My friend Mark “Sheds” Jaymon is best antler hunter I know. He finds more than 100 bones every late winter and spring, along with several buck carcasses and/or skulls with racks attached. Sheds, who I suspect is out in the woods collecting right now, offers his secrets:
Start hunting hard around Super Bowl Sunday. It’s ok to start in January, but you should get really serious February 1, when most all bucks have dropped their antlers.
The biggest key to shed hunting is to just branch out and go. A lot of people have no luck because they look on one or two properties where the deer may not even be this time of year; or maybe they are just passing through a place to a food source, not spending much time there. Get permission to as many farms and woodlands as you can. Places you hunt in the fall, and maybe places you don’t hunt. Then start walking. I have only found 2 sheds in the areas where I deer hunt in the fall, so again you have to branch out and shed-hunt a lot of different places.
But make sure you walk where the deer are. 90 percent of the deer are in 10% of the woods this time of year, so you need to narrow your search areas down.
If you see 20 or more deer feeding in a field, some sheds are going to be there, or close by. My favorite food sources to check are: 1) standing soybeans or a late-cut bean field where a lot of pods are on the ground; 2) thick, scrubby fields, with green shrubs with berries and maybe some locust trees with pods (deer love them this time of year); 3) alfalfa, clover or winter wheat.
Standing corn or even stubble is good, but if you don’t have a shed dog it’s a pain in the rear. I used to hate hunting cornfields, but now that I have an antler dog I hunt them and find some antlers there.
If no dog, walk every 2nd to 3rd corn row. Pay attention and look hard down and across the rows. Antlers stick out better in the corn with some snow on the ground.
Most of my best shedding is done in and around food sources and nearby staging areas for deer, and from there I branch out farther toward the bedding areas. Hunt the connecting trails.
If you find several sheds in a spot one year, you will probably find more there next year and the year after. Don’t tell a soul about that spot!