OnFocus – It would appear that the cold spell is over, and the thermometer is going to start rising. With the upcoming warmer weather coming, a great outdoor activity is shed hunting! It’s the sport of looking for shed antlers that deer drop every year. Should you happen to live in an area that has an elk population, you may find one of those as well! Looking for sheds is an activity that anyone can enjoy; it’s not just for hunters! Here in Wisconsin, there is no license needed, and there is no season for shed hunting. Check your state regulations about harvesting shed to ensure that you comply. Yes, some states have a season and rules before you can pick up a dropped antler.
It takes very little gear to do this, and it’s a great way to get out and explore the outdoors! Deer in Wisconsin can shed their antlers at any time from December to April. Causes for the timing of antlers to drop can be related to nutritional stress and weather. The majority of antlers will start to shed in Mid-February.
Let’s review some tips to have a successful shed hunting season:
- Go where the deer are –
In the winter months, deer will be in a pattern referred to as “herding up.” During the winter months, deer are in larger groups; these areas will give you a higher chance of locating multiple antlers.
Look for high traffic runways that lead from food sources to bedding locations. Walk these runways and walk the feeding/bedding areas.
- Go Slow –
You will want to cover the area at a slow pace; shed hunting is done at speed like a tortoise and not like a hare. Take your time; you are looking for parts of an antler. They are often covered in the snow, and you will only see a tip of the antler. If you are new to shed hunting, you will have to train your eyes to scan the ground, looking for the smallest indication that an antler is buried in the snow.
- Repeat –
If you covered an area today, you can go back and cover it again later in the season. As the snow melts, it will uncover things that you could not see on the first walkthrough. If you find a shed in an area, I recommend going over that area again; the odds are likely that there will be more in that area if there was one. Remember the “herding” pattern. That is why repeating the area can increase your odds.
Top 5 gear items for shed hunting:
Let’s review some of the gear I like to use in my shed hunting experiences. Is this gear required? No, it’s not. These are things that I have found useful, though, when doing this activity.
- Sunglasses – Recently started to use glasses from an online company called com. I like these sunglasses because they have a FluidTint lens. They adjust to the conditions that I’m in. Sunglasses help cut down on the glare from the snow. It also protects your eye when walking the runways; it’s no fun taking a stick to an eye!
- Binoculars – I use Vortex Diamonbad 10×42 attached to a bino harness. This setup allows me easy access to the binocular; the binocular will enable me to scan ahead. It’s also good practice to improve glassing skills for any regular hunting season.
- Knee-High boot – This past fall, I started to wear knee-high rubber boots from Tidwe. These boots are a great price point and have been very comfortable to wear in all kinds of temperatures and conditions.
- GPS and or compass – My go-to GPS unit is the Garmin Montana; this device allows me to use micro SD cards for maps. I currently use the Garmin Huntview card to show property lines and property ownership.
- Backpack – allows you to carry fluids, remove layers, or add layers of clothing, and it’s an easy way to bring home your found treasures while out shed hunting.
Train your dog –
If your dog spends time with you on your walks in the woods and they have a desire to retrieve items for you. Then, you might want to consider training your dog to be a “shed-dog.” Training a dog to locate and retrieve sheds has become very popular.
You can find all kinds of training videos about this topic on YouTube. A simple training horn and some scent will get you and your dog started on their training, though.
I recommend using the training horn from Dog Bone Hunter. It’s soft, shaped like a horn, and allows your dog to get used to feeling a horn shape in their mouth. It also gives your dog the ability to train on what shape and size a horn is.
Adding scent to your training sessions will make the experience even more realistic for your dog. With all dog training, the key to success is to be consistent with practice and do it often.
Get Started –
If you plan to look for sheds on public land, my advice is to get started as early as possible. Your areas will get picked over before you even get a chance to start looking. On private lands, you can wait, but don’t wait too long because mice and squirrels will gnaw away an antler.
I know I’m looking forward to finding time to start these searches for what can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack, try the tips and equipment recommended to see if it increases your odds. Share your finds on our Instagram and Facebook pages! We love to see what your adventures bring you.
In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!
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