Shed hunting has become a growing trend on social media and in the outdoor industry. Your friends and favorite influencers are constantly posting their finds online. The question that quickly follows is why? Why spend the time and money to trudge through snow or mud in search of an antler that has dropped into the snow or dirt. The answer is simple – pure passion for the outdoors. Whether you hunt or not, the adrenaline you experience when you see that white tine sticking out of the grass or snow makes every minute, mile and dollar spent worthwhile.
Beyond the pure enjoyment of finding sheds, they also provide information about your local deer population and fuel your pursuit of big game. Finding one or both sides of a buck you pursued all season means he survived the rut and hunting season. You can then keep those sheds and compare them over the years until that buck is harvested. They also show the growth a buck or bull experiences throughout their lifetime. This allows you to predict growth over time while watching deer mature.
Many shed hunters who have access to private land, with legal permission to feed (bait) wild game use minerals and food plots to hold deer on their property. This does two things for the deer. It provides them with sufficient nutrients to get through the winter and it keeps the deer on or near their property. This ensures the herd will remain close and allows them to drop their sheds within the property lines. Check your local and state regulations to see if you can help your herd make it through the winter and grow the strength of your local herd.
The most important piece of equipment for shed hunting is you. This means you need to regulate your temperature and be dry while in the field. No matter the season, taking advantage of the new technical gear available will allow you to be as comfortable as possible. Depending on when you head out into the field, it is important to have the essential layers and waterproofing to keep dry in the snow, mud or water. Start with the base layer and work your way out. It may seem simple, but having the right socks for the situation is very important. Take care of your feet no matter what you are doing. Combine your socks with a base layer that wicks your sweat and regulates your temperature. Cover this up with a comfy hoodie or shirt by your favorite brand. Being that you will be in the field during the off season, camouflage is not as important. Wear your favorite outerwear that keeps you dry and blocks the wind. Good boots to keep you dry with good support are very important as you are covering miles in search of the matching side to the shed you found your last time out.
Depending on what part of the country you are in and how much land you have available, you will likely need more gear. If you are covering large open country, it is important to have a good pack on your back to hold your gear and any sheds you find. A hunting pack works great, but don’t be afraid to use a backpacking pack if you need something lighter for the day. A GPS unit is important to know your boundaries and to help navigate rugged or thick terrain. Being prepared with a few snacks and a hydration system is very important whether you are in the field for a couple hours or for the whole day. Take advantage of your optics to scan side hills and through the open country. Try mounting your optics on a tripod and glass the hillsides and flats. If you are out searching for a specific set from a buck you were chasing all season or you are trying to beat the crowd to the public, try using snowshoes and poles. This will help you navigate the terrain very effectively and make trekking the snow much more enjoyable.
It is always important to keep your best friend top of mind, especially in the off season. Training your dog will help you find more sheds and cover more ground than you ever could, even with multiple people. One of the best training tools available is the DogBone. This retrieving tool is made of a soft, durable, scent-injectable foam with a life-like look and feel. This allows for safe training with an excited pup or for a timid, mature dog. The essential part of dog training is ensuring the dog can properly retrieve and pick up the shed without injuring itself on the point of the antler. The DogBone includes a training manual and scent in the package. For more information, check out the Dokken Dog Supply Shed Antler Training Book for techniques to help develop your shed dog. Learn how to turn your dog into a successful shed hunter.