SHED HUNTING


A GUIDE TO FINDING WHITE-TAILED DEER ANTLERS

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Idaho Wrapup

April 29, 2010

I’ve really been fortunate to experience some incredible shed hunting this spring. Montana was a fantastic trip. I picked up a whole lotta sheds on that trip! Idaho was equally good. Dan Hess and I journeyed to Idaho to meet up with Dan Woodbridge. Dan W. is another hardcore shed hunter. This guy is just sick! He shed hunts all year long! That’s way more than I care to shed hunt! Ha ha! Dan W. and his girlfriend Tiffini took us in and welcomed us to their home. Their generosity was incredible. For the first few days of our stay, Dan W. had to work, so he would draw us rough sketches of places we should try. We followed the best we could and we’re pretty sure we found the right places every time. I’ve gotta say, for the most part we stayed on flat ground in Monana. Not so in Idaho. I carried along my GPS every day and thought to check our elevation a couple times. On a typical day in Idaho, we’d park around 5,000 feet, then hike up to 8,000 or so. Of course, going up is tiring, but coming down, your knees get sore from putting on the brakes with every step. It’s a lose-lose situation. Dan W. asked me the elvation back home. 600 feet, I said. He just laughed! Amazingly, Dan H. and I weren’t sore and we didn’t have any problems. Dan H. and I wanted to find elk sheds, while Dan W. is a hardcore mule deer guy. Dan H. and I certainly could have found a lot more sheds, but we chose to look for elk when we could have found a lot more muley sheds. We did find muley sheds while looking for elk. The only day we just focused on muley sheds we found 29. It wasn’t until the last day of our trip, Sunday, April 25 that we found a fresh elk shed. All the others had been old ones. I found one on April 25 that looked like it had been dipped in red paint. It couldn’t have lain there for more than a day or two. Indeed, on April 23, in the same spot, we saw at least a half-dozen young bulls still carrying antlers. Later in the day of my fresh find, Dan H. found two elk sheds that were equally fresh. We finally had our fresh elk sheds, although we didn’ find anything big. In fact, on April 23, Dan W. and I watched at least 100 elk come out to feed. Among them was a bachelor group of big, shed-out bulls. There were also smaller “raghorn” bulls in with the cows in calves, some of which had shed, others of which hadn’t. So we knew there were big fresh sheds out there. You’d think a guy would be able to find a big 6-point elk shed, right? Nope! My last day I found 5 elk sheds. Two of those were spikes, including the smallest elk spike Dan W. has ever seen! The first shed of the trip was my biggest elk shed: a nice-sized 6-point that had probably lain for 5 years. A couple other highlights were me finding my first hanger, a shed hanging in the brush. And right below the suspended shed was an old shed that I never would have found otherwise. I also had a cow elk race past me on a full run at less than 10 yards. That was exciting! All told, we ended up with 82 sheds between Dan H. and I. Dan W. and his friend Tom found plenty more the days they went. 22 of our 82 sheds were from elk. Thanks again to Dan Woodbridge and Tiffini for their hospitality and generosity. It was another dream trip. This may sound wrong, but I’m glad to be home, where I’m lucky to find a shed each time out. I haven’t shed hunted around home for almost two months, which is really kind of killing me, no matter how well we did in Montana and Idaho. I cannot believe how green it’s gotten around here. I plan to hit it pretty hard next week. I have to. This is killing me! If you’re done for the season, I hope you had a successful year. If you’re still going, kudos to you! Thanks for following along with me this year. I’ll have a few more posts here before I call it a season. And this year, I REALLY want to pull a caribou shed out of Alaska. Stay tuned. Dan Hess and I are putting together a DVD of our adventures in Montana and Idaho. Look for that around Christmas. Hoping to get a few more whitetails and maybe a moose shed before I call it a season. Take care everyone.

Joe

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Idaho Bound

April 16, 2010

No joke, today I’m leaving to go shed hunting in Idaho! Personally, after Montana, I’d be very happy to be home. I still have a lot of places around here I haven’t been able to hit, and I still haven’t gone looking for moose shed. Plus, spring has come early this year and it’s greening up fast. But Dan Hess and I are heading to Idaho. Dan has a contact out there who is an absolute shed fanatic. It sounds like it should be another great trip and great footage for a new DVD. Hoping to have lots of cool pics to post.

Joe


Favs from Montana

April 14, 2010

By request, I’m posting some pics of my favorite sheds from Montana. I got some really unique ones, as did Dan. I don’t have pics of Dan’s sheds. Here’s what we’ve got. 1. My favorite one I found the first day of the trip. This guy is super palmated, and not a very old deer, either. Probably only 2.5 years old. This is a fresh shed, but because there is so little cover out there, the antlers bleach while still atop the deers’ heads. I think I love palmation more than any other antler characteristic. 2. This is a good-sized mulie shed, that’s probably a year old. What makes it so unique is it’s what they call a “stag horn.” This is a buck that doesn’t have a lot of testosterone. Instead of bulging out at the base of the antler, this shed actually has a hole going up into the antler at the base. They seem to be not so uncommon among mulies. We did find a few. But this one is insane because it goes in about 3 inches! I’ve not seen a lot of mulies, but I’ve never seen anything like this! 3. This is a cool little antler. Probably from a yearling buck and it’s this year’s shed. I’d have said it is a whitetail, as we found nothing but whitetail sheds in this spot, but Liz Gee said she saw this buck when it had antlers and it was a mulie. 4. This is a cool skull. We found a lot dsc_0662dsc_0663of skulls, but this dsc_0664dsc_0665was my biggest.


Back from Montana

April 13, 2010

I’ve been meaning to post this, but it has just been a whirlwind lately. Driving all over, no time for a break! Anyway, Montana was great. Thanks so much to Dan Hess for inviting me on a fantastic trip! Dan and I spent 7 days shed hunting in Montana. We picked up more than 220 sheds! We searched mostly for whitetails, but we also did some looking in mule deer country and found some mulies. We got a real treat when we spent a day shed hunting with Art Hayes. Art has been seriously shed hunting since 1981. His shed room is unbelievable! It’s filled with giant muley sheds and some really unique whitetail shed. He has about 8 sheds off one whitetail. One year about 3 inches of skull came with the antler when it shed. After that, it must have messed up its pedicle because it always grew a crazy antler on that injured side. In fact, one year, the antler actually split on that side at the base, so in essence, there were three sheds from the buck that year … and of course Art found all three! Top-notch guy. We couldn’t ask for a better trip. We found some really unusual sheds and had some great experiences. Once we were walking across a pasture of black angus and Dan found a dead calf. All of a sudden, the mourning mother spotted Dan’s black lab, Fisher, and thought it had found its baby! It chased Fisher full-tilt across the pasture, with the dog turning back to look and barking all the way! The next day, Fisher DID NOT want to go in that pasture! We found a lot of dead bucks. We left the stinky ones, though I wish I could have brought home a couple. I did get one cool spike with an antler that goes up like normal and the other goes straight sideways! We also ran into a woman out there named Liz Gee. She is a member of the North American Shed Hunters’ Club and was one of the first people to buy my book. Just ran into her on a whim and had a great time talking. On that last day, I spotted a shed on the opposite side of the river. I bit the bullet and waded across to get it. It actually felt pretty refreshing on my burning feet! What a trip. Here’s a pic.dsc_0642


Pickin’ ‘em up in Montana!

April 4, 2010

The Montana trip is going great! We had a bit of a scare when we drove into a snowstorm in South Dakota. There was more than 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground there. It faded to a dusting by the time we hit Montana, and when we got to where we were headed, it was gone in the low country. Dan Hess is my partner in crime for this trip. He shed hunted this area last year and wanted to come back for more, so he invited me. We’ve been having a blast! We had a half day on Friday and picked up 11. On Saturday we got 33 and on Sunday we got 38. We’ve been on low ground and are finding mostly whitetail sheds, with a few mulies mixed in. We’re trying a different area tomorrow. No real big sheds. We have found a few that have really unique shapes. Dan got two strange-looking mulie sheds today. On Friday I picked up a really palmated whitetail. We’ve also found a lot of dead bucks. I think we’ve found about 7 each of the last two days. I took home a cool dead spike buck today. One spike went up like normal, the other went sideways! I’ll try to update this when I can. I sure feel spoiled!


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