Let’s be honest, hard-core shed hunters are a curious crowd. Considering their willingness to tromp countless miles in search of a single whitetail shed, it’s easy to recognize that shed hunters belong to a totally different category of ‘hunters.’
These idiosyncratic searchers are marked by a relentless drive to not only search, but to find—and philosophically—finding is only part of the reason they search.
So what can we learn from those who consistently find sheds? The simple answer is, a lot. But when we boil down their success, there seems to be three simple rules that successful shed hunters live by.
1. Have A Plan
Any day spent wandering aimlessly through the woods is better than being cooped up indoors, but ‘wandering’ and ‘aimless’ are not proven ways to find shed antlers. Before embarking on any shed hunting adventure take time to study topographical maps and satellite imagery of the property you plan on shed hunting.
Having a detailed mental picture of the property will help you know how to best ‘grid’ the location. Whether searching the property includes using optics or boots on the ground, having a plan when shed hunting will ensure you’re not skipping key bedding areas, travel routes or food sources.
After studying both topographical maps and satellite images I like to start my shed hunt by breaking down large sections of property into manageable pieces. I will then use landmarks to mark off small sections of property in order to walk or glass it thoroughly. After searching that particular section of property, I will move on to the next. This method has worked very well, and has helped to prevent me from feeling overwhelmed, when searching large tracts of land.
When shed hunting large acreages it’s very easy to get distracted and want to wander to what looks like a ‘good spot for sheds,’ but staying focused and thoroughly searching a given area will usually yield greater results.
2. Push Though It
There’s no better way to describe these places than by the word—nasty. They’re usually thick, full of thorns, and the deadfall doesn’t make for easy walking. But as most shed hunters know, it’s these clothes tearing, skin scaring, ‘nasty’ places that are the perfect place to find sheds.
After multiple hours of walking, you may want to walk ‘around’ the next patch of Multiflora Rose—but don’t. I’ve actually found sheds hanging in the middle of a brush patch so thick, I still wonder how they got there.
Whether on south facing hillsides, in bedding areas or in the middle of a brush patch, successful shed hunters have learned that shed antlers can be just about anywhere. That said, make up your mind and push through the temptation to skip the difficult areas.
A willingness to push through tired legs, sharp thorns and weary feet is a rule all successful shed hunters live by.
3. Hold On To Belief
Several years ago I took a relative, who will remain nameless, on their first shed hunt. After a few hours of searching the relative looked at me and said, “This is stupid, we’re never going to find any sheds.” The problem—they had lost all belief.
The dedicated shed hunter continues to believe he or she will find what they’re searching for in spite of the initial results. Shed hunting is the ultimate test of faith and perseverance.
On a recent shed hunt my oldest son looked at me and said, “Dad, how many people do you know who would be happy to walk 15-miles for a whitetail shed?” I smiled and kept on walking, but his question stuck with me. Shed hunting isn’t about the miles, it’s not about the search, and it’s not all about the find. Shed hunting is about belief, a belief that if bucks are there, the sheds will be there, and if the sheds are there, the shed hunter who applies enough determination and tenacity will find them.
Don’t give up belief. If that means searching an area more than once, do it—just don’t give up.
It’s not hard to see that shed hunting and life have several parallels. Anything we will be successful at requires a plan, persistence and persuasion. So, embrace the rules and enjoy the journey.
Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9