Or … “Shed Scouting is Necessary but Imperfect”
Antlers are already dropping and some shed hunters are having some early success.
Whether or not you plan to get out looking for antlers right now, it’s a good idea to at least get out and scout. Drive around and observe where you see deer right now, particularly antlered bucks. Just like in deer hunting, some preseason scouting goes a long way toward later success.
Watch for deer using fields in evenings or look for concentrations of tracks or trails in snow or mud. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to poke around for some fresh sheds right now too. I’m surprised at the number of people I’ve heard finding antlers already this year.
It’s possible heavy snows and cold temperatures across the Midwest and Northeast could prompt some early shedding. It’s not the cold and snow that causes antlers to drop, it’s associated stress. Deep snow makes it harder to find food and cold temperatures mean deer have to consume more calories to stay warm.
Couple that with stress bucks experience seeking and chasing does during the rut and you have the recipe for weary, weakened animals, particularly dominant bucks. Many bucks will continue to carry antlers into February and March, but some deer began shedding as early as December. It all depends on individual deer. Get out there and take a look around right now to figure out where deer are located. This will give you a good starting point down the road.
Get both of Joe’s DVDs plus his book Shed Hunting: A Guide to Finding White-Tailed Deer Antlers in this affordable shed-hunting collection.