Shed Hunting is Scouting Time
Late winter and early spring are great times for getting out and finding the bone of the bucks that have eluded you, as well as other hunters, during the past hunting season. While finding sheds can be fun, you can also use this time to learn many things about the deer in your area such as finding the travel patterns of bucks, finding bedding areas, and possible tweaks in stand locations.
This is a great time to look for sign, mainly rubs and scrapes, made by those big boys last year that managed to skate by you in the fall. By closely examining rubs and scrapes you can start to piece together where these bucks were headed and which routes they preferred to take. The spring is a great time to scout, before any new vegetation starts to grow and allows you to see rubs and scrapes just as they would appear during the fall. Rub lines can lead you to a favorite feeding source or a close by bedding area your bucks may have been using. Edges, dividing two different types of habitat, tend to be a hot spot for rubs and it’s how most bucks prefer to move from one location to the next. So by focusing in on some of the high rub density areas you can find which edge your big buck likes to travel on.
Bedding areas are essential for being able to close the deal on the buck of your dreams.Since mature bucks spend the majority of their time in bedding areas, it’s a no brainer that these areas should be focused on. During the shed hunting months you can go into these areas without worrying about pushing deer off since you won’t be able to hunt them for quite some time anyway and find rubs/big beds that show he is using this area for bedding. During any other month you want to avoid going into bedding areas because increased pressure could cause
your bucks to leave.
By hunting areas closer to where your bucks live, but not getting too close so that they feel unsafe, you can take advantage of bedding areas come next hunting season.
A simple relocation in you stand placement could be the determining factor on whether you get the buck of your dreams or will be stuck with eating tag soup. I have had great success in recent years by placing a stand near or right where I found a bucks shed. I have found that if he as used that path before, and was not alarmed, then he will use it again. I’ve used this tactic on the same buck for the past three years and each time I find myself getting more pictures of the buck and getting pictures of him during daylight hours. By looking at past rubs and bedding areas you can narrow down your decision to move a stand, and that could lead to future success.
While I do enjoy shed hunting and get great joy in finding antlers I always keep three things in mind: buck patterns, bedding areas, and stand locations. Hopefully, after this miserable snow decides to leave, you can get out there and use some of these strategies to increase your odds come next hunt season. Best of luck!