SHED HUNTING


A GUIDE TO FINDING WHITE-TAILED DEER ANTLERS

THE BLOG

Shed Book 2.0

May 20, 2011

Well, I’m excited to say that Shed Book 2.0 is now available! I picked the books up from the printer earlier this week. It is pretty much the same as the first edition, which I ran out of in April. I did replace 2 photos (including the famous Page 49 pic of my blistered foot.) I put in a much BETTER blister pic that I got in Alaska last fall while caribou hunting. It looks like there’s a golf ball on my foot! Just a few minor edits to the text as well. I would like to come out with an expanded version at some point. I’ve learned a lot in the last 5 years since the first edition came out, but I’m pleased to be able to reaffirm pretty much everything I said in that first printing 5 years ago. I haven’t proven anything I said 5 years ago wrong. I think I’m doing it right! I would like to add some more stuff at some point. This printing was just a short run to fulfill a big order I have coming this summer and to get some books in stock. Hopefully this winter I can dedicate more time to an expanded edition.  Leaving for Alaska in the next day or two. Pretty much packed. Looking forward to getting some caribou sheds this fall. I have had a real hard time finding moose sheds there. There are so many moose running around, you’d think it would be easy! I’ll post whatever I find. Have a good summer!

Joe


Moose!

May 16, 2011

Got out for one last hurrah this past weekend. It’s kind of become a tradition for me to go up north for Minnesota fishing opener. There’s a lot less focus on the fish and a lot more on moose sheds! No walleyes for me on opener. I boated four pike and got blown around a lot in a canoe. Picked up some trash at the boat landing I walked into and found a Coke can that said “proud supporter of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team.” That’s the kind of places I’m hitting for moose shed hunting. I never carry a GPS when looking for deer sheds, but almost always for moose. If I twist an ankle, it might be 30 years before anyone finds me! I spent Friday and Saturday up north but had to come home Saturday night. Friday I got to a spot I found on Google Earth that looked promising. Hiked in a bit and found things were kind of overgrown. I was looking for younger growth. I guess this stuff didn’t look bad; just too thick. There are easier places to look. So I walked out, hiking down this old logging road. There were empty 20-gauge shells from last fall. Indeed, it did look like a great place for grouse hunting. As I walked out, there was like a little 8-foot-high ridge about 15 yards off the trail. I could tell that on the other side there were no tall trees. I wanted to see what was on the other side. It was either short trees or water. It was water. I walked out. Got in the truck, went not even a quarter-mile and saw what I liked and pulled over. It was lunchtime. I ate a banana and listened to the radio. Frank Sinatra was singing. I left the truck, walked 15 yards and found a moose shed. I wish it was always that easy! This thing is old and split in half. It’s small, but has been lying within 15 yards of a road for who knows how long and no on ever saw it! It holds the distinction of being the first shed I’ve found with a Frank Sinatra song in my head! Finding the shed was a big relief. I wanted just one to keep my streak alive and I had it! I poked around in there a little more, but even though it looked good, there was almost no moose sign. I got to the top of a hill and peeked over. Down below was a beaver pond. On the other side there was a lot of brush that looked moosey. I decided to head for it. I started poking around and it looked real similar to the stuff I’d been in earlier. Brushy and moosey, but just too thick for effective searching. I started walking out down this logging road after poking around a few minutes. There was this small ridge just off the logging road. I decided to walk up to it to see what was on the other side. I walked up to it, and BAM, moose shed! It’s a big one, but it’s old and green and all the tines are chewed. Still, the condition wasn’t bad. I find a lot that are cracked in half or bitten by bears. This one is structurally sound. I decided to poke around for a moment for the match. That’s when I saw empty 20-gauge shells on the trail. Yup, I was in the EXACT same spot I’d been in earlier! I’d been within a few feet of that big shed in the morning and didn’t see it! I guess it was destiny I got it. I guess last fall’s grouse hunter missed it too. Glad to have it, although I want a fresh one in the worst way! Saturday after fishing I got into a spot with tons of moose droppings. I have a lot to learn, but I’ve heard rumors that bull droppings are round while cow droppings are oblong. Anyone know anything about this? These were mostly oblong. The highlight, however, was when I spooked a moose. It trotted off. A few minutes later, I saw it standing there, looking intently at where I’d just been. I was now about 40 yards from it, just to its right. I stared and stared and finally determined it was a bull! He had about 3-inch antlers! I don’t know how big they’ll grow this year, but I saw one last year in mid-May that was probably 2-feet wide already at this time. I just hope this little guy sticks around so I can get his sheds next year. All in all, a very nice weekend! Off to Alaska next week for the summer. Hoping to get some moose and caribou sheds up there again this year!

1st shed: 15 yards from the road. Cracked, small and old.

1st shed: 15 yards from the road. Cracked, small and old.

 

2nd shed: Big, green, old but in relatively good shape structurally.

2nd shed: Big, green, old but in relatively good shape structurally.

 

Size comparison.

Size comparison.

 

A happy guy!

A happy guy!


Gimme 5

May 10, 2011

I don’t know why I was thinking about this the other day, but did you notice no one says “Gimme 5” anymore? Now it’s a fist bump. Maybe I’m getting old! Anyway, with the cold spring we’ve had here, things have not greened up at all, which is great for shed hunting! I ventured back out again the other day. I went back to the same spot which has been a real hotbed. Once again, I was looking for the match to Ugly Buck. And once again, I came home without it! This spot has been unbelievable! It produced my best day ever in MN with 12. It also produced my second-best day, when I came up with 7 last week. And on my latest outing I got 5 more! All of these sheds have been picked up within about 400 yards of each other. That’s one thing I’ve noticed: bucks definitely group together. The day I got 12, I walked for 3 or 4 hours and only had 2 antlers. That’s usually pretty good for me, but the spot looked better than that. 9 of those 12 then came within about 200 yards of each other, and I got another on the walk out. That’s what fishermen call “the spot on the spot.” If you ever find a spot like that, hit it hard! I have now spent 6 days in there and I’ve pulled out 26 antlers out of a small area. Of those, I have only 3 matched sets! That means there are at least 20 more out there somewhere! That’s ridiculous! I keep looking and I keep finding them. But I can’t seem to find a match to Ugly Buck. Three singles off him from three consecutive years, all found this spring, and no matches! Could you imagine trying to hunt this elusive animal? Geez! Of course, that may be the only way to get both of his antlers! I would still probably have a couple weeks to shed hunt before greenup, but things are wrapping up quickly for me. I’m going after moose antlers this weekend. I’d really love to get at least one. The second edition of my book, or as I like to call it “Shed Hunting Version 2.0” is coming out Monday. I’m excited to pick that up. I am completely out of the first edition! Then next week it’s off to Alaska for my third (and I swear, final!) summer. Hoping to get some more antlers up there and another caribou. I’ll keep you posted on the moose shed adventure. If you’re still looking, good luck!

Joe


May Day!

May 5, 2011

Tuesday was a gift wrapped up in an antlery package. I woke up that morning with no intention of shed hunting. But it was a beautiful day. And I had work to do later in the week, then it was supposed to rain later on, so I thought I better give it a try. The mission was to find the match to Ugly Buck. It should be a 7-point side scoring right around 70 inches. For whatever reason, it is nearly impossible for me to find antlers over 60 inches. I don’t get it. Everyone else seems to get ’em! I returned back to Ugly Buck’s stompin’ grounds. This is the place where I found 12 antlers in one day about a month ago. As I ventured in there, I thought to myself, “I only need to find one antler today.” Naturally I’d take what I could get but I really wanted that match to Ugly Buck. It’s sort of a frustrating feeling. I’ve covered so much of that ground. I don’t know where else to look. There were a couple areas I hadn’t searched too much. I was relieved when I found a shed right away. Even though it wasn’t the one I was looking for, the fact that the 5-point side was laying there told me deer used that area. I wasn’t sure if they would. The place I found three sheds off Ugly Buck is such a classic-looking area. 3 sheds there, all from different years with no matches in sight. Where does he drop the other side? Obviously, he doesn’t drop them both together. If I could find even ONE match to him, that would give me an idea of where to look for the others. It was only about 10 minutes later when I spied another shed. It was good-sized and I could see right away it was fresh! I started scrambling to it, counting the points as I went! Not enough! And it was too small. Not ugly buck, but a nice fresh 5-point. I looked for the match to that for about 15 minutes to no avail. Seriously, is it asking too much for a buck to shed both sides at once? The sheds kept coming. Lots of old ones today. One was so old it was just a nub. The base was worn smooth instead of rough with time. No idea how old it is. Could be a decade, who knows? I’ve got to say, I was impressed with how many sheds I found. And they were all within about 300 yards of where I found all threes sides from Ugly Buck. But no Ugly Buck. The crowning moment came late in the day. I saw an antler up ahead under a cedar. I knew it was an antler from a long way off, even though it was small. I walked up to it and picked it up. I instictively looked around, up and down the trail as I stood there. I looked down and noticed that the match was at my feet, literally 3 feet from the first. How many sheds must I walk past if I can’t see a match 3 feet away??? I ended up with 7 sheds for the day. That’s a great total. My second highest in MN, in fact, and my best day in MN, 12, was set in the exact same spot a month ago. That place is crawling with sheds! In all, I have pulled 21 antlers out of that spot this year and I’ve only got 2 sets! I really don’t know where else to look for Ugly Buck. Only one place left that I can think of. I guess a return trip is in order!

They day's tally. One small set.

They day's tally. One small set.


Great April!

May 1, 2011

I had to laugh a few times when I went to some deer shows in March and people asked me “How WAS your season?” My season starts about the time everyone else’s is winding down, I guess. April is always my best month. By then, MOST of the snow has disappeared! It’s been very cold. Not much of a spring here. Today it’s about 30 degrees. I guess this weather will prolong greenup. And on the bright side, I’ve only had 20 ticks so far this year (I’m counting!) I sort of set an unofficial goal to find 15 sheds in April. I reached that in 3 trips. So I bumped it up. Eventually the goal was to get 30 in April – one for every day of the month. I didn’t go looking yesterday and probably should have, but it was nasty out. I ended up with 29. That’s by far my best April around home, although last year when I spent a lot of time in Montana and Idaho, I probably had over 100 in April. But it always means more to find them on your home turf. What’s my secret? Two things: One, it always helps when you get a banner day when you find 12 in one day. And two, I missed all of March, so there were still plenty for me to find! The last shed I got was a very cool spike with a brow. It bent at a 90-degree angle and came straight forward. Cool shed. I’m going to keep after them in May but things are going to get busy. It’s certainly not green yet! Hoping to add some moose sheds to the mix soon!

Cool spike shed. No. 29 in April.

Cool spike shed. No. 29 in April.

29 sheds in April.

29 sheds in April.


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