By: Ted Nugent
I know I’m not alone when I celebrate my hunting as a genuine lifestyle. I know a lot of hardcore, dedicated hunters all across America and around the world, and each and every one of them seriously live for this stuff, and we live it all year long to one degree or another.
Even though I am still pursuing the mighty whitetail deer here at home in Texas through the month of February, for the vast majority of American deerhunters, the season is over and many are already hard at it preparing for next fall.
Immediately following the season is surely the very best time of year to get intimate and updated improved knowledge of our deergrounds.
Shed hunting is getting more and more popular during the post-season winter months, but searching for ground-bone is about much more than just finding those mythical discarded antlers.
Walking our hunting grounds on the open, denuded terrain in the dead of winter gives us the absolute best and clear view of critter activity better than at any other time of year.
Of course any excuse to get out there into the wild is good enough for the joys of just being out there.
Where sheds are found and trails are identified on barren ground gives us a direct contact with where and what the deer were doing at the tail end of the season, and in most habitats, their general habits for most of the fall and winter periods as well.
Way back in the 1960s when I first figured out how educational my winter exploring could be, I discovered more about topography and deer activity than I ever had during the actual deerhunting season.
Without worrying about spooking deer or disrupting my favorite ambush areas, my leisurely cruising of the grounds taught me valuable information about the lay of the land, hidden bedding areas and travel corridors, preferred incremental seasonal feeding zones and critical staging areas leading to where I had traditionally waited on deer to arrive at obvious junctures.
Trudging deeper into my hunting territory exposed so much more about what lay beyond my hunting time vision and gave me emphatic insight into new and improved treestand and groundblind locations.
Everything looks completely different on leafless habitat versus the tangled jungles of puckerbrush vegetation hell that we dared not penetrate during the deerseason.
When I head out for my post-season scouting adventures, I always take my bow and quiver full of small game heads and Judo heads for what I believe is the best archery/bowhunting practice/training there is.
You know that way before there was the Pope & Young Club, there was the National Field Archery Association where families gathered for outdoor archery target fun.
Roving and stump-shooting is the best tactical preparation for instinctive arrow flinging there is. Bagging a rabbit or squirrel is as much fun as killing a deer, but it is the random stump, clump or stick or log that is picked as a target at varying ranges that teaches real-world bowhunting form and instinct.
Post season wintertime shed hunting and exploring with bow in hand can also teach us much about stealth and wildlife awareness that treestand or deerblind time cannot.
It is called shed hunting afterall, so moving slowly with an elevated level of predator awareness enabling us to pick out those boney gems can train us to be more efficient and dangerous when actually pursuing game.
Actual deerseasons may be over for now, but this is the best time of the year to get out there in anticipation of that sacred time eight months in the future. Bare ground tells a million stories. Get out there and read all of them that you can.