Son of a bitch. That’s typically what runs through my mind when I see a buddy walking towards one of those spots while shed hunting.
Maybe you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve shed hunted long enough, you’ll recognize that those spots almost always hold an antler or two. When this kind of place comes into view, you can feel the energy change in a group of shed hunters. Routes mysteriously converge. The pace picks up. Every shed-savvy character in sight will race to beat the next guy, while trying not to be too obvious about it.
While there are no guarantees in shed hunting, those spots are about as close as you can get. If you seek out these three locations and are able to fast walk quicker than your buddy, then you’ll be piling up antlers this year.
Evergreens provide terrific thermal cover by way of their thick-needled branches blocking wind and snow, whether it’s a solitary cedar, small patch of pines, or cluster of hemlocks. All of these factors make an area with evergreen cover preferred winter bedding for deer, and thus a great place to scoop sheds. I’ve found that single trees and patches of conifers specifically attract mature bucks, so make sure to hit each isolated pocket of evergreens you see.
Grassy Buffer Strips
Whitetails essentially do just two things during the winter months: bed and feed. Finding the most well-used areas for both activities will lead to antlers, and grassy buffer strips can offer the best of both worlds. The tall, fallow grass that runs along or through crop fields are what I’m always seeking out. When deer feed in ag fields at night they’ll often bed down for periods of time, and the adjacent grassy strips offer a prime location for them to take a break. Any grassy crop field edge is a must-search for antlers.
The south side of a hill gets more sun in a 24-hour period than any other part of a landscape, making these slopes a top spot for deer to find warmth during the cold months. Whether covered in grass or mixed shrubs and tree cover, the south side of ridges can create dynamite winter bedding areas for bucks. Knowing deer spend so much time snoozing winter away in these spots makes them prime for shed hunting.
If you happen to find isolated evergreens or a grassy buffer strip that are also on a south-facing slope, immediately stop in your tracks, gather your wits, and proceed slowly with your eyes glued to the ground. You’re in one of those spots.
Feature image via Captured Creative.