By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
Mike and I just got back from shed hunting in North Dakota and I wanted to fill you in on what we found, and what we noticed during our time spent in the field. Just about 2 weeks back, we were in the same area of North Dakota hunting coyotes. At that time, we were also able to locate some large winter deer herds. This gave us the upper hand on intel as far as knowing where to begin our search this past weekend. A couple of these herds were on ground that we already had access to walk, and some of the other deer herds were on private ground where we did not. This is how we approached the situation.
We used BaseMap to find the individuals who owned the properties where the deer were wintering and then we did our best to get in contact with them to see if we could get permission to shed hunt. Typically, we have had our best luck with going to the owners’ house (owners’ mailing address listed on BaseMap) and asking for permission in person vs. making a phone call. I feel that your chances of getting permission are much higher if you ask in person because let’s face it, it is much harder for someone to say “no” to your face than it is over the phone. This past weekend, we were able to gain access to a couple of new properties using this tactic, and it paid off for us in terms of finding antlers.
Over the weekend, we focused on 3 different deer herds across a 40 mile area. We did see full racked bucks in each area that we shed hunted, but we seen far more bucks that were shed out already. If I had to put a number on it, I would say 75% or better had already shed their antlers. Between the 2 of us, we were able to pick up 21 fresh antlers in 1.5 days of hard walking. We actually did better than I was expecting us to do considering all of the snow that is still on the ground. It definitely helped that there hasn’t been any recent snow events in the past couple of weeks in the area.
There was still a lot of snow on the ground in spots (1-2 feet in areas that don’t see much sunlight), so we avoided the deep snow and focused our efforts on fields where the snow was blown off, or terrain that provided us with southern facing slopes. These were the areas where the deer traffic was the heaviest, and where we were able to find antlers. If it works out with my schedule, I will likely try to get back to North Dakota to search these areas one more time before turkey season gets here. Until then, I plan to invest my time in Iowa, Kansas, and Wisconsin. I will have another report for you all soon, good luck to everyone that is heading to the woods in search of antlers!