As soon as the hunting season comes to an end in north-western Wisconsin, my mind turns to shed hunting. This year, mother nature is not being cooperative. It is already March 10, 2019 and we still have over knee-high snow at the farm. I do not remember the last time we had snow like this but it is driving me crazy. On a positive note, the weather for the next week is looking promising to start the snow melt. If you know me well, you know how much I love to shed hunt. For myself, it helps to tell the story of the bucks that are on my mind when fall arrives. It is a great time to put miles on going through the woods to scout. Not only scout for deer but the fast approaching turkey season as well. Another reason that I love to shed hunt, is to spend time with my two labs.
I have a chocolate lab that is 4 ½ years old, named Reese and a black lab that is 2 ½ years old that is named Hoyt. They love shed hunting as much as I do. If they see the kennel going into the back of the truck, they start to freak out. As soon as they are let out of the house, they will go straight to the back of the truck and wait for me to open the kennel. All I need to say is three simple words, “find the shed”. I am always excited to watch the dogs work, using their sense of smell trying to find the next antler. For someone who has never witnessed a shed dog work, I compare it to a bird dog. When a bird dog gets close to a pheasant or grouse, the dog get what I call “birdy”. The dog’s tail and body language changes, trying to stay on the scent that was just picked up. Each dog acts different when it gets “birdy”. The difference can be caused by many different factors, such as the dog’s personality and age. There is a difference between my labs, which I feel is caused by age/experience. Reese uses his nose more than Hoyt. Reese has had some awesome blind antler finds, which just shows how strong his nose is. Hoyt is likes to use his eye when he is first out of the truck but then will use his nose, once he wears off some energy. Shed dogs are awesome to have to be able to cover more area, but even with having them, I use a couple of strategies to help pick up more sheds.
- Do not only go through an area 1 time. This is especially true while running a shed dog. I try to go through an area at least twice and never take the same path. Trying to go through the area from a different direction. The sun might reflect off the antler a little differently which might help catch your eye. When hunting with the dogs, majority of the time they are trying to catch the scent of the sheds so going through a second time, so it will help you increase your chance on winding the antler scent.
- If you are close to the property that you will be shed hunting or still have trail cameras out, pay attention to the deer movement. Deer spends majority of the time in two areas, bedding and at food. The odds are the sheds will fall where the deer spend majority of their time.
- I tend to take notes after I shed hunt. Some areas seem to be better for sheds than others. By taking notes either in my note-book or using an app like OnX Maps, it has paid off to go back to areas that have produced in the past.
- The past couple years, I have noticed that early in the morning and late afternoon are not the best times to shed hunt. I feel that the best times to shed hunt are late morning and early afternoon, when the sun is above you which allows the sheds to stand out.
- Do not rush, it is not a race. Take your time and enjoy the outdoors. If you are running through the woods, I will bet that you will miss sheds.
I hope that the items listed above help you to find more sheds this season. If you have any questions on shed hunting or shed dogs, send over an email or contact us on social media. Make sure to check out our social media accounts to stay up to date with our shed season.