Just like ever other aspect of hunting, the weather can play a huge role in having a successful shed hunting season or not. If you happen to have habitat that is more conducive to cold and bitter winters, then this year may not be so good for you. Conversely, the last couple of years should have been great shed hunting years you for with the brutal cold and massive amounts of snow we had. Even those that are lucky enough to have a shed dog can benefit from knowing where to start.
Shed Hunting a Warm Winter
When the winter is warm like has been the case so far this year, it’s going to have an effect on what areas you should be focusing your shed hunting on. Even though it’s cold to us, deer have adapted to being outside all winter long. Their winter coats are made for it. So when the weather is warm, they are going to seek out areas that are relatively similar to during the fall. What this means is that if you know where your bucks are bedding during the hunting season, then you know exactly where you need to be looking for sheds once they’ve all dropped. For those of you that do not know where your deer are bedding during the hunting season you may want to do some scouting as part of your shed hunting adventures. In order to find sheds in this warm weather, you have to know which food sources to go to as well. In warm weather, deer tend to feed more on the green foods. So, if the weather stays warmer than average through the rest of the winter, you can expect to find some sheds in and around clover and winter wheat fields as well as in any thick cover surrounding them. Once picking up any obvious ones in the middle of the field, walk the edge and along fence rows in places where the deer jump over to enter the field.
Shed Hunting a Cold Winter
With a colder than average winter, shed hunting actually get a little bit easier than during the warm winters. With a cold winter, there is a much more limited amount of food available to the deer that will benefit them. Because of that, deer tend to yard up in places that offer the best food and bedding for surviving the harsh conditions. To find sheds in these conditions, head for the thickest pine stands you can find, especially if they are on a south facing slope. Those pine stands are the best winter thermal cover a deer can ask for so when mother nature throws a harsh winter our way, you can bet the deer are going to be heading for shelter. For the food, deer tend to eat the grain foods for the carbs they provide. This means corn and soybean fields are key spots. If you have a soybean field that was left standing for the winter, you can pretty much count on finding a shed or two in there as long as there is good winter bedding in the general area. Just make sure you comb the bedding area as well.
Though we don’t think about it much, the weather has a profound effect on all living things. When we have a warmer than usual winter, some animals are more active, while others become less active and vise versa. Deer are no exception and if you find yourself looking in the wrong spots, you’ll be wondering where all your bucks went. As with everything in nature, nothing is set in stone, so make sure that you are covering as much ground as possible when shed hunting. Knowing your local deer herd can cut down on the amount of walking you will need to do considerably so whenever possible, take the time to get to know how the deer move and act where you hunt. Happy (Shed) Hunting!