Find the food. Whether you’re hunting for deer or moose sheds, food sources always are good places to look.
Focus on the ground. Sheds aren’t often out in the open. They may be partly buried in the snow or among brush. If your eyes aren’t on the ground around you, you’ll likely miss sheds you’d find if you were paying closer attention.
Pay special attention to south-facing areas. They receive the most sunlight during the winter. Not only will animals lounge in the sun, but these areas may also have less snow, making it easier for animals to travel and find food.
Thick cover is your friend. They may not be super-easy to walk through, but areas with cover such as cattails, evergreen trees and thickets provide animals with security and thermal cover to keep them warm. Plus, all that thick cover could actually knock off animals’ antlers.
Shed hunting with dogs
A main question for dog owners is whether teaching their dogs to locate shed antlers will affect their ability to locate game birds such as grouse and pheasants.
“It won’t happen,” Tom Dokken said. “Birds are so much more powerful as far as an attractant to those dogs. If you are shed hunting with a dog and you run into birds, he’s going to get distracted.”
It’s not too difficult to train a dog to find sheds, said Dokken, president of the North American Shed Hunting Dog Association. It’s key to have a dog that has a lot of desire to retrieve. “People just have to think of an antler as a retrieve object,” he said.
Dokken recommended people buy training scent and apply it to an antler. Then hide the antler in the yard and see if your dog can find it. If it does, start hiding antlers where they’re more difficult to find, or use multiple antlers.
“By and large, it’s a really inexpensive sport to get into,” he said. “You have some antlers and training scent, and away you go.”