10 Reasons You Suck at Shed Hunting

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Do You Have a Hard Time Finding White Gold?

Throw an antler over your shoulder in the middle of a brush-covered forest and see how long it takes you to find it. Go on. Give it a good chuck. Then set that timer. You might get lucky and spot it right away. Or you might not (even with the hint of knowing it’s there). More times than not, it’ll take a bit to rediscover it.

Shed hunting isn’t easy. So I’m not calling you out. Or maybe I am. Either way, I’ve found my fair share of white gold, but that doesn’t mean I’m some shed-hunting sensei. Far from it. But after reading this primer, you’ll be no shed-hunting Kimosabe, either. Learn from the shed-hunting lessons I’ve learned the hard way so that you don’t have to. Get a head start on all of your first-time shed hunting buddies, too. You want bragging rights, right?

Get that white gold.

Get antler rich.

I dare ya.

You Choose the Wrong TimeYou Choose the Wrong TimeYou Choose the Wrong TimeYou Choose the Wrong TimeYou Choose the Wrong Time

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1 | You Choose the Wrong Time

Timing is a crucial component of shed hunting. Move in too early before deer shed and you won’t find any. Move in too late and you run the risk of predators, scavengers, rodents and other shed hunters getting to them first. It’s a delicate balance.

The best way to move in at the right time is by monitoring the antler drop. Do this by scouting from afar and using trail cameras. Once you no longer see deer with antlers, or don’t see many, you can feel confident most of them have dropped.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Glass from afar
  2. Monitor trail cameras
  3. Consult with other hunters

Don’t Miss: 12 Things You Should Know Before Shed Hunting

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Critterbiz

You Look in the Wrong PlacesYou Look in the Wrong PlacesYou Look in the Wrong PlacesYou Look in the Wrong PlacesYou Look in the Wrong Places

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2 | You Look in the Wrong Places

It’s important to not only look at the right time but also in the right places. You can’t find something that isn’t there. You have to shed hunt where the deer spend the late and post seasons. Do that and you’ll be in the thick of it. Don’t and you’ll have long days ahead as a shed hunter.

I like to focus first where deer spend the most time — bedding areas. That’s where I find the most shed antlers. Find thick, unpressured areas that deer felt safe during the late season. That’s likely still where they are now, too.

The next best places to look are food sources and trail that connect bedding areas to them. Cover both major and minor trail systems in order to find antlers dropped by bucks of all ages. Younger bucks will generally use major trails more and mature bucks tend to use those smaller, secondary trails, most of the time. Walk the edges of major food sources and glass the interiors of the openings.

Lastly, don’t forget water sources. These are great locations to find antlers. Deer are naturally spooky around water sources — that means increased chances of running, jumping, jerking, etc. — which means sudden movements capable of loosing an antler (or two).

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Focus on late-season deer hunting hotspots
  2. Hit the bedding areas
  3. Walk the food sources
  4. Check the water sources

Don’t Miss: Why Bucks Shed Antlers and How to Hunt Them

Photo credit: Realtree

You Don’t Use Your EyesYou Don’t Use Your EyesYou Don’t Use Your EyesYou Don’t Use Your EyesYou Don’t Use Your Eyes

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3 | You Don’t Use Your Eyes

You have to train the eye to find shed antlers. It’s like anything else in the fact that it takes practice. You won’t immediately become a great shed hunter.

For starters, think small. Don’t look for a whole antler. Look for the tip of a tine, pearly glisten of a beam, etc.

Also, change your perspective. Crouch down. Stand up. Get up high on a vantage point. Doing these things can make a difference. Things block your view. Move around to overcome that obstacle.

It’s important to know when conditions are best for your vision. Cloudy days are better than sunny ones. Just after a heavy rain is better than shed hunting in dry conditions. Have your eyes accustomed to the light outside. On sunny days, wear lightly tinted sunglasses. On cloudy days, don’t wear them.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Think small
  2. Change perspective
  3. Recognize good shed-hunting conditions

Don’t Miss: 5 Tips from a 12-Year-Old Shed Hunting Master

Photo credit: Anthony Virga

You Aren’t GlassingYou Aren’t GlassingYou Aren’t GlassingYou Aren’t GlassingYou Aren’t Glassing

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4 | You Aren’t Glassing

Optics are important for shed hunting. They’ll save you a lot of time and energy. Sometimes things can look like a shed at a distance, only to be sticks or brambles. Pulling your binos up and confirming one way or another will sometimes save you from having to walk over and see it up close.

Optics are also necessary for checking food sources for antlers. Walking an entire ag field can be a significant waste of time. Instead, driving around and glassing them in sections is easier and yields better (quicker) results.

When choosing a pair of binos, don’t use some that are really high-powered. Choose a pair in the low- to mid-power range for optimum performance in the timber.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Choose a pair of binos
  2. Glass food sources in section
  3. Use them to confirm suspicious antler-like material you see from a distance

Don’t Miss: Shed Hunting: How to Find Shed Antlers

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

You Don’t Walk Far or Long EnoughYou Don’t Walk Far or Long EnoughYou Don’t Walk Far or Long EnoughYou Don’t Walk Far or Long EnoughYou Don’t Walk Far or Long Enough

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5 | You Don’t Walk Far or Long Enough

Shed hunting demands time. You must invest time to find sheds. It’s that simple. More time means more antlers. But don’t rush it. Move slow. Stop and look. Ease along at a slow pace. Move too fast and you’ll miss a lot of bone.

While time is important, so is distance. The more territory you cover, the higher your odds of finding success. Be smart, though. Don’t search randomly. Look in high-odds areas first. Then check spots that are less likely to have antlers in them last.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Spend more time afield
  2. Be willing to put more miles on your boots
  3. Scout high-odds areas first

Don’t Miss: 12 Ways You Can Use Shed Antlers

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

You Don’t Stay FocusedYou Don’t Stay FocusedYou Don’t Stay FocusedYou Don’t Stay FocusedYou Don’t Stay Focused

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6 | You Don’t Stay Focused

Focus is key. Don’t let your mind wonder. Don’t start looking at the sky, treetops and tweety birds. Keep eyes on the ground. That’s where you’ll find antlers. If you find antlers in the treetops, you might want to pack a sidearm for protection. There’s a kitty cat on the loose.

Staying mentally tough can be hard. It isn’t easy. Doing so will result in more shed antlers for your collection. There are ways to help with this. First, listen to some music while out there. I stay more focused that way. Next, grid out the area so you have a plan and you’re not just aimlessly bumbling around. Set goals. Tell yourself five, 10, 15 (or whatever the number) is your goal for the day. Setting that goal will push you to achieve it.

And then know when to quit. You won’t shed hunt everywhere in one day. Once you get to that point where you need to quit, do so. Then start fresh another time.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Listen to music (or do whatever keeps you focused)
  2. Set goals
  3. Go in with a plan
  4. Know when to quit

Don’t Miss: How to Shed Hunt in Hill Country

Photo credit: Craig Watson

You Aren’t Enlisting HelpYou Aren’t Enlisting HelpYou Aren’t Enlisting HelpYou Aren’t Enlisting HelpYou Aren’t Enlisting Help

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7 | You Aren’t Enlisting Help

One of the best things you can do is invite others along. It’s a great way to introduce someone to the outdoors. Plus, it’s another set of eyes. Have your buddy come help you. Then return the favor and help them shed hunting their property(ies).

You might even learn something from them. They might use a tip or tactic you haven’t heard of or tried. They might even have some advice you need to hear. I learn tips and pointers from my friends. They learn from me. That’s how it works.

And not to mention that you can cover exponential amounts of ground faster this way. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Seriously.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Invite friends along
  2. They help you
  3. You help them
  4. Cover ground faster
  5. Everyone learns from everyone

Don’t Miss: How to Find Shed Antlers in the South

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

You Haven’t Deployed a DogYou Haven’t Deployed a DogYou Haven’t Deployed a DogYou Haven’t Deployed a DogYou Haven’t Deployed a Dog

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8 | You Haven’t Deployed a Dog

Dogs are extremely helpful for finding sheds. And the fact that I still don’t own one is my No. 1 shed hunting mistake. (I plan to change that within the next year or so.) That said, a friend of mine does have one and I commission it to help me from time to time. I return the favor by sniffing some out for him with my nose, too. Not a very fair trade, eh? Oh well.

Dogs have an incredible ability to find shed antlers. And while it isn’t easy to train a dog to do it, the rewards are certainly worth the time and effort. Go here for a great tutorial on getting started with your new shed dog. Or, have someone else train your new pup and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Borrow a dog
  2. Train a dog
  3. Or pay someone to train one

Don’t Miss: Shed Hunting with My Turkey Dog

Photo credit: Craig Watson

You Don’t Shed Hunt Like You HuntYou Don’t Shed Hunt Like You HuntYou Don’t Shed Hunt Like You HuntYou Don’t Shed Hunt Like You HuntYou Don’t Shed Hunt Like You Hunt

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9 | You Don’t Shed Hunt Like You Hunt

Your shed hunting mentality should be no different than your hunting mentality. The goal is the same — find the deer. Except in this case it’s, find where the deer was so you can find the antler it left behind.

This is an easy task, really. Just implement your late-season game plan for hunting. Then tweak it a bit to take into account shed hunting rules and concepts. Before you know it, you’ll be finding all sorts of sheds.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Think like a late-season deer hunter
  2. Look in places where deer spend the late season
  3. Add a few shed-hunting-rule twists to your game plan

Don’t Miss: Shedding Bucks and Carefully Identifying Does

Photo credit: Anthony Virga

You Don’t Have a PlanYou Don’t Have a PlanYou Don’t Have a PlanYou Don’t Have a PlanYou Don’t Have a Plan

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10 | You Don’t Have a Plan

Shed hunt with a purpose. Go in with a plan. Use maps to grid off your search area. Mark off where you’ve been. Plot points for sheds you find. Focus on areas with the highest odds. These are all little things you can do to increase your success. Each will help you get the most out of the shed-hunting experience.

Fast Track to Shed Sensei Status:

  1. Carry an aerial map
  2. Mark off areas you’ve searched
  3. Plot points for located sheds

Don’t Miss: The Life of a Mature Deer and What It Means for Deer Hunting

Photo credit: Heartland Bowhunter

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