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Shed Hunting; BH.Com members discuss their best tips for finding bone.

by Bow Staff 22. April 2009 14:31
Bow Staff

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

 

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Monster Shed Antler found at The Grigsby.

by Todd Graf 30. March 2009 17:02
Todd Graf1st Annual Shed Hunt At The Grigsby. The event was a big success! Shed hunters enjoyed a fun-filled weekend of shed hunting, great food, and most importantly enjoyed quality time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Grigsby Outdoors would like to congratulate the winners of the Shed Contest. Kassidy Okray, age 14, from Wisconsin took first place for the impressive shed that scored over 110 inches.

This massive shed that Kassidy found will place her in the hot seat during the 2009 whitetail hunting season at The Grigsby.  Ryan Barth, age 11, from Wisconsin took second place which entitles him to a 2010 shed hunt with Grigsby Outdoors.  Travis Hooverson, from Wisconsin, took third place.

Wow, what a monster shed!

To learn more about The Grigsby check out their new website created by the Rhino Group.

The Grigbsy is devoted to offering high quality, low impact outdoor recreational experiences. 2008 marked our inception into the outdoor industry with our key property The Grigsby. They currently offer trophy whitetail, turkey and upland game hunts. Grigsby Outdoors is dedicated to high quality and exceptional service which is evident through our wildlife and habitat management strategies and our knowledgeable and professional staff.

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Case closed on the "Tank".

by Scott Abbott 16. March 2009 09:32
Scott Abbott

Summer 2007 while glassing a bean field I located a nice bachelor group of bucks using a drainage ditch as a travel corridor to exit a swamp that they were using as bedding cover.  I didn't have my digital camera with me that day so I went back the next three nights hoping to see them repeat their movements through the ditch.  The third night was a success and they made an appearance before night fall.  Even with my camera tapped out to it's 10X optical zoom maximum, it just wasn't enough to really see what the bucks were packing.   I could tell they were all good bucks and I could see the ones left and right side didn't match.  Curiosity was getting to me, I really wanted to know what these guys were packing.

The buck all the way to the left is the "Tank".

Soon after I formulated a plan and set a game camera up to take advantage of this travel pattern they were using.  The mission was a success, as I got many photos of each of the bucks.   When checking the memory card for the first time my buddy says, "Man that bucks body is a tank!"  From there on, he was known as the Tank.   He featured a solid typical four points on his right and an odd shaped three point main frame and a kicker on his left.

The Tank in full velvet.  Impressive neck and body size for August.

We are now almost into hard antler, a cool photo showing him shedding his velvet.

Finally, hard antler.

Even though he wasn't on my "hit list", I never did see him during hunting season and did not get any more trail camera photos of him once our archery season opened the first Saturday of October.  So many times over the years hunting season closes and I have high aspirations to find the sheds of some of the better bucks I located over the previous summer / fall.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to locate some of their bone, but most times they just seem to have disappeared.  I did find the right side of the biggest buck of this bachelor group last winter, but found nothing of the tank or the "Tall Ten". 

While walking a very nasty multi flora thicket today I could see a solid four point side 30-35 yards ahead....  Five minutes later I finally wrestled my way over through the green briar and I immediately recognized the remains as the Tank.  I examined the skeletal remains as best I could for a clue to his death but I couldn't find anything to convince me of what happened.  It really is bitter sweet finding the remains of a whitetail you have history with.  I had always hoped he just moved on to another area, but this just wasn't the case.     

Closure has been found on the Tank and the case is now officially closed.  I always had a soft spot for this buck because I shot a buck here in 2003 that had similar non-typical growth on his right side (pictured below).

 

The third chapter. (The 4 Beam Buck)

by Scott Abbott 13. March 2009 15:22
Scott Abbott

Chapter One.  09/17/2008

Set up on the North end of a standing corn field facing South back toward the field my game camera snapped a series of 24 photos on September 17th, 2008 starting at 11:02 PM and ending at 11:25 PM.  This was my first "encounter" with the buck that I have come to know as "The 4 Beam Buck".  I never got another picture of him other than from this series, even while running two cameras on the property.  I hoped to catch him on my other camera as it takes much nicer photos but I had no such luck. 

Two photos from that night.

Chapter Two.  11/16/2008

November 16th, 2008 found me sitting in a lock on that has been kind to me over the years.  Not long after first light I can hear it....  The tell tale sound of chasing.  A yearling buck ran a doe right underneath my stand with a big buck and numerous younger bucks lagging behind.  I at first did not get a good look at the "big buck" because so many deer were converging on my location at once.  I didn't want to get caught glassing any of them and have a good buck come in range with my attention else where. 

I was then able to start glassing the bucks I went from dink to dink to respectable 2.5 year olds than BAM.... It's the "4 Beam Buck"!  It was an outstanding experience watching all the chasing and dominance displays he put on over the next couple hours fending off these bucks from courting his bedded doe.  Once all of the activity slowed and I was able to look around, I had seven bucks and one doe all within 60 yards of my setup.  The encounter wasn't meant to turn into a big buck and "hero" photos though as they left my area for good a few hours after they arrived.

Chapter Three.  03/13/2008

Over 40 hours into my Ohio shed season I had yet to find a shed antler.  I found some in IL and OK, but just couldn't get on any here at home.  Around 4:00 PM I put an end to the shed-less streak by picking up a yearling shed.  It sure felt good to finally pick one up.

A couple hours later found me in an area I would not have expected to find a shed.  It is an area that is full of young maple trees with absolutely no ground cover or browse to speak of....  Just tall skinny maple trees.  I was griding the area out East-West then back West-East.  I was about 3/4's through the area when I see the curl of a main beam sticking up 30 feet ahead....  I walk up to see the right side of the "4 Beam Buck"!  Darkness fell fast and I was not able to locate the other side.  I will be back out there in the morning trying my best to find the other side. 

As it lied when I found it.

Another view once I got home.

I hope to add a couple more chapters to this story over this spring / summer going into next fall.  Even if this story doesn't end with the whitetail and I making a trip to my taxidermist, I have throughly enjoyed the ride thus far.

Shed Antler Hunting heats up in March!

by Mike Willand 8. March 2009 14:51
Mike Willand

Shed antler hunting can sometimes best be described as a search for a needle in a haystack, a really big haystack! We all try it, or make our best attempts to, with sometimes great and/or limited success. But why? Why are some shed hunters so very successful at this new found pastime and others so, dare we say it, inept? Perhaps ill-informed is a better way to describe those that struggle finding these treasures which shed from our favorite game species every year.

Shed hunting has become extremely popular over the past decade, and rightfully so, as it helps further our cultural obsession to know and understand more about the very game we hunt. Sometimes even to the point of just a particular animal that we desire. It can help us become better woodsman, better friends, and even better stewards of the land. Shed hunting today is part of the 365 day modern hunters’ arsenal.

Where to look:

Finding a shed antler is not always about getting out to just any piece of ground. It’s a numbers game, and you’ll have better odds of picking 1 or 2 up if you are looking where larger populations of bucks have spent the late winter or early spring.

Start with the food.

The preferred food sources, and nearby them, are where you are likely to find the most sheds this or any season. These food sources include corn, hay, bean, even milo fields. Where snowfall is less of a factor or these food sources are rare, solid acorn mast and/or browse within the woods can often produce a few whitetail sheds for the hunter. It is important to understand that not all food sources are created equally. Factors include adequate bedding proximity and, like hunting, sometimes human and/or other predator pressures.

The food sources that are closest to good winter bedding areas are often best. They must offer some sort of visual protection for the whitetail, a place to get out of the wind, and often a place in which the suns rays can hammer on throughout most of the day. Pay special attention to deadfalls and/or hillsides that face the southern or eastern skies as they will see much more of the shortened day’s sun. In big swamp country, small islands within cattails and the outside edges are often the best place to look for a bedded buck in winter’s months. Same goes for his sheds.

A popular way to seek out which food sources are holding the greatest numbers of deer is through visual scouting. Many shed hunters simply drive around much of late winter searching and scanning over nearby fields. Armed with a good pair of binoculars, these shed hunters will note which fields are seeing the most amount of deer traffic, and more importantly, buck traffic. It’s within these fields that most of these shed hunters will start their hunt for shed antlers within the following weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                           Where food sources are limited or deer populations are high, whitetail sheds like the one pictured above, can often be found in or on the edges of CRP fields. 

What to look for:

Seasoned shed hunters know that looking first for color is a very deceiving practice while searching for shed antlers. Mainly because shed antlers can have so many different hues ranging from darker browns, into yellows, and a frosty white. These colors can hide very effectively in fields of cut corn or shaded downfalls, places where these antlers are so often found.

Most shed hunters agree that it’s best to search for the sharp curves or points of a shed. Keeping ones vision out away from you between 5 and 20 yards while walking, constantly reminding yourself what you are looking for. This is important while shed hunting since so many of us are animal hunters as well. Often, a want to look around for other deer sign like scrapes or rubs can be an antler seeker’s worst enemy.

Below you will find a small selection of “as they lay” pictures of whitetail antlers. These pictures are a perfect example of what you are looking for in your fields or woods. Notice the sharp points, and/or curves. They are noticeably different when compared with the grasses, leaves, and timber edges which surround them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Pictured above, this antler was the only sharper object in a sea of dried CRP grasses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A shed antler's tines sneak up through the snow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             On a overcast day in early February, this antler's sharp tines almost glow against a backdrop of leaves.

                                                                                                                                                                           The sharp main beam and last tine of this antler can be hard to see on a sunny day where shadows play visual tricks on the shed hunter. Notice the "softer" edges of the surrounding flora. The antler is the only "hard" lined object in the picture above. Can you see it?

When to go shed hunting:

Certainly time restraints have great impact on any individual who is seeking a good day in the field shed hunting. However, certain weather conditions exist which can help or impair any antler seeker.

Extremely sunny days with high skies can be the most difficult days for a hike. These days cast heavy shadow into the woods and fields even, making it very difficult to spot antler tines from greater distances. Cloudy, overcast conditions are much more suitable for antler hunting. If you must go on a sunnier day, leave earlier and search just before the sun has risen high enough to cast a good shadow. Or search in the last couple hours of daylight when antlers begin to almost glow with the setting sun.

Conditions where rain has just fallen over several hours followed by grey skies are perhaps the shed hunters’ best friend. These conditions often make the antler shine brightly in fields and woodlots. Antlers in these conditions can really stick out, sometimes being seen from 30 yards or more!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Even darker colored antlers can almost GLOW after sitting out in the rain for several hours. These wet conditions make for a shed antler hunters best friend.

What the shed antler can tell you.

Shed antlers are the fingerprints of a whitetail buck. Unlike the rub, the scrape, or a giant bed, a shed antler is specific to the animal that has left it there. It can help us determine a more accurate age, certain tendencies, and even particular patterns of a specific buck. Combined with modern trail camera pictures, these antlers can have a grave impact on discerning a particular whitetail’s true home range, sometimes even his preferred bedding sites. In all, they can help us become a better, more understanding big game hunter.

Bowhunting.com staff and its readers are always interested in your take on shed antler hunting. Do you feel it can better help you as a hunter? And what, if any, tips can you give to fellow shed hunters in order for them to succeed more each day while seeking out this earthly treasure.

Please leave your comments below.




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