Patience: I know you’re itching to get out there, but don’t go too early. If you spook a 150-class buck with loose, wobbly antlers, he might run a quarter-mile and drop one or both sides in a remote spot where you can’t find them, or across a fence where you don’t have permission to go. A good rule of thumb is to start looking in mid-January, and really crank it up around Super Bowl Sunday, when most bucks have dropped the bone.
Watch winter feeding areas where deer congregate (corn, soybeans, hay lots, etc.) every few days until you see few if any bucks with antlers. Then start looking. A good option is to set a couple of trail cameras around feeding areas or even bait piles if legal in your area. Once bucks are bald in your images, start hunting.
Glass: Everybody uses binoculars when hunting, but few people carry them when shedding. But you should. “I once sat on a log and glassed 7 sheds lying around in different spots,” says Montana shedding nut Luke Strommen. “One of the best spots to glass is a wooded area that was recently grazed by cattle,” Luke says. “You’d be amazed how many sheds you missed on previous days or even in previous years. The cows uncover and kick up some old ones.”
Check the bedroom: Check any and all winter bedding areas you know about. In and around beds and nearby deer trails are one of the most productive places to find antlers day in and out. But again, be sure most bucks have dropped their antlers before you go poking around in there.
Hunt the rain: Go on a rainy day, when a fresh shed will shine and catch your eye.
Grid and slow: The biggest mistake people make is to wander around the woods aimlessly, looking too far out front and all around. Mark off small grids with trees, rocks, logs and the like as markers. Walk slowly over each grid and look straight down a few yards around your feet for sheds.
Good luck and send us your shed-hunting pictures and finds.