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Steven Drake | 3.21.2022

Shed Hunting Tips

  • Pursuit: Big Game

Tip 1: Winter scouting

To find sheds you must search where the bull elk spend their winter and spring. The most effective way to find these areas is to scout in the winter. In December bulls will group up in bachelor herds and move to their winter range. Depending on the area and the severity of weather, this move could be 1 mile or 100. Bulls will then spend the winter months feeding on big south facing, wind swept slopes where feed is ample and not buried too deep under the snow. Some of these slopes can be seen from roads. Others you'll have to hike in to scout. Glass these slopes from a far. If you find bulls they'll likely shed near there come spring.

Tip 2: If you find cow elk, look higher

When you're winter scouting if you find cow elk look higher. Bulls often winter at higher elevations than cow elk.

Tip 3: Just keep hiking

I typically put on 15 miles per day when shed hunting. When I started shed hunting my sheds-found to miles-hiked ratio was 1:10. That ratio has improved over the years but the takeaway remains: if you're not finding sheds, just keep hiking!

Tip 4: Bulls are habitual

The learning curve to finding your first shed can be steep. The good news, however, is that bulls are habitual and will usually winter in the same area year after year. So once you find a shed, odds are good that if you search the same area next year you'll likely find more sheds. 

Tip 5: Patience

Once you find elk in the winter, if you start searching for sheds too early you run the risk of bumping the bulls off their winter range before they shed. For the sake of finding more sheds and also not pressuring the elk during their weakest time, it's smart to watch from afar and start searching once you see bald bulls. Avoid the rat race of shed hunting too early. As a general rule of thumb, wait until green grass starts sprouting before you shed hunt. Some states like Colorado don't allow shed hunting in portions of the state until May 1st to reduce pressure on wildlife when their energy reserves are low. Definitely refer to your state's shed hunting regulations before you hit the hills.

This is Steven Drake’s Shed Hunting System: