Antlers and Snow are falling: Solo Shed Hunting Tips

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For many of us, heading out to look for sheds is something we do alone. Unlike some who tend to sweep an army through the tangled woods, we only have a single set of eyes to spot an antler sticking out of a pile of leaves. Because of this, we must place ourselves in the highest probability areas in order to have a successful shed hunting trip.

Deer Trails

Often some of the easier paths to travel, walking a deer trail can be very successful. However, not just any trail will lead to sheds. Look for trails that are used frequently, and more important, recently. There are lots of major deer trails out in the woods that are of seasonal use, meaning that they may be used heavily during just the summer, or just the fall. You want to be on the trails deer are using now. Look up to 3-feet to either side of the trail, and if you find one side, look carefully because there is a good chance the other side is not far.

Fence Crossings

Fence lines seem to be one of the best places to find shed antlers as the deer have to crawl under, climb through, or jump the fence. While deer will not often cross where they have to jump a fence any time they pass through a fence line is a good time for a deer to lose a loose antler. If the deer decides to jump the fence, often the impact of landing will jolt an antler and persuade it to fall off. Either way fence crossing are a great place to find sheds.

Thermal Cover

With the harsh winter conditions most of the US has been experiencing, finding sheds in thermal cover is likely. Thermal cover is anywhere that will allow deer to “hide” from the elements including low pines, cedars, spruce and other conifers. Most times these areas are “dark floored” making it a little easier to spot a white antler. Think back to some of these areas in which you saw prominent rubbing activity during the rut, these would be the first places to start.

Food Sources

Crop fields, food plots, and even oak flats…any place that has been a source of food recently for deer is a great place to start. You are looking for areas in which deer have been to recently and spent a considerable amount of time. Large cut corn or bean fields can usually yield several sheds every year. If you have feeder sites, there is a good chance you will discover some sheds near there.


With the increased popularity of enrolling land in federal programs for monetary return, Conservation Reserve Program or CRP ground is fairly common, especially in the Midwest. Typically consisting of warm-season bunch grasses, these areas provide great bedding during the late winter when hunting pressure is off. Often combing through the tall grasses will yield sheds; however, these grasses tend to lay over making it much more difficult. Having a buddy or two with you can make a big difference.

Shed hunting is a great time to get out into the woods, not only to find antlers, but get into new areas and find deer sign you may not have seen before. Often the scouting you do now can lead to success next season.

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Originally published at on February 15, 2014.

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