Everyone loves to pick up a big shed whitetail antler during a cabin-fever hike, but if you’re a hunter don’t ignore the smoking-hot evidence in the whitetail woods. You can cure cabin fever and scout your whitetail property simultaneously for a hunting season jumpstart.
Before you go, remember to plan your trip into the whitetail woods after the wrath of winter subsides. Extra stress on deer when they are still battling the elements could lead to death.
The most obvious benefit of a spring hike, shed antlers aside, is learning the country. By hiking and scrounging around in your hunting area you obtain a unique, firsthand perspective of a property that Google Earth can’t provide. No matter how hard you peer at your screen you can’t see under the canopy.
Subtle funnels, hidden benches, traffic-jam trails, rub clusters, scrapes and other sign have to be seen in person to understand their full hunting potential. Fortunately, the whitetail-made clues are still as evident after winter as they were when they were made in the autumn. Plus, wet spring conditions mean well-used trails are mud packed and stand out in the dull, brown woods.
Making notes on apps such as ScoutLook Weather allows you to mark clusters of scrapes, log rub lines and document areas of intense bedding activity. This program also gives you the advantage of a topographical overlay on the Google Earth image so you can see ever-so-slight land variations. A property access code allows you to share the information with hunting partners.
Before you cringe at hiking through whitetail habitat, do the math. Any whitetails you bump will have six or more months to forget about your intrusion. And don’t believe you’re the only invader in the county. Coyotes, landowners, loggers and even the occasional trespasser bump deer throughout the year. Whitetails are used to an occasional harasser.
I discovered one of my favorite pinch points thanks to the help of shed antler hunting. Bucks were entering a river bottom where the river took a wide turn, crossing the river and burying themselves on the opposite bank for daytime bedding. Muddy trails and scores of rubs led me to an ambush location that has put several Pope and Young trophies within range of my Mathews bow, plus a pile of shed antlers.
Veteran shed hunter Joe Shead takes you on a journey through the late-winter and spring forests. With this great Shed Hunting Collection, learn what to look for and then go with Shead looking for white-tailed deer antlers along with a trip out west in search of elk and mule deer sheds.