Shed Hunting for Beginners Backed By TrophyTracks
Shed Hunting for Beginners Using the TrophyTracks Hunting App
Each year deer go through their annual cycle of losing their antlers. Antlers begin to drop as early as after the rut and continue all the way until spring. These couple of months are known as shed hunting season. Shed hunting for beginners can be intimidating, but once you understand the why, when, and how it will be a yearly adventure with a rewarding outcome.
Shed hunting is growing in popularity for several reasons. First, it gives hunters another way to stay connected to deer hunting. Looking for sheds fills the gap between the end hunting season and spring. Second, shed hunting season offers outdoor winter exercise opportunities. Finally, the sheds themselves are also valuable at many levels to hunters and outdoors people alike. All of these lead thousands to the woods in late winter searching for “white gold.”
Shed hunting for beginners starts with realizing that you have an unlimited space to search. Any where deer, particular bucks, live, is a place to antler sheds. The trick to being a successful shed hunter is to know when do deer shed their antlers and where the shed them. Combine that knowledge with the technology like a hunting app to use maps, marking locations, and recording notes and you will find more sheds this season.
Exodus Trail Cameras has a great article on How Trail Cameras Can Help You Find More Sheds.
What is Shed Hunting?
Shed hunting is the search for antlers dropped by white-tailed deer, elk, moose, and other antler bearing mammals. Shed antlers are highly desired, and “shed hunters” spend many weeks and months in late winter and early spring looking for antler sheds.
The interest in searching for sheds has grown exponentially over the last decade. The reasons for this is the growth in technology. Trail cameras, particularly cellular game cameras, permit hunters to see when and where bucks drop their antlers in near real-time. Additionally, hunting apps like TrophyTracks, provide mapping, weather, and notes so you can journal your shed hunting season. Not only does hunting apps aid in finding sheds, but it is a great way to maximize your hunting app value in the offseason.
Timing the Whitetail Antler Drop
Antlers are shed each year as part of the antler growth cycle. The process is related to hormone levels, which trigger the connection between the antler and skull to weaken and the the antler to shed. According to the University of Missouri Extension, bucks shed their antler some time between late December and early March. The majority of buck have lost their antlers by early April. However, the exact timing can vary between individual bucks and area to area.
The timing of shed hunting season in your specific area depends on many factors. One of the most important is nutrition. Poor nutrition in an area can cause bucks to shed their antlers much earlier in the season. Equally important, buck to doe ratios affect the timing of antler drop. Unbalanced deer herds, for instance, will change hormone levels (second rut, more sparing). Increased testosterone levels will lead to bucks keeping their antlers longer.
One key for shed hunting for beginners is to know when you bucks are shedding in your area. Historical observations from your hunting journal can give you a good timeframe to start shed hunting. Trail cameras then are effective in monitoring the exact timing, as it can vary year to year based on the above factors. Trail cameras and a hunting journal app are required shed hunting gear.
How to Create a Shed Hunting Log
As mentioned, a hunting journal is a critical part of your shed hunting gear. One of the best ways to utilize it is to create a shed hunting log. These logs, or journals, allow you to document a specific trip looking for sheds. You can add observations throughout the day, track the weather, and add images of the sheds you may find.
1. Start a new journal
Begin by starting a new journal from the TrophyTracks home screen. To do this, click on the plus button in the bottom-right corner of the map view.
2. Add new journal information
On the new journal screen, name your journal “Shed Hunting Log.” Pick your date (if it isn’t today), starting time, and location. Choose “Scout” for the hunt style and “Deer” for the game type. Finally, start the hunt.
3. Add journal entries
Begin adding entries such as images of the sheds you have found or notes related to the areas you are searching.
4. End your journal and review your log
Once you shed hunting day is complete, end your journal. You can always review your log and even edit it later if needed.
Best Places to Find Sheds
Sheds are generally found in a few specific locations based on the winter patterns of bucks. They typically shed one antler and then the other. Being able to find a set of shed antlers is highly prized but it takes real work. Also, antlers are rich in minerals and nutrients. This makes them sought after by small mammals who will chew them up before you ever find them.
Key Locations to Look for Sheds
- South-facing Slopes – Deer will bed on south-facing slopes more in winter than any other time of the year. Southern slopes warm faster and have less snow, which makes them ideal locations for deer to rest in the cold winter months. These areas are easy to pinpoint on your hunting app maps and mark as targets for searching.
- Food Sources – Unharvested agricultural fields and food plots will concentrate deer in the winter. The more deer on your property or in a defined area like a dedicated late-season food source the more sheds you will pick up. Standing corn and food plots adjacent to cut-over hardwoods provide your best shed hunting spots.
- Winter Cover – Young pine stands, cedars, and mountain laurel thickets provide thermal cover by blocking wind and snow. In the northern states, this is critical for keeping deer alive during winter. Deer know it, and will leverage these areas to bed and stay protected. These locations can very successfully especially in early shed hunting season.
Shed Hunting for Beginners | 4 Keys to Success
Now that you know what shed hunting is and when and where to look, these four tips will put you on the white gold.
- Spend Time Scouting – Use December and January to locate bucks and mark key areas where bucks are likely to drop antlers.
- Deploy Trail Cameras – Monitor those areas with trail cameras to determine exactly when bucks start to shed their antlers.
- Use TrophyTracks – Rely on your hunting journal app to keep a log of your shed hunting season.
- Boots on the Ground – The number one tip for shed hunting for beginners is to log miles on the ground. Cover lots of acres in prime locations to maximize the sheds you will find.
Shed hunting for beginners can be a learning process. Even seasoned pros may only fine a few sheds a year. The keys are to know when bucks start to drop their antlers and what locations have better odds to have a shed. Putting this knowledge to work will get you more white gold and perhaps even lead to a finding a nice shed set of the trophy buck you we unable to harvest during hunting season.