SHED HUNTING


A GUIDE TO FINDING WHITE-TAILED DEER ANTLERS

THE BLOG

Question…

February 28, 2009

What’s black and white and red all over? Give up? An old TV with ketchup on it! Now that’s funny! Three inches of new snow during peak antler drop is NOT funny! I am going to go mope now.

Joe


Smooched by the Kiss of Death!

February 24, 2009

When I started putting my DVD together last year, I thought it would be great to film some live bucks carrying antlers. Little did I know this would prove to be the kiss of death! I didn’t find sheds from ANY of the bucks I filmed last year! So you can understand my apprehension in doing it this year! I haven’t seen any large bucks this year in my favorite areas, but I have been able to get a few small- to medium-sized ones on film. In one area I frequent, there were two 6-pointers traveling together. One I was calling the “Goofy 6.” He appears to be a modest 2-year-old buck. His spread is about as wide as his ears and one tine is broken. Then there’s a larger 6-pointer I’m calling “The Wide 6″ or “Hooks.” He’s actually got a nice rack, but only 6 points. I got film of these bucks, and in fact, my friend Aaron got film of the smaller buck mounting the larger one last week. I’d seen them both a few times in a row a week or so ago, but hadn’t seen either one in a couple trips. “Great,” I thought. “They’ve moved out of the area, just in time to drop their antlers!” Today I was in that area again, and after about 3.5 hours I was nearing the end of my circuit. I hadn’t seen an antlered buck, although I saw several deer.  I was nearly done walking when I caught the unmistakable glint of an antler tine in the snow. As soon as I saw it, I figured it had to be from the “Goofy 6.” It was! At long last, a shed off a buck I got on film! Best of all, the match was only about 15 yards away! This isn’t the biggest set in the world, but it’s extra special because I got this buck on film. Hopefully I can make him a movie star!

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Not Much to Report

February 22, 2009

I wish I had more to say for this post, but I don’t. The shed hunting has been pretty slow for me lately. Myself and others in my area are still reporting plenty of antlered bucks. This doesn’t surprise me. Peak drop around here seems to be about Feb. 20 to March 10, so we’re just entering that period. I got out for a few one- or two-hour trips this week, but didn’t hit it too hard. In fact, I did some ice fishing this week instead. The reason is simple: a majority of bucks around here haven’t shed yet. Each time I go shed hunting, I’m going to the same places, covering the same ground. I observe the deer and note that I’m still seeing antlered bucks. Doing this over and over can get a bit dull. The last thing I want is to get burned out before the bucks have even shed! So I’m taking it slow. I also found some new places I’d like to check out this season. I will keep monitoring the bucks, and hopefully around March 1, it will be raining antlers here! Good luck!

Joe


Nice one

February 15, 2009

22 days since my last shed, but I broke through today, thankfully. I hope this is my longest drought of the season. Last year I had a 28-day dry spell from late March to mid-April, and that’s my absolute best time of the year! A rally from late April and well into  May saved me last year. Today didn’t start promising. There were vehicles out that were obviously shed hunters. I was finding fresh footprints. I even heard some guys talking in the woods about sheds. It was like I was trapped in a zoo of shed hunters! I wanted fresh ground! Already on Plan B, I switched to Plan C and found some areas that weren’t all tracked up. Deer sign was abundant, but I wondered if it wasn’t too abundant … like if it was made by does and fawns. I relented and just stayed in the area, relieved not to find human tracks. I’d made a pass on the downhill side, where beds were abundant. It was gorgeously sunny, and on a day like this, deer should be bedded where they can soak up the rays. Don’t know why I made a pass where I did. It was not an area I would normally cover, but when I saw this shed, it was a no-doubter. No hesitation, no wondering if it was a stick. Shed all the way! It’s a beautiful dark-chocolate shed. Scratch that, I don’t like dark chocolate. Let’s say it’s a beautiful milk-chocolate shed. It’s a main-frame 5-point side, with a 2-inch sticker near the brow tine. There was just a hint of blood on the base. We had above-freezing weather last week, and both humans and deer sunk into the soft snow last week. Today it was cold and the snow was hard and crusty and I could stay right on top. This shed was on top of the snow, so I know it must have been shed in the last week.  I looked for the match for about 4 hours, but that was the only shed I found. Thrilled to have it!

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8 antlers found, but none came home!

February 14, 2009

I planned to go ice fishing yesterday afternoon, but first I wanted to swing into one of my shed spots for an hour in hopes of filming some bucks with antlers. Well, let’s just say I never made it out fishing. I saw 19 deer, and 18 of them were in the first half hour! This is a place I go into probably a couple times every week, but I’ve never seen that many deer. Obviously I’m not spooking them out of there, especially since I routinely see the same bucks each time in there. (In fact, I was seeing that 10-pointer from the DVD pretty much every time I went in there last year, and it didn’t seem to bother him.) But keep in mind, these are deer in an urban setting and they are used to seeing people. I saw three bucks carrying full racks today. I got some pretty good footage of a couple of them, but I didn’t really get a good look at the smallest one. I also made a neat find today. I found a dead buck that died months ago still in velvet. The antlers were broken and not worth taking home, but it was interesting nonetheless. I am a bit disappointed at not finding any sheds lately, but now that I think about it, I’m glad to have gotten the footage of those deer with their antlers. Hopefully I can find the sheds off those bucks in the coming weeks!


International Shed Hunting!

February 12, 2009

One of the great joys of shed hunting, besides finding sheds, is meeting other shed hunters. I have been privileged to have met or communicated with many great people. It’s amazing how we all share a common thread, whether we’re looking for sheds in the mountains, farm fields, deserts, or swamps. One of the most interesting shed hunters I’ve ever met was Bentley Coben in Saskatchewan. Bentley is the shed guru! He literally can find as many sheds in a day as I can in a season! He is also one of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. I had a chance to shed hunt with Bentley in 2006, and searching for sheds in Saskatchewan nearly spoiled shed hunting around home for me! I picked up 20 the first day! Bentley has a shed hunting video out too (long before I did). There are some huge sheds on it! Check it out at bentleycoben.com. Out of curiousity (and you’ll see why in a minute), this morning I ran through my address list and discovered I have sold books and/or DVDs to 47 states now (thanks New Mexico, just this week!) Still waiting on Alaska, Hawaii and Arizona.  I also have customers in 6 Canadian provinces. The real mind blower was a few days ago when I got a DVD order from a gentleman in Italy! Stefano says he searches for “elk” antlers in the Alps. The European “elk” is the same critter as the American moose. I checked a range map for “elk” in Europe and they are found in the northern countries, but it didn’t look like Italy. However, Stefano didn’t say he searches for them in Italy. I am very intrigued by this and am trying to learn more from him. Last year, a man in France ordered a book from me. He likes to look for red stag antlers. The red stag is a close relative of the American elk. I’d be curious to learn more if anyone knows of people in other countries who look for sheds. It really is a small world out there!


A Big Thank You to Bethe Gettle!

February 11, 2009

Just wanted to say thank you to Bethe Gettle of Pennsylvania. Bethe is the most hard-core hunter I know, hands down, and that’s saying a LOT! She was still shooting ducks and Atlantic brant into January, when my shotgun has long since been … um sitting on my floor, still waiting to be cleaned. But I digress. This week, Bethe sent me a very beautiful gift. It’s a predator call carved out of antler. It was made by her friend David J. Paul at Huntncarve Calls (www.huntncarvecustomcalls.com). The craftsmanship is amazing! The call depicts an engraved fox on one side and my initials on the other. Truly a thoughtful gift. I can’t say thanks enough. Thanks Bethe!

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Last Weekend

February 10, 2009

Hi faithful shed seekers! Here is my post from this past weekend, better late than never! Saturday I hit it pretty hard, which is good because I needed to get outside and get some exercise. I was out for a total of about 5 hours, but that was split between 3 different spot. There have been days where I’ve walked 8 or even 10 hours in the same spot, and I’ve gotta be honest, those days usually aren’t very productive. It seems like short 2-hour stints are best. Maybe I start to lose focus after that. Anyway, 5 hours, no sheds. I found two dead fawns and that was it. Friday I saw a nice buck in a spot where I found some sheds last year, including a matched set. I did get that matched set on film last year, but I LOST THE TAPE, so it never made it in the DVD. I think the tape has since been found, but I can’t remember! Anyway, it would be sweet to get this guy’s sheds and see if it’s the same buck from last year. I only got a glimpse of him on Friday. Sunday I made it out for a couple hours. I brought the camera with me. Don’t know if I’ll produce another DVD this year yet or not, but thought I’d shoot some footage just in case. I got some footage of a wide-racked 6-pointer, and also of a shed-out buck. This young shed-out buck has been shed out for some time now. I first saw him on Jan. 24, and already his antlers were gone and his pedicles were healed and scabbed over. He is missing a large patch of hair on his back, which makes him very easy to I.D. Only problem was, I never saw him with antlers on, so I don’t know what his antlers look like. I have seen him 3 times now, and always in the spot where I found my first shed of the year. I think there’s a good chance that it could be his shed, but I guess I’ll never know. Good luck out there!


Frustrated, But Getting Encouraged

February 6, 2009

I have been out for a few short excursions this week. We have beautiful weather right now … above freezing actually! This is unusual. Have to get out and make the most of it. This is a tough time of year for me to be out. My best months are always April and March. Right now I know there are sheds on the ground, but there are still a lot of deer carrying antlers. I can’t help but feel my efforts right now are somewhat wasted because a majority of our deer haven’t shed yet. I guess I just have to remind myself that it’s not all about finding sheds … it’s about being outside, learning about nature and enjoying yourself. Today I saw another buck with both antlers  while I was out shed hunting. I just got a glimpse of him before he bolted. Some people feed  deer in the area, so I have no doubt he will be back. I am encouraged by hearing about some of your finds. Roger in Washington D.C. (yes, they have deer there too, not just politicians!) found a beautiful side today from a buck he’s been after for a while. He’s got the opposite side from last year. Best of luck, Roger, in finding the match. And best of luck to everyone. Remember, your luck could change in an instant!

Joe


Moose!

February 2, 2009

I’ve made it a goal to find a fresh brown moose antler this year. I still have a lot to learn about moose shed hunting and the only moose sheds I’ve found so far have been old. I decided I needed to do some winter scouting to find areas where moose are currently spending the winter. I put on a lot of miles slowly cruising back roads. Believe me, moose country back roads are REALLY back roads! Finally I found a clearcut with lots of moose tracks in the area. I strapped on my snowshoes and was treated to about 30 inches of sweat-generating snow! It amazes me how moose can travel through deep snow, but then, their legs are much longer than mine. I had only hiked about 200 yards from the road. I was seeing tons of fresh beds and droppings. I came around the corner, and four moose were standing there about 50 yards away, looking at this strange camo-clad figure with oversized wooden feet. All four were adult moose, but only one carried antlers. I don’t know if the others were shed-out bulls or cows. The antlered bull was a beauty! I’m no moose expert, but I’d estimate him to be about a 50-inch bull. I tried to snap several photos, none of which turned out very clear. Then the moose trotted off. I searched around in the area they had vacated for a bit and came up empty, then backed out. At least I have a starting point for this spring. What a thrilling sight!


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