Shed Hunting – Where, When, How

It’s That Time, Here is Some Advice


Deer season may be closed for most, but a new season is just starting: shed hunting season! Searching for shed antlers offers a fun experience for everyone and also provides valuable scouting insight for next fall.

Follow this advice and your shed hunts will be more productive.

When to Look

Bucks drop antlers when their testosterone levels fall after the mating season, though drought or poor nutrition can also influence when bucks drop their antlers.  The more stressful external factors that exist, the quicker antlers will drop. Typically, February through March is the best time to begin looking, but it varies depending on your regional location.  Use trail cameras to help you best determine when to search.

My experience has shown that bright, sunny days make it difficult to find antlers in heavily wooded areas.  Shadows mixed with sunlight make it very difficult to distinguish what is what. My all-time best results actually come on cloudy days.  The ground is covered with consistent light, creating less strain on your eyes.  Rainy days can also be very productive because leaves become matted down from moisture. Antlers contrast well with wet leaves.

Some people enjoy searching in the snow, but my experience has shown it to be more difficult.  Most antlers will be packed beneath the snow, leaving only small lengths of antler tips available to spot.

Where to Look

If you have a major food source, like a feeder or food plot, start there.  Walk in a circle around it, moving in a wider radius.  Deer also tend to navigate around field edges because they feel comfortable having wooded cover quickly available for escape.  The first 15 yards of field next to timber can be a prime location for antlers.

Boots on, water bottles in hand, kids love to join adults and go shed hunting on those warm, winter days. Yellow-tinted safety glasses are recommended for all outdoor pursuits, foe everyone.
There is no doubt about the feeling that kids have with shed hunting success! A smile like this will go into the memory book for another 70 years or so!

Bedding areas are also good places to look.  Deep timber with thick undergrowth, fields of native grass, and shallow, marshy areas are all great bedding habitat.  Antlers will be hard to spot in these areas though. If you can find transition corridors from the bedding areas to food sources, you might have a really good day of shed hunting in store.

Many landowners and conservation areas practice controlled burning of their fields each year.  Walk an area just after it is burned to have a fantastic chance of finding antlers. They contrast nicely to the blackened ground. The downside is any antler you find may be slightly charred if it was subjected to direct fire.

Be sure to search near obstacles that force deer to jump or quickly maneuver around. Those objects jar the antler loose. Classic examples are large logs, fence rows, and creeks.

General Advice

I recommend wearing safety glasses, preferably yellow-tinted.  They protect your eyes from thick brush and low hanging branches, and also help to see the ground more clearly.  Additionally, take extra care to walk slowly. It is incredibly easy to walk within feet of an antler and never see it. Bringing multiple people along helps alleviate the chance of missing sheds. Lastly, bring binoculars. They will help lessen your walking substantially.

About Tyler MahoneyTyler is avid outdoorsman who enjoys and shares his passion for outdoor sports with deliberation and helpful lessons for others about things he has learned along the way to gaining experience. He is a focused outdoorsman when in pursuit of the biggest buck in the woods or when rigging up for an afternoon of crappie fishing. Tyler is rapidly becoming recognized as a recognized leader in the outdoors. Learn more about Tyler at his website: