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Ask Winke
Shed Hunting

  • Julia from IL asks:
    I know the rules in regards to collecting shed antlers in Illinois but what about selling them?
    Winke Responds:
    Julia, I don't know on that one. You will need to contact a local DNR officer or look it up in your regs. More than likely the regulations are online at the DNR website. Have a great day. (5-17-14)
  • Carson Prucha from WI asks:
    From all the Pruchas, we would like to thank you for allowing us to shed hunt your farms. Shed hunting is the one thing we talk about year round, and thanks to you we are able to make memories that will last a lifetime. It is truly an honor to have the privileges we have, and we can not thank you enough.. Thanks for everything. Carson Prucha
    Winke Responds:
    Carson, No problem and thanks for the note. I am glad you guys had some success. Have a great day. (3-22-14)
  • Rashell from UT asks:
    Where is the best place to begin hunting for shed antlers in south eastern utah. (I.e. Carbon / Emery county area)?
    Winke Responds:
    Rashell, I am not the right person to ask about that area, but I will take a guess for you. I would certainly think it is not too early to start right now. If you wait too long, others may beat you to the antlers. Most of them should be on the ground by now. Good luck. (3-12-14)
  • Pat from MO asks:
    Hey Bill. Great job as usual. I have been following you pretty close for about 3 years now. This is the third question I have asked. Anyway, is there a way to send you a pic of a matched set I found last weekend? Reason I ask is I found an identical left side in the spring of 2012, except it was 5 inches bigger. The 2012 left side measured ( amaturely by myself) righ at 70 inches. This years shed measured 64.5. The mass was smaller, as was the G3. The pedicles are identical and even has the same inclusions, shape, etc. I am convinced it is the same buck, as does everyone else who looks at it. I started running cameras this year as I hunt public land and I have 15-20 antlered, different bucks that made it through the season, with three of them I would consider shooters ( 130+). Again this is public land so food plots are out. Could this buck be 2 full years older, yet be smaller? Yes the drought was bad, but where I hunt there is water year round and crops were excellent.
    Winke Responds:
    Pat, I am sure it is possible for this to happen, though I have rarely seen them lose mass as they get older. Generally, they lose tine length and beam length but not mass. However, this past winter/spring was pretty tough for the deer and there may have been a health/stress factor that contributed to less mass this past year. To answer your question specifically, it is possible. I have seen bucks that otherwise looked healthy grow smaller antlers even on good years. We don't know everything about antler growth and some things still surprise us. When that happens it is always a surprise. What we see most of the time is that our bucks keep getting bigger every year until they die of some cause (hunters, disease, ?). Good luck. (3-7-14)
  • John from MD asks:
    Hi Bill I'm an avid bowhunter and shed hunter from Maryland my Question is I found a clean 72 5/8 inch 4 point shed while driving down the road its pretty awesome 14 inch g2 12 inch g3 and a 7 inch brow is there and a association that recognizes sheds I would like to know where this shed ranks with others. Maybe you could do a show on giant sheds from different parts of the country thanks for your time keep up the great work with Midwest Whitetails.
    Winke Responds:
    John, That is a great antler! There is the North American Shed Hunters Club. At least there used to be. I assume it is still in operation but I am not finding anything too encouraging on the web. I know of many bigger than that though. One of my neighbors back in the mid-90s found a 90 inch four point side. It was on a farm about 20 miles away though - dang it. I held it for a while - extremely massive! On the farm I was hunting back then, we found a four point side that scored around 85, I think. I know where the antler is. We never had it officially scored though. In fact, we saw the deer on the hoof one evening in the summer. He was a walking world record eight pointer at the time (mid-180s). That was before trail cameras and we never saw him again. I am sure that with trail cameras we would have at least found him back in the fall if not had some kind of encounter with him. Those big 8s are amazing. Good luck. (3-5-14)
  • Jerred from PA asks:
    IM looking at getting back home to shed hunt Illinois, but im waiting for the snow to melt. in your opinion what week in march would be a good time to go back? they have at least 6 inches of snow still on the ground where I would be going
    Winke Responds:
    Jerred, I would go as soon as most of the snow melts. Enough antlers are on the ground now to make it worth looking of the snow is gone. Good luck. (2-23-14)
  • Rob from IA asks:
    Have you, or has anyone you know of, been finding sheds yet?
    Winke Responds:
    Rob, Not much. A few guys are telling of finding some. I am guessing about 40% of the antlers on the ground, but the snow makes it really tough. Good luck. (2-6-14)
  • Tyler from MO asks:
    HEY BILL JUST WONDERING IF YOU HAVE FOUND ANY SHEDS YET AND WHEN YOU THINK THE BEST TIME IS TO GO LOOK FOR THEM. I FOUND A SIDE WITH TEN POINTS ON IT THE OTHER DAY BUT COULDNT FIND THE OTHER SIDE I WONDER IF HE JUST DIDNT DROP IT YET OR I JUST COULDNT FIND IT. GOOD LUCK ON SHED HUNTING AND CONGRATULATIONS ON THE BUCK EARLIER THIS SEASON. THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO HOPEFULLY SOME MORE BIG BUCKS NEXT YEAR LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING BIG JR.
    Winke Responds:
    Tyler, The guys have walked most of the food plots and have found very few. Nothing much jumped out at us yet. There was a bit of snow on the ground so that always makes it harder to spot them. Ten points on one side is pretty impressive! Sometimes they will carry one side for several days after dropping the first side. He may still be carrying it or it may be on the ground somewhere you haven't looked yet. Keep looking in that basic area whenever you get some time, but don't go more than one day per week or you risk running him out of there. Thanks for your support and I wish you good luck finding the other side of that buck. (1-27-14)
  • Mark from OH asks:
    Bill, Is there a time period each year that you recommend for going out to find sheds? I am a little further south than you but not by much. I know this depends on a lot of variables so I'm not looking for date and time, of course. Also, you say get the trophy rocks out just after season's end, correct?
    Winke Responds:
    Mark, The best time is usually from about now through roughly the end of March. I always figure about 70+% are off by the end of February. Put the Trophy Rocks out right after the end of the season - yes. Good luck. (1-23-14)
  • Levi from IL asks:
    Bill, Do you think that the harsh winter and sub-zero temps we've had in the Midwest this year will cause bucks to drop their sheds earlier? Is this something you have noticed in years past? Levi
    Winke Responds:
    Levi, I think so. Some bucks will drop early as a result of the harsh conditions. Antler drop timing is related to a few factors, but stress is one of them. The more stress, the sooner they drop. Good luck. (1-9-14)
  • Matt from MD asks:
    I live in the mountains and it is very hard to consistently find sheds. Have read about feeder contraptions that help the horns fall. Do you have any knowledge of these or an opinion on them. Is one kind better than another or do they actually work. I would tend to think that a mature buck may not come in to them
    Winke Responds:
    Matt, I have seen them on my neighbors' farms but I am not sure they worked very well. It was basically a V-shaped fence (about three feet per side) with a bait pile in the very middle. The bucks presumably had to contact the fence with their antlers to get to the food. In theory, the antlers would fall off if loose. Again, I don't think it worked really well. I think the mature bucks will use it, but bucks are pretty good at manuevering their heads enough to keep the antlers from contacting things. It is worth a try. I guess it makes sense that it could work. Consider doing a search online under "antler traps" to see all the stuff that comes up. Good luck. (1-8-14)
  • Cody from PA asks:
    Hi Bill!! Love the show!! I had a nice 10 point that made it through the first firearm season here in pa on my 40 acre farm which ended on dec.14 and ive got trail cam pics of him every day and on dec.22 lost one side of his antlers then on dec.24 lost the other one. he shows up on all 3 trail cams that are spread out about 150-200 yards apart regularly. is it possible that his sheds are in the area between the 3 cams. Hes live in the area all summer and have gotten pics of him with the 2 holes in his head up until last week. Any tips on how and where I can find his sheds? Thanks
    Winke Responds:
    Cody, They will be there somewhere for sure. Think about where he lives: bedding, feeding and trails between and you will find the antlers in those areas somewhere. You may need to scour the the area closely, but I bet they are there not too far away. Good luck. (1-7-14)
  • JAMIE WEAVER from GA asks:
    WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO LOOK FOR SHEDS IN ILLINOIS
    Winke Responds:
    Jamie, Late February would be my perfect time. Then another trip in mid-March to find any late drops. Good luck. (10-29-13)
  • Nicholas from OH asks:
    I have been shed hunting all spring. When is the right time to stop shed hunting or is there one? Most of the antlers i am finding now are pretty chewed up.
    Winke Responds:
    Nicholas, I would say that as long as you keep covering new ground, you can keep going until the grass starts to grow and covers them up. The bucks are pretty much done shedding, but you can still find them in areas that have not been hunted hard. I would avoid the timber and focus on open areas now so that they aren't as likely to be chewed up. Grassy areas, food sources and field edges are ideal places to look now. Good luck. (4-5-13)
  • Allen from MO asks:
    Bill, thanks for all you put in to make this show great. I am thinking of hosting a shed hunt on my farm here in SW MO. I have invited several of the guys that I work with as well as a few neighbors that I know like deer hunting and all that goes along with. I told everyone to bring kids, wives, friends, whoever they want. My question is what are some things I can do to make it more fun for everyone? I know there are going to be a few kids around age 4 and I had thought of even staging a few sheds in obvious places just to make it fun for them but other than that I really don't have much. Maybe a contest? Thanks!
    Winke Responds:
    Allen, I think staging the antlers is a great idea. I have done that a few times too. A contest would be fun too. However, just gathering to look for antlers is a lot of fun in itself and eating a big meal afterward of good food is also a big part of the fun. I don't think you can go wrong with your plan. Good luck. (3-16-13)
  • A.J. from WI asks:
    Bill, I have been out shed hunting on the public land I hunt here in WI. I have yet to find any sheds. I have found lots of deer sign including areas littered with beds. I haven't noticed many others shed hunting so I don't think that's the reason for my lack of success. What can I do to increase my odds of finding some sheds? Are there other things to look for and key in on? Keep up the great work. Love the show!
    Winke Responds:
    AJ, Not sure there is anything you can do differently. My guess is that one of two things are happening. Either there aren't many bucks in that area or most of them are still carrying their antlers. I hope it is the latter. Focus on bedding areas, feedging areas and the trails in between. Good luck. (3-8-13)
  • rob from IA asks:
    Bill did the sheds this year feel the same? I have found a lot that seem fake no density to them and very light weight, I guess that`s why we had so many broken off deer this year. any chance a guy could manipulate that in tough years with minerals or a DEEP high bank pond for a water source?
    Winke Responds:
    Rob, Yes, so far, they feel normal to me. I doubt it is water related. It could be mineral related if the diets of the deer were affected. Not sure on that. Minerals may help the density, but it may also just be a coincidence. Some years we have a good number of broken antlers too. If the buck to doe ratio starts to get evened out, the bucks will compete more and some bucks just have bad attitudes and fight with every buck they see - lots of broken tines! Good luck. (2-27-13)
  • A.J. from WI asks:
    Bill, I don't have a lot of experience shed hunting, but have spent some time both this year and last year shed hunting in february and march on the chunk of public land that I hunt. I have yet to find any sheds. I find lots of deer sign including beds on south facing slopes and areas that get a lot of winter sun where the deer seem to spend quite a bit of time. I haven't noticed a lot of other foot traffic in these areas that would indicate the sheds have already been snatched up by others and I have been out when there is very little to no snow cover, so antlers covered by snow shouldn't be an issue. Is there anything I can do to increase my odds of stumbling onto some sheds? What are some of the things you focus on when searching a piece of property for sheds? Sincerely, A.J.
    Winke Responds:
    A.J. Sounds like you are doing things right. The antlers are going to be where the deer are so try to figure out where they are feeding and where they are bedding and which trails they take between. Granted, over a several week area when they are dropping they could be just about anywhere, but likely the best antler hunting will occur close to bedding and close to feeding areas. That is really where I would focus and if you don't find any, the chances are that there are few bucks there or someone beat you to them. Antlers can be really tough to find. We always find some old antlers each year in areas we shed hunted hard the year before. We just misssed them that year. Good luck. (2-27-13)
  • Charlie from IL asks:
    Great year Bill! Hope for your continued success in 2013. I watched your video on shed hunting. Do you avoid any areas when shed hunting? I love to shed hunt, but I always feel I am conducting a deer drive so severe, that I contradict everything I have done to that point to maintain a haven. It just seems we go against the over-cautious rituals we follow during the season. Lines of people marching, dogs, leather boots, sweat. Prucha looks like he puts down a nice scent trail! ha
    Winke Responds:
    Charlie, The only time all year we go into the sanctuaries is when shed hunting. That is about three times each late winter. I seriously doubt that does any lasting damage to the sense of security the deer feel in those areas. Deer in the Midwest are used to people, maybe not in their sanctuaries, but in general. They aren't going to abandon a spot because a few people come crunching through a couple of times per winter. If they did that, they would not have a place to live. They would constantly be relocating. By staying out the rest of the year, I am sure they feel very secure there in the fall and most of the winter. I try to keep everything in perspective. Those guys love shed hunting so I see little harm in it and even if the deer do leave for a day or two, they will return. Prucha does smell bad though, and leaves a wide scent trail. So your point is well taken! Poor guy - can't defend himself here. Good luck. (2-22-13)
  • Jon from IL asks:
    Me and a couple friends were down in southern IL shed hunting and walked for about seven miles and found nothing. then right at the end we found 8 sheds in about a 1 acre section of grass along a field edge. There were no other sheds in any other grass along that field even though there were spots that had the same type of grass/cover? we thought it was odd and didn't know what would cause them to shed in that one spot over other areas.
    Winke Responds:
    Jon, We see this sometimes. I think it is because the bucks kind of gather there either at night or right after they feed and spar around some. I really think that must be it. Because they are messing around like that, they knock off more antlers in that location than elsewhere. It is the only thing I can come up with to explain it. Would have been interesting to have had a trail cam in that location! Good luck. (2-22-13)
  • Skylar from IA asks:
    Today I went shed hunting and found an antler that had about 2 inches of sharp bone coming off of the bottom of the base. It had no chew marks from squirrels. What do you think happened? Was it broke off in a fight?
    Winke Responds:
    Skylar, Sometimes they shed like this. I am not sure if they shed naturally and the bone comes off with it, or if the buck was ready to shed soon anyway and got to rough-housing with another buck and prematurely knocked it off taking some bone. We have tried to find a correlation between sheds with bone attached (potential damage to the pedicle) and the incidence of poor antler growth on that same buck the next year. There does seem to be some correlation. That means that if you find an antler with lots of bone attached, the buck may not produce a perfect antler on that side that same growing year. That is a tendency, not an absolute, but something to consider and watch. Good luck. (2-21-13)
  • Hunter from IA asks:
    Hey Bill, I was just wondering when you would think its ok to go shed hunting in southern Iowa. I was thinking around deer classic time but I would like another opinion on it. Also what percentage do you think are still holding onto theirs as well? Thank you for answering my questions!
    Winke Responds:
    Hunter, I think February 20 is the best time to start if you are only going to go out a couple of weekends. The Deer Classic time is OK too, but some of the antlers that fell early in the winter may be chewed up more by then and sometimes people will beat you to them if you wait too long. I would say that the number holding antlers varies a lot by area (even within one county), but in general I would say that roughly 50% to 60% are dropped now. They will start dropping fast now though. Good luck. (2-12-13)
  • Ty Jobbins from KS asks:
    Dear Bill recently I was visiting with a couple of my hunting buddies and they told me about a "shed catcher" a cattle panel set up with fence posts and corn or any type of bait on each side. So when the deer goes to eat the panel catches there antlers knocking them off. Just wondering if you have ever tried this and if you have had any success? thanks Ty
    Winke Responds:
    Ty, I have never tried it here, but some of my neighbors have used them and they do pull off a few sheds. However, not a real large number. I think the one guy found a handful of sheds from the trap and dozens of others on his farm that didn't fall off at the trap. After a couple of years he stopped doing it. I think they work on some level, but don't expect to see a pile of antlers laying there every time you go to refresh the bait! Good luck. (2-6-13)
  • austin from AL asks:
    what are some ways to increase getting antler sheds on your land?
    Winke Responds:
    Austin, You have to find ways to keep the deer there during the winter - food, cover. If you have both you will have the deer and you will find some antlers. It is the same formula that produces great late season hunting. Good luck. (2-6-13)
  • Paxton from OK asks:
    Where is the best place to look for shed antlers? Should I stick to heavy trails, bedding, food areas, or water sources? Also, when would be the best time to look for someone in Central Oklahoma?
    Winke Responds:
    Paxton, All three of those sound like good spots. If you think about it, bucks will shed their antlers where they spend the most time (bedding and feeding). To a lesser extent they will also shed in the areas they travel through between bedding and feeding areas. I would start looking pretty hard by mid-February. Good luck. (1-30-13)
  • Ben from MO asks:
    Mr. Winke, are you guys finding many sheds? I searched a good part of saturday but didn't find anything. Is it still too early? It seems like it might be for me, but I am not really sure. I am thinking about going again this weekend or maybe in the next two weeks if I get time. Think it will be worth it? Thanks, Ben
    Winke Responds:
    Ben, We have found a few, but not any big numbers yet. My guess is that most of the bucks here are still carrying. Likely by early Feb we will start to find good numbers of them. Seems that around Feb 20 is when you should really start to get serious as most of the antlers are off by then (maybe 80%?). Good luck. (1-29-13)
  • Patrick from MO asks:
    Mr. Winke, I might be going to my farm this weekend and was thinking about looking for some sheds, but I'm not really sure where to start. I know we have bucks on the farm, but I have never been able to find sheds before. I was wondering where would be the best places to look? We have about 8 different winter wheat fields and 3 small clover plots. All the rest is hardwoods, sanctuary, and cedars. (206 acres total) I keep hearing look on the south sides of hills. How do you break apart big blocks of hardwoods? What would be a good approach? Thanks, Patrick
    Winke Responds:
    Patrick, Start by figuring out where the deer are and that is where you will find the sheds. Bedding areas (often different in winter than other times), feeding areas and the trails in between. Sure, they can and will shed in all kinds of places, but to keep it simple, think in these terms and it will easier to figure out where to look. We find a lot of sheds on the edges of fields and on south facing slopes, especially if they are kind of open so the sun can shine in. Good luck. (1-25-13)
  • chad from MN asks:
    Hi Bill, I was woundering where is the most unuseal place you have ever found a shed antler. The reason i ask, is that today i found a matched set off of one of are biggest hit list bucks in the most unuseal place ever. Now i have found a few over the years about 3 feet off ground in a bush an on top of cattails even. But todays find was (AWESOME) the matched set where about 6feet off ground both hanging in one of are apple trees we have on are farm. The buck had to be on his hind legs eating the apples when he went down with his front legs, they must have popped off together an both antlers hung in tree. My coolest find ever. An of are biggest hit list bucks. His left antler i scored at 78inches and his, and his right antler scored at 84inches. I can't wait to see what he turns into next year. Any ways Bill just woundering where your most unuseal find has ever been. Take care-CHAD!!!
    Winke Responds:
    Chad, That is really neat! Nothing that cool for us. A neighbor once found one of Bubba's sides on the middle of the county road! Otherwise, we have found a few hanging a short ways off the ground. We found a single side that measured nearly 90 inches about ten yards off the edge of our lawn back in 2005. I knew that deer pretty well. He was a smart old bugger. We had alfalfa right below the yard that summer and he would come out sometimes right at last light - you need binos to see him to gather enough light. I hunted him hard in 2005 but never saw him. He died the next year and we found the skull and mostly eaten antlers in 2010, I think. Anyway, finding one that big, that close to the house was pretty cool. Good luck. (1-23-13)
  • Rick from WI asks:
    I have a farm 10 miles north of yours and with the exception of 2011/12 the deer seem to shed very early. We feel that over 80% of the bucks have already shed. I have another farm 10 miles north of that near Knoxville and the deer always hold there antlers until March. What would cause the differance. The farm that sheds early is big woods and the other farm is open with small woods. Both had plenty of food through December.
    Winke Responds:
    Rick, I don't know. I guess it is genetics. Possibly it also has to do with buck to doe ratios affecting how stressed the bucks get during the rut. I have seen this on farms even closer than those two. There is a farm just five miles from me where the bucks always drop early and here they tend to hold longer. Interesting subject. I just don't have a good scientific explanation on this one because I don't know enough about it. Good luck. (1-22-13)
  • Curtis from IA asks:
    My farm is 300 acres and only about 130 of it is timber. I have always waited until the middle of March to shed hunt. I don't have any real sanctuaries but the reason I wait is to shed hunt is that I feel I may push some of the bucks off my property that are still holding antlers if I go too soon. Do you feel like there is any validity to that? Should I go sooner? I usually do find some that the squirrel/mice find first
    Winke Responds:
    Curtis, Some validity, I guess. I think they are more likely trickle back during the night. It is pretty rare that they just flat leave with only a trip or two through the farm shed hunting. Myself, I don't worry about it. We start looking around the end of January and stick with it roughly each week until mid-March. I think if you don't worry about someone coming in and stealing the sheds or about the squirrels eating the antlers sooner, then waiting is fine too. Good luck. (1-21-13)
  • bob from NJ asks:
    Hi, Is it legal to find and keep sheds in nj.And what if I find the whole deer in the woods and cut off the head and make a euro mount? Thanks, Bob
    Winke Responds:
    Bob, I don't know much about NJ game laws so you had better contact the local game warden/game & fish office to find out for sure. Good luck. (1-15-13)
  • Patrick from MO asks:
    Mr. Winke, when do you think would be a good time to start shed hunting? Have you guys started at your farm yet? Thanks for another great MW season!
    Winke Responds:
    Patrick, We have casually started. Scott Prucha found a nice matched set yesterday. We get serious in late January all the way through early March. The best time to go if you can only make one trip is probably around mid to late February. Good luck. (1-13-13)
  • Ryan from MN asks:
    Hi Bill, Congrats on Loppy. What a fun hunt to watch! It felt like we were there with you in the blind. Thanks for that. Curious about sheds. When are the deer normally going to start dropping, and have you ever used a device to try to snare the racks as they drop...like the "rack trap". Thanks!
    Winke Responds:
    Ryan, I have never tried a rack trap but I know guys who use them. I have never seen them to be highly effective - a few antlers, but not piles of them. Normally here, the bucks start to shed a bit in late December and early January but really start dropping from about January 15 through Feb 15 and then taper off again through March. By the end of March, they have usually dropped 90+%. Good luck. (1-3-13)
  • Brian from IA asks:
    I have a few chances to shed hunt in SE Iowa since its a 4 hour drive....when in your opinion is the best time to start or maximize my chances and what would it take for a guy like myself to have the chance to shed hunt with you guys....I love the exercise and would love the comradery.
    Winke Responds:
    Brian, I think the best time most years is around mid February. As long as the property hasn't been walked much it should have a good number of antlers and the squirrels won't have gotten to them badly. I have a lot of guys that shed hunt here already. I hate to open that up any further. I am sorry but had better turn you down on the shed hunting offier. Best regards and Merry Christmas. (12-17-12)
  • Stuart from KY asks:
    Mr Winke, I had a deer on camera last year that was a world class 8 point. He was seen by others also at night close to a small country road that went by our farm. This year i havent had any pictures of him and a deer with its head removed was found next to the road on our farm exactly where he was seen last year. I have a shed from this deer from 3 years ago so my question is this.Can i take the shed and a bone from the deer found by the road and see if it is a match by DNA? If so how? I really want to know if this BIG 8 was killed. Thank you Stuart
    Winke Responds:
    Stuart, Stinks that he might have been poached, but yes, you should be able to do that. I know they have used DNA from sheds before for research projects. I don't know of a lab that specializes in that stuff, but I bet you can find one searching the web - though I doubt it would be cheap. Ask the local DNR game warden if they are interested in this as it might serve to be a good lead on the poaching of this buck. I would think that he would be quite recognizable and if the rack turned up they could make a pretty solid case with that evidence. Just don't give up the shed (they don't need the entire antler, just a sample) because it may get lost in the shuffle. Good luck. (12-7-12)
  • carter from MO asks:
    do you know anybody who buys sheds? i found a 155" 8 pointer and want to try to sell it for money. thanks CARTER what seed would you use for a starter food plot? for bigger bucks thanks CARTER
    Winke Responds:
    Carter, Antlers aren't worth as much as people think. There are so many of them out there on the market now. I bet that set isn't worth much more than $50 to $100 if you find the right person. Just make sure it is legal to sell antlers in your state (most states it is) and then I guess I would look on Ebay at what antlers are selling for. I think you will find that it is not a lot. I don't know anyone personally that is buying antlers. Usually it ends up being people who make furniture or chandeliers out of them, etc. Try e-bay. For a starter food plot, I would stick with clover. It is easy to grow and deer love it most of the year. As you get some confidence in the process, you can branch out to include other plants like beans and brassicas (Big N Beasty). Good luck. (3-11-12)
  • Josh from VA asks:
    Hey Bill, I was Wandering, We went shed hunting this past weekend and only found a couple antlers! This farm has plenty of big bucks, and little bucks! Do you think it would be worth another effort, in a week or two? Thanks Josh!
    Winke Responds:
    Josh, I would say so, yes. Not all the bucks have dropped their antlers in all areas. Good luck. (3-5-12)
  • Josh from VA asks:
    Hey Bill, I was wandering, Where is the best place to start shed hunting? Like bedding areas, food source?? Or does it even matter? haha. Awesome show!!! Thanks, and God Bless
    Winke Responds:
    Josh, Both are great spots to look. You really need to cover both - and the trails in between. Thanks for the support. God bless you too. (3-2-12)
  • Brian from OH asks:
    Hi Bill, I found a 90 inch shed off of what appears to be a typical 12 point if the other side matches. It looks like it dropped within the last couple days as it doesnt have a mark on it. I don't have much experience with shed hunting and really want to find the other side. In your experience how far apart do you usually find a matching set of antlers and is there a typical amount of time that a buck will carry just one side? I found it on a trail & the buck appeared to be traveling away from bedding cover by the direction the antler was laying. I spent 7 hours gridding the area and found two other small antlers, so Im wondering if he may still be carrying the other side. Would you keep looking or would you back off for a couple days? (im afraid of bumping him out of there if he hasnt shed, im on public land). Any tips you can give me would be very appreciated!
    Winke Responds:
    Brian, To our reasoning, it seems that bucks will get sick of carrying just one side of a rack that big so you would think they would be shaking their heads often to get the other one off, but possibly they don't register that kind of stuff the way we do. One can only guess. So, whiile I would like to say it should be located nearby, it is possible that the deer carried the other side for a few days. Either way, it should be in that area somewhere. The risk in hunting for it too hard is that you run the buck off while he is still carrying it. Unfortunately, sometimes we only find one side of the bucks we are after - even the big ones. So it is possible you may never find it. However, I would say that you should give it a week and then go after it again. As you said, don't push too hard or you may move him off. Also, keep in mind that he may have a big range and you may be on one fringe of it. You may need to cover a bigger area than you think to find the other side. While waiting a few days before returning to the area you found the antler, consider looking in other areas nearby. Good luck. (3-2-12)
  • Corey Snoke from OH asks:
    From your experience, due sheding dates from year to year stay fairly consistent? or is the mild winter of 2011/2012 making the antlers stay on longer?
    Winke Responds:
    Corey, It seems like it. Our antlers didn't stay on longer here. I guess I can't speak for other areas, but our antlers stayed on a bit longer than normal, but most of them are on the ground now. Good luck. (3-1-12)
  • Chuck from IN asks:
    Bill, You have probably been asked this alot and I understand if you don't respond...a buddy of mine and myself would like to travel from IN to IA to look for a few sheds (and wear some winter fat off)and don't know where to start looking for access. We would be considered "hard core" shed hunters in our area but only locate 6-10 antlers per year and would like to see what your state is like. Anything you'd like to share? By the way.....great show and congrats on the recent award for best hunting show1!! Chuck Kennedy
    Winke Responds:
    Chuck, I think you can hunt public and find that many here. Knocking on doors should get you permission in a lot of areas. I would look for anything along the eastern two layers of counties, the southern two layers of counties and the western layer. That is where the bulk of the habitat is found. Also, consider areas with less human population, such as SW Iowa, for possibly easier access. I think if you hunt hard for a few days you will certainly get more than 10. Good luck. (2-27-12)
  • Tyson from IL asks:
    What's the largest shed you have ever found, and where is the strangest place you have ever found a shed? Appreciate your show! Most down to earth and informative show out there, keep it up!
    Winke Responds:
    Tyson, My largest with the right side of the Double G4 buck. We have had some bigger bucks around the area over the years, but I never found any sheds from them. My neighbor once found a 125 inch side (non-typical) in a road ditch when running a road grader, but that was not near my home. The strangest place I have ever found a shed was about two feet off the ground in a bush. The buck dropped it while walking past I guess, or while rubbing the bush. Even I can find them when they are that visible! Actually, it was an old shed from the Great 8 Buck that was on the farm for so many years. Best regards and good luck shed hunting. Thanks for the support. (2-24-12)
  • David from AL asks:
    Can you tell me if the deer in southern Illinois have started shedding their antlers and the best time to search for those sheds? I live in Alabama and hunt Williamson county Illinois. With the price of fuel, I want to make the best of my money and time looking for sheds on our hunting lease. I enjoy the show.
    Winke Responds:
    David, I am sure they have started. I always feel like the best time to start looking is when 50 to 75% of the antlers are on the ground. I would say that is about right for the end of the month in that area this year. I would try to shoot for next weekend. Good luck. (2-23-12)
  • Brad from FL asks:
    What do you do with all of the shed antlers you find? I am asking because I make hand made items with whitetail antlers and can not find any locally.
    Winke Responds:
    Brad, The guys that find them usually keep them. In some cases, I keep them, but generally I let the guys that find them keep them. Of course, I don't let a lot of people look. I will ask the guys if they want to sell some antlers. I doubt they would sell anything big at all. They really love antlers. However, another option is to look on E-bay. I have noticed that you can buy some fairly good sized collections of small to medium antlers for a fairly low price. Good luck. (2-23-12)
  • Josh from VA asks:
    Hey Bill, I was wandering, where is the best place to start shed hunting? Would it be to key food sources, bedding areas??? Thanks, Can't wait till the shows start!!! Thanks, Josh!
    Winke Responds:
    Josh, Both food sources and bedding areas are good places to look. Keep it simple: where are the deer (bucks) spending most of their time now: that is where you should spend the majority or your time too. They can shed anywhere, but typically it will be in an area where they spend most of their time. Food, bed and the trails in between. Good luck. (2-23-12)
  • LLOYD from IL asks:
    I DEER HUNT IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS AND AM ALWAYS ASKED WHEN DO BUCKS START DROPPING THEIR ANTLERS.
    Winke Responds:
    Lloyd, They can start to drop as early as mid-December (even healthy deer), but most drop from early January through early March. I have even seen some carrying clear into April! Good luck. (2-23-12)
  • Stewart from GA asks:
    Hey Bill! I saw two decent sized bucks this year for my area.I would love to try to find their sheds, but I'm not sure if they have lost them yet. I have been dumping corn, walking heavy trails, setting trail cams, ect. with no luck. I have been getting a few deer pics, some I'm not sure if they are does, or bucks without antlers. I'm wondering if I'm wasting my time walking around for hours looking for antlers that aren't on the ground yet. I'm also wondering if the spikes and smaller bucks keep their antlers longer because they don't weigh alot to make them fall off. Do you think I'm wasting my time? Is it too early? I got a pic last night of a spike that still had his antlers. Maybe the big sheds I'm looking for are already chewed up by the squirrels. It just seems like I should have found an antler by now. Thanks for taking time to answer everybody's questions! Stewart
    Winke Responds:
    Stewart, I would say that you are a bit early for this year. Seems most bucks are still carrying in a lot of areas. We are prbably at about 50% here. Most years closer to 755 would have dropped by now. It might be different there, but my guess is that you are a bit early. I would give it another week and then start looking hard. The key areas are the bedding areas, feeding areas and the trails in between. But of course, the antlers can be anywhere, making them very hard to find. I also think that coyotes carry them around at times too. So finding them once they are on the ground is rarely easy. I think the timing of the antler drop is related to genetics more than to age of the deer, but it is possible that the bigger ones shed earlier. Keep looking. Good luck. (2-23-12)
  • Tyler from IN asks:
    I'd love to here some of your best tips and tricks for finding sheds. It would really help finding bucks still in my area and bucks new to come. I live in Indiana and hunt in Parke County. Its been a warm winter and I do not think the antlers have dropped yet but im very eager to find sheds. I love the show and watch every episode. Im only 17 and your show helps me become a better hunter and person. Im eager to here what you have to say. Thanks, Tyler
    Winke Responds:
    Tyler, I appreciate your support. We love helping people. Shed antlers are very hard to find. But, your best bet is to look in the areas where the deer spend most of their time at this time of the year: bedding areas, feeding areas and the trails in between. Antlers can be anywhere, but that is where you will find the easiest ones and the first place to look. Grassy areas also seem to be good too. I am not sure why, maybe the bucks spar around in those areas, but for some reason we find a lot of antlers in grassy areas. Good luck. (2-20-12)
  • Stewart from GA asks:
    Hey Bill, I have only found one shed in my life (I'm only 13.) I saw plenty of great bucks this year. This year I have really been trying to find sheds. I have dumped corn, set trail cams, walked heavy trails for hours, ect. with no luck. I have got a few deer pics. with only one buck, a spike.I'm wondering if I have been looking for hours for sheds that aren't on the ground yet. That spike hasn't lost his antlers yet, but I'm wondering if they just don't weigh enough to fall off yet. Maybe the two big bucks I saw in the deer season have already lost them because the horns weigh more? I am just getting a little frustrated because a walk for hours where I can tell deer travel with no luck at all. It just seems like I should have found something by now. Do you think I'm wasting my time? Thanks for taking time to answer everybody's questions quickly.
    Winke Responds:
    Stewart, They can be very hard to find. Also consider that they may not have dropped yet. Even here, farther north where presumably they might drop sooner, about half or slight less are still carrying their antlers. Now getting back to how hard they are to find: the antlers are likely to be where the deer spend most of their time, but not always. Say a buck gets jumped by a coyote and cuts through thick cover - his antler falls off. How likely are you to find that one? You play the odds by searching near bedding areas, feeding areas and the trails in between, but really the antlers can be anywhere. Also, the bucks may have drifted off to feed elsewhere for the winter and they may not even still be on your hunting area. It can be really hard to find. We have bucks every year that we know live here that we never find. We also find tons of single side sheds. That means there are just as many others out there (the other side) that we never find. I don't think you are wasting your time. Even if you don't find the antlers you are outdoors learning, scouting, gaining experience. That is never a waste of time. Keep it up. That is the way you become a great deer hunter. Good luck. (2-19-12)
  • mark from OH asks:
    I am a nut about shed hunting! do you guys know of a good place to look for deer sheds? I would be willing to pay! You guys have a great show. It's great to see the kids involved! I live in northeast ohio and have run a taxidermy studio for 30 years. thanks Mark McGrath
    Winke Responds:
    Mark, I don't know of anything like that. I may run a contest each year where the winner can come out and shed hunt with the crew. I think that would be fun. You know, there are some public areas in the Midwest and farther out west where you can find decent sheds. It is competitive, but the antlers have to fall somewhere. Good luck. (2-13-12)
  • Ron H. Jr from WI asks:
    Hey Bill, I was just wondering if you ever worry about kicking deer out of the area when you look for sheds. Its always in the back of my mind that we are going to kick bucks out of the area that havent dropped horns yet and have them drop on the neighbors land. The reason I ask is because we see a lot of bucks every year but dont find a lot of sheds on our property. We look everywhere and hard. Food sources, bedding, ect. Haven't had vary good luck. Are we looking too early every year and kicking them out of the area? Thanks again Bill for your time and all the great work!!
    Winke Responds:
    Ron, I think as long as you aren't relentless and in there all the time, they just circle and go right back within a few hours. Possibly you are right. If you are in there alot early it could be happening. But they can just be hard to find. Sometimes you have to almost step on them to see them. We find of single sides meaning that we are walking past a lot of antlers out there every year and not finding them. For sure, you won't find them all and maybe not even the majority. Good luck. (2-13-12)
  • Josh from VA asks:
    Hey Bill, do you think the weekend of the 25th and 26th of Feb. is a good time to shed hunt? What did the DG4 buck's sheds score? Thanks, Josh.
    Winke Responds:
    Josh, I do. I think that more than half of the antlers should be on the ground by then. Both sides around 90 inches. Good luck on the shed hunt. (2-13-12)
  • Ron H Jr. from WI asks:
    Hey Bill, quick question, here in WI we have had the wormest winter that i can remember. We have had pretty close to the same amount of days above freezing as we've had below freezing. We still have a little snow but not much. My question is, do u think the bucks will drop their horns earlier than normal? Because thats what im thinkin. And when would u start lookin if u lived in Southern WI? Thanks Bill. Keep up the great work!
    Winke Responds:
    Ron, I don't think so. If anything, I think they will carry them longer as any antler shedding due to weather stress would be non-existent. For sure, some have dropped now. I would start looking now. It is genetic and to some degree regional, but I would think that at least 1/3 of the antlers (if not more) are on the ground now. Good luck. (2-7-12)
  • Josh from VA asks:
    Hey Bill, if the deer have not shed yet, then when would be a good time to go shed hunting again??? thanks, God Bless, Josh!!!
    Winke Responds:
    Josh, I am not sure there in VA, but here it seems that mid-Feb is going to be a good time to really get after it. I bet at least 50% will on the ground by then - at least here. 80% of them should be on the ground by the end of February. Several neighbors went out last week and found very little in this area, so I feel that most of the bucks are still carrying here. I bet 80 to 85% are still carrying. Good luck. (1-31-12)
  • Josh from VA asks:
    Hey Bill, i walked through the woods for 2 1/2 hours the other day, through big bedding areas and key feeding areas, and all i found was a skull of a 4 pointer. Do you think the deer have not shed yet, or maybe someone shed hunted that farm already???? Thanks, God Bless, Josh!!!
    Winke Responds:
    Josh, Doesn't seem like they have dropped much, at least not here. Some of my neighbors went this weekend too but no one found a shed. From trail cam photos I bet at least 90% are still carrying here. I think it is later than normal, probably because of the mild winter. Good luck. (1-30-12)
  • Nathan from IA asks:
    When do you usually start your shed hunting season?
    Winke Responds:
    Nathan, I think it makes sense to start getting out in early Feb this year. Some years when the winter is harsher, it makes sense to start a bit sooner. Good luck. (1-27-12)
  • Jacob from WI asks:
    In a recent question, you said the G4 buck had shed his horns. Is this the time right now, when bucks start to shed their antlers, if not, when do they start to drop them? Thanks Bill!!!
    Winke Responds:
    Jacob, I think this is a bit late really. In our area they normally start dropping a bit earlier than this. I would say that we are about a couple weeks behind on the shed timing this year. Probably due to mild winter. Good luck. (1-23-12)
  • Jamie from NC asks:
    I found a shed in my yard the other day on the 21st of January. Obviousley not all the deer have shed their antlers yet but can you look for sheds multiple times in one area or would that disturb the deer that havent shed yet? If so when would be the optimal time to start looking for sheds? We don't usually get much snow here so we generaly don't have to wait for the snow to clear. Thanks, Jamie
    Winke Responds:
    Jamie, I am not sure on timing there. My guess is that you should wait until you think at least 1/2 of the antlers are down to start hitting it hard. Otherwise you run the risk of disturbing the bucks too much with multiple trips. Two trips is probably OK, three trips is probably too much. One at the half point and the other when you think most are dropped. You may need to talk to other local hunters who are running trail cameras to see about timing. Normally we start looking hard in early February. In my area they are holding a bit longer this year - probably the mild weather this winter. Not much stress. Good luck. (1-23-12)
  • Brian from IA asks:
    Hi Bill, congrats on the great season. Now that the season is over the next thing I have to look forward to is shed hunting. When do you suggest starting to go out looking for sheds? I dont want to go out too early when the deer have not started shedding and don't want to wait too long and have squirrels and other animals eat at them.
    Winke Responds:
    Brian, According to the trail cameras, they are just starting to drop here. I would say if you started sometime in early February that would be good timing. Good luck. (1-23-12)
  • Jeremy from IL asks:
    Bill, What do you think is the best time to start shed hunting in West-Central Illinois? Do larger (Older) bucks shed their antlers sooner than young bucks? Where do you find most of the ones on your farm? Thanks for Midwest Whitetail Jeremy
    Winke Responds:
    Jeremy, I would think by the end of January it makes sense to start. When a deer sheds has to do with its health and the genetics of the deer. Some shed early and some shed late, for no apparent reason. I wouldn't say the biggest ones shed early though. Where are the bucks spending the most time during late winter? - that is where you will find their antlers: their beds, their feeding areas and the trails in between. Good luck. (1-6-12)
  • Jeff from IN asks:
    Bill- have you ever heard of someone making a shed trap? A friend of mine suggested we could utilize some fencing or heavy brush near a corn pile to trap antlers that are ready to fall off. The woods I hunt are full of bush honeysuckle and it makes it tough to find sheds. Are traps legal? I don't like the fence idea for fear we'd trap a buck whose antlers weren't ready yet. Ever heard of this?
    Winke Responds:
    Jeff, I don't think it traps the antler as much as it just knocks them off. I am not sure if the antler traps are legal. I would call the local game warden on that one. I have never tried them. I know guys who have but they never seemed to be real effective from what I could gather in talking with them. Good luck. Happy New Year. (12-28-11)
  • Brian from MO asks:
    Hi Mr.Winke. It might be a little early for this but i wanted to get you opinion on antler traps. what do you think about them? good idea bad idea? if you like it what is the best way to going about it. thanks Brian. oh and love the show thanks for all of the info its been a big help the last couple of season.
    Winke Responds:
    Brian, I have not used them but some of my neighbors have. They baited the inside of a V-shaped fence and hoped the antlers would get stuck and fall off as the bucks ate the bait. I don't believe they were overly successful. I guess I will never do it. I don't think it is worth the time and expense. However, if you don't have any food on your property, the bait likely will hold some deer there during the winter and that will result in more sheds, but it will get very expensive. Good luck. Merry Christmas. (12-21-11)
  • Jordan from OH asks:
    I will not be back to ohio until June is it to late to find sheds then? and what are the possibilitis?
    Winke Responds:
    Jordan, I would say it is too late to find them in the woods; the squirrels will have them gnawed pretty bad. But there should still be a few in open grassy areas, though it will be very tough to find them in these spots because the grass will be high. My guess is that for practical purposes, it is too late.
  • jonah from NC asks:
    hey i sent the email at info@midwestwhitetail.com but it wont go through ill send them over here cause i need answers by tomorrow im really late if you wanna email me my emails bravesfan_jn@yahoo.com but if you cant here they are(: 1. where do you think are key places to find sheds? 2. is it true where a buck usually spends his time is where the sheds will be? 3.where do you find most of your sheds? 4. do the bigger more mature bucks drop their antlers first or the smaller spikes and cowhorns? 5. have you ever used or heard of fencing traps? if so how did they work or whats your opinion on them? 6. what months would you recommend collecting sheds in North Carolina? 7. what are some signs of deer shedding? 8. do squirells eat sheds? if so how long does it take them to consume one? 9. why do antlers fall off bucks? 10. Do you think deer know they have dropped their antlers? or feel a difference from the weight lifted off their heads? 11. when do bucks
    Winke Responds:
    Jonah, I think the Q&A block cut off some of your questions, but I'll hit what I can. 1. The places where the deer spend most of their time in the winter - near food, near bedding (south facing open slopes) and the trails in between. Look for fresh droppings to reveal winter patterns if the ground is frozen and there is no snow. 2. Only in the winter. We have bucks that come to our farm for the winter food but are not around during the rest of the season, but for the most part you are correct. Deer do change their ranges from one year to the next for no apparent reason (some do). 3. I find most of mine in the grassy buffer area around crop fields and food plots. 4. Based on genetics more than size. Some drop early every year even as they get older while others drop late all their lives. No conclusion here. 5. I have heard of them and seen them in operation. I think they do work. They knock the antlers off as they try to get food from a small area in the middle of V-shaped fence. 6. Not sure on NC. I would guess probably Feb Mar? 7. For sure trail cam photos of bucks with one antler is a prime tip off. Otherwise, you have to actually watch the deer closely. Sometimes they shed just one side at a time and seeing one-horned bucks is a dead giveaway. 8. Yes, depends on how many squirrels are around, maybe a week or two if it drops in the woods. They often miss them if the antlers drop in the open. 9. Testosterone levels change (go down) and that triggers the loosening of the antler. Initiation is tied to length of daylight, but the actual time it takes to drop them is tied to genetics too. 10. I think they do. I think they are more careful around other bucks after shedding. Also, I have seen them knock the second one off after the first one fell. I am sure it unbalances their head somewhat and they notice that. Number 11 got cut off. Hope that helps.
  • Nate from MN asks:
    Hello Bill, I've been shed hunting for a few years now and as I'm sure is the norm, have good days and slow days. Where do you find most of your sheds? (bedding areas, feeding areas, etc.?) Any input would be appreciated. I'm trying to make my shed hunting time afield a little more productive. (of course it's just great being out there too!) You have a great show and website and I hope you're doing well. Thanks, Nate
    Winke Responds:
    Nate, I am no expert on shed hunting, but I will share what I know. I have always had me best luck near feeding areas. They are easier to define for me. I know where the bedding areas are, but I don't know which ones are being hit by bucks. However, all the deer pretty much end up feeding in the same place. Feeding areas and the grassy edges around them are the easiest for me. Otherwise, it seems to become almost random - just looking for areas where the deer spend time during the winter. That means the beds too - and the trails between the bedding and feeding areas. Good luck.
  • Carter from MO asks:
    should I ride my dirtbike to look for sheds or walk?
    Winke Responds:
    Carter, I would do both. Ride the areas that are big and accessible, like fields, and then get off and walk the thick areas where you need to move slower. Some guys use ATVs for the same function. Good luck.
  • Chris from PA asks:
    Bill, I have just recently subscribed and it was the best thing I could have done. Your show is very informative. My question for you is that it seems most of the sheds you are finding, either being fresh or last years don't seem to be chewed on by rodents. It seems that when I get lucky enough to find a shed it is almost always gnawed on by a rodent. Should this be telling me something? Is it possible that the bucks here are lacking some sort of mineral that might make the horn stronger and in turn larger or do you hunt mice also?
    Winke Responds:
    Chris, It is possble you have more squirrels. I don't think it is a mineral thing. I think it is a squirrel thing. Also, many of the old ones we are finding that aren't gnawed are out in the open grassy areas, mostly buried by grass. The ones that fall in the woods usually get gnawed pretty fast. Also, we start hunting them about the time they are falling so the squirrels have little time to get to them. If they sit there a month before you look, many will get gnawed. Good luck.
  • Chad from WI asks:
    If I go into a bedding area to look for sheds, will this push deer out of the area?
    Winke Responds:
    Chad, No they will make a big circle and eventually come back. May be a day before they are back, but it won't permanently push them out for long. They can sense the difference between casual activity like shed hunting and the sneaky human activity they encounter in the fall. I am not sure how they know, maybe just conditioning to the various types of human activity, but they do know. Some people have sanctuaries they won't even shed hunt. I don't. I have sanctuaries I don't hunt, but a couple of passes through a bedding area in the spring is no big deal.
  • Joe from ME asks:
    Hey Bill; Just watched the latest episode on shed hunting and was wondering if there are any topographical landmarks you key in on when hunting for sheds? Do you find more in open fields, along fence lines or in the deep woods? I'd like to take the kids along and make it a family outing but like fishing if they don't see action relatively soon, they lose interest pretty quickly. Thanks for all the great info you provide every week!
    Winke Responds:
    Joe, The grassy areas seem to be easier to hunt, fence jumps are good spots, sometimes in places where they jump a creek you will find where they jarred off. Also south facing slopes are better and the grassy edges around food sources are also good. I have actually planted antler in advance of shed hunting with younger children. That is a good way to assure they have some success. Thanks for your support.
  • jake from MO asks:
    Hey, i have been shed hunting alot this year and i have mainly been walkin rows of corn fields but i am not having that much success. Where do u look?
    Winke Responds:
    Jake, They are really tough to see in picked cornfields. We tend to find a lot of them in grassy areas. I am not sure if they drop them in these places more often or if they are simply easier to find there. We also find a good number in timber, near bedding areas and for sure along the edges of feeding areas. Many people like to focus on spots where the deer jump fences. They can be very hard to find. Good luck.
  • CHAD from MN asks:
    Hi MR.Winke,Well as you know hunting season here and pretty much every where is over till this fall.But now i've started shed hunting. And i've found 7 as of the 1st of the year.But what i'd like to know if you have any input in this.Is where are the best spots to look on parks like we have here in the metro of mn.With so many other people looking i feel i am missing the best spots when i hear others picking them up. I get out very early and often and look on trails bedding areas and around houses where people are feeding the deer. I look where deer have to jump and might jar an antler off and feel i hit all the best spots and find a few, where as other people i now find more. I know that it is the luck of the draw,but do you have any things you might know that could help me out on these prime spots in our parks of the metro. If so that would be awesome. I want to be the guy with 30 to 40 antlers a year instead of my 15 to maybe 20. And than thats mostly on my privte hunting grounds wh
    Winke Responds:
    Chad, I am sure it is a very competitive arena for shed hunting. I know a guy that will run trail camera and then note when a buck has dropped. He will go find it that very day and then try to find the buck and literally follow the buck at a distance until he sheds the other side. Granted, this may take days or hours, but my friend just comes back the next day and starts over. He doesen't work - retired - so time is no object. Throw that many people into an area the size of the Metro and you are sure to have a few dozen guys like that. Very hard to beat them to the punch when they are willing to dedicate that much time and energy to the pursuit. I think you should have a food source, deer will obviously concentrate around food. If you have the ability to feed deer or plant a food plot on private land, that will give you an edge. Also, a very simple tip, hunt in the areas where you find the most reasonably fresh droppings. Those are the areas where the deer are currently spending the most time. I think it is just a very competitive endeavor in the Metro. You may want to find a few other places to hunt too.
  • Craig from MI asks:
    I have always read that you can identify a shed with a harvested buck because of antler burr. Is this true? If so how easy is it to do?
    Winke Responds:
    Craig, That is one good way. The burr doesn't change too much once the buck matures. There are usually other qualities of the antlers that help you recognize them. Generally you won't have to resort to the bases. Usually something unique about a point or sticker will stay with them for several years. I think it is fairly easy to recognize a mature buck from his sheds if you study the burrs (bases). Not young bucks though. They can all tend to look alike at first.
  • Kodey from OH asks:
    Mr. Winke, Im a huge fan of the website and the shows that all the Midwest Whitetail teams produce. I had a very good year shooting my largest buck to date. I would like to hear some feedback on why you think the rut was so confusing this year. I would sit one day and see bucks cruising chasing the does and the next would be dead silence in the woods with no chasing at all. I would also like to ask you when the best time is to start shed hunting here in Ohio? Thanks for any feedback
    Winke Responds:
    Kodey, Thanks and congratulations on the buck! That is great news. I think something climatic or lunar influenced the timing of the does estrous and the bucks' testosterone. It was as if the rut wasn't even happening for a week at a time, right in the middle of the best days. It was the worst rut I can remember. Many people who hunt every day said the same thing. There was very little cruising. When we saw bucks, it was when there was a hot doe right in that area. It seemed that the time frame around Thanksgiving produced a bit more cruising, but other than that, it was pretty dead. I am not totally sure what happened. I don't know if anyone knows for sure. I think now is a good time to start looking for antlers with the best success from late February through mid-March. Good luck.
  • calvin from OH asks:
    how early do you start looking for sheds and when do you stop looking. i looked all over last year and my girlfriend found the only one of the whole year!
    Winke Responds:
    Calvin, We usually start in early February and end in late March. Good luck to you this year!
  • Zack from OH asks:
    Hey bill,i was wondering when is gonna be the best time to start looking for sheds,we have no snow in Ohio,and i am wanting to start looking.
    Winke Responds:
    Zack, Usually it is worth starting in late January and it gets very good by late February. All through March you can still pick up a few. Good luck.
  • Andrew from NY asks:
    Was wondering when you think deer tend to loose their antlers. Last year I started looking for sheds around mid feb was wondering if I would benifit from starting earlier, that is if the antlers have fallen off yet. thank you
    Winke Responds:
    Andrew, We start to find them in decent numbers in late January. Most of them are down by early March, so really any time in between can be productive. Good luck.
  • Chuck from AR asks:
    Bill,thanks for the excellent shows and web site, they are enjoyed so much. My question is about antler sheds. My buddy and I hunt in Nebraska, right on the border of Kansas. We have had alot of success seeing and sometimes harvesting a mature deer. We see lots of bucks of all age classes. This is on private ground. We go back every spring to turkey hunt the last of April and we shed hunt also. The problem is that we never find more than 2 or 3 antlers. With all the deer there should be more.Are we late in looking for them? Is there a time that is best? Where could be happening to them? I have heard that coyotes can carry them off, but I dont really buy that. Have you got any suggestions. Thanks again!!!!!
    Winke Responds:
    Chuck, You are likely too late. Lots of people think nothing of walking other people's ground to find sheds. They don't see it as trespassing for some reason. Shed hunters and mushroom hunters are the worst for this. However, maybe they aren't trespassing, maybe the deer are moving to feeding areas during the winter and shedding there. We start looking for antlers in late January and have the best luck around the end of February and early March. There will still be a few carrying antlers past that time, but most will be on the ground by the first week in March. Coyotes will carry some, but not nearly as many as trespassers will grab. Good luck.
  • Carter from MO asks:
    Where do you normally find sheds, I have been told on the south side of a hill. Is that true and if so what are some signs to look for if any. CH
    Winke Responds:
    Carter, The guys who are really good at it tell me that they just look for areas with lots of deer sign (droppings especially) because that is where the deer are spending the majority of their time. So find the late season sign and you will find the antlers. Good luck.
  • Brent from MI asks:
    Hey Bill, in your experience, what is the likelihood of finding both sides of antlers when shed hunting, and do you have any tips with regard to finding the other side once you have one already? Thanks very much!
    Winke Responds:
    Brent, It seems that we match up about 1/4 to 1/3 of the antlers we find (at best). Sometimes you will find the other side nearby, but other times it will be hundreds of yards away. A buck can carry one side for a long time after shedding the other. For sure, the odds are better of finding the other side in the same general area as the first, but it is far from the rule. There is no good system, just keep looking. I would try not to spend too much time in that area until you know both sides are off (roughly about now) so you don't risk running the buck out of the area temporarily only to shed somewhere else. Then cover every inch of the ground.
  • Brent from MI asks:
    Hey Bill, do you have an tips for locating sheds in cut corn fields and in bedding areas? Thanks, Brent love your shows!
    Winke Responds:
    Brent, Thanks for your support. The only thing that the guys do here to find them in the corn is to cover nearly every row. Antlers are so hard to see in the corn that you have to nearly step on them. You can do that by enlisting a lot of people or by riding an ATV and moving slowly, stopping often and then coming back a few rows over and doing the same thing. Some shed dogs work on scent, I have watched them, so that would probably be a solution, though I have never seen a shed dog comb through a cornfield. Not sure how they would do in that setting. In bedding areas you have no option but to simply kick through everything - or again to use a shed dog. I know we miss a lot of antlers in cornfields and in thick bedding areas. Supposedly, from guys who train them, shed dogs will increase your antler productivity by 40%. Good luck.
  • Troy from MO asks:
    I shed hunted this past weekend around places where i hunt and only found a couple. Is it too late to find sheds in Missouri? I have heard that certain insects eat the minerals in the antler. Any ideas?
    Winke Responds:
    Troy, It is not too late. Sometimes you find antlers that have been on the ground for a year or more. It is never too late. Not sure on the insect, but squirrels sure like them. The antlers in the timber where the squirrels can get to them will be chewed pretty bad (at least most of them) but the ones in the open should still be fine. Focus on grass fields or grassy waterways or transition areas near food sources and you may still find a few. Good luck.
  • jordan from MO asks:
    Hey Bill, I did some shed hunting this year and found two sheds that are identical but they are the same side and one is eaten on really badly. What are the chances that i found the shed off the same buck for two years or is it two different bucks and critters just eat up the sheds that fast?
    Winke Responds:
    The easiest way to tell is to look at the antler. They start to crack a bit and dry out after sitting out for very long. Also, antlers that have been out there for a year tend to bleach out too.
  • Bill from WI asks:
    i recently found a shed from a 2.5 year old 6 point, i think i have his shed from last year but last year as a 1.5 he was an 8 point, the antlers look identical other than the extra point on the 1.5 shed, do you think a buck would be a 8 point as a yearling and drop to a 6 point as a 2.5, or is it just an uncanny resembelance
    Winke Responds:
    Bill, It is possible, I guess. But more likely I would say it is just an uncanny resemblance. Unless a buck's rack has some kind of identifying feature, like a freakish bend or sticker, it is really hard to tell one young buck from a similar one. It is hard to track them from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 without some kind of feature like that as many antlers tend to all look on bucks of this age. As they get older it is much easier to track them from year to year as they start to display character points, etc.
  • Curt from OH asks:
    Bill, Just curious on your shed hunting rules. Does everyone get to keep the antlers they find or give them up to top dog Winke? :-) Also looking forward to meating you at the QDMA convention in July. Care to share on what your subject will be?
    Winke Responds:
    Curt, I let them keep them with the provision that if I shoot a certain buck they have to give me his antlers back if I want them. Also, if I need them to show how a deer has grown, etc. I have them available. If they find a dead buck that I want, I don't have to pry it out of their hands. That has only happened once so far. I don't know my subject yet at QDMA, probably something to do with deer! Grins. See you there.
  • Scott from WI asks:
    Bill first let me say I love the show and have learned a lot, keep up the good work. There have recently been a bunch of questions about shed hunting. I am wondering if you think I would be better off trying to train a shed dog or try and hire the Prucha clan each year to help me find sheds on my farm?
    Winke Responds:
    Scott, The dogs would be easier to train and easier to keep fed. I would go with the dogs.
  • Cody from ND asks:
    Bill, thanks for the great show and I truly loved your recent shed blog. I do believe you said you hunt/own around 1000 acres, correct me if wrong. My question is, if you found 75 antlers how many are from your farm? And also what type of deer/sq mile do you estimate your farm at? Would be interesting to know. I'm astounded by the amount of sheds and bucks you guys see. Also, if possible, what would you guess you have for bucks in each age class? Ex: Two-6 yr olds, five-5yr olds, eight-4 yr olds...? Thanks for everything! It is great hearing how much you guys literally live in a miracle down there!
    Winke Responds:
    Cody, They were all from my farm. The thing is that I had a lot of food during what was probably the hardest winter on record for southern Iowa. We had snow cover this winter for 90+ continuous days. It is no wonder we found some dead bucks and no wonder the deer were concentrated around my food plots. I still haven't run out of food. It was just a fluke that I had this much this year. Most years I probably wouldn't have had this much, but it sure paid off this year. During the rest of the year the deer density is probably about 75 deer per square mile (the farm is mostly habitat so it can hold good numbers of deer without overly concentrating them) but during the winter they come in for food. The breakdown of age is a little tougher to call. I would say that roughly half the herd is 3 1/2 and older. Not all of the older bucks are trophies. In fact, not very dang many of them are. I enjoy hunting mature bucks (I call them mature at 4 1/2 in this neighborhood), I just wish that the neighborhood was a bit better (where fewer genetically superior young bucks were getting shot). We can't grow the giants like they can in areas where more land is blocked up and managed with a single mind. However, it is definitely a fun place to hunt. We see plenty of bucks just not as many big ones as I would like! But then when are we ever satisfied? There is always the lure of something bigger. As long as I am hunting mature bucks (which I am each year), I feel that I am blessed.
  • Chda from VA asks:
    Bill, have you ever had a dog trained to find shed horns? I was wondering how hard it would be to train one. I read about it a few years ago but haven't heard much about it anymore.
    Winke Responds:
    Chad, No, I don't know much about it. I have seen expensive shed dogs in operation and I have to think that nearly any lab could be trained to do what I saw with a reasonable investment of time. Dog training is not really all that mysterious. I have trained a lot of dogs for bird hunting over the years and it is a simple matter of repetition and reward that eventually instills the lessons. So I would honestly think that common sense would dictate how you go about training them. I am sure there are some lessons on the internet or even a book somewhere on the subject. Do a google search and I bet you find some information.
  • jordan from IN asks:
    where should i start looking for sheds at for the most part?
    Winke Responds:
    Jordan, The best place to start is the feeding areas and the grassy transition areas around the edges of these areas. Then you can work back on the trails to the bedding areas. Good luck.
  • jason from WI asks:
    just wondering if you guys found any sheds yet im looking forward to wacthing your shed videos i have found 45 so far this year and am aiming for 60 my biggest sofar is 66 3/4 inches. love all your videos and hunts you really have something great going here. would love to be a part of it if you have any extra room thank you for your time!
    Winke Responds:
    Jason, Congrats on the great antler. 45 is a lot, good luck on the additional 15. This is definitely the week to get after it. We are hitting it hard this week and will bring you a shed hunting show very soon. We are still seeing a few bucks carrying both sides, so they are not all on the ground.
  • ian from WI asks:
    hey bill how goes the shed hunting by you? The reason i ask is here in the suburbs of milwaukee alot of the bucks are still sporting full racks in fact ive only seen 1 buck with half a rack and no shed bucks at all we have a high doe to buck ratio and do u think that plays into the fact the bucks arent as worn down from the rut and carry antlers longer? Thanks again and im def going thru withdrawls from a lack of the show it kept me sane and made biochem lecture do by so much faster haha
    Winke Responds:
    Ian, The snow is jus now coming out of the timber. I would say it will be really good for a short time now. Most of our bucks have dropped based on trail cam photos from my friends. I think you have a point about the condition of the bucks affecting their carrying time, but also some of that is just genetic. Good luck in biochem!
  • tom from IL asks:
    hi i was just wondering if how your shed hunting has gone so far or if you've even started yet.
    Winke Responds:
    Tom, We have wandered around a bit. One of my neighbors found a set from one of the bucks I was hunting - I'll put that up on a future show. We have found six sides so far, but with the snow, it has been slow going.
  • Scott from OH asks:
    Yeah, I like the idea of adding your hat to the MW gear. Cool. With all of this snow delaying picking up sheds, do you think they will be eaten more by the varmints? The last MW Ohio show was by far their best. Thanks, Scott
    Winke Responds:
    Scott, The longer they sit out there, the greater the risk. No doubt about that. But I am not sure if the squirrels will dig for them or not. I am not even sure how active squirrels are when it is this cold and snow-covered. If the antlers are lying on top of the snow, then yes, my guess is that there will be more chewed tines. Good luck. We are holding at about six antlers found so far.
  • Jake from MO asks:
    Hey winke i have been out shed hunting on my farm, and really been looking through a corn field and bedding areas everywhere i can think of trying to find a shed where do you think i am not looking that the sheds are at. Thanks
    Winke Responds:
    Jake, I think you are hitting the right places. It is hard to find antlers in corn. You will find them in the places where the deer are spending their time (bedding, feeding and the trails in between). They can be surprisingly hard to find so don't get too disappointed if you aren't finding many. Also, some bucks will tend to bed in out of the way places (like grassy patches on south facing slopes) in winter so be sure to check such places also. Good luck.
  • Mike from MO asks:
    Feb. 2 2010 We have a family friend in Central IA, who owns a good portion of land. Although we have yet to draw tags "being from MO!" we are avid Shed Antler hunters as well... We have been finding good numbers of antlers here in MO, When do i need to hit the woods for the BIG Iowa bone? Thank You for your time! Mike
    Winke Responds:
    Late February is a good time to start. More than half are down and usually the snow is gone by then. I always thought Feb 20 was a good start date, assuming decent weather.
  • Bobby from IL asks:
    Hey Bill, Could you possibly talk each team into doing a shed antler segment either at the end of shed season or updating weekly? I would be very interested in it! Thanks and keep up the great work!
    Winke Responds:
    Bobby, I think everyone is planning to do one. We will probably do two or three of them this winter as we did last year. Thanks for your support.
  • Ryan from WI asks:
    Hi Bill, I got your book i am saving it for a nice afternoon in the turkey blind this sprIng!! It is January 21 and the deer are dropping their antlers here in Wisconsin. But should i wait until the snow melts a little more so I can see some that would otherwise be buried. Or rather should i go right now before the mice get them?
    Winke Responds:
    Ryan, I guess if you can make low key trips (without pushing the bucks out) then there is no reason to wait much longer. If there is heavy snow, however, it probably makes sense to let it melt down so you can at least see them. Any time in the next two weeks it makes sense to get started.
  • Bill from WI asks:
    Bill, just curious as to when you start looking for sheds on your farm, all the bucks i've seen in the past week or so still have both sides, but other guys in the area have been seeing half racked bucks
    Winke Responds:
    We will start in the next few days. The snow is coming off with the recent rains making it much easier to find them. We don't get too serious until about a month from now.
  • cameron from AB asks:
    Hi Bill, I was wondering what strategy you use for finding deer sheds. Where are the best places to start looking?
    Winke Responds:
    Cameron, I have a few friends who are really good at it. Of course, you need to spend your time where the bucks are spending most of their time. That will be food, bed and the trails in between. They are easiest to find at the feeding areas, next easiest on the trails and finally much harder to find in bedding areas. Look for droppings, that will tell you where the deer are spending their time right now. Concentrate on these three areas and you will find the antlers. Good luck.
  • Jarred from OH asks:
    Mr. Winke, When is the best time to look for shed antlers? I have noticed that a number of deer have already started to drop this years antlers. Also, are there areas that will produce better than others( bedding vs. feeding) or is it just a roll of the dice? Thanks and keep up the good work!
    Winke Responds:
    Jarred, We get started in late January because that when there are enough on the ground that it is worth looking. Usually, the big scores come in late February. That is our area. It may be different in OH. Also, the feeding areas seem to be the easiest places to find them, grassy areas with a southern exposure also seem very good for some reason. The edges of feeding areas, the grassy transitions, are good. Bedding areas are also good. You have to look in all these places. I have a good friend that says you need to look where you are finding the most droppings because that is where the deer are spending the most time. That means trails with lots of droppings on them are also good. Good luck.
  • ryan from NJ asks:
    i have been watching a herd near my house that is not huntable. yesterday i saw a big 8 pointer with a nice 10 pointer. today i saw them again but the 10 pointer was missing his left side rack. how long does it take bucks to drop the other side once one side is off typically? im going to try shed hunting for them.
    Winke Responds:
    Ryan, It definitely varies. Some bucks will knock the other one off quickly just to get rid of it, while others will carry a single side for a couple of weeks, possibly more. More than likely, if you don't bother the buck by going in too soon, he will shed both in roughly the same area. Give him some time - unless other shed hunters are likely to get in there.
  • Jeff from AR asks:
    Bill, 1st, thanks for the great website and for all you stand for. I watch the shows most every night. My question is this. The bucks seem to be shedding very early this year. I have friends who were seeing bucks that had dropped the week before Christmas, and I found a antler the day after Christmas. Do you have any idea why so early? I normally don't see many/any shed till early/mid January, usually after a real cold snap. Happy New Year!
    Winke Responds:
    Jeff, There seem to be some shedding early here every year while most don't shed until late January through Feb. I am not sure on the timing where you are, other than what you say about the cold snap (stress) that often causes them to drop early. I saw that last year after the very cold December we had that year. I will have to take this subject up with a true expert on this subject and get back later with a better answer.
  • Chad from CA asks:
    Bill- I have a question regarding sheds. I have a great riverbottom location surrounded by a variety of crops and thick cover. I have 4 or 5 decent shooter bucks on camera from the last few years. We rarley find sheds? What appeals to bucks in the winter? I would assume food and cover which we have. Maybe we arent looking hard enough! Any pointers for finding sheds? Thanks for your time, I appreciate it. Good luck the rest of the year.
    Winke Responds:
    Chad, Yep, food is the key. We find most of our sheds around food. It may be that someone else is beating you to them. That happens often. Also, they are not easy to find. Sometimes they shed them in cover and the antler can be laying five yards away and you never see it. I would try to figure out if someone else is getting in there before you. Otherwise, maybe they have eaten all your food before the time when they start to drop their antlers.
  • jake from IA asks:
    Bill, I hunt several properties within about a three and half mile radius i consistantly harvest and see plenty of mature bucks. I shed hunt every one of these properties, and there is an abundant amount of deer, and its a big enough radius that the bucks shouldnt be leaving for no reason after hunting season, if fact I see deer there every time i go there however come february/march i find very few sheds, i look in bedding areas, feeding areas, transition areas, ridges, pretty much everywhere but i just cant find many sheds, do you have any idea why I just cant find sheds like I should?
    Winke Responds:
    Three possible reasons. First, someone else may be beating you to it. Second, the deer may be wintering somewhere nearby where there is more available food. They will move a bit to concentrate around good food sources in the winter. It is a learned trait that takes a few generations of deer to establish and the same amount of time to change. So if you don't have good food sources in this area and there is better food nearby, that may be where they have gone. Third, antlers are just hard to find. It is tough to find a few specific sets, for example, when the bucks have several hundreds acres in which to drop them. But you should likely be finding some no matter what. I would say it is either number one or number two. Good luck.
  • kyle from IA asks:
    hey i really enjoy the site its amazing i was wondering its april 28th here in iowa i found one shed today am i wasting my time or is it possible to find alot more sheds still thanks ?
    Winke Responds:
    Kyle, Thanks for your support. I would say that you won't find many more sheds except in open areas. It is hard to find them once the vegetation starts to grow. Also, by now squirrels have gotten to most of the ones in the timber. If you have a few food sources or open grassy areas, you may still find a few, but it is getting pretty tough. Good luck.
  • Caleb from IA asks:
    Bill, When is the best time of year to go looking for sheds? Would it be unwise to hunt for sheds near a potential deer stand location? I don't want to spook any deer out of the area in order to get a good harvest for next fall. Thanks again for shows, I'm always pumped when a new episode is released! Cheers, Caleb.
    Winke Responds:
    Caleb, Thanks for the question. We start looking around here in early February and finish up by about mid-March. The crew that hunts our farm scour it pretty hard because they don't want the squirrels to get them first so they are out there nearly every week. I have never worried about where we look. It probably makes sense to have a sanctuary, but we really like to find the antlers so we hunt everywhere. I think you are fine to look near your stand sites at this time of the year as the deer will have long forgotten it by the fall. Good luck. Bill
  • jacob from KY asks:
    Hi Bill, its jacob again and i was shed hunting on my 120 acre farm sunday march 1. And i saw 4 deer that day and im glad i got the new nikon monarchs because it made me see the tops of there heads really good and i noticed that one of them had little bumps on its head! and the other 3 had little 4 pt. racks. So my question is, Do big bucks lose there antlers before the littler bucks? thank you for answering. love the show cant wait till the next shed hunting video big fan!!!!!!!!!!
    Winke Responds:
    Jacob, Thanks for the support. No, it seems to be more genetic than anything else. I have talked to guys that have penned deer and their bucks tend to drop at roughly the same time every year. Some years the timing may be affected by stress, not sure on that. I suspect that is why we had so many drop in late December and early January this year and few since. We still had a decent number still carrying last week. Good luck. Glad you liked those binos, they are a good product for the money.
  • Evan from IL asks:
    HEY Here in west central illinois(fishhook, pike county to be specific) there are many big bucks seen throughout the year. Now one of my favorite things to do while not hunting is well to do more hunting...although this time it is shed hunting!...and many times its like i can find 4 pointers and 5 or 6 pointers anywhere...and no matter where i look or how hard i look...i can just never find that monster shed that should be the most visible..so my question is where are the best places to be looking when you look for sheds?? thanks evan!!
    Winke Responds:
    Evan, For sure, around and on food sources are the best places. That is where we find the easiest ones and where those big bruiser sheds will be most visible. The guys I know who are good at this also look for trails that have a lot of fresh droppings on them and follow them out. However, others may be beating you to the location and picking them up, so be sure to check for antlers regularly. Another point. Let's assume that you are looking for the antlers from one buck that has a 160 acre range in the winter. That means there are 80 acres per antler! Do you know how many places an antler can hid in 80 acres? It is no surprise we don't find them all. They are just hard to find, that's the bottom line. Good luck.