SHED HUNTING


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Iowa Deer Classic This Weekend

February 22, 2011

Hey shedheads, no shed report from me this weekend. I did a fishing trip with some old college buds over the weekend. The second day of the trip, we walked more than a mile across the ice and I remarked that that was the farthest I’ve walked in a long time in February without finding a shed! Fishing was slow but we had fun! This weekend I’ll be attending the Iowa Deer Classic in Des Moines. This is my first time attending this show. From what I’ve heard, it’s huge! There will be a lot of unbelievable antlers there and I hear it’s so busy you can hardly walk through the place. I will have a booth and will have a lot of my sheds, as well as books and DVDs. If you’re around, stop in and say hi. I think I’m booth 642. This is also kind of my show season kickoff. I will be spending most of the next few weekends at deer shows. If you’re around, stop in and say hi. Here’s my schedule:

Feb. 25-27      Iowa Deer Classic, Des Moines, IA

March 11-13 Wisconsin Big Buck Classic, Wisconsin Dells, WI

March 18-20 Circle M Antler Auction, Dubuque, IA

March 25-27 Douglas County Fish and Game League Show, Superior, WI


New MN State Record Sheds

February 18, 2011

Check out this amazing 12-point set!

http://samcook.areavoices.com/2011/02/18/shed-antlers-measured-at-boat-show-are-tops-in-state/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter


When, Not If…And How Many!

February 17, 2011

Today was one of those days when I knew it was a matter of WHEN I found a shed, not IF I would find one. And I had a pretty good feeling I was going to get more than one! (Man, now I’m sounding downright cocky!) Before I get into all this, I want to give a shout out to Kelly Wehner, who is now on the board with shed #1. It sounds like the sheditis has officially set in, and unfortunately there is no cure! Congrats Kelly!  Today was a far cry from yesterday. It was still warm and above freezing, but it was misting. It wasn’t nice and sunny like yesterday. That’s ok. I knew there were some antlers to be found. I hit a spot that takes a little more effort to get to, but I thought it would be worth it. I really wanted to find something! I just knew I was going to find success! It’s a really cool area and I was pleased to find no one had been in there! That’s always a good thing! I was probably a couple hours into the search. I was checking a south-facing slope. There were a few bare patches here and there under some of the evergreens. What a treat to hit hard ground after slogging through deep, wet snow all day! I gave my knee-high boots a workout today! I was walking past a fallen balsam fir when I saw one little thing poking up in the air. It looked like it could be a tine, but it also looked very much like a dead stick. I walked closer to check it out, quite certain it was the latter. I was wrong! It was a 5-point antler! I got really lucky to see just that little bit of antler sticking out. I wish I’d brought my camera. I left it in the truck because I didn’t feel like carrying it around all day. It would have been a cool picture though. The shed I think is the darkest I’ve ever found, and that includes Canadian sheds, which have that famous dark-chocolate color. This one looks like it was burned, it’s so dark! And very fresh, with blood on the base. This buck was feeding on the fallen fir; something I saw quite a bit of today. I kicked the snow around, hoping to find the match in the area, but no such luck. I then started covering every trail, hoping to get the match. But all the while I wanted to get a little deeper where I knew bucks like to bed. With a lot of boot leather on the ground, I ventured further. It’s funny, three different shed hunters have sent me photos in the past week of matched sets they’ve recently found lying side by side. I was e-mailing Roger just a couple days ago about this. Thinking back, I remember finding a tiny mule deer set side by side in Saskatchewan and a small whitetail set like that in Montana, but I don’t think I’ve ever found a set side by side on my home turf … until today! The 10-point set is quite typical, with big, flared bases. The buck broke off the end of the left main beam, I’m guessing in velvet. It’s been rubbed and polished. That antler also has a couple bumps on the brow tine where he was trying to grow some stickers. He’s going to be wicked next year! It’s funny, I was thinking about how badly I wanted to find a set side by side and it happened. Unfortunately, after I found the set, I figured there was no way I’d find another antler today. I’ve always believed in the power of the mind, and I got my set, but I also didn’t find any more after that. Why did I have to think that??? It was my first set of the year and my first multi-shed day of the year. Maybe I’ll have to venture back there after the snow melts. I didn’t get a pic as it lay of the first shed, so I apologize for the photo, but I decided to run to the truck to get the camera for the set. It’s good to be a shed hunter!

5-point single. The photo was taken at the truck.

5-point single. The photo was taken at the truck.

 

My 10-point side-by-side set!

My 10-point side-by-side set!

 

My 10-point set

My 10-point set


So Drop Already!

February 16, 2011

I don’t even know what the temperature was today. All I know is I was not wearing a coat and I had the sleeves rolled up on my sweatshirt! It was absolutely beautiful out there today! I gave it a good hard walk of about 5 hours. Kind of out of shape, I guess. I wanted to feel the burn today and I did. And the deer burned me. I saw 6, count ’em, 6 antlered bucks! Five had full racks, and the other one may have too. I didn’t get a good look at him because he was running, but there was at least one up there! Makes it hard to scoop ’em off the ground that way! I’ve always thought Feb. 20 is when a lot of ’em start poppin’. We’ll see if I’m right. But I know one thing I’m right about: I’m going again tomorrow! This weather isn’t gonna last!


Heat Wave!

February 13, 2011

Is my thermometer broken? It was 45 degrees here today! First time in a long time we’ve been above freezing. It was just the excuse I needed to get my rear in gear after sitting around all day Saturday when I should have been out and about. I knew I was going to get wet, and I got soaked. I was trying an area that’s new for me. This is only the second time I’ve been in it (the first was back in January.) Lots of really big rubs. I know there are some huge bucks in the area, but I’m starting to wonder if they just pass through during the rut. I saw a lot of deer today, but I would say almost all were does and fawns. Generally I’d see one big one and two little ones go running. I probably saw 15 deer or more. So lots of deer, but it just didn’t seem “bucky” based on all the deer sightings. I got lucky though. My eyes were on today (of course, who knows how many I walked past?) and I saw some tines poking out of the snow. Who knows, this warm spell may have helped me find it. There wasn’t much sticking out, and the wetness from the snow may have caused the snowpack to compact, exposing this antler. Either way, it hadn’t been there long. There’s blood on the base. Interestingly, there was a bed 15 yards away with blood in it. Could it have been from this buck? This guy is just a little fork, but I always say anyone can find the big ones! It takes a trained eye to spot the little guys! It’s interesting to note that if any bucks are mixed in with the does and fawns, it’s apt to be yearlings, and this shed was no doubt from a yearling. I’m not ready to totally write this spot off as a doe/fawn/and yearling buck spot, but it may be just that. Thanks to those of you who have been following along and posting. Check out the comments on my last post “Sunshine.” We’ve got some new shed hunters on here and one has posted some pics on that thread. Good luck to everyone out there!

Fresh little fork poking out of the snow

Fresh little fork poking out of the snow


Sunshine!

February 11, 2011

Well, yesterday was a real treat. It was sunny out and I saw something that I haven’t seen for a long time: grass! It’s been a cold, snowy winter in my area. It was 12 below zero yesterday morning, but it’s supposed to warm up to above freezing this weekend! I won’t know how to handle that kind of heat! But you can tell winter is winding down. The sun’s rays are getting more direct. I was driving along on a south-facing hill, under some tall pines, where the branches catch the snow and keep it from reaching the ground when I saw the bare grass. That’s a red flag to me that I should be looking in a place like that, although I wouldn’t expect to see deer in that exact spot, literally feet off a busy road. But those first grassy areas you see are great places to look. Those are the areas that receive the most direct sunlight all winter long. Deer are like oversized antlered cats: they love to sit in the sun and soak up the rays, just like a cat in a windowsill. I mentioned in my first DVD, kind of haphazardly, my theory about shifting deer movements throughout the winter. Again, this is just a theory and I need to research it more, but my hunch is that deer may try to bury themselves deeper into the cover in early winter, when there is less direct sunlight, when it’s cold and windy. Now, however, (and this is something I know to be true) a lot of times deer will come to the edge of cover where they can soak up that sunshine. That’s exactly what I saw on yesterday’s walk. Lots of beds in the deep, fluffy snow. Some of the beds were over a foot deep. But the deer were coming out to the edge of the woods where they could soak up the sun. I was in a great area yesterday that I haven’t hit in a few years. Tons of sign. I saw 3 porcupines, a snowshoe hair, a cottontail, 2 grouse and a raven, but no antlers. Still a very enjoyable day in the woods!


Shed Traps

February 7, 2011

I’m posting this topic in response to a question Todd Blettner wrote on my last post. I think it’s a good topic. There is a lot of talk about shed traps. I have not personally used them. For one thing, I don’t have a good place to set one out, and two, I think personally I like the challenge of finding them on my own. I am a little leery of them, just for the sake of the animals. Shed traps vary from homemade contraptions to professionally made products. Some use chicken wire, rubber bungee cords or other materials that are designed to help knock an antler loose as the deer feeds on bait. The whole baiting and feeding issue is a big can of worms in my home  state of Wisconsin, where chronic wasting disease has been found in some areas of the state in our wild deer. Because it is thought CWD is transmitted through saliva from one animal to another, it is illegal in some areas to feed deer. I know a lot of people enjoy feeding and watching deer.  I guess I’m kind of neutral on the issue. My concern is always for the deer. The composition of the shed trap is also important. The last thing you want is for a deer to become entangled in the trap. If an antler isn’t very close to shedding on its own, it simply will not come loose. The shedding process happens so fast, you could literally drag a buck by its antlers one day and they will fall off from their own weight the next. So avoid chicken wire or plastic snow fencing. The bungees may be a better option, particularly if they are allowed to break away. One thing I’ve heard of but haven’t tried is the stake method where you drive several wooden stakes in the ground and dump the bait around it. The stakes provide resistance that could potentially knock loose an antler, with no chance of ensnaring the deer. That’s my 2 cents, but like I said, I have never used a shed trap. Anyone have opinions/experiences with them, either homemade or commercial? I’d be interested to hear about it.

Joe


Snow What?

February 4, 2011

Wow, it sounds like some areas of the country really got dumped on with snow! I know my parents are pretty well buried in central Wisconsin. We got luck here. We only got an inch or two of snow overnight. That’s kind of been the trend. We kept getting these light snowfalls of very fluffy snow. I think a lot of sheds are going to be buried, so a lot of the finding may take place after the snow melts. I decided I should take a walk today, despite the light snow overnight. I figured sheds on well-used trails would still be visible, especially if deer kept using the trails and started kicking the sheds. I didn’t really expect to find anything today. I just went because I felt like I should. I had other things on my mind, like maybe fishing this evening. Well, that didn’t happen. I was just getting ready to go. There were a concentration of deer tracks in this one area. They had been feeding on this bush, so I circled it. I’d gone most of the way around and was coming back to my starting point when there it was: tines on the ground! And right away I knew it was a nice one! Problem was, I need a smaller camera. I have a big, clunky digital SLR that I LOVE, but it’s too bulky to carry, especially when it was almost 30 degrees today. I was way overdressed! I hustled back to the trick so I could get pics. The shed was at the edge of an old bed. I’m thinking it had probably been there for about a week, judging by the age of the bed and the minimal amount of blood left on the base. Great shed. It’s been a while since I got one this nice. Just for kicks, after I found it, I held it at about deer head level and dropped it into the snow to see what would happen. The result is below. For those of you who are buried, I’m sorry to hear it, but it’s Super Bowl weekend anyway! Trails may still be productive. Otherwise, it may be a waiting game. Good luck!

The view as I found it.

The view as I found it.

 

A happy shed hunter!

A happy shed hunter!

 

A test drop in the fluffy snow.

A test drop in the fluffy snow.


Oh, Canada!

February 1, 2011

I spent a long weekend ice fishing in Canada. But I didn’t announce that on my blog beforehand, lest the locals try to hit all my shed spots! Well, they probably would either way. I know I would! Anyway, it was a fun fishing trip, although we didn’t catch a whole lot. We stopped in a bait shop and the guy had a bunch of deer sheds on the wall. We got talking and the next thing you know, my buddy is standing at the door, tapping his foot. I finally got the hint! There was a lot of snow up there. I didn’t get out walking anywhere, but as I drove I definitely noticed areas where we saw lots of deer tracks and areas that were lacking tracks. I started putting things together. It might be neat to try it. I’m kicking it around. But that snow is going to have to melt way down first! And now a lot of the U.S. is getting pounded by snow. I think this is going to be a late-season shed hunting year!

Joe


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