Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shed Hunting...Experiences gained and lessons learned.

Shed hunting in Richland County Wisconsin is easy.  Deer numbers are high and the driftless regions' hilly country makes it easy for hunters to predict where deer might bed.  In my experience, there isn't a better spot to find sheds than on a hillside facing south close to a food source.  South facing hillsides receive lots winter sunlight and stay much warmer because of this.  In Northeast Wisconsin, shed hunting isn't quite as easy.  I recently went shed hunting with my father-in-law to a great property south of Green Bay.  The land has everything wintering deer love.  Lots of 20-25 year old pines that provide great warmth on subzero days, thick tangled bedding cover and picked crop fields nearby.  There was one small problem, I had no idea where to even start looking.  Knowing that deer hang out in wind-blocking pines I starting there.  Surprisingly, little sign of deer was found besides scars from the 2013 rut.  The hard rain and 20 mph winds encouraged us to move onto the 'obvious' spots to speed up the process.  Within twenty minutes of weaving on and off logging trails I spotted a gorgeous shed right in the middle of a logging road.
After finding the right side of this 3 year old buck I was thinking this flatland shed hunting wasn't so difficult.  Unfortunately, shed hunting isn't like morel mushroom hunting, there aren't always more next to a dead elm.  We spent three more hours in the rain... and getting lost (we made genius decisions to both wear full camo, not planned but still, who does that shed hunting)? Looking back, I found the shed in a place I should've looked right away, paths of least resistance leading to food.  The logging road was most likely a beaten trail by January so it provided deer with a relatively easy route, if there ever was one this winter.  Early afternoon we called it quits on account of wet clothes and cold hands but had an excellent day exploring new property and discovering how and where deer travel this 'unpredictable' flatland woods.  Below, I have provided a list of tips that have helped me find more sheds, I hope you find them helpful.

1.  Locate the food.  Deer are hungry and still attempt to eat 10 pounds of food per day. 

2.  Sunlight. As mentioned earlier, southfacing hillsides warm quickly and stay warm. locate a south-facing hillside that leads to crop fields. 

3.  The nocturnal buck once asked himself, "what trail keeps me unseen the longest before entering a food source?"  Find these trails and scour them, old weary bucks use them.

4.  Thermals.  Bucks love to bed where they can use rising and cooling thermals to their advantage.  Know where deer bed at dusk and dawn.  

5.  Put in the time.  Rarely will you find a pile of sheds from a couple hours of hunting. Don't wear yourself thin, divvy up your time over a few weeks if possible. 

2014 sheds found in Richland County WI