I am writing this because I have been asked a lot lately, on the subject of when the right time to start picking up this year’s sheds would be. This time of year, it seems to be a hot topic on every forum or post on social media.
So here is my opinion on the subject I am not writing this to say what is right/wrong or ethical.
This topic needs to be looked at from a regional & environmental view in my opinion.
Every year there are folks complaining about people hitting the hills too early and there are justified and unjustified reasons for their complaints. Some of the justified reasons are pushing the animals when they are weak and vulnerable their not ready and getting pushed out of an area they could have all dropped in.
The unjustified version is straight up jealousy and from haters complaining. I know everyone out there has seen this, it usually gets covered by playing the “ethical card” but let’s be honest its driven by pure jealousy and something to complain about.
Everyone is worried that there are people out there that will ruin shed hunting for us all, which is correct to a point, if the government sees an opportunity to control and profit from something they will in a heartbeat whether someone has ruined it or not. I promise you in the years to come as this sport grows it will be ran and governed the same way all hunting is already so get out and enjoy it tell then.
Now when is the right time?
In some parts of the country /Region (YES) other parts (NO) that’s it plain and simple.
You need to know this for your region Shed Hunting works the same as all hunting with or without a gun, You have to educate yourself for the region you plan to hunt. I live in the southwest, we don’t have major winter ranges and we get hardly any snow in a lot of parts of the country we hunt. I shed hunt a lot of different parts of this region, some that only hold deer during the winter and some that hold deer year around. I have places I will only watch deer in and others I shed hunt year round.
You have to be smart about what you are doing, every spot has the potential to be a “honey hole” year after year or it can be a one hit wonder. You play a part in that. Deer don’t always winter in the same spot every year it can change depending on feed, weather, predators and human pressure. They could stop higher or go lower. They could head off the other side of the mountain range. The biggest problem I see with going in too early is that they will shed one side and pack the other a long ways away or head into a steep unreachable location and end up shedding and the antlers will just rot away.
This is why I have areas I shed hunt year round and others I will leave alone and watch from afar between the months of November to sometime in March. If you are watching, you will know when it is time.
Down here in the southwest, most deer won’t start to shed until the middle to end of February.
I know that’s late compared to the Northern or Eastern parts of the country but just because someone posted a picture on social media of a brown shed, I’m not loading the truck and heading out in hopes of finding browns. I know better. I will head out and set trail cams and spend hours behind glass looking and watching deer. I want to know what I’m hunting. I don’t try to just go out every time and get lucky. I try to hunt my sheds.
You need to know your region and country. I suggest using Google Earth, talking to fish and game, asking questions on social media is often helpful, and study others pictures.
Don’t chase them, that doesn’t work in fact it makes it worse for you! The odds of that animal shedding in front of you because your chasing it are so low you have a better chance of winning the lottery, but if you leave them alone and watch them your odds of picking up their sheds are much higher. I don’t know about you but I like to win, so I play the odds that make that possible.
So to finish this up, use your heads and put some time into it. It’s a lot more rewarding to have sheds off an animal you got to watch, if you live in a region that has winter ranges that hold a high concentration of animals because of the winter conditions.