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!