Shed hunting is a sport in and of itself
If you are anything like me, you will find yourself endlessly looking for dropped antlers without success. For years I wondered why I was such a failure. Here are three reasons why I has having such trouble finding sheds.
There are such things as shed hunters. An entire shed hunting culture exists and operates well outside deer hunting clicks. I know some hunters that find more sheds than I could ever dream of, but could not put a big buck on the ground to save their life. What it all comes down to is commitment.
Aggressive deer hunters often burn themselves out before the season even ends. The idea of spending as much time shed hunting as you did deer hunting is a bit of a crazy prospect. Shed hunters commit a lot of time to it—more than some of us want to admit.
Sheds are not on a timer. In can be very complex to pin down when they drop. Though this might be an oversimplification, the real science behind it has to do with doe-to-buck ratios. The more does that need to be bred, the longer the buck holds his antlers. That means that the rate of sheds dropped can vary from mile to mile, particularly in suburban America.
Shed hunters seek to put themselves at an advantage by returning to hunt the same spot over and over again. They will do this from before the antlers start dropping to well after they stop. The antler really could be there one day and gone the next. Trail cameras can solve two of these issues.
Like most things in suburban hunting, this is…complex. I cannot stress how relevant suburban buck core areas are to shed hunting. Whitetails change core areas in suburban environments multiple times in a year. Sometimes, they never change their core areas. By setting out an army of trail cameras, you can pin down whether there are bucks in the area and if they still have antlers on their head.
If you wanted to micromanage an actual piece of property, you could look for areas where deer might leap and shake off their antlers. There may be thickets they could crawl into and get their antlers tangled up in as well.
If we want sheds, we need to treat it as seriously as we do the actual hunting season. Time committed to shed hunting can provide a wealth of information when the season opens. Shed hunting forces us to get hands-on with an area and get intimate with an animal.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.