Traditionally for hunters in Pennsylvania, the beginning of a new year on the calendar signals an end to the hunting season. Time to pack all of the gear away, enjoy your success filling a tag or make peace with one that you didn’t, and settle in for winter.
It’s easy to not enjoy this time of year. Some don’t care for being stuck in-between the cold and warmer weather months. Most are counting down the days until spring gobbler and trout season opens. There are those though who don’t fall prey to the curse of cabin fever. A good number of hunters will continue to hit their favorite hunting spots and come to look forward to this time as almost as equally enjoyable. The window is now opening for the fun challenge of hunting for white tail buck sheds.
Most white tail hunters know, and there’s no shame if you don’t, that in January bucks can start shedding their antlers from the previous year. They then start growing a new, and hopefully larger set. From spikes to booners, if they’ve survived the hunting season, their antlers will drop somewhere in the woods and field of their home range for any man or beast to collect.
So, where do you start? Start by hunting where you hunt. Wherever deer live is usually where they’ll stay and where the bucks will shed their antlers. Check along deer trails, near feeding areas and water. Deer also tend to bed down on south facing hill sides during the day so if you know of one of those, take a stroll through there.
Every hunter wants to be successful, and consistently successful hunters crave information about deer activity. Shed hunting is the perfect way to start scouting for the following fall. The vegetation is void of leaves letting you see more of the landscape and inform you as to where deer are and what they’re doing. An added bonus is you get to keep hunting the deer after the season has closed. Shed antlers make a great addition to decorate your space and can start a conversation with almost anyone.
Competition for the coveted souvenir has increased over the past few years but the barrier to entry is still low with plenty of local opportunity. The only gear you need is what you would wear for any walk in the woods on a colder day and most of it you probably already have. A good pair of boots is the best place to start. You’ll want something that laces up instead of a rubber style boot to avoid getting blisters or injuring an ankle. Insulation is up to you whether the boot is built with insulation or you decide how much you want with a warmer pair of socks or two. The Kenetrek Mountain Extreme 400 boot is a good option as it has warmth built in but breathes with increased activity.
Base layers and tough outerwear are the next items you want to have. Some of these antlers can fall in thick nasty brush so be sure you’re in a good pair of brush pants and tough jacket or at least wear clothes you don’t mind getting ripped up. The Browning Pheasants Forever pants and jacket are a great place to start.
As you start to get a pile of these trophies on your hike be sure to bring your favorite hunting pack to hold them until you’re ready to head home. The Canopy Tri-Zip 1200 pack from Elevation is a perfect option for holding your sheds and everything else you need when the next season rolls around from turkey to trout and ducks to deer.