By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
The waiting game is over. For the past month I have been talking about staying patient, and not pushing into bedding areas on your private land parcels. The time to do so is now if you’re located in the northern half of the United States. 80% or more whitetail bucks should be shed out by now. It is time to start combing every inch of the farms that you have access to walk, don’t leave any areas unchecked.
Until now, I have been keeping myself busy in North Dakota where the drop rate was higher than the states to the south. I have also been exploring public lands across the state of Iowa that have been getting consistent shed hunting pressure from other people that are out searching for antlers. Over the past weekend I was able to walk a few of the private land parcels that I hunt here in Iowa. Here is how I approached the farms knowing that the majority of bucks were shed out, and the snow was almost entirely gone.
No matter the property, my search always begins at any of the known food sources. These areas might be grain fields, alfalfa fields, hedge orchards, cedar thickets, or even oak flats. If you’re searching around food, always make sure to check any grassy areas or waterways amongst the fields. These can be hot spots as deer spend a lot of time laying in these areas throughout the night in between feeding sessions.
From there I will work outward towards the bedding areas. It is important not to forget about the travel corridors between food and bed. I make a point to walk any fence lines that are on the property. If deer are crossing fences, there is a good chance of an antler getting jarred loose when they hit the ground after jumping the fence. The same goes for checking creek crossings and washed out ditches where deer are crossing.
If water is present on the property, check out these areas as well. After all, deer need to drink water several times a day which means there is a good chance antlers could be laying close by. Don’t leave any pond, creek, or puddle out of your search.
When looking for bedding areas, my focus remains on southern and eastern facing slopes. This doesn’t mean that I won’t check north/west slopes now that the snow is gone. Historically, I have had way more success on the south/east facing slopes. These are the areas where deer can take advantage of the warmth from the sunlight during the coldest hours of the day.
It’s March, there is no better time than right now to head to the woods in search of antlers. It is also a great time to scout areas that you wouldn’t typically step foot in during the deer season. Check your tree stand straps, make any adjustments that you need to make and just enjoy the warmer weather as we begin to say hello to Spring.