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Hunting Forums- Joining in on the Conversation

by Mike Willand 28. February 2011 04:18
Mike Willand

Finding friends who share your passion for the outdoors is no easy task- particularly for some of us unfortunate souls who spend our days working and living within the confines of America’s largest cities. This includes yours truly, and I am hoping some of you.

So, how is it we can meet more like-minded people such as ourselves? I learned a few years ago from one of my own friends that the internet is a perfect place for this. In particular, the hunting forums that dot many of the larger websites. Here you will find a vast array of folks who like to do exactly what you do: hunt, hunt, and hunt some more.  The great thing is many of them are your neighbors. And after several months of getting to know some of the other members on these forums, doors can suddenly open and you’ll be on yet one more adventure, weapon in hand, tales by a fire, chasing a variety of North America’s big game in places you only dreamed about.

On top of all this, these forums spout a great deal of people with a great deal of knowledge to be had by any who ask. They have it all, from archery technical enthusiasts right down to do-it-yourself public land hunters.

This time of year, one of my personal forum favorites is the Bowhunting.com Shed Hunting Contest that is held here, on this website. Here, teams are formed from forum members who are scattered all across the U.S. to share in one common goal- to see which team can pluck from the earth the greatest amount of shed antlers. In the process, and between the short bouts of gentle ribbing that exists between forum friends, one can learn a great deal from veteran shed hunters like our very own, Tim Freund- more commonly referred to as TJF (his forum name).

Tim is a well-known whitetail fanatic amongst our growing forum pages. Each year he piles up as many as 70 sheds while searching within a 20 mile radius of his North Dakota home. In between Tim’s daily duties on a large grain farm he works for, he puts in about 4 hours of walking on each hunt- often traveling several miles along cut corn and bean fields where whitetail dig feverishly through the snow depths in search of food. And it’s this digging by some of the bucks that begins to knock loose antlers, leaving them ready for any able-bodied hunter to collect. “I have four or five quick check areas where I can get in and out without pushing the deer this time of year. These areas are usually corn or soybean fields. Scout to see where the deer herd up in different areas and look in those feeding areas first”, states Tim.

Armed with a good pair of binoculars, Tim searches for the sharp edges of an antler rather than concentrating on the entire thing. He looks for the tines or the curve of the main beam, both of which he’ll tell anyone are the easiest features to pick out.

HOT food sources where deer gather in great numbers are the best areas to hit in the first few weeks of shed antler hunting. They allow you to get in without pushing the deer.

Bowhunting.Com forum member, Tim Freund, sits with a few of his finds after a quick walk over a good food source in early February.

“Typically”, Tim continues, “in an early harsh winter, I tend to see 3.5 and older bucks shed the earliest. In normal winters I still tend to see older bucks shed first. Milder winters have us seeing all ages”. His reasoning, “Early harsh winters have the older bucks still run down from rut. They weren't able to get back the fat reserves they lost during that time. Normal winters have them in better shape, but then they’re more in tune to the other factors involved with casting antlers.”

Tim believes 3.5 year old bucks are often the first to shed after being worn out from the heavy stress periods of the rut.

And this is just a small glimpse into what lies beyond this blog, in the forum section of this website. A great deal of knowledgeable hunters always ready and awaiting chances to teach and learn more of their craft. Picking a member like Tim’s brain on what to look for and to bring while shed hunting can help even the most veteran antler hunter find a few extra pieces of late winter bone.

This is a place where friendships are forged, opportunities are gained, experience is won, and it can all be YOURS by simply signing-up. Best of all- it’s totally free. We’re looking for hunters who enjoy the outdoor world as much as we do. All are welcome.

Become a part of something and meet more hunters- join our forums today!

 

Possible World Record Whitetail Sheds found in New York?

by Bow Staff 9. January 2010 21:18
Bow Staff

We know it’s a little early to start talking shed antler hunting. After all, some states still have an open deer season. But for New York state hunter, Corey Wiktor, his season is not ending, it’s just beginning!

Check these MONSTER sheds out! Wiktor just recently picked these 2 bones from the current winter wonderland of western New York. Each side estimated near or at 100 inches!

The pictures don't relate the true size of the shed antlers. A few of our staffers here at Bowhunting.Com have an estimated the score of nearly 225"! This estimated scoring includes an 18" spread credit given by us. Although it is likely to have been greater than that!

If our scoring measurement of 215-225" GROSS and around 210-220" NET are accurate, this buck just may be a new world record typical whitetail! It would surpass Milo Hanson's 1993 score of 213 5/8", from Saskatchewan. If taken with a bow, it may crush the archery world typical record Mel Johnson buck from Illinois in 1965 of 204 4/8".

Congratulations to hunter Corey Wiktor on the finds of a lifetime. There is no doubt you will be after this buck come autumn of 2010. Whatever the score! Stay tuned right here at Bowhunting.Com, there could be a NEW world record out of an unlikely place next season. We’ll keep our fingers crossed Corey!

Trail camera photos can lead to one night stands.

by Scott Abbott 27. November 2009 05:20
Scott Abbott

Trail camera setups can be as complicated or simplistic as you choose to make them.  I personally stay on the simplistic side of things as I am not trying to "pattern" bucks with their use, but rather get a better look at them after I locate a buck I am interested in from summer glassing. For me it all starts in the summer.... I will spend countless hours and evenings glassing the areas I hunt looking for big whitetail bucks.  Once I locate some bucks of interest I move in and set up cameras and leave them up anywhere from two weeks to a month on the property. 

Leaving cameras up and checking them over and over again all summer is pointless to me.  Once I get a better look at the buck(s) in question, I know right away if he is an animal I am interested in or not.  Once my curiosity is satisfied I pull the cameras not to return with them again, unless a new buck is found on that land I need a better look at.  I err to the side of caution by only placing them on field edges or just into the timber. Deer are used to activity in these areas so you can get away with a little bit of human scent around these setups from your trips in and out.  If you are trying to setup trail cameras on their travel routes or bedding areas I feel you are setting your self up for early season failure.  With my personal focus on early season success, I do not want to tip anymore of the odds in the whitetails favor. 

I used summer glassing to locate this buck this past July.  I then moved in and set my DLC Covert II Assassin trail camera up for 2 weeks and got the photos I was looking for. He turned out to be the largest buck I located on land I can hunt.

October 17th found me in a particular stand for the first time this year with a strong, and very rare for my area NE wind.  I was setup just outside of his bedding area (beds located during shed season) and was able to capitalize on my preseason efforts in a big way!  Chances are I may not have been setup in that area had I not known this guy was in there. 

If you do your summertime homework by locating the bucks, move in and setup the trail cameras on their food source, pull the cameras out after you get the info you need and save those bedding area stand locations for the perfect wind and conditions I bet you will have a better shot at success this fall.

 

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

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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