Get ready now for shed hunting season

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You might call it spring training but not for baseball. Indeed, the next few weeks are the ideal time to get ready for a popular outdoor activity that attracts serious deer hunters who enjoy keeping track of the deer on a certain tract of land.

Shed hunting

Late February and early March are the prime time for deer antler shed hunters. Trophy hunters who find sheds can find answers to questions about the survival of certain bucks they have pursued.

Some hunters develop keen skills and techniques that help them spot sheds which are most often simply poking up out of snow. Other shed hunters have trained dogs to do the searching and often the retrieving as well.

Indeed, shed hunting has become a highly anticipated after-season activity. According to experienced shed hunters, both antlers are often dropped within yards of each other and pairs of antlers can match up with antlers from the same animal year after year.

Prepare for success

Why mention an outdoor activity that is best enjoyed a month from now? Because the next couple of weeks offer just enough time to prepare for success — just enough time to prepare for the real game.

There are currently several well-written books, booklets, and articles available for pre-hunt reading. Add to that a selection of DVDs that put in full-color what in-prime shed hunting season is, and it’s all pretty much black and white.

Too cheap to tap Amazon? Okay, then go online to Youtube and/or Facebook and share your off-season couch time with thousands of your closest friends.

Train a dog

While winter loafing time might be a comfy time for learning the ropes, training a shed hunting dog is even better. Any dog will do, so don’t get hung up with a need to own a certain “hunting” breed.

Head to the woods and place sheds in the snow for your dog to find. Reward the “find,” and Fido will get the idea after several finds. This exercise is good for both Fido and his human. Finding antlers is a skill and best learned with experience and a bit of luck.

Deer hunter and dog trainer Jeremy Moore offers a great DVD-based course in shed dog training, accompanied with antler-like tools to assist in the process. Find it at dogbone.com.

If you’re interested, outdoorlife.com has a list of 10 rules leading to success in shed hunting. Shootingtime.com has nine more. Add to new skills, the opportunity to visit record books devoted strictly to sheds. Search “shed hunting,” and you can easily fill an otherwise worthless February with something worthwhile.

In other news

Massachusetts has recently joined Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Vermont in prohibiting contests that involve the killing of certain wildlife. It appears that public protests concerning coyote contests brought the issue to a head. State wildlife officials, after weighing public comment, decided that the current practice promoted the indiscriminate killing of wildlife and was unethical. Newly adopted regulations prohibit contests for not only coyotes but most fur bearers whether varmint, nuisance, or not.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.

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