When spring rolls around, my cabin fever meter reaches It’s boiling point and I am ready to get out and hit the woods. The best thing about getting out in the spring months is the fact that elk and deer are starting to drop their antlers and, if you find the right spots, the shed hunting can be top-notch, even on public ground. This ups the motivation level tenfold to get out and start putting some boot leather on the ground.
I have had some great success shed hunting in the last few years and wanted to share some of my shed hunting secrets. They’re not really big secrets, and are more about hard work and common sense, but I’ll share them with you anyway.
1) KNOW YOUR ANIMAL!
People ask me all the time how I find so many elk sheds on public land, and my response is pretty much the same every time … I know where the elk are and I walk a lot. So, if you know where the elk are feeding from late March through May, you’ve already got this shed hunting thing half licked! The sheds are not going to magically move to a secret area, so focus on where you’ve seen elk in the past and look for travel routes and bedding areas.
2) WORK SMARTER AND HAVE A PLAN
If the area that’s holding elk has drivable roads, fill up the tank and start driving. Bring a good binocular and a high-power spotting scope with a window mount on your drive, and you’ll be even closer to success. The method is pretty simple: Drive every inch of the roads that the elk or deer travel and glass any possible location where they could have lost an antler. These sheds will be easy pickings and you want to get to these first.
Check your area as often as possible. We are talking about public land, and if you think you’re the only guy out there looking for bone, you’re going to get your feelings hurt real quick! Getting to know the locals is another good idea, that way you can give them a call during the work week and check the status of “horn droppage.”
4) BOOT LEATHER ON THE GROUND!
Once the roadway areas have been covered and the easy sheds are in the back of the truck, the hard work starts. You’ll want to walk all the feeding areas first. I have found that doing sweeps with two or three people through a feeding area works best, but this can also be done on your own. Just be ready for a long day and make sure your boots are broken in.
At this point I concentrate on the aspens that are usually surrounding feeding areas. These areas require a little more TLC and a lot more concentration. The dead aspen branches look a lot like sheds, and picking through the tangle will take some time.
Your next target should be travel areas. This is simple. Just walk the area in which the elk are traveling and hope you find a few hanging limbs that the bulls have run into with their antlers.
5) NEVER GIVE UP, AND STAY POSITIVE
Sometimes shed hunting can be irritating, but if you keep your mental glass half full, you will always have a great time. Bring a friend who will help keep you motivated. If you try to put things into perspective (you could always be working instead), you’ll be much happier, even if you go home empty-handed.
The spring shed hunting months are also a great time to test out new gear. It’s always better to have something fail when you are near the car, rather then 6 miles into a rugged wilderness area. You can also get some great pre-season cardio in at this time and find out where you stand physically as the big-game season approaches.
These tips have helped me become a better shed hunter through the years and I hope they help you as well.