SHED HUNTING


A GUIDE TO FINDING WHITE-TAILED DEER ANTLERS

THE BLOG

Good Day!

March 28, 2013

Did you ever just have a great day? Man, yesterday was one of those days! I got a check in the mail worth more than I expected, found out I have to fill out less paperwork for my taxes than expected, got some good news via a few emails and plus, it was just gorgeous out! It’s amazing how a 40-degree day in March feels so much warmer than a 40-degree day in October! I felt so dang good, I decided to take a little walk late in the afternoon. I took a pretty hard walk a couple days ago and was floored at the amount of snow that is still out there. Since I’ve been shed hunting, I can’t remember seeing this much snow this late in the year. Today I went to an old standby spot. I know lots of deer were in there this year. I had scoured most of this area pretty good, but the deer had shifted their movements closer to some houses. I don’t know if the people who lived there were feeding them or not, but it seemed like a possibility because these deer were hanging out at the edge of their back yards. Park land borders these yards. I always feel strange and awkward walking around at the edge of someone’s yard. I hate shed hunting, or hunting for that matter, when I feel like I’m always looking over my shoulder. I’m not trying to trespass here, I just want some sheds, and these deer happen to be hanging out very close to some houses. Just awkward. So I’m walking along and I stop, partly to look for antlers and partly to assess how much closer I can go toward this house up ahead before I think I’m trespassing. There’s no defined boundary, but I was pretty sure I was still in the park land. So as I’m standing there looking around, bam! There’s a shed! It’s been so long since I’ve found one I think I forgot what they look like! So now I looked over at the house. The antler wasn’t in their yard (I don’t think) but when I walked over to it I’d be right in the open where I could be seen and I don’t like that! Well, I wasn’t leaving it! I quickly scurried over and scooped it up. This is an antler from a buck I know well. I was pretty stoked to get it! So now I had to keep looking for the match. I was on a southern hillside and a lot of the areas were melted off. Deer trails were packed down to ice, so it was pretty easy to see where they’d been traveling. Plus there was a whole winter’s worth of deer droppings in there! So I walked all the trails and checked the exposed grass patches where deer might have browsed. Why, oh why, can’t deer drop their antlers together? In a short time, I’d covered all the trails in the immediate area. As I walked up one of these trails for the second time, I saw what looked an awful lot like a tine poking out of the grass. Sure enough, it was! And I’d walked within 3 feet of it just minutes earlier! This is an old one! Not the match to the one I was looking for. In fact, my friend Aaron White, who is a deer encyclopedia, upon seeing a pic of it promptly told me he knows who had found the match to it That shed was dropped 6 years ago! This is your typical Joe Shead antler. You see, I never find big antlers. I have pretty much learned that I am not a lucky person. Any shed I find, I earn. Any deer I kill, I work for. I do not just stumble on huge sheds. This buck, judging by the size of his base, I would estimate to be at least 4 years old. But I bet the antler doesn’t even score 50 inches! Great mass and nothing else! Typical Joe Shead antler. For anyone else, that would have been a 70-incher! Oh well. Glad to have it. It laid there for 6 years and there isn’t a scratch on it! After some more digging, I couldn’t find the matches, so I started heading back to the truck. My friend Dan Hess always talks about the bonus shed, and today I got it. I wasn’t expecting to find anything else, but there was yet another shed – my third 4-point shed of the day! I saw the owner of this buck on Saturday, March 23, still carrying a full rack. So I know this shed is only four days old at most, but there is no blood on it. I had always wondered how long antlers stayed bloody. This may be a partial indication, although it could vary from deer to deer. So all in all, a pretty good day! What’s really impressive, for me anyway, is that I got sheds from bucks I’ve seen before. It’s usually the kiss of death when I follow bucks around all winter. I never seem to get their antlers. I know I have video of the first one. I’ll have to check to see if I have video of the other fresh one, but I know I’ve seen that deer before. Hope today is just as good! 

The first shed of the day, as it lay.

The first shed of the day, as it lay.

 

Walked within 3 feet of this one 20 minutes earlier. Can you see how I missed it?

Walked within 3 feet of this one 20 minutes earlier. Can you see how I missed it?

The white base is from the first deer, which is a 2-year-old. The green base is from a buck that had to be at least 4 years old. Huge base!

The white base is from the first deer, which is a 2-year-old. The green base is from a buck that had to be at least 4 years old. Huge base!

Third shed, as it lay.

Third shed, as it lay.

Group shot. All 4-point sides.

Group shot. All 4-point sides.


Still Winter

March 23, 2013

Hi shed hunters,

Thanks for all the comments you’ve been making. I’m sorry I haven’t acknowledged them. I usually try to respond to them all but I’ve just been so busy! Please know that I do read them all and I appreciate your comments! I just got home after 10 days on the road. Went down to the antler auction in Dubuque and came home with a truckload! Then it was off to the folks’ house. I was shocked. The snow along the road was over the top of their mailbox by a foot! They went snowmobiling last night! I thought I was going to get some good walking in. Instead it was cold and windy and absolutely nasty! I did get to visit with a family friend, George. He owns the farm where I began deer hunting. He had 8 different bucks stealing corn from his corn crib this winter. He doesn’t mind too much. He likes to watch them and he had a trail cam out and got a couple nice ones on film. They were nowhere to be found last deer season! He found a 6-point shed at the corncrib back in February. I forgot, I should have taken a picture! He got one other one last week before another dumping of snow, but there should be 14 more out there for sure! Just got home today and I went shed hunting as soon as I could get out. It’s been a week and a half since I got to walk on my home turf. It was a pretty successful trip, even if I didn’t come home with any bones. I saw “my guy.” He is a very cool buck that I’m jonesing for pretty bad. I last saw him Feb. 25 with a full rack. He is shed out now. I have great video and trail cam pics of him, but I’m going to keep his identity a secret for a little longer till those sheds surface. I don’t want to encourage people to shed hunt that spot! I’m excited to show him off. He is a very cool buck! Please be patient. With him were several other deer, including  a halfrack buck and a full rack buck! I always figured bucks holding antlers till mid-March fell within the “normal” category, but this is now late. I have seen a couple with sheds in April. It floors me that so many deer held so long, considering we had a pretty good winter. That indicates to me most of them are pulling through in pretty good shape. I’m excited to get out and do some more looking, but there is so dang much snow! I wore my knee boots again today. When you’re on the trails it’s easy walking, but if you go cross-country, it’s often past your knees. What a crazy winter! Good luck to all of you out there. Keep checking back. Lots of good things coming, and maybe if I’m really lucky I’ll actually get a shed one of these days!

Joe


Iowa

March 18, 2013

Well, another Dubuque antler auction has come and gone and it was a fun time! First stop was at the book printer to pick up another round of books! Then it was off to Iowa. I dumped off my stuff in my booth, then hustled to get out shed hunting for a couple hours before dark. I was heading for the place I went last year missed my turn and ended up going someplace I hadn’t researched or even heard of! There was patchy snow there and the south slopes were bare! First grass I’ve seen in a long time! Within 5 minutes I found a spike! Textbook location: south slope with cedar trees! Walked a couple hours and didn’t find any more sheds, but I saw 7 deer. The show was a little smaller than in years past because they held an antler auction last October so there wouldn’t be so much stuff. In years past it took so long to auction everything off that there were few people left to bid at the end and antlers were selling cheap! Much better prices this time. I even ended up buying a bunch of antlers. Looking forward to digging through the boxes to see what I’ve got! Went to the folks’ house in southern Wisconsin, hoping to do some shed hunting but they have way more snow than I expected and we got another 4 inches today. This could be the spring that never comes! Good luck out there!

My Iowa spike as it lay. Isn't Iowa supposed to have big bucks?

My Iowa spike as it lay. Isn't Iowa supposed to have big bucks?

 

Where I found the spike:cedars on a south slope. Textbook!

Where I found the spike:cedars on a south slope. Textbook!

 

The kind of sheds you can find at the show. This I'm sure is a game farm antler. The $1,500 price tag is the buy it now price. Doubt it anyone grabbed it for that and I would guess it auctioned for much less!

The kind of sheds you can find at the show. This I'm sure is a game farm antler. The $1,500 price tag is the buy it now price. Doubt it anyone grabbed it for that and I would guess it auctioned for much less!


Iowa Antler Auction March 15-17

March 10, 2013

Hey folks,

I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record here. Bucks still carrying antlers, more snow, no sheds! I have not found a shed since Jan. 9, and it’s not for lack of trying! I’m watching several bucks and they are not giving them up for anything! I was past my knees in snow a few times last week, and we got 3 more inches last night! It’s been a pretty respectable winter. This has me excited for spring. The deep snow forces deer into their winter patterns. They get more concentrated, and sheds are easier to find. When the snow recedes, it’s gonna be game on! Last year was really mild and the deer were scattered, making it harder to find sheds. Saw a full-racked buck two days ago, and two the day before that. It’s not unusual for deer to carry antlers into March, but I think it’s unusual for so many to have them this long. In other news, I’m excited for the Circle M Antler Auction in Dubuque, Iowa March 15-17. I go to this every year and it’s pretty amazing. Thousands of sheds, racks, taxidermy mounts, sporting goods, you name it come up for auction, but the main focus is deer antlers. If you want to own a 100-inch shed or a 200-inch rack, this is the place to get one! Come on down and check it out. I’ll be there all three days doing shed hunting seminars and selling my books and DVDs. I’ll have some of my sheds on display there too. Last year it was 80 degrees during the show and the year before it snowed, so who knows what kind of weather we’ll have. If time permits, I might sneak down a bit early and try to shed hunt. Good luck to all you shed hunters!


HOME      DVD      BOOK      THE AUTHOR      SHOP      WHAT IS SHED HUNTING?      COOL STUFF      BLOG