The variety of hours I’ll spend trying to find shed antlers this offseason is the same as the variety of hours I’ll spend watching Dancing with the Stars.
I’m not saying I received’t take a fast look on the present as I rip by way of the channels in quest of one thing much less mind-numbing, and I’m not saying I received’t cease and decide up a shed if I occur to see one laying on the bottom as I’m out chasing spring gobblers. However that is the extent of my focus, effort, and total curiosity in shed looking. Does that make me a foul whitetail addict? Some would say so.
However I believe it means I’ve realized my lesson. I now know a factor or two concerning the true impression of discovering a shed antler within the locations I hunt, and that impression isn’t fairly price me looking excessive and low for them.
What Do Sheds Actually Imply?
Discovering a shed offers me two concrete items of data: The buck that grew these antlers was alive lengthy sufficient to shed them, and he was hanging out in that precise spot when he did so. Except for these conclusions, there’s simply not numerous information to glean.
I’m not saying I need this to be the case. I spent an terrible lot of effort and time making an attempt to deduce extra concerning the looking season that follows 10 months later from a single shed antler. However the easy reality is, I might by no means draw these conclusions. Now, once I discover a shed, I do know the above two items of intel and I assume the buck remains to be alive and effectively someplace—with “someplace” being the operative phrase.
In My World
As soon as upon a time, I had unique use of a private parcel in southern Michigan. It was the primary, final, and solely time I’ve ever loved such an expertise. It wasn’t a super-attractive property. The majority of it was tillable farm floor with a single wooded spot for canopy. The magic was within the neighboring property that was thick, moist, and—most significantly—off limits to any hunter. That adjoining sanctuary was a buck-maker, and I’d discover a number of older bucks within the neighborhood yearly.
I someway managed to tag a couple of of these bucks, however the majority proved far smarter than me. Each winter and spring I’d scour the property on the lookout for their sheds. I by no means discovered one. It wasn’t for lack of looking; in the event that they have been there, I’d have discovered them.
Yearly I’d assume these bucks had been killed. This wasn’t a stretch, contemplating the quantity of hunting pressure throughout the property. However, to my data, none of these deer have been ever tagged by a hunter. I’d see them the next fall, which instructed me these bucks had certainly shed their antlers elsewhere.
I can think about somebody discovering the sheds from these bucks, spending the subsequent fall looking arduous for the buck that dropped them, and by no means seeing it. Why? As a result of the bucks weren’t there. 12 months after 12 months I’d see this sample repeat.
I’d like to say I discovered a solution to this thriller. The reality is, I by no means did. The closest I’ve come to an answer is that mature bucks have their methods. In closely hunted areas, they’ve clearly discovered a routine that retains them alive when the looking stress hits. Why the bucks would vacate an space the place they have been secure in the course of the prime of the looking stress and shed their antlers elsewhere is past me. However they did, and plenty of others did, too.
I’ve additionally seen the reverse maintain true. I’ve hunted properties loaded with sheds within the spring and void of greenbacks within the fall. Time and time once more, I’ve seen a really distinct sample of seasonal deer motion, significantly in areas the place looking stress is excessive. Bucks I see in the summertime are gone within the fall. Properties with empty bean fields in summer season are loaded with bucks in November.
I don’t faux to know why this occurs. I merely know that it occurs much more usually than most hunters understand.
The Remaining Conclusion
Don’t get me improper. Discovering the shed of an enormous buck you’ve been looking is an efficient factor. In the event you’ve seen that buck in the course of the season, then you already know he’s comfy being there when you possibly can legally kill him. However discovering a bunch of sheds from bucks you’ve by no means seen earlier than? That’s the place I believe the shed-hunting fever falls a bit flat.
I understand my scenario is dissimilar from many. I hunt all over the place and infrequently work the identical areas two years in a row. I’m nearly at all times looking public floor and, by default, I’m looking areas with substantial stress. Deer in these conditions behave otherwise than bucks that reside in an space with tightly managed entry. In my world, a shed doesn’t inform me a buck can be round come fall. It merely tells me a buck was there and that it lived lengthy sufficient to drop its antlers.
The remaining I’ll determine within the fall when newer intel might be put to instant use.