Shed Hunting Gear – The Top 10 Most Important Items
Shed hunting has been a passion of mine for a long time. I remember finding my first set of deer sheds back when I was 6 years old. I couldn’t wait for school to end so my dad, my brother and I could go shed hunting. Fast forward 27 years and I still love to go looking for sheds. Over the last 27 years of shed hunting, I have narrowed down what I think is essential shed hunting gear. Below, I’m going to go through the top 10 things I think you need to have with you if you are going to go shed hunting.
Shed Hunting Boots
A good pair of boots will take you a long way when you are shed hunting. It’s not uncommon for shed hunters to walk up 10 to 15 miles a day while they are shed hunting. I know when I go out, I usually average somewhere between 8 to 12 miles. Let’s say the average shed hunter goes shed hunting ten times in the spring (I would argue it’s more than that). That’s 100 to 150 miles a year that you are putting on your boots.
Needless to say, your boots need to be comfortable and durable if you are planning on shed hunting in them for very long. Also take into consideration the terrain and weather you will be hiking in. If you are going to be hiking in cold wet or even snowy conditions, make sure your boots are waterproof or atleast water resistant. Through the years I’ve tried out a lot of boots and here are some of the best ones I’ve found.
Shed Hunting Pants
You are probably wondering why I put pants on the essential shed hunting gear list but hear me out. Throughout my teenage years and even into my early twenties, I would wear old levis or Carhartt work pants while shed hunting. Don’t get me wrong, they worked ok but they definitely weren’t the most comfortable. Sometime in my mid-twenties, a friend introduced me to actual hunting pants and my life was changed.
Ok, maybe not changed but I haven’t ever gone back to levis or Carhartt. I live in the desert southwest so I shed hunt in a lot of bushes and trees that can poke you. I was worried that hunting pants wouldn’t hold up getting snagged on bushes and trees all day but I was wrong. The biggest benefit is comfortability. They are soft, breathable, and durable. Here are the best shed hunting (and any type of hunting) pants that I have found.
Shed Hunting Jacket
A good all purpose jacket is also a must for shed hunting. Of course you need to take into account the weather and plan accordingly. But I am talking about a good everyday jacket that you can wear in the spring. It needs to be breathable so you don’t sweat to death while you are hiking up ridges but it needs to be warm enough that you don’t freeze when you are taking a break and glassing for sheds. I have a couple jackets that I rotate around on different shed hunting trips depending on the weather but find you one that can do it all. You won’t regret it. Here are the best jackets for shed hunting that I have found so far.
Shed Hunting Gloves
Over the years of shed hunting, I have come to learn that gloves are also a must. I don’t always wear them when I am shed hunting but I always have them in my pack. I have been caught off guard by random spring snow storms enough times to have learned that you need to have a pair of gloves with you. I prefer warm insulated gloves and even carry a few hand warmers in my pack just in case. Here’s a few of the gloves I have tried and liked over the years.
Shed Hunting Binoculars
As far as finding sheds goes, a good pair of binoculars might be the most important thing you need. Whether you are sitting on a ridge glassing the other side of the canyon or just think you see a shed fifty feet away but aren’t quite sure, a good pair of binoculars will buy you a lot. I would guess on an average shed hunting day trip, I look through my binoculars no less than 100 times. That’s how important they are.
You don’t need ones with giant magnification either. A good pair of 10 x 42’s will do just fine. If you do want a little more magnification, you can up it up to 15’s if you want. For the past 5 years or so, I have been using 15 x 50 and I love them. With optics, I am a little partial to Vortex. That’s because I think their customer service is top-notch and they make good quality products. Here are a few binoculars that will serve you well while you are shed hunting.
A good tripod might be the least essential of the essential shed hunting gear items but I still think it deserves to be on the list. Whether you need a tripod or not will depend greatly on where you shed hunt most. As I mentioned above, I live in the desert southwest, Southern Utah to be exact. The terrain and vegetation I shed hunt in is mostly sagebrush, grass, pinyon pine trees, juniper trees, and occasionally some pine trees. All of it is fairly open country where you can see a long way.
That means if I find a good hill, I can sit down, set my tripod up, attach my binoculars and glass for a long time. It’s a great way to find a lot of shed without having to walk all over for them. Now if you are shed hunting in the eastern U.S. a tripod might not be useful because of how thick the vegetation is. So consider where you will be shed hunting and then decide if you need one or not. Here is the tripod I have been using for probably the past ten years or so.
Shed Hunting Pack
If binoculars are the most important for finding sheds, a good shed hunting pack is most important for everything else. This is where you will store everything you need like water, food, gloves, a survival kit and it will also help you carry all your sheds when you find that honey hole. I have two different packs for shed hunting. I have a pack that I take with me if I am going after elk sheds or if I think there is a chance I might find a lot of deer sheds. Then I have a pack that I take with me when I know I probably wont find a lot of sheds.
A good shed pack needs to have a few things. First is it has to have enough storage. Second, it needs to have some straps on the back to carry the sheds you find. In my opinion that is pretty much it. Here are the two shed hunting packs that I have been using for the past ten years or so. The Badlands pack is my deer shed hunting pack and the Horn Hunter pack is my elk shed hunting pack.
A two-way radio is also a must. Even when I go shed hunting alone I always have my radio with me. If you are shed hunting with a group it will also come in extremely handy. Usually, when I shed hunt with friends, we don’t all walk together. We normally go off in different directions so having a way to communicate is super helpful. When I go alone, I have it with me just in case something happens to me and I need to talk to someone. Keep in mind that just because you have a radio doesn’t mean someone will be there to talk back but if someone does happen to be listening, they might be able to get you out of a jam. Here is the radio I have been using for the last several years.
A survival kit is kind of like an insurance policy. Hopefully, you never have to use it but if you do, you will be damn glad you have one. I created my own survival kit a few years back and luckily haven’t had to break into it yet. In it I have; a fire starter kit with a windproof lighter, a fire starter putty (but any dry material will work), a small bright flashlight, a knife, 50 feet of paracord, an emergency space blanket, and a life straw. Those were the things I thought to be essential for a survival kit where I go shed hunting. Make sure you think about where you go shed hunting and what you might need when you are making your own. If you don’t want to make your own, here is a good option for you.
Gun And A Holster
A gun might be the most essential item on this list. Even though we like to think of the human race as the king and on top of the food chain, the fact is, when we are in the wild, we aren’t. It’s plain and simple. When you are out in nature, there are things that can kill you and you need a way to protect yourself. Depending on where you shed hunt and the predators around where you go will determine the size of gun you will need.
For example, where I go shed hunting, the biggest predator I need to worry about is a mountain lion. Even though they are mostly scared of humans, they have been known to attack on occasion. I always carry a 9mm Smith and Wesson pistol with me. But if I was shed hunting where I knew there were bears, I would carry a larger caliber pistol. So think about what you might need to protect yourself from and plan accordingly.
Another thing you need to think about is a holster to carry your gun. Not only is putting it in your pack not very safe, it will take too long to get to when you need it. For the last couple years I have been using a holster that hangs off my binocular harness on my chest. I think it works great because of the ease of access and because it stays out of the way. Here is the one I use.
Shed Hunting Gear Wrap Up
There you have it, the ten most essential shed hunting gear items. All of these pieces of gear serve a different purpose when you are shed hunting. You might not use them all every time you shed hunt either but if you always have them with you, you will find more sheds, be able to hike further and if something goes wrong you will be ready.