As you hit the hills, please keep in mind that with the bitter cold, frigid temperatures we have experienced over the past 1-2 months, the deer and elk are pretty stressed this year, and this time of year is one of the most critical for deer and elk anyway as they start to run low on that winter range feed and are doing all they can to survive. In fact, there have been several reports of people finding deer frozen to death in their beds here lately. As you hit the hills to search for sheds, please remember that just as there are hunting ethics, there are a few ethical codes we should be following during this season as well.
Access: There are 2 points I would like to make here. First, road systems are very muddy this time of year. Try to avoid tearing the road surfaces up with your truck or ATVs. This is a tremendous cost to tax payers to have the roads maintained from spring damage, as well as an unnecessary safety hazard to you and others that may have to come find you if you become stuck and stranded. If you are getting into bad road conditions, this is probably where you ought to be parking and getting out to hike to find the sheds anyway.
Also, on the topic of ethics, be sure to visit the Utah DWR website if you are in Utah and take your online shed antler ethics course that goes over a lot of these topics, and keeps you legal! wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler
Optics: It takes some training for the eye, but one of the best things you can do is find a vantage point and glass, glass, glass! The people I know that are scooping up lots and lots of sheds do it by tons of glassing and tons of walking. Click on our Vortex logo on the right sidebar and hook yourself up with some great optics to aid you in finding them!
Predators: When the deer and elk drop down the mountain, so do their predators, specifically cougars. I hear of more run ins with mountain lions this time of year than any other. Be sure to proceed into an area with caution, and look for sign of them as well. I never go shed hunting without the protection of a firearm. It is more to scare them off than to actually engage them, but I feel better knowing I am protected. These animals are also stressed this time of year and can do some crazy things. A couple of years ago, just outside of town, a cousin of mine was shocked to see a mountain lion jump from a tree and start chasing him on his ATV! As the scouts always say, "Be Prepared".
Safety: You are you going to run into a bit of everything during shed season; heat, cold, mud, snow, sudden storms, you name it. BE prepared for the worst, you never know what may happen to yourself if you slip and break a leg, get back to the truck and find your truck dead, or maybe you had an encounter with one of those cats! First of all, let someone know where you are going, and have a plan in case you are not back on time. Take your pack, filled with your basic survival gear; fire starters, emergency food, knife, warm clothes, water purification means, etc. Be sure to pack plenty of water, wear appropriate boots to handle the terrain and elements, a radio, and GPS. Again, be prepared!
What to do with those sheds?
Shed Inc in Panguitch, Utah where Mat and Randy Houston are going to give you great prices on your antlers. Stop and see their collection, and they usually run a "shed of the month" contest as well. The contest is worth getting in on! You can also follow the action on their Facebok page, www.facebook.com/shedinc.
If you are outside of the area, get in touch with the Snake River Antler Buyer. KC will give you great prices as well, and he also travels around the west purchasing antler. You can also find him on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SnakeRiverAntlerBuyer.
Mountain Mike's Reproductions: Do you have that trophy set that you just don't want to part with? I had this dilemma last year. I found a set of 190" sheds that I just didn't want to part with. I found Mountain Mikes, and thought I would give it a try. Mountain Mikes makes replicated skulls that you can attach your sheds to, giving the set a European mounted look to them. Mountain Mikes makes skulls for a variety of game, from whitetail, to mule deer, elk, and more. I bought a deer kit for my set. The kit came with 2 mounting plates, small and large which suited both whitetail and mule deer sheds. The process was simple; first I have to use a saw to cut the bases of the antlers off flush with the burrs, then use a Dremel tool to grind and even those bases out a bit, drill a hole in the base of each antler, then run a screw through the top mounting plate and into the antler to secure it. Next, just a couple of screws to secure the base of the skull to the top plate, then a little gap filler to go between the two. I run our of gap filler, but a little Elmer's glue did the trick to complete it (I think that's all their gap filler was anyway. They send you a mounting plate in the kit, and now I have this great set of sheds displayed on a skull in my trophy room. If I can do it, anyone can, if that tells you how easy it was! Find Mountain Mikes at http://masterofskulls.com/ and on their homepage you will find links to vendors that sell the product.
|Zach Owens of Panguitch, Utah with a Mountain Mikes Reproduction.|
Our Next Contest!
Alright, with shed season on the way, it's only fitting that we have a bit of a contest to make it a bit more interesting! We are going to do this as a photo contest again. The contest starts today, and because of the duration of shed season we are going to run this one through March 31st at midnight, MST. We want to see your photos not only of your sheds, but also of your trips! Half of the fun is the country covered, the muddy boots, the adventure of it, so also feel free to send photos of not just your sheds but your outing as well. We are again going to work on getting multiple prizes, in order to crown more than just a first place. So, stay tuned to see if we add more prizes to the pot as we go along. For now, check out this prize we have to offer!
We have a Garmin Rino 120 GPS/radio unit. These little GPS units are great to track your location, as well as to talk to your buddies, all in one! To qualify you will need to either submit a photo by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them directly to our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/suhuntandfish. We are going to use the honor system and trust that your photos are from 2013. Be sure to give our Facebook page a like if you haven't done so, and share the contest with your friends. We will keep updating here and on Facebook as we get new prizes added to the pot.