First thing, just go…and go and go. A lot of people have no luck because they look on one or two properties where the deer may not even be this time of year, or maybe the animals are just passing through to a food source. Get permission to as many farms and woodlands as you can. Then start walking. One of BIG DEER’s best shed hunters, Kelly from South Dakota, told me he walked 19 miles last Saturday and found 8 antlers. Go!
But make sure you walk where the deer are. Remember that as a general rule 90 percent of the deer are in 10% of the woods/fields/brush this time of year, where there is something to eat, so you need to narrow down your search areas.
If you see 10 or 20 deer feeding and hanging around in a field now, some sheds are going to be there, or close. Prime food sources to check: 1) standing soybeans or a late-cut bean field where some pods are still on the ground; 2) thick, scrubby fields, with green shrubs and berries and maybe some locust trees with pods (deer love them this time of year); 3) alfalfa, clover or winter wheat.
Standing corn or stubble is good, but if you don’t have a shed dog it’s tough. If no dog, walk every 2nd to 3rd corn row. Pay attention and look hard. Antlers stick out better in the corn with a light snow on the ground.
Most of the best shedding is done in and around food sources and nearby staging areas, and from there branch out farther toward bedding areas. Hunt the connecting trails too.
If you find several sheds in a spot one year, you will probably find more there next year. Mark spots where you find big sheds on a map.
Send us your shed hunting reports to share.
Mike: My son and I hunt private land in WI. Several of our best stands are a long walk to get to. We have to walk in over trails that show good deer traffic. (We wear rubber boots and use a scent eliminator.) We really don’t have a good alternative way to walk in. We’ve noticed that in the 4 years we’ve owned this property, deer never come to our stands from along those trails we walk.
My question: Would it be better to ride our ATVs (more noise but no human scent trail) to the stands and then hide them out of sight? Or would it be better to continue to walk in and be quiet?–Tom
Tom, sounds like those deer have you patterned so you need to change it up.
First thing, scout for a couple new stand locations in areas that you can access easier and from downwind. You mentioned well-used deer trails—set a stand or 2 near those trails (but where you don’t have to cross them) and try to catch a buck coming or going.
When you hunt those stands deep in the property, yes, give the 4-wheelers a try. Ride in extra early in the morning or afternoon, park well downwind of your stands, creep the last 100 yards in and let the woods settle back down.
I’ve shot lots of bucks in spots where a friend drove me to my stand on an ATV or in a truck, dropped me off and drove away out. One time, I hunted a stand on a field edge where my buddy could pull so close to the tree that I stepped right out the truck and onto the ladder that went up to the stand! We joked about not leaving a scent trail.
What would you bloggers do in this case?
Note: I’d like to make “Deer How-To” a regular (perhaps weekly) column here on BIG DEER so we can share and learn how others tackle different hunting dilemmas. Send me a question or topic you’d like to see us cover.