LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
Scouting for trophy whitetails really never stops for those who live, breath, and pursue deer with a passion. Yes, when the season ends the down time for bowhunters begins and many are dealing with bitter cold temperatures along with deep snow. This however does not mean we need to become hermits as far as continuing our education about the game we pursue. A great way, and one I personally use and highly recommend, is heading out to look for shed antlers. As you can see in the photo below, when a decent size buck drops an antler in snow covered ground it does not necessarily become covered to the point where locating the shed is impossible. It’s actually a thing of beauty!
Shed hunting provides a host of benefits for the passionate whitetail hunter
The benefits all bowhunters can derive from shed hunting are not limited to just finding a nice antler or two. While you discover this particular buck has made it through the season and is still in the area, you also gain further knowledge concerning where this buck hangs out; which is a great way to locate future stand and blind locations to harvest this buck in the coming season. And last, but far from least, is the exercise factor. Hunting for trophy whitetail sheds will have you humping the terrain like a recruit going through boot camp. Add to these benefits the fact that you can bring your bow along for varmint/small game hunting and you have the best of both worlds.
Once the snow has melted you can continue to hunt sheds before the spring green up. If you hunt turkeys with your bow then you should always be on the lookout for sheds. It is surprising how many dropped antlers the sharp eyed turkey hunter can find. These will provide further information for you to catalog for next season, and very well will show you areas to hunt you may have not considered before.
A spring gobbler can sometimes lead to a shed and maybe a new hunting location
Places to focus on finding shed antlers include deer trails leading to fences and/or bedding areas. However, you may want to visit these spots only once (depending on how far into spring you are) so the deer are not spooked to a new location. Many of my best finds have been at fence crossings due to the force of landing after jumping the fence. This often shakes off one and occasionally both antlers; especially if this is a regular crossing spot for the buck.
A good set of shed antlers can not only help you find him but can also be used to lure in that next trophy buck!
Stream locations are also good due to the simple fact a hyper-sensitive buck is dipping and raising his head several times as he drinks. Honeysuckle and large brier patches also produce sheds as smart bucks use these locations for cover when flushed out of their daytime nap spots. The very nature of this cover often snags a loose antler…..and there is your shed. One last thing to keep in mind when tramping around seeking trophy sheds; wear camo and scent blocker just as if you were stalking the buck during hunting season. The last thing you want to do is scare next year’s potential trophy out of the area.
If you have never tried shed hunting as a tactic for locating large bucks, give this method a go. It has paid off for many bowhunters, and chances are it will do the same for you.