PUT YOUR SHED ANTLER FINDS TO USE
You’re getting as hyped about hunting season as a smartphone-addicted Millennial is to playing the Legend of Zelda. It’s summer and time to ramp up your scouting. Now is the time to go back to your shed antler pile and survey your finds for clues on the big one that got away.
It may sound absurd to consider using shed antler finds in summer, but I can look at the majority of the big bucks and bulls on my wall, and be confident in my statement that most are there due to shed antler discoveries.
First, shed antlers give you a starting point. You may have to backtrack a bit to find the home range of a wintering buck or bull, but it is a solid clue on where they have been. Some bucks literally never leave their square mile of homeland. Bulls may follow a similar lifestyle, but routinely migrate. Lower elevation elk may only tend to go up 1,000 feet in elevation whereas a high country bull could ascend more than 3,000 vertical feet. Regardless, they still typically follow a path of least resistance. Backtrack to higher, alpine zones and you may find a September archery opportunity. Look for a rugged canyon halfway between summer ground and winter zones for a rifle opportunity in October. Mark these on a quality hunting app like HuntStand for quick reference during the season. Even if you don’t find your target animal you will undoubtedly discover new country.
The second bonus of using your shed antlers is that with almost, absolute certainty you are chasing an animal that survived the previous hunting season. A weird accident or extreme winter reprisal could have killed your target, but for most the shed antler proves the animal will be around for hunting season.
This is a confidence booster, particularly if you happen to catch the buck or bull on your trail camera, and can identify it. I have the sheds from one of my biggest whitetails and they directed me to a wooded river bottom where I eventually met up with him one archery season. The same is true of my biggest bull. After finding a 7-point shed antler it kept me interested in a mesa region. I hunted it relentlessly the following fall and finally met up with a bull that grossed 380 points. The shed was an exact match.
Summer means scouting, but don’t forget about those shed antler discoveries of spring. They can direct you to the right ballpark for a winning game.