegetation in an otherwise flatland can be a decent resting place for deer.
As a result, hunters are more likely to find deer sheds in such cozy nests in the wilderness.
Ask any experienced deer shed hunter about preferred grounds for hunting, and they will mention the three-pronged approach.
Hunters divide hunting grounds into three broad types – bedding areas, feeding areas, and travel corridors.
The herd’s movement from food to shelter areas forms the tight travel corridors in the wild.
Hunters have studied deer behavior for a long time now and have found that the herds do not waste time and move swiftly from feeding areas to bedding areas.
Moreover, their travel corridors are reasonably distinct. The travel corridor can be as easy as a straight line route between food and shelter.
An experienced hunter needs to have keen eyes looking for the slightest signs of buck activity in the vicinity.
It would be best to look for trails leading towards farms, other feeding areas, or distinct bedding grounds.
Moreover, you can look at places like the creeks and fences where the deer might loosen its antlers. As hunters, you need to pay attention to the direction and sun’s exposure to find great antlers.
Suggestions like searching the southern facing exposures always come to fruition, especially if there is quality food nearby.
In addition, if you’re on your hunt during the harsh winter season with a lot of snow accumulation, continue to keep track of Southern exposures to find deer sheds.
Related Article: Do Deer Travel The Same Path Every Day?
Deer shed hunting is a purely tactical activity wherein the hunter needs to use the clues around them to find the sheds.
Hunters can check the feeding grounds nearby or look at spaces where herds of deer can rest without being seen.
Lastly, follow the trail that joins these two grounds. You will most likely get your hands on the coveted deer shed if you make intelligent, logical, and deductive choices in your wilderness hike.
We recommend looking for buck antlers post-winter when the snow melts.
The only advice that veteran hunters would give to up-and-coming hunters is to think like a buck. It would be best if hunters unlearned their human instincts and looked at the wilderness the way a deer would.
Only then would they be able to find the best of shed antlers. So get your thinking caps along with your sun hats, and get yourself some deer shed.