Shed hunting is a popular topic this time of year, but one aspect that often gets overlooked is, “What are the best shed hunting conditions?” As you know, whitetails and weather are practically attached at the hip, so why would you think it’s any different when it comes to weather and shed antlers?
Obviously, sheds aren’t going to act differently depending on the weather, but they sure as heck are going to look different.
Here’s what I would consider optimal shed hunting conditions: overcast, no snow, fresh melt-off or recent rainfall, and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You may be wondering why those are ideal conditions. Well, here’s why…
Any shed hunter would tell you how much they hate the sun. Aside from the warm rays following a long winter, a shining sun is perhaps the worst enemy of a shed hunter. The glare and shadows are awful! Every tiny stick, branch, and corn stubble catches your eye as if it were an antler. This makes for a long day of frustrated false alarms and likely, missed antlers. I can handle having snow, rain, wind, and cold, just don’t give me sun…especially if I’m searching a cut corn field.
This is what the woods look like on an ideal shed hunting day.
For obvious reason, no antlers will be hidden under the snow if there is no snow. Also, eliminating the glistening white from the landscape means fewer tricks played on your eyes. The only white objects you want to see are antlers.
There is one exception to this rule and that is if it’s a shallow crunchy snow. A hard frozen snow won’t allow antlers to sink in and often times they are pretty easy to spot on top of the hard-packed snow. This is a fairly common condition during shed season in areas with snow, as the snow tends to melt during the day and refreeze when the sun goes down.
Following a Recent Rainfall
Couple this with a recent melt off and sheds stand out like a hunter wearing blaze orange (okay, maybe not that obvious). A recent rainfall or melt off is key because it will essentially flatten the forest floor making protruding sheds much easier to spot. Also, the dreary brown, tan, and grayish color makes the white bone really pop on an overcast day.
Preferably 50°F or Warmer
I don’t know about you, but I like to be comfortable walking around in the great outdoors. A hoodie or light jacket is what I prefer to wear during my early spring hikes. 50 degrees is the perfect temperature for hiking as you won’t overheat and you can still keep a layer between you and that nasty brush.
Most of the time conditions aren’t going to matter because you’re going to go when you have the time to go, and we all know we can’t control Mother Nature. In the end, it’s all about how much time you spend searching that will dictate the size of your pile, so you’ve got to go when you can. Remember, MILES=PILES!