Nebraskaland March 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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40 Nebraskaland • March 2019 place a blind for the next hunting season. Nothing gives you a better understanding of a property than walking every inch of it. You can't work an area too thoroughly. For example, I walked past my favorite "shed" I've ever found dozens of times over the course of two years before I ever saw it. Then one day, I decided to walk the creek bottom instead of the usual trail above and discovered two bucks against the creek bank who had died because their antlers had locked together during a fight. If the area where you hunt doesn't have many fields nearby, try searching around forest browsing areas that contain acorns or other food sources. South facing hillsides are also one of the best places to find shed antlers. If you have a pet you've probably seen them get up and move to lay in the sunlight. Deer do the same thing. It's one thing to know where you should be looking and another to actually find sheds. There aren't any tricks to spotting antlers, but much like morel hunting, once you see your first shed of the season your brain seems to imprint the image and finding the next few seems easier. Don't expect to see an entire antler laying in the open. Look for a tine poking through the grass or a patch of white against the drab landscape. The largest shed I've ever found, a four-foot-long six-point elk antler, only had a tiny piece visible above the grass. I've also stepped on sheds before I ever saw them. You walk past more than you find, but knowing that gives you the desire to work the same area again. Most new shed hunters will look about 10 feet in front of themselves as they walk, but I've found it best to scan from 20 to 100 feet. It helps to work slowly, stopping now and then to look around. Find a different perspective by standing on a tree stump or squatting close to the ground. Many antlers are only visible from one angle. After several hours of shed hunting you get in a Zen-like state where your entire focus is on the landscape. It's a fantastic way to enjoy nature. Equipment Gearing up for shed hunting couldn't be simpler. It's an activity where fancy gear doesn't apply and hard work is well rewarded. All you really need is a good pair of hiking boots. The more miles you put on the more sheds you will come across. Of course, there are a few other pieces of equipment that make shed hunting more productive. Sunglasses are helpful on bright days so you don't have to squint as you look for antlers. Binoculars are useful for surveying fields and for when you aren't quite sure that what you're looking at in the distance is an antler. If you find more than a couple sheds a backpack is handy for hauling them out of the woods as well as carrying a snack and water. Finally, if you really want to take your shed hunting seriously, I've known people who carry a GPS to track and record where and when they find a shed. Getting permission to shed hunt on private land is a good way to establish a relationship with a landowner by showing them you are respectful of their property. Relationships like these eventually lead to hunting permission. On many For a shed hunter, small antlers like this are just as much of a trophy as their larger counterparts. Mice, squirrels, opossums, foxes and even beavers will chew antlers for the calcium and phosphorous they contain. This antler was found near a bedding area along the outside of a thick stand of cedars. After a grid search of the area we found its matching side.

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