Shed Hunting: Not a One-and-Done Approach

Go back to early February when you were itching to get outdoors after a long winter.  Many of us sat patiently by the fire as we stared out the back window dreaming about chasing whitetails once again.  It seems like the deer season has been over forever when in reality it ended just over a month ago.  It goes to show you how much of a lifestyle is formed around this great thing we call hunting.  Gazing out the window you think to yourself, “Maybe there are a few bucks that have shed their antlers already?”

Before you know it, you’re throwing on your boots and searching for antlers. The addiction of shed hunting is real and it has begun.  You now find yourself searching hunting properties, public lands, nature parks, and conservancy areas multiple times a week hoping to get a leg up on your hunting buddies by finding an early drop.  Soon, early February turns into mid-February, then into March, and then April.  All the while you’ve been shed hunting new and different properties.  Slow up for a second and let me ask you this, how many of those early-on properties do you return to for a second antler search in March or April?  Not many, if I had to guess.

I used to be the same way. . . get bit by the shed hunting bug early on, search a property and check it off my list.  I wish there was a way to find out the number of potential sheds I missed back in the day as a result of not revisiting those properties during the spring when a much higher percentage of bucks have shed their antlers.

Legendary Whitetails fan finds a big shed antlerPhoto Credit: @Mason Giordano

There’s nothing wrong with getting out early to search for the first sheds of the year, but it’s a good idea to shed hunt that same property again once the majority of bucks have shed.  In a previous article titled When Should I Start to Shed Hunt, we discussed some of the areas that should be hit early and often, as well as, what percentage of bucks you can expect to be shed and by when.  A good approach is to shed hunt the properties you have exclusive rights on during March when you can expect >90% of bucks to be shed.  On these types of properties, a one-and-done type approach will be sufficient depending on how thorough your search was.

Public lands or high traffic areas are the types of properties you want to target early and often for obvious reasons.  If I had to put a percentage to it, I would say 90% of bucks are shed by March 1st, compared to just 25% by February 1st in much of the whitetail’s range.  If you get the urge to go out early before many of the bucks in the area have shed their antlers, just be willing to revisit those same properties later on so you don’t miss out on any sheds.

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