There’s still plenty of time to search for deer antlers this spring before the heat, green and bugs of summer take over and you’d rather be sitting on a beach or in a boat than hiking through the woods. As you hunt the woods for sheds and scout along the way, remember to focus most of your efforts in key areas so you don’t waste precious time in less-productive spots. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when hunting for those dropped deer antlers.
Deer spend most of their time bedding to conserve energy in winter, especially in cold regions. Therefore, bedding areas should be high on your list of places to search for sheds.
A deer chooses a bedding area based on a few criteria. First, a bedding area should provide shelter from the elements. Conifer thickets often fill the bill because conifer branches block the wind and catch the snow before it hits the ground, making for easier travel. Bedding areas also should provide cover from predators. That’s one reason deer spend time in brushy thickets. It is almost impossible for a predator to sneak up on a deer unannounced when it must navigate thick tangles of briars and branches.
Another vital consideration is sun exposure. Many deer hunters and shed hunters often assume that wise, old bucks seek the most impenetrable cover imaginable. Although that’s sometimes the case, they often look for the opposite. In winter, deer frequently bed to take advantage of sunny exposures to soak up thermal radiation like a cat sunning itself in a windowsill. Look for south-facing hillsides, the southern edge of forests or any place with a southern exposure where deer can bed in comparative sunny warmth.
My two favorite textbook bedding areas are these southern exposures and lone evergreens. Southern exposures, whether the southern face of a hill or southern edge of a forest where it meets a clearing, provide thermal radiation for deer. Because these areas soak up sunlight, they often are a few degrees warmer than the northern edge of the same cover and often have reduced snow depth because of snow melt. Lone evergreens seem to attract deer.
If you owned a pond that had no weeds, rocks or any other structure, it would seem logical that fish might roam about that pond anywhere. But if you threw a dead Christmas tree into the pond, odds are those fish would relate to that piece of cover. It’s the same with deer. Deer go out of their way to bed under lone evergreens, whether it’s one pine in an overgrown field or just a few scattered evergreens in a hardwood forest. And more than 90 percent of the time, when I find a shed under a lone evergreen, it’s under the southern side of the tree. It’s absolutely uncanny.
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.