Top 5 Tips To Help You Be A More Successful Shed Hunter

Top 5 Tips To Help You Be A More Successful Shed Hunter

The Top 5 Things You Can Do To Find More Sheds

Shed hunting season is right around the corner, or for some of us, it’s already here.  For avid shed hunters and new shed hunters alike, this time of year is always exciting.  It’s time to see if all the scouting and preparation has paid off.  The anticipation of what you might pick up this shed season is almost unbearable.  If you are planning on hitting the hills this year in search of some brown gold, here are a few shed hunting tips for you to remember.

Looking In The Right Spots For Sheds

I’ve found some sheds in some pretty weird places.  Hanging in trees, on rock skrees, next to cliff edges and even in the middle of the road.  Sheds can be anywhere the animal walks.  That being said, there are a few places that elk and deer spend most of their time so if you look there, it will up your chances of finding some sheds.

Elk Sheds

High country elk sheds are always fun to look for.  Not only do you get to see some awesome country and some great views, while you are hiking, you get a chance to find some giant elk sheds.  Most of the time, the mountains where elk hang out are snowed in all winter.  Elk are just like us and just like any other animal.  They want to be as comfortable as possible.  So if they can get out of the snow or at least minimize how much snow they are in, they will do it.  That is exactly why they prefer south facing slopes.  

During the winter (in the northern hemisphere) the sun is always on the south end of the sky.  That means that most north facing slopes see hardly any sun and almost no direct sunlight in the winter.  East facing slopes see some sun in the morning and west facing slopes see some in the afternoon.  South facing slopes see it all day. 

That means that if anywhere is going to be free from snow, it will be south facing slopes.  Elk will spend most of their time on south facing slopes lounging around.  It’s even better if they have a food source there.  If you are going after elk shed and especially high country elk sheds, check the south facing slopes first.

Deer Sheds

If there is a lot of snow where you go looking for deer sheds, you can follow the same logic as elk and look on south facing slopes.  I don’t seem to have as much luck with deer sheds on south facing slopes though.  I don’t know if deer like to roam more but I seem to find them all over the place. 

A few spots that I like to double check for deer sheds are washes and gullies.  Deer will travel these in order to stay out of the view of predators.  Since they travel these more, you are more likely to find sheds in them.  

I also like to double-check their food sources.  Here in the west deer consume a lot of plants but in the winter they consume a lot of sagebrush and cliffrose.  If I can find a sagebrush flat or a hillside of cliffrose, that is usually the first place I hit.

Shed Hunting Gear

hunting pack, shed hunting tips

Having the right gear with you is extremely important when you are shed hunting.  Without it, you could end up in a really tough spot.  There are a few essential items you will need.

Shed Hunting Pack

Make sure to bring your shed hunting pack.  Not only will this help you carry any sheds you find but you will also need to store valuable things in it.  It will give you a place to carry water, food, gps, and any survival gear you feel you might need.  

Shed Hunting Boots

Footwear is one of the most important things you need to think of.  You will need warm and waterproof boots if you are planning on hiking in the snow at all.  They will also need to be comfortable since you will most likely be hiking for miles in them.  Don’t forget to wear comfortable socks too.  I prefer wool socks if I am going to be hiking in any snow.


You will need to be able to get back to your vehicle after a long hike so it’s important to have a gps or a phone with a mapping app to help you.  It’s easy to get turned around in the mountains and it happens to countless people every year.  Don’t think that it can’t happen to you because it can and it can have deadly consequences.  There are a ton of apps out there now that can help you.  

Protection Against Other Animals

I never go head hunting without taking some sort of firearm.  Most of the time I pack my 9mm Smith and Wesson with me.  I prefer a pistol because I can place it in the holster and I don’t have to worry about it unless I need it.  Research where you are planning on going shed hunting and know what predators are in the area. 

If you are shed hunting in the north, you might want to pack something that has a little more knockdown power than a 9mm pistol.  Either way, you will need some sort of protection.  Chances are you won’t have to use it but if you do, you will be happy you have it.

Glass For Sheds

looking through binoculars

Glassing for sheds will save you a lot of time.  If you have a good pair of binoculars or a good spotting scope, they will become your best friend on your shed hunting trips.  Glassing is where you find a spot where you can see a lot of area that you know sheds might be laying in.  Find a good spot where you can sit and get comfortable.  Start picking apart hill sides and flats.  I like to start on the top of hillsides and the far end of flats and work a grid pattern back and forth with my eyes.  That way you won’t miss any area that you can see. 

If the sheds are a year or two old and white, they will stick out like a sore thumb.  If they are brown, it will take a little time in being able to recognize them.  Don’t worry if you get tricked and think you found a shed only to walk up on a stick.  It happens to everyone.  Glassing will save your legs from having to walk all the hillsides and flats in the area.  It’s a great way to cover a lot of area without having to walk any of it. 

Tell Someone Where You Are Going

Make sure to tell someone where you are going shed hunting and what time to expect you to be back.  In my younger days before I was married, I would text a buddy a screenshot of the area, and coordinates of the general area I was going.  I also told him when to expect a text from me and always had him give me a few hours grace period in case I was just running late. 

If he didn’t hear from me within a few hours of when I told him he should, he would know where to send search and rescue to look for me.  Most of the time, shed hunters go to some remote areas so this is just a good practice to get into.  

Survival Kit

survival starting a fire

A survival kit while you are shed hunting is another must.  You should always have a survival kit in your shed hunting pack.  In my survival kit I have a lighter and matches in a waterproof container, fire starter tinder, a knife, some rope or p-cord, a rain poncho and an emergency space blanket.  Also in my shed hunting pack I have an all weather space blanket that is neon colored on one side.  They work really well for temporary shelters and are highly visible.  

I also have another emergency kit in my truck.  It has a few MRE’s, some extra water, extra batteries and an extra coat.  You never know what might happen out there.  Maybe your truck wont start when you get back to it or maybe you fall and break your leg during your hike.  Either way, you will want to be as prepared as possible to survive any situation you might encounter.  

Shed Hunting Tips – Wrap Up

Follow those shed hunting tips and you will be better prepared for anything that might happen while you are out there.  The biggest shed hunting tip I can give you is, just get out there! I can guarantee you won’t find any shed sitting on your couch.

Happy Hunting!


Hey I'm Karson. I've been hunting since I was 8 and shed hunting even before that. If you have any questions for me, fill out a form on the contact page, send me an email at or leave a comment on the below. Thanks