Updated: Jan 22
With the calendar flipping from January to February and most states' deer seasons either closed or on the verge of closing, shed hunting is sure to be on the minds of many.
While most shed hunting guides and fellow hunters tend to agree that you shouldn't get out too early, its also not a time you need to spend indoors counting snow flakes and days left until full blown shed season. Here are our tips for the early side of shed hunting season.
The first consideration you need to make in early February shed hunting is in regards to the weather.
In many parts of the whitetail nation, snow on the ground can make early season tactics much more difficult to implement, but not impossible. Small amounts of snow can be helpful in finding fresh sign and trails that can be used when making your shed hunting plan, but heavier amounts will all but cover antlers that were dropped early.
Your ideal day will be one without snow completely or at most just flurries. Typical good shed hunting weather conditions such as overcast and rainy days will still be your best friend, but sunny days can also be helpful in making an antler shine and stand out in the middle of a field.
Where To Go
For this time of the year, it is still wise to stay out of all your shed hunting hot spots.
Meaning, we don't suggest walking around all your bedding areas and transition zones just yet and the reason for this is two fold.
First, pressuring deer this time of the year can sometimes impact their survival rates. If deer are in an area this time of the year consistency, it is because that area is offering them everything they need to survive.
By pressuring them out of that land, you could be forcing them to seek that food source less often or even worst, not at all. This is why some states do not even allow shed hunting on public land until well into spring.
Secondly, you don't want to pressure these deer to the point where they move to an alternative area that could be private or land that you do not have access to. This creates a situation where a buck that would have dropped on an accessible area, now drops both sides on land that is not accessible to you.
The Game Plan
So what should you do?
This time of the year, the best thing you can do is to continue or start running low impact trail cameras to monitor the antler holding status of your local bucks. This will allow you to see when the majority of your bucks have dropped and when it may be safer to start actively searching your best spots as well as letting you know if any bucks are even in the area.
Now is also a great time to start walking very low impact areas where your odds of spooking deer is very low, but the odds of finding some early drops is high.
This includes fields/field edges, creek crossings, and even fence rows that you know deer are frequenting daily under the cover of darkness.
The best options will be known food sources that are actively being used on a regular basis.
A good pair of binoculars, such as the Vortex Diamondback 10x42's will help save your legs from some extra miles by glassing as many fields as possible from afar, this is when having little to no snow can pay dividends.
Early February is also an excellent time to start making a game plan for just a few weeks from now when peak shed hunting officially kicks in.
Although it may be a bit too early to really start walking miles for piles, we hope this article helps motivate you to get out and avoid the winter lull in some way. There are plenty of shed hunting and outdoor activities right now to help pass the time and get you excited for your next hunting season.
Who knows, you could find the antlers of the buck you were after all season or find a brand new hunting spot you never knew about.
You won't know until you try!
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