By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
“There is snow on the ground, I am not going to waste my time shed hunting yet.” I hear this a lot, and I pray that this is the mentality of the people that shed hunt the areas that I do. The only type of snow that will keep me from walking is a blanket of the fresh stuff.
I grew up shed hunting in Wisconsin. Unless I wanted to wait until late March – early April to shed hunt, I was pounding the snow looking for antlers. Looking in the snow definitely has its’ cons, but it also has its’ pros as well. In the same argument, you could say that shed hunting bare ground has a list of pros and cons of its’ own, but we will save that for another blog.
Let’s start with the pros of looking in the snow. The obvious one is the visibility of deer sign. With snow, it is easy to see deer trails, deer shit, and deer beds. This means that you can speed scout an area very effectively, blow right past the areas without deer sign and slow down and comb through the areas where the deer sign is heaviest.
Cons of looking in the snow? Some antlers are going to be completely snow covered and you’re simply not going to find them until the snow depth goes down. Your effective range of covering ground is also going to decrease with snow cover. Most of the sheds I find in the snow I am spotting inside of 10 yards. When the snow melts, this range will likely double if not triple depending on the conditions (cloud cover, precipitation). On sunny days, it is extremely difficult to shed hunt whether there is snow or not. It is especially difficult with snow cover because the glare off the snow can be blinding to your eyes making it very hard to stay focused.
Antlers are typically dark in color, definitely darker in color than white snow. If any part of an antler is above the snow, it is going to stick out. You can’t walk through the woods expecting to see an entire antler laying on top of the snow. Although it can happen, you need to slow down and really scan the area for “antler parts”. Maybe a single tine is poking through the snow. Or maybe a few inches of a main beam is peaking through the snow. My favorite way to find them in the snow is when the base of an antler is the only thing popping out of the snow. The take home message here is, spend your time looking for pieces of antlers and you will likely be more successful shed hunting in the snow.
In conclusion, shed hunting in the snow is a challenge, but it can be very rewarding. The antlers found through the snow are usually in great condition because the squirrels and other rodents haven’t been able to find them yet either. If your area has snow on the ground, don’t let it keep you from getting in the woods in search of antlers. Find the best deer sign, go slow, look for antler parts, and have fun! Good luck, the antlers are really starting to fall now!