Joe Shead resides as much as his final identify.

The founding father of Go Shed Looking estimates he’s picked up 1,000 antlers through the years and labels every of them with the precise spot it got here from. As a celebration trick, he permits buddies to decide on any shed from his spectacular assortment after which proceeds to recite particular particulars of the discover. The person is aware of his sheds.

For him, shed looking is about greater than only a method to kill time within the offseason or discover out if a particular buck survived the autumn. Actually, nearly all of his shed looking takes place in areas he by no means hunts. However Shead says the time spent looking out teaches him invaluable details about deer habits—one thing essential to constantly hunt for sheds or the whitetails themselves.

Suppose Like a Deer

“Greater than deer looking or watching movies, bodily being on the market searching for sheds forces you to concentrate to deer signal, and also you be taught quite a bit about deer habits due to it,” Shead instructed MeatEater. “To achieve success as a shed hunter, you actually have to grasp deer motion and deer habits. The extra sheds you discover and the higher you get at it, you naturally begin to journey like deer do. You possibly can take a look at the panorama and say, ‘That is an space that if I had been a deer, I might stroll or I might keep away from.’ You begin to dial it in over time.”

He focuses his shed looking efforts on wintering areas the place he believes bucks are spending the majority of their time in the course of the chilly months.

“In most areas, I’d be searching for locations the place there’s good bedding cowl adjoining to good meals sources, like the sting of a coniferous forest the place it meets a corn discipline or soybean discipline, random cedars right here or there, CRP grass, or any sort of cowl the place deer can take refuge from the chilly and the snow,” he stated. “Any time you possibly can have bedding space subsequent to a feeding space, that’s a double whammy.”

Being intentional about the place he invests time helps Shead take advantage of every outing.

“It’s a matter of connecting the dots. It’s sort of simplistic, however you possibly can remove quite a lot of floor. It doesn’t do you quite a lot of good to only randomly stroll. Go the place the duvet is and the place the meals is,” Shead stated. “There’s at all times exceptions—you may discover an antler the place a deer was out and about. However for probably the most half, it’s a must to play the odds.”

Timing Is The whole lot

Shead says these overarching rules stay the identical, irrespective of the area and whether or not it’s non-public floor or public land. The one main distinction is strain may power you to regulate your schedule.

In earlier days, he’d battle his approach by means of toes of snow in January and typically stroll the identical path three to 4 occasions every week, hoping to beat out different shed hunters. It finally left him burnt out and oftentimes resulted in him leaping deer. Now he prefers to carry off at any time when doable.

“Ideally, I wait till the spring because the snow begins to thaw and the grass begins to poke by means of—that’s my favourite time to be on the market,” he stated.

However with so many outdoorsmen taking on the pastime lately, it’s not at all times sensible to place it off.

“Shed looking has gotten so in style that if I’m happening public land, I’m going early and actually because quite a lot of occasions you’ve received to be the primary man down the path the day an antler drops or quickly after to get it. There’s a lot competitors these days,” Shead stated. “Whereas on non-public land, you possibly can afford to only let it relaxation, perhaps wait until all of the bucks have shed, wait until the snow is beginning to go away, wait until March.”

For hunters who’ve their hearts set on discovering the matching set from a particular buck, he suggests slowly, rigorously combing the realm. The buck might’ve dropped the second shed seconds after the primary, or it might nonetheless be holding on for an additional three weeks. However one of the best wager is to begin small and look laborious. If not, you simply might find yourself a mile away from the place you began when the second half of the set was solely 200 yards from the primary.

“You attempt to determine if he was consuming, if he was bedding, or if he was touring when he misplaced the antler,” he stated. “For those who discover it alongside a path, you clearly stroll up and down the path in every course, hoping the match is considerably shut. Typically you’ll get fortunate. In any other case, if you happen to’re actually bent on looking for that antler, you make concentric circles within the space, gridding the realm.”

It’s all about technique. And Shead says all of the miles and laborious work are price that uncommon event whenever you name out an space because the prime spot for a shed, and one is definitely mendacity there.

“It’s what you make of it. It may be a matter of simply strolling within the woods. However for me, I’m simply continually analyzing,” Shead stated. “Each time I discover a shed, I ask, ‘Why was it right here? What was that buck doing?’ And if you happen to actually begin to assume critically about it and attempt to decide why the buck was there, you can begin to place collectively patterns and grow to be a greater shed hunter reasonably than simply strolling willy nilly.”

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