IS IT TIME FOR SOME SHED HUNTING YET?
Yes It is finally that time of the 2019 Illinois Whitetail Season here in the Midwestern woods of
Illinois. So get out there to start spending some valuable time preparing for this fall. Over the
years, We have gotten allot of questions about finding shed antlers and due to we are always
here to help ALL hunters both Beginner and/or highly Experienced to have the best success
possible. We will share with you all of the things that we keep in mind each year while trying to
be a successful whitetail shed hunter.
                                         
"DON'T RUN THE SHEDS OFF"
                            Know & Understand When to Go & When NOT to Go"
At the season ends, when no addicted whitetail hunter is ready for it to end, lol. We all know
that hunters are looking for ways to jump start right into the next season. What a better way to
do that than getting out to find some shed antlers right. For one it allows you to deeply scout
into your hunting spots next year. Prep some New sites for stands and/or places to
strategically place trail cams. But one things allot of hunters either don't know or just simply
over look. Is don't get into to big of a hurry to go when you could potentially "RUN YOUR
SHEDS OFF". What I mean try looking at it that just like the actual deer hunting/breeding
season. There is and actual SLOW Beginning to bucks dropping antlers that will lead into A
PEAK PEIOD that can sometimes slowly to an end. Which I've personally seen the occasional
NICE buck still sporting a full Rack In April during the Spring Turkey Season. So just keep that
in mind while you are searching for (But Cant Find) the sheds of a specific buck that you are
chasing or curious to see is still alive.
                               
 "Every place is Different for everyone"
A few things that some hunters don't consider is that "Every location is different and can
actually produce different results from year to year". Everything from your states location from
East to West down to the specific terrain of an individual farm can have a impact on find or not
finding sheds. Here in the Midwestern State of Illinois. I feel our "PEAK SHEDDING PERIOD" to
begin the very end of February thru the 1st couple weeks of March. But that is for our state.
That peak shedding period will vary from east to west coast and from north to the south. Best
way to try and figure out your areas time line is to keep a record of dates for when ya found
sheds and found the most. Also be watching for when others are finding sheds and plug that
into your play book. Then you can get a better idea of peak shedding times in your areas so
you will "Know When to Go".
Just cuz there are deer their in the spring, summer and fall doesn't mean they will be there in
the winter. Bottom line there is if you farm location doesn't provide shelter from the extreme
cold winter elements? Then your spot isn't gonna provide deer during the winter either. So No
Deer are there for winter....then NO ANTLERS TO FIND in the spring. However, lol... There is
one exception to that rule of thumb. Seasonal Weather Patterns can/will play a big factor as
well. If your area experiences a hard cold & hard winter and your spot IS traditionally a natural
yarding area. You are more than likely gonna find quite a few more sheds than others. But in
the event your area/farm/hunting location experiences a very light winter? Because there is no
need for winter protection, I have seen where deer/bucks will 1.) never show up to yarding are
to begin with or 2.) Show up as normal...But will "Leave Early" back to their home ranges (other
farms in other locations) where we wont have the ability to access to find their sheds at the
time he will drop them. So always pay attention to the season weather patterns and plug that
into your play book.        
 A few other things to start plugging in for a bit more success is one has to think about just
why are certain bucks dropping early sheds? The possibilities are that it could be one those
bucks this is a long, hard & Far traveler during the rut every year. Allot of miles of travel will
take a toll on a bucks body condition, resulting in him shedding his head gear early. One thing
to think about when finding this individual bucks sheds...? Unless you have been watching this
buck on cam all thru the season. There is a "possibility" that this specific buck might only be in
the area for nothing other than to yard up for the winter. Thus maybe indicating this buck to be
a potentially "Unkillable Deer". If this bucks habits are to not be in the area during the breeding
season? Then you cant kill what isn't there to begin with.     
Another factor to an early drop could simply be that this buck was born very early as a fawn.
So beings this buck was born a month early. He may shed his horns a month early. As well you
can plug that same thought process into if a buck each year proves to be a "Late Dropper"
each year.  
So now that you have a good idea of what weeks/time of year that the majority of bucks will be
shedding their antlers. 1st thing is
"DON'T GO TILL THE START OF THE PEAK SHEDDING
PERIOD"
. Yeah I know ya are eager to find Whitetail Gold. But if you go blowing into the woods
during the start of the shedding season? The only think you are gonna accomplish is MAYBE
finding ONE shed to only agitate the deer out of your area and into another. Then you will find
your neighbors finding more sheds than you. I know hunters worry about neighbors sneaking
in to find your sheds first. But bottom line is ya just gonna have to quit letting the thoughts of
what your neighbor is doing, ruin your having a good time. Wait till you KNOW its the peak of
the shedding period to start. Back that info up with seeing if others are finding sheds first.
Then slowly start peek into the your farm/area by hitting the outer edges first and grab some
trail cam cards to try and help confirm that ya are seeing allot of bucks without their head gear.
Cuz if the bucks have already left their head gear behind. Then it wont matter much if you are
seeing their behinds, lol.  
                
"Where are the best places to look & find sheds"
Well my answer to that is "ALL PLACES". Hillside Bedding areas that are facing the south east,
south and south west are great places to start
. And if ya have food plots strategically planted
right next to those very hillsides. You can probably start cleaning up pretty quick on a few
sheds. And that is one thing to always remember when trying to decide on where to put your
winter plots this year. Remember that not all food plots should be planted for the purpose of
shooting a deer over. Planting a winter plot needs to also be for the purpose of helping bucks
regain their body condition during the winter months. And beings a buck needs to build energy.
It also needs to reserve as much as possible at the same time. Therefore if bucks can? They
will bed on sunny hillsides right on top of food sources so they don't have to walk far to eat.
Thus causing then to burn minimal fat reserves.
Again, other places to look are ALL Places.
South Facing Hillsides, Creek Crossings, Fence
Crossings, ALL Deer Trails, Bedding & Travel areas along Fence Lines and Small & Large
Hedge Rows/Tree Lines. Check all areas with a possible food source like Food Plots, Hay fields,
Corn & Soybean fields.
Yes that is allot of walking, So always be packing a set of binoculars
along to glass fields, other sides of creeks & fence lines, open timber hillsides, etc. Just
remember that "There Is No One Specific Time and/or Spot" as to where the antler of any on
specific deer are required to fall onto the ground, lol. So Check as many places as you can and
check those locations more than just one time. Ya have to go back several times. Remember
that you don't always see a buck your first time in the stand. So just like deer "Hunting"....,
SHED Hunting is the exact same. Ya have to go multiple times in order to be able to see/find
them.
Always take advantage of these shed hunting trips by scouting at the same time. Be sure to
Multi task as many things as you can into each trip. We always make notes of the old and new
Rub Lines & Social Licking Branches. Especially those licking branches with a heavy ground
scrape underneath. We always care a pare of pruners & hand saw along to be able to trim back
areas and shooting lanes for both current & potential stand sites. It is also good to cut prune
back and prepare both your and potential sites for your trail cameras. Especially do all of this if
you are a Public Land Access Hunter and it will allow you to more quickly and easily set up in
the fall. Not to mention there wont be any fresh cuts to throw out smells to alert deer while
hunting. Plus it will help to not draw the attention of other hunters to your chosen stand and/or
trail camera locations.
Lastly, Be dang sure to check with the laws of your area if you are a public land hunter. Some
states allow shed hunting on state ground where some don't. Some states allow it on just
certain types of areas but other places (like Refuges) you will be fined for possessing a shed
antler that was moved from the area of its falling. I know ALLOT will disagree, lol. But to me
there is NOT an antler one out there worth risking getting in trouble over, to only pay big fines
and then end up losing hunting privileges. Cuz then you wont be able to even hunt for the live
version of that antler in the upcoming fall. Here is a link to the IL DNR showing our states Laws
& Guidelines for shed hunting in Illinois.  
IL Deer Shed Antler Hunting Regs
"BEST OF LUCK TO YOU EACH & EVERY TIME YOU ARE ABLE TO ENJOY THE OUTDOORS"
Backwoods Whitetails
P.O. Box 372
240 West Main St.
Ipava, IL 61441
Phone: 309-224-2853
info@backwoodswhitetails.com
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