Now that deer season is over, or almost so, for most of the United States, we are finding ourselves asking the question, What next? Turkey season isn’t for a few months and it’s too cold to fish unless, of course, you have a nifty little hut out on one of the Great Lakes or some other body of water in the arctic north. Don’t fear, friend. We have another idea to get you out of the house: shed hunting.
You don’t need much to embark on a day of shed hunting. A light pack with a sandwich, binocular and flashlight (if you stay past sunset). Protocol often imparts just walking, and walking, and walking. But we suggest implementing the binocular to give you an advantage. Don’t worry. You’ll still walk your fill. However, there are times when you crest a rise above a known bedding area where a binocular will come in handy. Rather than tromping on down, take time to scan every possible detail, especially if you’ve found sheds there in the past. Select small areas in which to focus. And if you don’t see anything, don’t give up on the spot because you never know what you might step on.
When you do spot a shed, make sure to mark the exact spot with a tree or some other object that stands out. If it’s a clean, knee-high sage field with no obvious markers, walk straight to the it. We all know how easy it is to mark a fallen bird, take our eyes away for one second and never find it again. The same holds true with shed hunting. Once you’ve picked up the antler, head back to your vantage point and continue looking.
The binocular is also a great tool to have along for scouting purposes. You’re likely to see trails, rubs and scrapes from a distance that the naked eye could otherwise miss. These telltale signs are great indicators to as to the late-season habits of bucks. As we wrote in a previous blog, post-season scouting is a great way to kill bigger bucks on a consistent basis.
We’re certainly not advocating that shed hunting is easy, binocular or not. In an already tough pursuit, might as well give yourself the best advantage. As with hunting, you’re always the visiting team playing in someone else’s environment. And we need all the help we can get on Mother Nature’s court.
So, finding (or even better, knowing) where big bucks spend their time in the late winter, covering a lot of ground and staying focused on the task at hand are the three essentials to finding more sheds. Just like hunting, patience is the virtue. Be thorough both with a binocular and when walking an area. You’d be surprised how it’ll pay off.