Shed Hunting in the South
The mild southern climate, dense forest, vast pine plantations, abundant forage, managed and planted green fields make for quality deer habitat resulting in bucks not having to travel an extended range for necessities. In turn, while the browse is plentiful, finding possible shed locations are not concentrated to small areas.
In colder climates, concentrating on warm south-facing hills, for deer bedding makes for good shed locations. This doesn’t apply to deer behavior in the south because of the milder and often high-temperature averages. Not to mention that the southernmost states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi are predominantly flat land with some mild hills, therefore, bedding locations are often spread out in low traffic areas or sanctuaries locations on the property.
Finding shed antlers is a challenge in the south when you are trying to beat the feral hogs, fox, coyotes, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, rats, mice and other rodents that find them, chew and ingest the antlers. Cast antlers are sought out by these animals and rodents because the antlers are primarily protein, calcium, and phosphorus, and trace amounts of other minerals. It is not unusual to find smaller antlers in trees where squirrels have carried them up the tree for safety while dining on the mineral laden meal.
Several southern states have multiple rut peaks throughout the state making it hard to plan shed hunting trips without actively being ready to hit the woods at the first sign that bucks have started dropping their antlers. For instance, in Alabama, the northern region of the state may experience rut in late November, the west region will see rut action in early December, whereas the east region may experience rut in late December, but the southern region will experience rut late January into early February. In Alabama and Florida, it is not unusual to see rut activity around the time some hunters start scouting for turkey prior to the March turkey season opener.
Shed Hunting Tips for the South
Although the odds are not as high in the south to find the number of sheds found in the trophy producing states of the Midwest, it is not entirely impossible to find sheds in the southern states. Some regions in the southern states with good herd numbers and some areas that have strict deer management principles are prime areas. Here are some tips you can use to raise your odds:
Use game cameras:
- to help in giving an indication as to when antlers start to drop
- to keep inventory on the bucks held on the property
- to pattern travel routes they use after hunting pressure is removed from the property
Plan large blocks of time to walk your property in search of sheds:
- walk fence lines and creeks, if you can
- search bedding areas
- take your time working through thick areas dense in privet shrub, brush, briars, and bushes
- concentrate on looking for the color and shape of antlers
- glass fields from higher ground, if possible
- food plots, green fields, feeders and mineral sites
- check bedding areas, but only spend a minimum of time there
- when you find one shed, look close by for the other one, usually within 75-100 yards
- walk slowly looking at the ground within 10-20 yard zone scanning from side to side, don’t look too far out
What to bring:
- wear quality, comfortable footwear such as Old Dominion Footwear Backwood boot
- quality binoculars such as the Bushnell Trophy XLT binoculars
- a backpack to carry your sheds in
- due to the likely high humidity and heat, a water bottle with Sqwincher, and a snack
- friends and family…the more eyes you can enlist to scan, the greater your odds
An important fact to remember is that the impact of human pressure on the property can negatively affect deer behavior. It is imperative to keep pressure off the property until you know there is good probability or know that bucks have started shedding antlers. Taking advantage of wireless game cameras such as the Bushnell Aggressor Trail Camera is a huge advantage to knowing when bucks start casting antlers on the property you plan to shed hunt on and keeping pressure off the property.
Just recently, Utah enforced a shed antler gathering ban during the remainder of the winter months to help reduce the stress on deer, elk, and moose to help these species thrive through the winter months. There may be regulations put in place or that change in other states in the near future; always research and know the game laws and regulations in the state you plan to shed hunt. Here is an article that could help! Click Here…