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For some reason, hunters often struggle to find satisfaction

by Patrick Durkin 15. March 2012 00:48
Patrick Durkin

For all the fun, challenge and satisfaction we find in scouting, hunting sheds and bowhunting deer, elk and other critters, I’m often struck how often guys tell me they’re unhappy with the neighbors, deer numbers or rut activity.

Research shows that "nonconsumptive" recreationists – such as hikers, bikers, campers and rowers – report more satisfaction from their activities than do hunters, anglers and mushroom hunters.

It seems I’m not alone. In fact, here’s something to think about: If hunters, anglers and mushroom pickers want to return home feeling happier and more satisfied after every outing, we might want to take up hiking, camping, canoeing or birdwatching.

Like it or not, research consistently shows “consumptive” recreationists – hunter-gatherers – report significantly lower satisfaction ratings than our “nonconsumptive” counterparts.

When Professor Jerry Vaske at Colorado State University reported this finding in 1982, he also predicted it wouldn’t change much over time. Why? Probably because hunter-gatherers typically have specific goals like shooting a deer or catching a perch. Further, even if we choose great spots with higher odds of reaching our goals, we can’t control deer activity or perch feeding habits.

Nonconsumptive recreationists don’t have such exact goals and expectations. Plus, they usually have more control in determining their outing’s satisfaction, whether it’s a campsite’s location, a trail’s scenery, a hike’s length, or a rapids’ degree of difficulty. They can choose outings that best match their skills and interests, which increases satisfaction.

Sure, hunters and anglers also enjoy violet sunrises, fog-shrouded valleys and smoky-gold tamaracks, but these are desserts, not necessarily main courses.

Friends enjoy a campfire after a full day of bowhunting elk in Idaho.

And although we photograph snow-draped cedars for their beauty, we judge the snow’s usefulness by whether it helps us see deer, find tracks, or hear hoofsteps. Likewise, we might appreciate a cool breeze on hot afternoons, but then we’ll curse it for ruining our casts, blowing our scent to deer, or pushing our boat off biting fish.

Too many standards. Too little control. Too many distractions and failed expectations.

And ultimately, too much room for frustration.

So when Professor Vaske recently updated and expanded his 1982 research, no wonder he found hunters and anglers still aren’t as satisfied as bikers, climbers, kayakers, runners and other nonconsumptive recreationists. This time, Vaske and his research assistant, Jennifer Roemer, analyzed 102 studies – 57 consumptive and 45 nonconsumptive – that examined satisfaction levels of participants in a wide range of outdoor activities from 1975 through 2005.

Even mushroom hunters tend to report less overall satisfaction in the outdoors than do campers.

Despite the large sample, the results differed little from his 1982 research. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m guessing some bowhunters and fishermen will take it personally.

Yes, not everyone feels dissatisfied. Many of us enjoy every outing, and don’t need to arrow a big buck to feel content. It says so on our bumper stickers “The worst day bowhunting beats the best day working.”

Unfortunately, we aren’t the majority. When researchers compile data and cross-check answers, they often find things that separate fibs from fact, and wishes from reality.

Even though birders report greater satisfaction than do hunters, how many of us would trade bowhunting for birdwatching?

Vaske notes that while hunters and anglers have other goals that influence satisfaction -- such as camaraderie, solitude and being alone in nature – the research found these things were “partial substitutes” and of “secondary importance.” In fact, “seeing, shooting and bagging game” remain the most important factors for evaluating hunting and fishing experiences, and “the strongest predictors of overall satisfaction.”

In contrast, the goals of campers, backpackers and other nonconsumptive types are more general, Vaske writes. They, too, might feel motivated to test skills, seek solitude, experience nature and spend time with friends. These goals, however, aren’t as specific as catching a meal of bluegills or shooting a doe for the family’s larder. Therefore, nonconsumptive goals are “more easily substituted if one goal is not satisfied.”

Even when some of us go snowshoeing, our main interest is scouting for deer sign.

In other words, it’s probably asking too much of hunting – on land or in the water – to satisfy all hunters all the time. For example, when Wisconsin deer hunters rated their experiences the past 10 years of record-setting seasons, you would have thought some were being water-boarded.

After setting the Wisconsin-record deer kill (528,494) in 2000, the majority opinion – 40.8 percent of hunters – judged the season’s quality “about average.” After Wisconsin’s No. 2 gun-deer season (413,794 kills) in 2004, the majority – 52 percent – ranked its quality “low.” And after tallying Wisconsin’s No. 3 gun season (402,563 kills) in 2007, the majority – 53.6 percent – also ranked it “low.”

Worse, some think it’s the government’s responsibility to satisfy and make them happy by supplying more deer, even as they protest taxes, threaten license boycotts, and demand government get off their backs.

Unfortunately, if anyone thinks lawmakers can deliver long-term hunting and fishing satisfaction, their frustrations and disappointments are just beginning.

That's Life - A Hunter takes a Vacation

by Daniel James Hendricks 6. May 2011 02:43
Daniel James Hendricks


A bachelor group of Sika bucks looks on as we park our vehicle.  Only one antler of the orginal ten remains, but it is a beauty.

Someone once wrote, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”  If we carefully analyze our lives, we will quickly see that no truer words were ever written.

Last week, Karen and I escaped the ho-hum routine of everyday life by checking into Palmquist’s The Farm for three days of relaxation, great food and even greater company.  I have been visiting The Farm for ten years now hunting their awesome deer herd with a crossbow and a camera.  Karen had heard countless stories and seen thousands of photos of all of the beautiful qualities that this unique get-away has to offer, but had never been there.  My deepening love for the place and the people necessitated bringing my wife there so she could experience firsthand what I have had to deal with over the last decade. 

The power of Mother Nature to reclaim what was once hers is fascinating.  Trees growing in an ancient trailer...amazing.

The Farm not only offers hunting for trophy whitetail bucks, but it is also a bed and breakfast, offering cross-country skiing, hay rides, bird hunting as well as hosting weddings and family reunions with the capability to house the whole gang in a rural setting that is right out of the Good Old Days.   It offers a glimpse of what life was in days gone by with down to earth hosts and a continuous flow of local residents that tell and retell tales of colorful characters that have passed through their lives over the four generations that The Farm has existed.

One of the activities I had planned was to get out into the woods to look for sheds and share some quality woods time with my Doxie, Moses Joseph or Mojo as I lovingly call him.  We headed out on Friday morning after having coffee with the local boys, anxious to hit the woods with daydreams of deep piles of sheds in the back of the vehicle on the return trip.  Mojo seemed to know that Daddy and he were off on an adventure as he lay on my lap shaking with excitement as I drove to our destination. 

This is my best friend and buddy, Moses Joseph Hendricks or Mojo as we are fond of calling him.  Mojo is a minature, piebald Dachshund.

When we reached the first gate, I slipped out of the vehicle and opened it up.  When I returned to the Jeep and lifted the handle, I was greeted to a locked door! Mojo’s excitement had him bouncing on my arm rest and in the process he had all doors to my running vehicle locked tight.  The motor was running with my cell phone in plain sight on the center console.  How lovely can it get!

Sensing that something was terribly wrong, Mojo came to the driver’s side window and frantically began clawing at the glass in an effort to create a way in for me.  I am constantly touched by the emotional ties that I have with this little creature and the fact that he realized we were seriously screwed here was just one more of those special moments. 

Rounding a corner, we caught a couple of whitetail bucks, sans their antlers, standing under one of my favorite photo blinds.

I considered my options and then began looking for the right sized rock which I quickly located.  There was a tall narrow safety glass window right behind the regular window on the rear doors…that became my target.  It was sturdy glass and the process of trying to smash it took multiple attempts, which only upset Mojo even further.  When at last it exploded into a million shards, I reached inside and opened the door.  When I climbed into the front of the vehicle, Mojo jumped into my lap covering my face with exuberant kisses, relieved to be safely back in Daddy’s arms, once again.

We headed through the gates and spent the rest of the morning tromping through the very wet and beautiful Northern Wisconsin woods collecting a total of three pieces of whitetail ivory before heading back to The Farm tired, wet and happy in spite of the window.  One of our local friends had invited Karen and me over for a lunch of fried pan fish and an opportunity to meet his wife. Before we pulled out of his yard we had the hole patched with pink Styrofoam and Duck tape and the broken glass pretty much removed via his shop vac.  The patch job didn’t look like much, but it was solidly done and withstood the five-hour trip home without so much as a single leak.  Thank you, Brother Hank. 

After the window incident, we were rewarded to an absolutely beautiful morning in the woods.  Wispy fog hung over the crystal clear pools of ice water, created by freshly melted snow.

The original plan was to take my best friend, Mojo out for a scenic walk in the woods and to maybe find some sheds.  I did not plan on getting locked out of the Jeep or having to smash a window out, but that’s life and life is what happens while you are making other plans. 

Mojo and I even found a few antlers to make the day even better than it already was.

The beauty that is found in the forest constantly amazes me.  Everywhere I look there are sights that give me reason to pause and admire.

These stones have not been rolling for they have gathered moss!

A minor set back, a beautiful forest, wild creatures, the devotion of a wonderful little dog and the Spring song of a Robin...That's Life!


Early Spring Bowhunting Preparations

by Todd Graf 29. April 2011 08:55
Todd Graf

Springtime is upon us, fellow bowhunters!  With the snow and cold days behind us (I hope) here in Northern Illinois, it is time to really focus on preparing for the 2011 deer season, which will be here before you know it!  April was an especially very busy month for me (then again, what month isn’t) between trade shows, habitat management projects on my properties and a little turkey hunting adventure with my little man, Craig.

As many of your probably know, was well represented at the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics over the past month.  I always enjoy those shows and it is a real blast to get out there and meet the genuine, down to earth bowhunters who love and enjoy the sport just as much as I do!  We had a great showing at both of these expos and I met a lot of great new people and saw some magnificent deer as well.

By far my favorite mount at the Illinois Deer and Turkey Expo was this 197" monster harvested by Mason Paul.  I love how the mount sits on top of the collection of antlers!

I also enjoyed meeting some of our loyal Facebook friends at the show as well.  If you haven't done so, check out on Facebook here!

I was excited to get my 2010 buck from officially being scored by the Pope and Young Club.  This monster Illinois whitetail buck officially netted 140 3/8”!  This was my third straight season of harvest a buck over 140 inches with my bow.  I understand that hunting mature, trophy bucks isn’t for everyone, but man, I can’t get enough of it!

From the field...

... to the record book!

Despite the dreary weather we have been experiencing in the Upper Midwest, I have been able to get out on my hunting property and begin work on some of my offseason habitat improvement projects.  Don’t let the cold and wet conditions keep you from bettering your hunting property, now is the perfect time!  I was fortunate enough to get a lot of work done recently.  On one of my 60 acre farms I just finished a TSI (Timber Stand Improvement) project on 10 acres that will increase the health and longevity of the forested area on this farm.  I know a lot of talk these days are about food plots being the secret to killing big deer, and they certainly help, TSI is also a great way to improve the overall habitat on your property as well.  I also mowed down the standing corn stalks from last year, fertilized several food plots and performed some controlled burns to get the soil ready for food plot and native grass plantings.

Conrolled burns will greatly improve the soil for my summer food plot and native grass plantings.  

Finding sheds is always exciting!  This one looks like it may be a couple years old.

I was also able to plant some hardwood and softwood trees, as well as some soft mast bearing trees as well to create added diversity for the deer that visit my farm,  All in all, I planted and caged (have to keep the deer away from them for now!) 50 oaks, 6 pears, 30 pines and 30 more apple trees.  The oaks and apple trees won’t bear fruit for several years down the road, but it will be an enjoyable experience watching them grow and mature through the years.  However, what I take pride in is the thought that my little man Craig will have the opportunity to hunt from those same trees in the future!  A big part of Quality Deer Management is protecting this sport we enjoy so much, and ensuring that younger generations can enjoy it just the same as we did!     

These trees may be small now, but one day my son, Craig, will hopefully be hanging a tree stand from them!

Speaking of Craig, he and I were able to get out together to do a little turkey hunting a couple weeks ago.  We didn’t see any, but their thunderous gobbles rang throughout the woods and got Craig and I both pretty excited!  

Our turkey hunting set-up; Craig and didn't see any but we sure heard them gobbling!

Unfortunately, the onset of Spring also means it is tick season, and man, do I hate these things!   These pesky pests used to find their way on me every time I went outside this time of year.  However, this year I have been wearing Elimitck Clothing from Gamehide Gear and haven’t found a single tick on me.  Elimitick Clothing is my clothing of choice this time of year that is for sure!

ElimiTick Clothing from Gamehide Gear is my clothing of choice this time of year. 

I’d like to close out this blog by show an example of just how random my life can be.  My wife talked me into buying a goat!  My wife loves all animals and, even though I enjoy nothing more than harvesting mature animals during the fall, I have a soft spot in my heart for all animals as well. Maybe, buying this goat will earn me some brownie points this fall and a little extra time in the treestand? We’ll see! 

Yes, somehow I got talked into buying a goat!

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 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!


3 Easy Tools To Increase Your Shed Count In 2011

by Mark Kenyon 22. February 2011 16:57
Mark Kenyon

Now that we're well into February, reports of folks hitting the shed antler jackpot have been popping up left and right. Up until this past weekend's snow storm, conditions were absolutely perfect for sheds across most of the midwest. But now with a bit of a snow problem at hand, we all have a chance to stay inside for awhile and rethink our shed hunting strategy for the rest of the season. So if you've yet to strike it rich in antler gold this year, fear not. There is plenty of time and tons of bone yet to be found. For those looking for an extra edge in your search for sheds, I've listed a few simple tools that can without a doubt help you increase your shed count in 2011. Read on for more about how trailcams, supplemental feeds and "shed knocking devices" can help you bring home more bone this spring!

1. Trail Cameras: Using trail cameras is a key to success for most deer hunters, but this time of year, it can be especially important to your shed hunting success. Trail cameras are the ultimate tool for determining the timing of antler casting in your area and this tiny bit of information can be crucial to your eventual shed count. By monitoring the antler status of your bucks, you can wait to start shed hunting until the majority of bucks have shed. This way you won't be wasting time searching before antler's are cast and you'll avoid spooking bucks off your property before they have the chance to drop their antlers in your area! I think in most cases it is a better idea to wait longer before shed hunting an area, than to go in too early and spook bucks out of the area that are still packing.

2. Attractants/Supplemental Feeds: A whitetail buck's life revolves around food during the winter and any time you can narrow down where a buck is feeding, you'll have a better chance of finding his sheds, By providing a consistent attractant and/or supplemental food source for deer (if legal in your state), you'll encourage deer to spend more time in the immediate area, which will then hopefully lead to more sheds being left near by!  An attractant or supplement, such as Big & J's BB2 or a Trophy Rock , works great in combination with trail cameras to bring buck's into camera range too!

3. Shed Knocking Devices: There are many different and creative ways to create a "shed knocking device", but the basic premise is the same. This "device" must somehow hit or ensnare an antler, to knock off soon to be shed antlers. This should then help you collect antlers in a common location, rather than having them scattered around the timber or larger food sources. One easy to build contraption I've heard of involves arranging 4 hay bales in the form of an X, with only their corners touching. This formation of bales should leave a square in the middle, in which you can then pour corn or a similar attractant. Hopefully when a buck puts his head down into the inner square or anywhere near a hay bale to eat the corn, he'll knock off a loose antler! There are plenty of other contraptions out there, so do some searching on Google or just be creative and put something together on your own!

Good luck in your hunt for sheds these next few months and if you have any other recommended tools, let us know in the comments!

Hefner and the BackYard Buck!

by Brenda Potts 19. February 2011 15:06
Brenda Potts

During the peak of the rut my field producer, Melissa Bachman, and I were after a buck we named Heffner (he seemed to always have a girlfriend nearby). Melissa was running the video camera and we were filming for SHE's Beyond the Lodge.

We were bowhunting a 100 acre lease not far from my house in central Illinois, prime big buck country. Heffner was one smart buck. The first time we spotted him he was well hidden in CRP grass and refused to take a step into the open as he surveyed the area for several minutes. Try keeping your act together with a 170 class buck less than 60 yards away from the food plot where your decoy is patiently waiting to lure a shooter into range. Heffner took a different route that did not bring him in range of my tree stand.

On my second encounter, Heffner wanted no part of the Bucky Jr. decoy and neither did his current love interest. The doe passed through one of my 40 yard shooting lanes, refusing to go toward the decoy. Heffner began to follow her. Unfortunately the doe got downwind and spooked, sending Heffner back where he came from.

In the meantime, back at my house a mystery buck decided to blast our Glen Del target to pieces, scattering parts for twenty yards. I put it back together and, yes I know, should have taken the antlers off because the second time the mystery buck attacked, he broke the front legs of our target. I sat the body back up in a hurry and left it as if shooting at a bedded buck. Mystery buck knocked it over a third time. My mind was on Heffner, but this mystery back yard buck was beginning to make me mad.

My husband, Stan came home early from a successful hunt and Melissa had to leave. So Stan said he would run the video camera for me. We decided to go after our back yard mystery buck. Our property is only 8 acres in the country but with the rut in full swing, deer were moving through our timber on a regular basis.

With the Bucky Jr. decoy set up and Stan behind the camera my hopes were high. He rattled in 3 bucks on our second morning. One of the bucks was a shooter and he started making his way through the timber right to our decoy. As he circled to get down wind of Bucky Jr. it gave me a quartering away shot. I was shooting a Mathews DXT and sent the Muzzy 3 blade right where it needed to go. My back yard buck went down less than 80 yards from my tree. I cannot say for sure he was the mystery buck, but the target hasn't been knocked over since.

Back at the lease, Heffner was still chasing does. He was spotted with a doe in the middle of a wide open field during the gun season. Would he make it through the rest of the year? Thanks to our grandson Tristin we have the answer. He found one of Heffner's sheds today. It was the first shed he ever found and he spotted it all by himself. The big antler was in the timber not far from where I had seen the buck in the fall. Now we know Heffner made it through all the late hunting seasons and the winter.  Thanks to our little shed master I have started  counting the days to next bow season!





Shed Hunting Season; Get Out There and Find Some Shed Antlers!

by Scott Abbott 19. February 2011 08:27
Scott Abbott

Luckily, this morning I was able to get away for a few hours to a piece of public land to shed hunt. I have already been out numerous times but the snow has just been to deep for me to find any bone.  My area over the past couple days finally experienced a big melt off of almost all the snow accumulation we have had piled up since the beginning of December.  It was pretty wet out there today but I managed to stay dry for the most part, thanks to my Gore-Tex lined boots!

My morning started out slowly about an hour and a half into my walk I came across this old buck skull, his one antler had been chewed off by rodents. It's hard to say how long it had been laying there, a few years at least. 

The day started off with this old weathered skull.

Just 45 minutes and a few hundred yards later my eyes finally caught a glimpse of my first shed of the 2011 season. As I approached it I could tell right away that it was unique and BIG! A very nice shed it turned out to be sporting a double main beam.  I found this shed laying beneath a white oak where it appears the buck was digging for acorns. It had to be an early drop before our snow hit in early December as there was a good amount of leaves on top of the antler. It sure felt good finally breaking the ice on my shed season, I would have been happy with a forky for the first pick up!

My first shed of the year came in grand fashion by finding this monster!

Only seconds later I spotted this shed not 40 feet away underneath another white oak tree.  It appears this buck also lost his shed while feeding on acorns, although I do not feel this antler was dropped near as long ago as the first.  I at first thought that it may have been a match set since they were so close. Although, with a better look I could easily tell that they were not a match however. Picking them up only confirmed my thoughts as they are both left side sheds. I had to leave not 15 minutes after I found these as I had to get home to my son as my wife had to leave for work.  It isn't easy leaving the woods when you know there may be the matches to these not very far away, especially when they were laying on public land.  I hope to get back out tomorrow for a bit and put some time in the area looking to find the matches, or any other antlers laying around. 

Only seconds after finding my first shed, my eyes met with this nice 5 point side.

Let Shed Hunting Season Begin!

by Mark Kenyon 31. January 2011 01:10
Mark Kenyon

The first days of February often signal the dawn of shed hunting season for whitetail freaks across the country, so if you haven't already, let me be the first to ring in the new shed hunting season!  Over the next two months thousands of shed heads will be hitting the crop fields, river bottoms and ridge tops of whitetail country in search of ivory white gold and I'll be right there along with them. Although my shed hunting success rate has been less than impressive in the past, as evidenced by the monster shed pictured above, I've been lucky enough to pick up a handful of great tips from some of the best in the business. So before you head out the door to find that fallen bone, consider a few of the shed hunting tips below and if you're the generous type, feel free to send a few of your finds my way!

- Be a strategic shed hunter. Rather than spending your shed hunting hours walking every inch of your property, focus on surveying only a few core areas and search them with a fine toothed comb. The high priority spots should be the sections of a primary food source that are getting hit the hardest, known buck bedding areas and main trails leading between the two.
- Scout before shed hunting! Before you go shed hunting, do some work to determine those primary food sources right now. If you can pinpoint what corner of a food source is getting the most action this time of year, you can significantly narrow down your search and you'll also know what bedding areas to search the hardest.
- When searching trails, pay special attention to any land feature that could possibly knock a buck's antler off. For example, creek or fence crossings, low hanging branches and thick brushy areas. Although I personally haven't seen it, I know many folks that have actually found sheds hanging in a tangle of branches or brush along trails.
- Always bring binoculars. When beginning the search of a field, survey the surrounding area with a binocular scan. If you ever spot something that has even a slight possibility of being an antler,  get closer and have a better look. A wise shed hunter once wrote, "when in doubt, check it out."
- Consider training your dog to shed hunt!  More and more folks are training their dogs to find antlers and I've been told that a well trained shed hunting dog should more than double your antler count. If you have a puppy you want to train, step #1 is to start getting your pup obsessed with antlers. Find a small shed and make it his new favorite toy.  Once he gets hooked, he'll be just as big a shed head as you!
Hopefully with these tips and a little good luck you'll be filling your truck with plenty of bone this year. So good luck shed hunting this spring and if you have any other great shed hunting tips, feel free to share them in the comments!

An Early Start to Shed Antler Season

by Scott Abbott 12. January 2011 11:20
Scott Abbott

I was finally able to put some time aside on Monday to get outside and put a couple miles on my boots for an early look for some sheds.  I am not currently running any cameras but have some buddies that are.  For the most part their cameras are telling us that the vast majority of bucks are still carrying their antlers.  But, since I filled my buck tag on October 30th, I have only been in the woods a couple times to help track deer for others.  I just wanted to get out for a walk. 

My few hours did not yield any shed antlers or very much for tracks in the snow but I did find a small buck skull.  Thinking back over the years, I can only think of one year where I found a shed antler before finding one or more buck skulls.  I find a disproportionate number of dead bucks to sheds in my area.  I am hoping for a solid shed season this winter, I just need to give them more time to drop their racks. 

Good luck to all this shed season!

The final chapter has been written, Ohio buck down!

by Scott Abbott 1. November 2010 08:23
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 that year.

Chapter Two. 11/16/2008

On November 16th, 2008 not long after first light I could 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"! For the next couple hours he was chasing and putting on dominance displays toward these other bucks to protect his bedded doe. 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

Shed season of 2008, I was lucky enough to stumble upon his right hand side shed. I was finally able to "get my hands on him".


Chapter four. 07/21/2009

My trail camera was again able to get a set of photos of this buck on the evening of July 21st. The camera was located on a bean field, approximately 80 yards from where his photos were taken the year before.

Chapter five. 10/30/2010

With this evenings conditions, I knew right where I wanted to sit. This is a stand I was just speaking with Tim ( forum member TJF) about a couple weeks ago, I was really looking forward to the first sit here. A place I have never hunted before, though I was chomping at the bit to get into this time of year coupled with today's wind coming from the SSW blowing into the 20's MPH. The wind would cover my noise and allow me to get in there and set up my climbing sticks and stand. Throughout the evening I saw a few bucks sparring and working over scrapes, it was fun to watch. 10 minutes to 6 I hear crunch, crunch... Then I could hear that he was grunting with every step. I carefully slid my bow between the tree and myself to get into position for a shot. I hit full draw and released the string. A 7 yard shot yielded a 50 yard recovery, a happy bowhunter and the final chapter for this buck and I.

He is at least 6.5 years old based on my history with him.


Smart Phone Application "My Tracks" Can Make Hunters More Efficient in the Woods

by Bow Staff 28. September 2010 08:18
Bow Staff

    Looking for a simple tool to aid in your scouting efforts or assist you during the shed hunting season?  Look no further than your smart phone.   Yes, your smart phone.  My Tracks, an application downloadable to a variety of smart phones including Droid, iPhone or Blackberry, can help you be a more efficient hunter in the woods.  Here’s how.

My Tracks is an application that works with Google Maps to record your every move during your time afield.  Once your track as been recorded you view it directly on your phone or upload it to Google Spreadsheets on Google My Maps.   While this application is not designed specifically for hunters, it provides several features that can be very useful to all hunters alike.  For example, say you’ve just acquired a new piece of property and you are scouting it for potential stand locations.  With My Tracks, you are able to insert waypoints, or makers, that will appear via aerial map on your smart phone.  This way, you are able to analyze terrain features in accordance to your stand site or find it easily should you forget the stand location.  My Tracks also comes in handy should you have trouble blood trailing a deer.  You could start recording your track from the point of impact, insert markers where blood becomes scarce and, when you recover your deer, aerially view the blood trail in Google Maps.  Shed hunters could also utilize the same features when looking for antlers.  By marking the location of each shed antler you find as well as the path you took to find that shed, you can be more efficient by concentrating on areas where you have a better chance of finding a shed.  The possibilities with My Tracks are truly endless for the serious whitetail hunter.

While recording tracks, you can:
1.    See location / progress on a map
2.    Monitor real-time statistics: time, distance, speed, elevation
1.    View elevation profile by time or distance
2.    Zoom, pan elevation profile
3.    Create waypoints
4.    Create statistics waypoints (splits tracks into subtracks)




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.


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. 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.

A walk, then a drive.

by Scott Abbott 9. February 2009 11:12
Scott Abbott

Went out shedn' today.   I put about 4 more hours on the boots during this outing.  I have nothing to show for it though but some muddy boot tracks in the corn fields....

With about 1 hour and 15 minutes of light left I could see the deer starting to come out into the field a few hundred yards away.  Knowing how rough our winter has been on the herd this year I quietly backed out and let them have the field.  I decided to go for a ride to finish out the day.

We have had between 1 and 2 feet of snow for well over a month and it just started melting off two days ago. The once again exposed ground really got the deer up and moving around.  About an hour of driving today yielded 72 deer sightings (not one deer was carrying any antler).  In comparison, I had saw maybe a dozen deer the whole month of January.  Seeing that many deer this evening with no antler what-so-ever gives me some extra motivation to get out there after the shed antlers before someone else or the rodents get them.

All of the deer that I saw today were either in cut corn fields or pasture type fields. What are you seeing in your area?

 I have to say though, it was nice to see some whitetail again!


Whitetail deer shed antler update.

by Scott Abbott 30. December 2008 16:42
Scott Abbott

Well, I know it is early still.... but no shed junky can't say he isn't excited to get the shedding underway! 

I don't have any big news to report yet, only these couple photos to follow.  Well it's a start anyways!

These photos were taken with the Moultrie D40.  It offers excellent performance for the $99 price tag, the battery life was outstanding even in the single digits temps we have had lately.




Shed buck game camera pics, and a surprise.....

by Scott Abbott 22. December 2008 09:46
Scott Abbott


Looks to be a healthy buck who has shed his antlers at first glance......



  Maybe even at second glance.....



How about now?????



For my area his muscles structure would be very large in his shoulder area to be 1.5 buck, nor do his facial features look to be a yearlings so I am leaning at 2.5 years old...  I never saw this buck all summer on camera or all fall from stand..... 

I just put a camera back out a week ago to check on the shedding process.....  This is the only shed buck on camera so far.

I wonder if that is a birth defect or an injury sustained later in life.   Any thoughts, ideas or experiences to shed some light on this?

Longing to run into an old friend.

by Scott Abbott 3. September 2008 12:31
Scott Abbott

If there ever was a buck that I would love to get an opportunity to have 20 feet below me and 20 yards out.....  This is him. 


 A velvet photo showing a broken tine hanging down still attached by velvet.


In hard antler.

My first sighting of the double beam buck was summer of 2007. I was glassing a bean field adjacent to a dried up swamp that is now a tall weedy bedding area. He exited the tall weeds and followed a ditch East along the backside of the bean field.  He drank from the ditch and then waded into the beans. I glassed him numerous times in the beans last summer and also had quite a few trail cam photos of him. He quit being active during daylight hours in mid to late August.  From there on out I had no more sightings or photos of him while the sun was up.  I did however get trail cam photos of him after dark into early September.  Mid September on I had no confirmation that he was still around, no sightings, no trail cam photos, nothing. 

As October turned to November, I found myself sidelined with a shoulder injury and missed the rest of the season....  Game over for the year.... The rut came and went as did our shotgun and muzzleloader seasons.  Was he shot by another hunter?  Did he leave the area?  Had he been hit by a car?   None of the other guys who hunt this farm had laid eyes on him either, he seemed to vanish.  I had all of these questions, but no answers....  That is until one evening last winter I was out shed hunting and came across a familiar sight a few yards ahead....


He had broke off his brow tine as well as a kicker
point off his base since my last sightings of him.

There laid the double beam side of the buck I had all those questions about and thought so much about.... It felt good to know that he was still alive and in the area.... Although, many more hours never turned up a find on the other side.  The non-typical side is all it took to get my enthusiasm rejuvenated for another round with this whitetail.

This year has started no different than last year ended... I have not saw or got a trail cam photo of him this year. But what's new? Persistence payed off last year with this shed, hopefully, it will again this fall with an opportunity at the buck I covet so much.

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