Many hunters are depressed by the end of hunting season. Think about it, you have seven and a half months to wait for hunting season to begin again. So, the next thing you have to look forward to is shed hunting in late February, early March. Well, the time is upon us, I can tell you that as of Saturday 2/18/2012, some if not all bucks still had their antlers. So, as we think about shed hunting we forget one important thing, this is a great time of year to get out and go scouting. You can still see scraps and rubs from this past year, this year even more so with the lack of snow here in the East. I was out in a very interesting area on Saturday that a friend showed me and I saw loads of sign and a number of deer. This is also how I know bucks still have their antlers on, I did see one decent buck that appeared to be an 8 point, although it was hard to tell because he was running. I plan more walks in the coming weeks which will serve a dual purpose, scouting, and shed hunting as time goes on.
The important thing to be looking at this time of year is trails, feeding areas, bedding areas, as well as rubs and scraps. Each piece of information will tell you a different bit of information about what the deer are doing now, did before and during rut. This information will go a long way when you start scouting in July and August, and will help you even more in the coming hunting season. Remember, new information you learn now, may be useful the end of next season as the deer herd up as they are now.
The other key factor in learning things this time of year is to scout out new trees. Everything will look very different in 3 months, and even more so in 7 months when you to start hunting, but now is a great time to locate climbable trees that are on trails or along feeding areas. Wandering around looking at these things and making notes of where all your trees are now, will allow you to go back without as much disturbance in the summer months and check to insure shooting lanes do not need cleared, or small branches do not need to be trimmed away that you did not see this time of year.
Another great idea is to plan your travel routes to and from these new stands. Wandering around not knowing a direct route in July and August you risk spooking the deer that may call that area home. Whereas, if you have a direct route planned that eliminates spooking the deer as much as possible, you have a much better chance of those deer being less aware of you come opening day when you are sitting in that stand.
Finally, I would like to remind many of you, post season scouting is not only good time spent in the woods, but it is also a great time to take someone with you. I know many people, that are interested in learning about deer and hunting, but have no interest in sitting in a tree or blind during hunting season. Scouting and shed hunting is great way to introduce people to hunting and the outdoors. It is great exercise and can even be a lot of fun for youngsters as you can send them looking for antlers without worrying about noise or disturbing others or anything like that. So take someone with you, they may just end up your next hunting companion, friend, or give you and a loved one a hobby to share.
Have you been out scouting or shed hunting? We would love to hear what you have seen or pictures of sheds you may have found!