Shed season is here, and it’s time to beat cabin fever by putting the miles on in search of deer antlers. Finding antlers is often easier said than done, and because of this, many shed hunters call it quits after a few unsuccessful walks. Instead of chalking your shed season up as a loss, exhaust your efforts by searching in these 3 overlooked honey holes.
Vast Grasslands or Swamps
Direct sunlight keeps deer warm on frigid, winter days. Naturally, this means they congregate in areas that receive the most sunlight. Wide-open areas comprised of CRP, swampland or native grasses allow deer to bask in the winter sun in a location that is out of the wind and difficult for predators to navigate.
Comb through these areas by walking deer trails that connect a food source to a bedding area. Trails are easy to locate in swamps and grasslands because when deer travel the same path frequently, the otherwise tall vegetation gets matted down. In fact, you can even find trails by using online mapping applications before your walk. Mark the trails on a GPS and then cover the area slowly and meticulously.
Unfortunately, sheds are difficult to find in areas with tall vegetation. Combat that by searching on overcast days, preferably after a rain, when antlers shine and stand out from the drab ground cover. If you don’t find anything on your first search in these areas, don’t give up. Minor details like the sun’s positioning in the sky and direction you walk can cause you to miss sheds. It isn’t uncommon to find sheds from years ago that others surely walked past.
As subdivisions creep further into the countryside, people are living closer to deer now than ever before. Lawns, shrubs, and backyard fruit trees are excellent food sources for hungry deer, and they’ll take advantage of these easy meals. Introduce yourself to the homeowner at the end of the subdivision whose property has a few acres of woods and explain you’d like to look for sheds.
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Study aerial and plat maps to identify residential areas with crop fields, river bottoms or another type of deer habitat nearby. More likely than not, deer will be drawn to the abundant backyard food sources to browse at night and won’t be bedding too far away.
State parks are a heavily used resource by the public. Hikers, skiers, dog walkers and more
enjoy them on a regular basis. However, they usually don’t stray far from the trail. Some parks Shed Hunting on Overlooked Propertiesdon’t allow hunting, so pressure on deer is minimal throughout the hunting season. In that case, the park quickly becomes a sanctuary, especially for mature bucks.
Never worry about over pressuring a public property, especially a state park. There are just too many factors outside of your control to wait for all the bucks to drop their antlers before you begin your search, and if you wait too long, someone else will have likely already beat you to the prize. Instead, find a park near your work and make it a habit to stop once a week on your way home to shed hunt. Don’t worry about spooking deer from the area. They’re likely used to having people around and won’t permanently relocate because of your presence.
If you want to add more antlers to the pile this off-season, leave no rock unturned. Exhaust your efforts by exploring a property that’s new to you, and you might be rewarded with your best shed season yet.