By Brandon Wikman
Trudging through the soggy snow in search for massive whitetail headgear can be completely irresistible when you know both where and how to look. I’ve encountered many years of tireless searching for bone without any rewards to show for it! Finally, after listening and learning to a few shed hunting gurus, I’m able to ‘shed’ light on some valuable tactics in search for the mysterious bone!
Shed hunting in the forest is a lot like fishing. As a fisherman, we always keep a close eye on structures such as weed beds, logs or overhanging branches. Shed hunting is no different. Look for places such as thick brush spots or lone standing pines and try to figure where bucks would spend the majority of their time. You can maximize your search by seeking key high-percentage areas that deer often use.
Your best bet is to break out an aerial map and look at the terrain. Mapping The Outdoors has the most high quality printable maps on the market. They have solved the whitetail conundrum by providing outdoor enthusiasts like you and I an opportunity to hone-in on properties with a birds-eye view. Aerial maps will uncover ridges, fence lines, trails, streams, and so many more fascinating land characteristics that will not only help you shed hunt, but more importantly enhance your opportunity of smashing a buck come season.
Ultimately, aerial maps will give you a better idea of where to begin. Once you have a general idea of where to look, it’s time to get your hiking boots laced.
I have found that searching the south edges of woodlots that border cornfields can be a gold mine. These are prime food source locations that are in direct sunlight throughout the day. Small patches of thickets within a property are a wise place to look, also. These gnarly places hold a high percentage of a forest’s bedding area. They also have a great opportunity of snagging antlers due to the blanket of twisted branches.
Lastly, find river or creek crossings. Many times deer will follow water parallel until they find a shallow spot. Bucks will make a good hop, skip and jump across the water and jar their antlers from hoof impact.
During the winter, whitetails rely on the rich carbohydrates they find in corn and soybeans. Agriculture fields are a huge whitetail pull. They provide animals with a consistent food source that is, most importantly, within walking distance. They don’t have to lose energy walking miles and miles looking for a place to find grub.
Deer typically will feed on a number of different crops in the winter. They prefer corn, alfalfa, winter wheat and rye grass. These are power-packed foods that provide substantial energy. Dealing with thousands of endless acres of agriculture fields can be daunting! There is a lot of field to cover and antlers can be scattered anywhere. Before yanking your winter boots on for a trek, here are a few things to note:
Be aware of the travel locations of where deer are entering and exiting the field most often. Find the largest concentration of tracks, droppings, or sign to guide you in the right direction.
Glass the field with a nice pair of binoculars. This is extremely productive and you’ll be able to spot the glimmering sheen of a shed antler.
Be sure to get a high vantage point so you can see as much as possible. You may want to find the highest ridge in the field and stand atop your 4-wheeler to navigate.
If you don’t have a four-wheeler, walking will suffice. Take a stroll through a few rows at a time and mark where you’ve traveled. It’s much more efficient to look in one direction than to sweep back and forth throughout the entire field. You must take your time and mosey through the field with wide eyes!
Shed hunting is a fun way to get your family and friends into the woods. This is a good thing, considering the more eyes, the better! Be sure to take a weekend and search for success.