I can't believe how quickly the year has gone by; it's already the end of March, and things are greening up fast. I have walked dozens of miles shed hunting, and as of this writing, I've managed to scoop up 40 antlers. For me, the feeling of finding a shed laying on the ground is such a rush. It's hard to describe the feeling I get when I see one, other than it being "magical." But besides that, I have other reasons I love shed hunting. The time spent with friends and family is a blessing, the great exercise helps keep me in shape, and learning more about what the deer were doing just a couple months ago is simply invaluable. The title of this blog post is "Putting the Puzzle Together" and it's focused on the scouting aspect of my shed hunting adventures.
I'm usually paranoid about even stepping foot into the woods during deer season, because I really don't want to tip the deer off to anything. But to shoot a deer, one obviously has to go into the woods in order to accomplish that task. So I have to be very careful when entering the woods and hunting the deer on my properties. I try to speed scout my areas during hunting season, and keep things low key. But this time of year, all of that fear is swept aside. I walk right through the bedding areas, and pay no attention to what scent I'm leaving anywhere. I have total freedom to snoop around and scour every square inch of ground that I hunt. So what did I learn this spring??
- I learned more about the habits of resident deer. Most of the trails, sign, and droppings that I found in my hunting area supported my thoughts on why I hung certain stands in the locations I did; I like to hunt on the fringes of bedding areas, and the major trails I followed from my stands back into the thick of things seemed to indicate a high concentration of both buck and doe sign. Normally, I wouldn't dream of setting foot into this hallowed ground, but this time of year the pressure is off and I gained some new insights as well; I plan on re-positioning a ladder stand approx. 200 yards from where I currently have one located to take advantage of seasonal deer movement this coming fall. Also, some of the signpost rubs within rattling distance to my stands were re-worked and shredded once again. I plan on using the same entry-exit routes, but re-positioning the ladder stand will create a morning-only set simply because of it's location next to a food source.
- I learned more about the habits of the resident deer hunters. I wish I could say I have my hunting areas all to myself, but I don't. There are a couple other bowhunters that also hunt my tracts of ground. Financially, it's impossible for me to buy my own ground at this point so I have to make due with what I've got. I know the locations of nearly every stand on the the place that they set up. Consequently through my wanderings, I found out they added several new stands into the mix, a couple in what I feel are good areas and others in locations which I simply don't understand. Regardless, knowing where these hunters place their stands helps me to avoid their sets, reduce run-ins with them, and ultimately helps me to plan around what they do so my hunt can be successful.
- The deer that survived are.... ?? I found a few sheds that were from resident bucks on my best farm. Most of these were from younger guys, and I could have easily missed sheds from the bigger bucks that stay on the place. But knowing that at least a few of these up and comers made it through the season is very good news. Trail cameras will have to do the rest to help inventory the other bucks.
Now that shed hunting is about wrapped up, it's time to work on moving stands, getting my equipment ready, and preparing for the fall of 2013. I've already got big plans in the works!! So next time you're out snooping around for antlers, be sure to stay observant, and put all of the pieces together so you can increase your odds of success when this fall rolls around. There is no better time of the year to scout than right now, and you might even find a few more sheds and a longbeard in the process!!