By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
Shed hunting in the midwest is definitely on Mother Nature’s time. For the past 5 years, my buddy and myself have made it a tradition to do a shed hunting trip together in northern Iowa. It seems like this trip in particular always seems to get tossed around on the calendar as unexpected weather occurs. With the two of us having other trips planned each year, we always have a tentative schedule going into the ‘shed season’ on how everything is going to line up, and rarely does it work out how we had hoped it would.
We decided that we were going to make the trip after the first good snow melt that occurred after February 20th. In the previous years of shed hunting this area, we have noticed that most of the bucks were usually shed out by this time. We kept our eyes peeled on the weather, and we waited for the right conditions. This past weekend, the area saw high temps of 42, 48, and 51 degrees. A lot of snow melted in the course of these 3 days and we knew it was time to get after it.
In the course of 9 hours of walking, we were able to pick up 25 antlers between the 2 of us. Even though a lot of snow had melted off, there was still a good amount on the ground in certain areas. Southern exposed slopes, and most fields were bare. I would say the timber still held anywhere from 4-6″ of snow yet, and even deeper amounts on north facing areas. We focused our walking efforts on food sources, immediate surrounding areas, bedding areas, and the trails leading back and forth between the two. We didn’t pay much attention to the areas that were still covered in substantial snow. Several of the antlers that we found in the timber, and close to the timber, were chewed on already by squirrels and other rodents. We assume that the majority of the antlers were lost within the last 10 days so it just goes to show how fast the squirrels can find them and destroy them. Typically not an issue if the antlers are laying in fields or grassy areas.
Although we realize we likely missed several antlers in the areas still snow covered, we feel like we timed this trip as good as we could have. From our findings, I would say the majority of the bucks (75-80%) are shed out in the area we were walking. With this being our best opportunity for the trip this spring, I believe our timing was on point as far as the weather goes. Keep an eye on the weather and get out when that snow is disappearing.
The next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind for the serious shed hunters. Antlers are down, and the snow is melting. It’s time to start putting serious miles on the boots. Good luck to everyone that is getting out in the woods in search of antlers! I will keep you posted on what I am finding along the way.