by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC
This past weekend we had freakish spring weather, followed the next day by more typical Michigan winter. Michigan, right? But regardless, it sure is fun taking advantage of random beautiful days in the winter. I took the opportunity to (finally) grab my trail cameras. I had not checked them since November 10th, so I was anxious to go get them. One had dead batteries, another didn’t have a card in it, but the third contained the mother load of awesome wildlife pictures: owls, deer, squirrels, coyotes, turkeys, to name a few.
To make my trail camera gathering adventure more fun, I brought along my four-legged friend and we followed deer trails instead of human trails. We have owned our property for three years now, and each spring I spend a good amount of time following trails looking for sheds. My husband found a nice one last year, but that was the extent of our success.
A while back I was listening to Wired to Hunt‘s podcast, and they were talking about tips for finding sheds. I don’t remember exactly which episode this was, but Mark Kenyon does have a lot of tips and tricks for finding sheds. A few pointers (very simple) that come to memory include:
- Look along deer trails where the deer had to bound or jump (fences, down logs, streams) as the impact of landing may help the antlers drop
- Look along deer trails where the brush is thicker, as the brush may pull at the antlers, again helping them drop
- Walk along deer trails, this increases your odds because you know deer were here
The ironic thing is that I follow these tips, and the extent of my deer trail following hasn’t led to a single shed… other than the pair I found lying next to each other this past weekend. It was on a deer trail but in the middle of a grass field. Reading more of Mark’s tips, and thinking logically, while these tips can help increase your odds, your best variables are time and eyes. Having a couple friends to walk with you, and spend the time to wind through the deer trails will increase your odds even more.
Now here is where the fun of shed hunting success goes to a higher level of fun. I was able to go back and look through my trail cameras and find a picture of the buck who wore these antlers! In addition, I was able to see some dates antlers started dropping – which is very important in my area, where we have disease tags we can use out of season.
Happy winter! And good luck this year finding sheds!