Pelican Flyer • November 15, 2020
As deer and other proudly crowned animals drop their antlers after a rut, it offers a new activity for hunters called “shed hunting.” And besides looking nice hung decoratively on a wall or as a nutritional chew toy for your pup, shed hunting has many advantages. It allows hunters to take inventory of nearby bucks and become familiar with the deer’s habitats, tracking their whereabouts. Deer hunter or not, this wonderful activity also gives an excuse to get outdoors after a long winter.
Interested in trying shed hunting? Here are some essential tips and must-have gear for a successful and ethical shed hunting adventure.
Shed hunting requires lots of footwork. Hiking through the woods or across plains, you’ll spot some “white gold” anywhere deer, elk or even moose pass through. So keep your eyes peeled and use these tips.
Your basic mule deer and white-tailed deer can shed from late December into May, while elk shed during the March-ish time frame. Moose shed their “paddles” around December and March. However, ethical shed hunting asks that you don’t push these animals away from their already-minimal food and water sources too soon into the season.
As winter approaches, deer seek warmer shelters such as cedar thickets, protective slopes and tree clusters. However, they still move around throughout the day between their bedding to food and water sources, so you’ll have to stay on your toes. Also, scan areas around fences where deer jump, often dislodging antlers.
When not sleeping, deer are focused on food and water sources to stay nourished through the winter. Follow the travel corridors from their shelter to fields, which often provide them grain and other foods. In winter, deer seek out flowing water sources like rivers and creeks that don’t freeze over. Keep distant so as not to disturb them and use binoculars to scan these areas.
Bred for hunting or not, a loyal dog can lend its nose out for a day of shed hunting. Let them smell previously found sheds and help you track more down through scent. Shed Dog Trainer offers lots of amazing training resources and gives techniques to help you train your dog.
Now that you understand some basic shed hunting tips and tricks, you’ll need the right gear and equipment.
It’s crucial to know shed hunting ethics and one of those rules is never to harass the animal. During harsh winters, deer heavily rely on their grounds’ food and water sources. While you’ll find sheds around these areas, it’s important not to interrupt and push them away from this territory too soon. Otherwise, they might be forced to locate new sources. Instead of eagerly rushing to find sheds, patiently wait until the worst of winter has come and gone.
Make sure you know your state's laws and regulations. In some places, shed hunting is illegal, while it’s allowed only during a specific timeframe or region in others. Call your state’s wildlife regulatory agency to get the details.
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