By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
The calendar is about to flip to February. If you remember the “20-60-20 rule” from the previous blog post this means that nearly 20% of bucks have lost their antlers by now. Keep in mind, 80% are still holding onto them so it is very important that you proceed with caution right now if you’re going to start shed hunting. *Disclaimer* these numbers aren’t exact, it’s just a general rule of thumb that I have used and found to be pretty accurate in my years of shed hunting.
In my opinion, it’s still too early to bust into the woods, especially on private, un-pressured land. That said, I am still going to start looking now. Over the next couple of weeks, I will continue to scout from the vehicle. I prefer to hit the backroads the last hour of daylight, every evening that my schedule allows. This gives me a good idea of where the deer are heading to feed/feeding. Covering a lot of area, it’s important for me to take good notes right now. These notes will give me an idea of where I will want to potentially take an early walk or two.
Preliminary walks on private land – I consider my walks right now to be “non-invasive”. This simply means that there is an extremely low chance of bumping bedded deer on the places that I walk this early. I will stick to food sources, and areas close to food sources whether it be water runs, fence lines, or shelter belts near the food. If I know there is no other shed hunting competition, I am not pushing any further than these areas this early in the season.
Preliminary walks on public land – If the area is close to roads, and easily accessible, I might get aggressive if I sense that other shed hunters are keeping an eye on a particular piece. I will begin my search at the food and work my way back towards the bedding. This early in the year, I won’t go deep into the woods however. I like to limit myself to the first bedding ridge or two that bucks might be using in between feeding times throughout the night.
With nearly 80% still attached, be careful with your approach in the next few weeks. There are undoubtedly antlers on the ground right now waiting to be scooped up but February is right around the corner, and the best is yet to come.