Chasing Antlers – Getting Out Early in Elk Country

Shed hunting is a great way to knock off the winter cobwebs and stretch out your legs. It’s also a productive scouting technique for the fall and you get the bonus of an early jump on your physical training. Hang your sheds as trophies, build custom furniture or give them to the dog as chew toys. Covering some ground and hunting for these treasures is a great outdoor experience.

Know the Laws

Shed hunting is regulated and restricted in many areas. Seasons are often used to protect game in winter areas. Open day in these zones is often a competitive race to find the biggest sheds quickly. Check with your local fish and game to ensure you are legal before pursuing sheds.    

Use Your Glass Early

Get out early in the season and drive around looking for elk. Figure out the winter range and glass for bulls. Stay near the car or a long ways off and do not disturb the herd. Focus you efforts on areas you plan to hunt. This is a great opportunity to see the bigger class bulls you will chase during the fall. If you are persistent, you may even watch a few drop their antlers. Mark those spots and return when the elk move.

Take Your Dog

There are three types of dogs when it comes to shed hunting. Those who naturally find antlers, those who are trained to find them and those who could care less. Regardless, taking the dog for a hike while you shed is hunt fun and you might be surprised what your house pet finds.

Pattern the Landscape

Break the landscape down into small sections or a rough grid. Work a tight pattern and scan with your eyes. Look for anything off or protruding. If there’s still snow on the ground, the contrast will help. Brown grass and tree limbs will camouflage a shed very well.

Practice Patience

Although spring is prime for finding the first sheds of the year, you can hike and search all summer. Cover ground, develop an eye for sheds and be patient. You will not always find a shed or a perfect set, but there are plenty of hidden gems to discover.

Lazy J Bar O Outfitters provides high-adventure wilderness hunts in Montana, summer pack trips and fly fishing in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the finest horseback hunting in Alaska for giant bull moose, dall sheep and grizzly. For information, call us at 406-932-5687 or contact us online.