Shed Hunting Intel Informs Deer Scouting for the Next Season

What are the Sheds Telling You about Where to Set Up and Hunt Next Hunting Season?

Published February 11th by Will Bowen, Okayest Hunter Contributor

A spring shed hunt can tell you so much about the deer in your area. Don’t just throw them in the bone pile without gathering some information from them!

What do you think about when you pick up a shed antler? Upon first impression, most of us notice the size and familiarity of the buck. This could invoke memories of prior encounters or trail camera surveillance. Then we often attempt to guess the age of the buck. Is this a young buck or one that I really need to be on the lookout for next year? After this surface level analysis there is often no further thinking. We stow them away in the antler pile or in the garage and don’t think much more about them unless we harvest the deer later. 

Finding sheds is one thing but learning from sheds is what could take your hunting to a whole other level. Start looking at your finds with an analytical eye. Here are a few things you could learn from finding sheds: 

Which Bucks Survived

Finding sheds helps you keep a running inventory of the bucks using the properties you hunt. Whether you are looking for sheds from familiar deer or just grabbing whatever you can find, the sheds you find will give you an insight for the upcoming deer season. Basic math tells you that horns from 2 ½ year old bucks will become horns on 3 ½ year old bucks next and so on and so forth. Knowing which properties have the highest crop of shooter bucks might help put you in the right area next season. 

Deer Health

Cast shed antlers are a good indicator of deer health, and therefore can give you an idea how the bucks handled the previous fall and winter. It also lets you know how healthy a buck will be going into the next season and their possible growth potential. A typical sign of good health found on shed antlers is the depth of the pedicle. The deeper and smoother the better. When the pedicle is recessed into the base of the antler or has jagged pieces of bone protruding from it, it’s a safe assumption that the buck wasn’t at his healthiest. Knowing the health of the local deer herd can be very beneficial. 

Where Deer Are Bedding

A common area to find sheds is in and around bedding areas. They spend a bulk of their time here so it only makes sense that they have more time to cast their antlers there. Finding these areas are key to future success. If you can find where a buck is bedding, you can then formulate your plan. Wind direction, destination, and travel route can all be assumed after you figure out the bedding area. 

Where Deer Feed in the Late Season

Like bedding areas, primary feeding areas are hotspots for late season deer activity and therefore shed antlers. The food sources that deer are keying in on in February and March are more than likely the same as the ones they were feeding on in December and January. So, keep track of where you are finding sheds, because there is a good chance that you could fill a tag in the exact same spot next season. 

We can learn a lot from sheds. Don’t just throw them in the garage, take the information that they give you and you’ll have a better season because of it!


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