February is a great time to start shed hunting
For just about everyone deer season has ended or will be ending soon. The months of February and March are great times to get out in the woods and start searching for bucks that have shed their antlers. There are several different ways to find those antlers.
Walk around until you find one.
This can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you have a few friends you can spread out 10-15' and do a line search through parts of your property and hope you get lucky. It is very rare that I find a shed just lying in the middle of a nice open area. Deer typically lose them walking through some areas with low clearance or in areas that they are feeding and a loose antler gets stuck on some brush or briars and comes off. Look near bedding areas and in the nasty stuff.
Use a Shed Trap (where legal)
There are plenty of ideas on the internet. This is not legal in all areas.
Make a brush pile and dump some corn throughout it (where legal)
This is a pretty simple idea and fairly natural. You take some limbs that you cut clearing trails and put them in a pile and scatter the corn throughout the pile. Please check state and local regs to make sure it is legal in your area.
Use a Shed Dog
The easiest way in my opinion to find sheds is to use a shed dog to find them. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. They can be trained to locate the sheds by smell. This allows you to cover large areas in a relatively short time. I had my first experience with a shed dog last February. We brought the dog in downwind from the antlers and he zig zagged a large area and was able to find several sheds. The sheds were hardly visible to the eye and would have taken 3-4x the amount of walking to potentially find while walking without the dog. After seeing the dog work I was interested in training my dog to do it. I've been working on and off since April to teach my dog. I purchased this product from Amazon:
This training is fairly straightforward and fun for you and the dog. You begin by playing fetch with the rubber antler. This allows the dog to get accustomed to picking up and holding an antler. Once you do this for a while you apply some scent to it and play games of hide and seek with the antlers. You will use a simple command of "Find It" or whatever you want and this will tell the dog to start searching. You start off with it hiding in plain sight and then progressively get it more and more hidden. Not only will this provide you and the dog hours of enjoyment but if you have kids it is a great way to get them in on the training action.
It is always good to clean the shed with non scented soap and handle as little as possible before adding the scent. The dog is able to find it much easier if the scent is limited to the antler scent you have applied to it. Once you feel comfortable that your dog can find the fake shed in a controlled environment, it is time to move to the woods or field and try it out there. After a while you can replace the rubber antler with a real one. It is also helpful to carry around an antler when you are out in the field. If your dog has not found anything recently you can throw it out when the dog isn't looking and let it find the practice one. This helps some dogs get worked up and back on target.
Your Trail Cameras Can Help Your Shed Hunting
Keep an eye on your trail cam photos. If you have some bucks that come by regularly you can figure out when they have dropped one or both sides of their rack and that will be a good sign of when you should start looking for them. If you have a few cameras up on the property it might even help you pin point where they dropped. This is where your Trail Cam Buddy will come in handy. You will be able to pull the SD cards out in the field and view the photos on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
Where should I start Looking?
In most areas of the country deer are dropping their antlers in the dead of winter when food is the scarcest. If your property has enough food source to hold some bucks then you will most likely have the sheds on your property. Find the bedding areas and follow the trails to the feeding areas. Look along Fence Lines, Creek Crossings, forest edges and south facing hills. The south facing hills get the most sunlight and will be one of the last areas that winter browse will still be growing.
If your food plots are still alive and providing food for bucks then follow the trails that the deer are using to find the bedding areas. You will probably find some sheds along those trails. If you don't have food plots and your particular area allows baiting and supplemental feeding then keep your feeding going until after shed season to keep the bucks in the area. If there is no food in your particular area they will find it somewhere else.