New Season

January 14, 2014

My biggest December shed ever!Hi shed hunting faithful!

I toyed with the idea of not doing my blog this year. Always so much going on. I’m trying to get a Facebook page going in addition to this blog. Please stop by and like my Facebook page “Goshedhunting.” Please feel free to share your stories on there as well! Shed season is in full swing here already. I’d gotten a question last week whether this Polar Vortex will affect when bucks shed their antlers. I don’t have a real solid answer for that. Stress is a major factor in when a buck sheds. Mature bucks will be worn down from the rut already. When you throw in cold temperatures, which require a deer to spend more time feeding to stay warm, combined with deep snow, which makes it harder to find food, you do have a recipe for added stress. In my area, I have been surprised at the number of large bucks that shed in December and early January. In addition, over that period, I cannot ever remember a winter being this brutally cold. The weatherman was pulling up all these statistics going back for decades over how cold our average temperature was and how much snow we had. In our area, I think it was the coldest December on record and the third-highest snow total. It was downright nasty and we wouldn’t get above 0 degrees F for days at a time. (It was -8 degrees when I got my first shed of the season, but we’ll get to that!) So yes, there was a recipe for stress and possible early shedding. Last year we had a mild December and early January, but from late January all the way to May, we got snow every few days and it was a super-late spring. It’s critical that things start to green up so these winter weary deer can find food. So it started like a lamb and finished like a lion last year. Even so, I saw lots of bucks carrying antlers well into March, including one that had a broken leg! So in a nutshell, I’m not sure what impact this weather has had. It could seem like some bucks are shedding early, but yesterday I saw a nice buck with full headgear. It kind of comes down to the individual deer. On a different subject, I’m on the board this year. I’ve actually got a few sheds to report, but I’ll start with my first fresh one of the season. Every year, I hear of people finding sheds in December. I never had. I kind of toyed with the idea of trying it this year, just to say I did. I went out one day around Christmas and came up empty. On Dec. 31, I thought I’d give it another try. I blanked at the first spot. I headed to another spot, but when I saw people in the area, I decided to go to a different place. I don’t think they were shed hunting, but I didn’t want to advertise what I was doing. I knew I’d either love that decision or regret it. With time running out, I went to an old standby. There was only about an hour of daylight left. It didn’t take too long before I spotted that magic that we all crave. Even though it was downright tiny, I knew what it was. It was justĀ a little 2-point side, but I was pretty stoked! My first December shed, fresh as a daisy. Now I just need sheds in July and October. I’m going to see how many months I can string together here. Good luck out there folks. Even if you can’t get out shed hunting right now, try to identify where bucks are spending the winter so you can get their antlers later.



  1. Hi Joe,
    So glad to see you back on your blog — and that you’ve already had success in the shed department. My own search in the D.C. area so far has been just what you describe — monitoring the antlered guys to see where to look later. It’s a treat to be entering the best part of the year, when we can anticipate, search, and get those beautiful antler rewards from time to time; and in between, what a privilege to be out in the wild among the critters, watching them and sharing their woods in a quiet way. OK, enough poetry. Keep up the good work. Hope to rendezvous with you up in Sask. in a couple (or three) months.

    Comment by Roger — January 15, 2014 @ 9:04 am

  2. Nice find Joe,
    Even though the small sheds might not be “trophies” they are with out a doubt the hardest to find and that takes skill and a good set of eyes. Look forward to your facebook page on shed hunting. Todd in Kansas

    Comment by Todd — January 16, 2014 @ 11:46 pm

  3. Nice to see you back here, Joe. I found my first sheds really early this year. And by accident! I was not looking for them. I was on the way back to my truck after checking a cam and found one nice fresh 1/2 of an 8. So of course I was hooked and started looking for the match. 5 min later I found another fresh 1/2 of an 8! Not the match to the previous one. Then a few days later I found a last year’s 1/2 of a 10. My season is off to a pretty good start.

    Comment by Martie — January 19, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

  4. Nice to see you back Joe, was waiting for a post on here!! Nothing for me yet this year. There are some out there to find but im sure buried in snow, i noticed a large amount of the bigger bucks in my area shed before christmas this year, and now im getting a bunch of nice ones with both sides yet and some smaller bucks with one side.

    Comment by Justin — January 20, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

  5. glad you’re still blogging…we need the inspiration from time to time

    Comment by Jane O — January 22, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

  6. Glad to see you back Joe, I hope your hunting season went well. I would hate to see you shut the blog down but I’m sure everyone realizes how much time and energy even the little things take. I’ll have to get on Facebook now. Should be a good year for shed hunting with the cold weather keeping the deer movement to a minimum. By the way I check and post on your blog with my phone. If you don’t already do that it could make things a little easier. Good luck!

    Comment by Jack — January 26, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

  7. Nice find Joe! Glad to see you blogging again. Please keep it up for those who don’t follow facebook!! I am on Long Island New York and am still seeing bucks with full racks. Between the frigid cold and the snow on the ground, I don’t want to add to the stress of the deer by actively searching their territories yet. I also don’t want to spook the bucks away from my area. A question for you, I am seeing a lot of fresh buck rubs on trees recently.Is is right to assume the bucks are still actively advertising their interest in mating? oh by the way your book is fantastic! A fast and informative read!! I have to reread it before hitting the trails again. Now I hear different things you wrote in your book and said on your DVD in my head while shed hunting. I am sure it will be a help.Deb

    Comment by Deb Rebell — January 29, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

  8. Hi Deb,
    Sorry I missed your comment. I’m overrun with spam lately on this blog! Bucks do rub into the winter and they can breed does that come into estrus late. If a doe is not bred, she will cycle into estrus about a month later and can continue to do so until she is bred. I’m not sure if the bucks would have actually been rubbing for mating purposes. It would make sense that if a buck is still rubbing, he would have relatively high testosterone levels and would be far from shedding. However, a good friend of mine found a shed a few years ago at a scrape in winter. It appeared the buck was still freshening the scrape, but still shed. I have even heard of bucks rubbing off an antler on a tree, although I have never found one like this. Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by joe — February 10, 2014 @ 5:19 pm

  9. Thanks for the tips, Jack! I’ll have to get better about updating things here!

    Comment by joe — February 10, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

Leave a comment