By SCOTT BESTUL
It seems like one of deer hunting’s great mysteries: Some guys pick up shed antlers like a kid collecting quarry stones, while others can’t find bone on a bet. Actually there’s no great secret, and only a little luck, involved. Highly successful shed hunters find more antlers because they spend more time at it, they cover more ground, and they have developed a specific set of skills. We can’t help you with the walking, but here are 10 tips and tricks that will get your skill set on a par with the shed-magnet guys.
Skill 1: Find the Food
Late-winter bucks are all about keeping their bellies full. So you need to find the top food sources in your grounds that are drawing in deer. In farm country, nothing tops standing crops like corn or soybeans, but even picked (though not plowed) fields of the same will hold deer unless the snow is too deep. In the big woods, focus on clear cuts and hard mast (if it’s available). The best shed hunters will tell you that a buck’s antlers are never far from his groceries.
Skill 2: Go to Beds
It’s just as important to find winter bedding areas that offer both security cover and thermal protection. South-facing slopes are the ticket in cold climates because they allow deer to soak up a little warmth from the sun, which also keeps snow depths down for wintering deer. it’s also the first bare ground that will be revealed when the snow melts and where you might spot the first shed of the spring.