Scout Next Year’s Buck NOW!
Most of us are beginning to wonder if this relentless winter is ever going to come to an end. Many...
Most of us are beginning to wonder if this relentless winter is ever going to come to an end. Many parts of the country have been routinely blanketed with deep snows and icy temperatures. However, right now is the perfect time for diehard deer hunters and whitetail addicts to hit the woods for some late-season scouting.
Taking your time and combing new possible hunting areas or your old favorite honey-hole can payoff big next season. With no foliage, it’s super easy to pinpoint worn travel routes and last year’s rutting sign like rubs and scrapes. In addition, a coat of snow makes tracks, bedding areas, and possible escape routes stand out like a sore thumb. However, the best reason to hit the woods hard right now is finding big buck sheds. Let’s take a quick look at some shed hunting and post-season scouting strategies.
Focus On Late-Season Food
Without question, a whitetail’s stomach is going to dictate daily habits this time of year. Deer are much easier to locate when there is significantly less for them to eat, which is the case during the late winter months. Focus your late-season scouting on winter wheat fields, late-picked cornfields, and honeysuckle patches. Next, locate the thickest cover near these remaining food sources and you’ll find yourself right in the middle of all the action. The sign you find now is a good indicator of how many whitetails a particular area averages holding throughout the year. Also, finding freshly dropped sheds will tell you exactly what kind of genetics a particular location will offer next season. Chances are the bucks that have dropped these sheds will be there when opening day rolls around, but with an extra year of antler growth riding on their heads.
Try rounding up some of your closest hunting buddies to widen your search area when shed hunting. As mentioned earlier, start looking near late-season food sources and nearby thick-covered bedding areas. In the past, I have found several sheds near fence-line travel routes. For good reason, a wobbly antler that is loose can be aggravating for a buck and a barbwire fence can the perfect tool for working off a shed. Another great tip, is to hang a bucket of corn or deer feed (in state’s where it’s legal) with strands of rubber strips below the handle. A buck will hit the feeder and the rubber netting will capture the shed. In many cases, the antler will fall right into the bucket like a shed catcher. Lastly, try training your dog to find and retrieve buck sheds. Last year, my Norwegian Elk Hound found several sets of sheds with minimal training effort on my part. Over the next few weeks, visit your favorite hunting locations and be sure to let us know on the BBZ what you’re finding out there.