No longer just an ordinary weekend hobby, modern bowhunting can rely on the success of how you spend your off-season days just as much as your in-season days. This includes food plots, scouting, and even shed hunting.
Bowhunting.Com forum members talk below on the how’s and why’s of shed hunting and how they can lead you to better deer hunting results or just more days in the field.
Troy Pottenger (Shed); An Idaho native and shed hunter of more than 27 years, Troy hunts some of the hardest back-country terrain for mature whitetail bucks and trophy elk. While his yearly shed counts can greatly fluctuate, Troy found 98 or 99 shed antlers in 2007!
Troy Pottenger, shed hunting some of Idaho's toughest terrain.
When asked if shed hunting ever leads to the success of taking a whitetail, Troy’s response was simply absolutely. Troy has killed seven whitetail bucks over the years that he has the sheds of, concluding that the keys to his success are locating a buck’s core living area starting with shed hunting. In fact, two of Troy’s seven buck kills have been less than 300 yards from where one or more of that buck’s sheds have been found. The remaining whitetail bucks were taken all within 1 mile.
Troy with a matched shed antler set off the same whitetail buck he would eventually take, seen here, in the background.
In mountain country, continues Troy, without a heavy snowstorm early on into winter the bucks will still be in their usual core living areas. “Big mature bucks lock into a living pattern and into a comfort zone, find their big sheds in this country and you can almost guarantee he will be within a square mile,” states Troy.
Troy’s shedding experiences have left him with these invaluable truths;
- Find the food bucks are feeding on during the shed dropping phases and you’ll find the bone.
- Determination. Wearing out the boot leather when you’re into a place shed antlers should be. Grid it like a type-writer.
- Over time, your eyes will begin to train themselves on what they’re looking for. Soon you will be seeking shed parts, not whole shed antlers.
Above; Troy sits with a really nice 5 point side.
Lance Sherman (Wiaxle); The Wisconsin native has been shed hunting for the better part of the last 15 years, however, his first several years were full of broken hunts as he was still learning his shed skills. Lance now averages around 30 per year, with this year (2009) being his best year ever at 32 with still some time left on the clock before the spring green up.
Lance, at home, shows off his second biggest matched shed antler set that he's ever found.
Lance’s greatest key to his success is the all too familiar argument; if you have the food then you will have the bucks. For the last couple years, Lance has left corn up for the winter, pulling in a lot of the deer from the surrounding area. And subsequently, the whitetail bucks too. “The last two years we have found 60+ each year, previously the best we had done is maybe 30, the corn has made a world of difference,” admires Lance.
Lance argues these 9 tips every shed hunter should follow.
- Get out and walk! We are finding sheds in areas we have been through dozens of times through the course of the season. Walk!
- Bedding areas and travels corridors from the bedding area to food sources are often the best areas to find antlers.
- Southern exposures, areas where deer can get in some sun.
- Train your eyes to see the antlers (best way take a horn with you and throw it, and try to find it) think about finding the little ones, if you can find those, the big ones are easy.
- Go over the same area from different angles.
- Check areas that you see deer during the hunting season.
- Go slow.
- Watch your feet.
- Check out everything, and then repeat!
Lance's dad, pictured above, poses with one of several whitetail bucks the Sherman family have found sheds from over the years.
Dan Richardson (BloodCrick); The 43 year old Indiana resident has been shed hunting his home state for nearly 20 years. Dan believes that finding the shed is just icing on the cake; the real reason for his shed hunts is in the scouting that is performed while out in the woods this time of the year. Each year Dan averages more than 50 hours of shed hunting to his regular scouting walks.
Dan Richardson poses above with his first matched set of the 2009 shed hunting year.
Most of the ground Dan hunts is rough and rugged strip mine country. Dan even jokes, “Some of it is almost impossible to hunt without feeling like your going to die!”
Although Dan has not been lucky enough to take a whitetail buck that he has found the sheds from, he has been fortunate enough to create many stories with them, along with the use of his trailcamera. Certainly invaluable information when hunting these mature bucks, the combination of a photo and an antler can be.
Nicknamed "the corkscrew buck", Dan has several trailcamera pictures and sheds off this particular whitetail.
Dan believes the secrets to his success when finding antlers are;
- Putting on the miles!
- Looking between good bedding areas and solid food sources.
- Putting on the miles!
It becomes clear while reading the above statements what makes a shed hunter so successful. With determination, understanding certain whitetail behaviors and a great amount of used shoe leather, these 3 individuals walk more than 300 hours into the deer woods each spring! With all of these extra hours come valuable miles, of which, some priceless information can come from.
To get more involved and learn a few more tricks of the shed hunting trade from these members, or others like them, join up and click here