Nobody loves to inventory a business’ goods, but when you’re spring shed hunting a herd inventory is in order. As you walk the whitetail woods be on the lookout for clues that reveal the health of your herd.
To begin with, shed hunting allows you to visually see future buck potential. The sheds you find will give you that information in the palm of your hands. You can score the shed antlers, compare them to past years and match them up with your trail camera pictures. You have real evidence that certain bucks made it through the winter, shed their antlers and are likely contenders for your fall pursuit.
Next, keep a tally of the deer you see as you hike your hunting property. You may see the same groups several times, but note every cluster you come upon. Put your Nikons to use and make out does from fawns, plus scan heads to locate groups of bucks beginning to band together as bachelors. Pay special attention to the fawn count. They are the first to succumb to winter stress and will definitely impact future herd potential if a large number didn’t survive the conditions.
With that unpleasant thought in your mind, count carcasses. It’s inevitable that a handful of deer will perish over the winter months regardless of the winter severity. Nevertheless, keep a count. Winter can take a toll and if you find evidence of severe winterkill, predation or some other event you may have to adjust your hunting forecast. You may also have to consider changes to your overall deer management scheme.
I remember hunting a heavy-horned whitetail several years back. The buck was a night prowler and rarely showed himself during the hunting season. After the snowmelt I hit the woods hard hoping to find his sheds. I did find his antlers, but unfortunately they were attached to his skull. He was the victim of a severe winter and the discovery was sad. The good news was that I knew his fate and didn’t set my sights on him for the following fall.
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.