Today’s blog comes from Mike Hanback of Big Deer TV. Mike has been writing about whitetails since the 1990′s and is considered by many as an expert on the subject. For more information about Mike, you can follow him on Twitter, find him on Facebook or visit his website at www.mikehanback.com
Awhile back, I surveyed the readers of my Big Deer blog to see how many shed antlers they found last winter and spring. A few fanatics logged 100 or more bones, but most people picked up 5 to 20. One guy spoke for most of the hunters when he wrote, “If I could get that number up to 40 or 50, I would be a happy camper.” Try these tricks to do it.
Don’t Jump the Gun: I know you’re itching to get out there, but don’t go too early. If you spook a 150-class buck with loose, wobbly antlers, he might run a quarter-mile and drop one or both sides in a remote spot where you can’t find them, or across a fence where you don’t have permission to go. A good rule of thumb is to start looking in mid-January, and really crank it up around Super Bowl Sunday, when most bucks have dropped the bone.
Glass winter feeding areas where deer congregate (corn, soybeans, hay lots, etc.) every few days until you see few if any bucks with antlers. Then start looking. A good option is to set a couple of trail cameras around feeding areas or even bait piles if legal in your area. Once bucks are bald in your images, start hunting.
Glass for Bone: Everybody uses binoculars when hunting, but hardly anybody carries them when shedding. “I once sat on a log and glassed seven sheds lying around in different spots,” says Montana shedding nut Luke Strommen. “One of the best spots to glass is a wooded area that was recently grazed by cattle,” Luke says. “You’d be amazed how many sheds you missed on previous days or even in previous years. The cows uncover and kick up some old ones.”
Look in the Bedroom: Check any and all winter bedding areas you know about. In and around beds and nearby deer trails are one of the most productive places to find antlers day in and out.
Hunt the Rain: A rainy day is great; fresh sheds shine and catch your eye.
Grid and Slow: The biggest mistake people make is to wander around aimlessly, looking too far out front and all around. Mark off small grids with trees, rocks, logs and the like as landmarks. Walk slowly over each grid and look straight down a few yards around your feet for sheds.
Do the Soft Shoe: One day a buddy of mine out in Iowa stepped on a stick, or so he thought. He dug through the leaves and uncovered a five-point, 75-inch shed! With the other antler and an 18-inch spread, that giant would have pushed 170! Wear soft-soled boots or even sneakers and dig up all those “sticks” you step on