Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Enjoy Shed Hunting in Pulaski County, MO

Robin Sapp with her first Shed antler in Pulaski County MO
      The day I found my first shed antler began like any other day. Archery Season here in Missouri had ended and now thinking, "what to do with my spare time?"  I was in the depressed mode of not being able to chase the elusive whitetail for another eight months as I headed out to the back of our property to cut some firewood.  It was the same old weekend ritual as I helped Dad unload the chainsaw and splitting maul. My Dad was fueling up the Saw as I decided to go move some brush from the trees we had cut the night before. As I reached down to move a branch I noticed it had blood on the end of it.  Wiping the sleep out of my eyes, the branch materialized into a four point antler. I realized I had found my first shed antler, and thus started the addiction!

Shed hunting is a great way to pass the time between deer season and turkey season. Any deer hunter will tell you that as deer season ends, the memories of the one that got away sits fresh in your brain. Shed hunting has many positive aspects! Such as spending time with family, getting outdoors, free exercise, learning more about your deer herd, photography opportunities, and much more. Here are some things that have helped me become successful while hunting the elusive shed antler.  

*Keeping your game cameras up after deer season has helped me a lot these past years!  The advantage is that you will know when and which bucks have lost their antlers. This prevents excessive walking, day after day, to see if there are any antlers on the ground. Excessive pressure will eventually bump your bucks out of the area, and they will end up dropping their antlers somewhere beside your property.  Tip- I use supplemental feeding after the Missouri Archery season closes to keep the deer in front of my camera, and on my property! 

 * Early hunter catches the shed! This goes with keeping the trail cameras up! If you are the first to know that the bucks have shed, then you get the head start on hunting them. (It is almost like cheating!) Shed Hunt the field edges, fence crossings, and creek crossings. Deer are doing two things this time of year, feeding and bedding. Those sheds will be at those two locations or the path between them!  Most shed antlers are knocked off because of the jolting of the bucks body. What happens is, when they land from jumping a fence, it will knock the antler off, but only if it is ready. Many factors determine when a buck will shed, but that is for another article! 

* Hunt the cloudy, rainy days. I know it sounds miserable, but it will increase your chances of finding a shed. When it is sunny and dry, antlers are harder to see because the sun reflects off of so much in the woods. All the reflections will blend and ultimately trick your eyes into thinking a shed is nowhere near.  On a cloudy rainy day, the leaves are padded down, the sticks and leaves are darker, and the white of the antler will show better against the darker forest floor. Try it and you will be amazed at how easy it is to see them compared to a sunny day.

* Walk in grids, or sectioned areas of your property. Walking blindly through the woods will produce a few sheds, but walking gridded sections will make sure you are not skipping any areas on your property. By sectioning off your property you can control and keep track of the property that has been searched on!  Also, you may just find that trail your whitetails have been giving you the slip on! Think of it like a scouting adventure.  Tip when searching property- Take a pair of binoculars with you.  Take some binos so when you see something that is a little ways off, you can look at it without wasting the time to walk over there for a stick, or miss an antler because you decided it was too far to walk just to find another stick.  I recommend using the HUNTSTAND App to mark the location of the sheds you find.

* Make a Family day of it  Take your family with you. There is nothing better than walking around in Gods beautiful creation and seeing the smiles on your children's faces as they explore and learn new things. It will make and unproductive day of shed hunting worth it all!  It also doesn't have to be your children. Take someone and introduce them to the outdoors. My wife found her first Shed last week and I couldn't tell you how excited I was to see her enjoying the Outdoors with me!

  Wherever you find yourself in the next few weeks, we hope you are enjoying it with your family, and maybe you will have a shed antler your hands!

   Pulaski County, Missouri is home to a lot of public land and a short stroll to plenty of the surrounding Mark Twain National Forest and Conservation areas.  Also, getting permission to Shed hunt a property is a lot easier than you think! Farmers deal with antlers in their truck and tractor tires, so you may just be able to find that prime shed hunting property just by asking!  

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