2017 Shed Hunt: Our goal was set to find a Public Land Shed in Northern Michigan.
Thanks for following along on our quest to find our first Michigan Public Land Shed. This quest is something we work towards every year to show the Common Hunters, hard working hunters, and weekend warriors the truth of Michigan Public Land Shed Hunting that so many of us can relate to. Let me start off by talking about the hype on Shed Hunting.
Shed Hunting has been around for years. It’s great to get out in the woods after a long winter and enjoy the fresh air of the spring. We look forward to it every year and work hard to find a shed and scout the areas for deer hunting in the fall. As social media has evolved over the past 10 plus years, we follow hunters all across the nation that hunt some great property. If you haven’t noticed, their shed hunting is a lot different from ours. After a day of walking on their highly managed farms, they find lots of great sheds! This is great to see them out finding those sheds. A lot of them will donate them to a good cause, like – Make a wish Foundation,etc. This is fantastic but not realistic for the Common Hunter. We want to show you the real shed hunting for the Common Hunter which is how the quest for a Michigan Public Land Shed Hunt started.
We mainly hunt in Northern Michigan. Not counting the few out of state hunts we go on every year, the only place we tend to shed hunt consistently is Michigan. We hunt from the Upper Peninsula down to the Northern Lower Peninsula, some of the heaviest hunted public land in the state, let alone in the nation. Michigan has been known for years as one the most pressured states to deer hunt – we have a lot of outdoorsmen! This makes it extremely hard to kill a deer, let alone try to find a shed across the many acres of public land. We continue to hunt for these sheds and are very grateful for the opportunity to find one! This year, my shed hunt started in Northern Lower Michigan on some great public land that I was successful on last fall deer hunting.
First Hunt: The public land that I was shed hunting was in the hardwoods. I didn’t expect much in here, as I thought with the winter the deer would be headed for the deer yards. Well, I was wrong, this must have been a valuable food source for the deer. After leaving 2 cameras out through the winter, I noticed that the deer were still using the area. I snowmobiled into this area in February with over 3 feet of snow and found the deer had been in there consistently throughout the winter, to my surprise. This is where I had started. I spent 2 full days skirting this large chunk of hardwoods that bumped up to private, logging in over 10 miles on that dirt. I found 3 other deer stands that were still up, lots of browse, but no shed. I was rather surprised because there were a lot of bucks in there in the late fall. It was great to get out though. I hung a few more cameras to monitor the deer activity in there for the spring and summer! I will be back there in a few weeks to check the cameras and search one more small area for sheds.
Now that the snow has melted, in most spots anyways, I was back out to see if I could find that elusive public land shed. After logging 10 miles on my first hunt, I was back out in the general same public land that I started the Shed Hunt on. There was a small section that I wanted to walk. After spending a few hours on this small tract of public land, I came up empty handed, I was off to another piece that I hunted last fall.
The chunk of land that I was headed too is about 10 miles away from where I was previously shed hunting. This habitat is a mix of Hardwoods and a small tract of swamp that typically holds deer in the winter time. I spent the rest of the day hunting this area, I had a good feeling about this area, as there was a lot of deer sign from the winter. I bumped some deer around in there and noticed the heavy browse and scat in that area. As I am shed hunting, I am also scouting for the upcoming fall. This one spot in particular caught my eye as a pinch point for the deer, I hung a camera up to monitor the traffic throughout the spring and summer. I always have 3-4 trail cameras with me as well as a saw, that way if I do find a spot that I’d like to hunt in the fall, I prep the spot so it is ready for fall. I’ll be back to check this spot in late summer, when the bugs aren’t so thick in Northern Michigan. Typically I’ll keep my cameras out in the summer for months before checking them. On public land the hunting pressure can really impact the deer, less intrusive is definitely the way to go. After walking this tract of dirt, I came up empty handed once again. Now we are in 18 miles in this quest to find a public land shed in Northern Michigan, next stop was the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Cousin Coot.
Cousin Coot and I loaded up the Fourwheelers and were headed up to the Big Woods of DA UP to continue our quest. After arriving into Camp Friday night, we prepped all our gear, the quads, and were hitting the woods early in the morning. We made a plan that night, to hit a big cedar swamp that a creek goes right through the middle of a known creek that holds a lot of deer. The cedar swamps in the UP hold a lot of deer in the winter time, as all of the deer migrate to the south side of the UP to survive the tough winters. They migrate due to the amount of snow the northern side of the UP receives compared to the Southern Side of the UP, some deer may migrate 10 miles while other may migrate up to 60 miles to get to their wintering grounds. Luckily, we hunt the Southern Side of the UP, so we are right in the migration when it hits typically late November and into December.
Saturday morning came with coffee and good breakfast to set us off for a day in the timber. We jumped on the quads and raced down to this big cedar swamp that we mapped out on the ONX Hunt Maps. Our plan was to work the west side of the creek down and then cut back to the east and work the east side back to the North. After getting into the Swamp, we noticed that there was a lot of deer that yarded in this swamp during the winter. Scat and browse on the Cedar Swamps were relevant. Unfortunately, we came across a lot of dead deer as well. In the UP the deer have to battle the winters, which can be detrimental to them, as well as coyotes and wolves. Like the deer, the wolves will typically go with the deer, as that is their primary food source throughout the UP. We came across many wolf kills, or winter kills, that the wolves found. Typically we find nothing but deer hair, the bones, meat, and guts are all ate up by the wolves. We stayed on track, checking the swamps, edge of the swamps, clear cuts, and logging trails with nothing to show for it other than a few skulls. As it was getting later in the day, we decided to take off and head to another chunk that we could check real quick before night sat in.
We hopped on the quads and flew up to this spot. We really picked up the pace, checking more than what we were intending, but we were determined to find a bone somewhere out in these big woods. As night time was settling in, we were walking back realizing that our hopes to finding our first shed of the year were coming to an end for this day. We enjoyed our walk back to the quads, talking about how great it was to spend a day on public land, lucky to be enjoying the day in the woods. At the end of the day, finding a shed is the goal, but nothing beats a day in the woods with one of your best buds, walking the dirt that God created for us to enjoy. That was it for Shed Hunting in the UP for that day and weekend. After hiking 12 miles and accounting for 14 dead deer found that day, we knew we were getting closer to finding that elusive Shed on public land.
It wasn’t long after I got back to work, that I had to get back out to continue the quest. 30 miles in now, I was headed out to a piece of Public Land that I hunted a few times the fall prior, but wanted to do some more scouting for the upcoming season. I know this chunk holds good deer during the season, along with that though, it does see a lot of pressure, which is one of the reason I didn’t hunt it that much.
I started my Journey thinking that this could be the day, to my surprise at the time it was going to be the day. I started my walk in the hardwoods, I went deeper in the timber than I hunted last fall. This public land is a mature hardwoods, not very thick and in the spring you can notice that it is wide open, it makes it hard to figure out where to go as there as no edges for the deer. I started out by jumping on a few deer runs and taking them, these lead me to the opposite side of the woods from where I hunt, new country that was neat to scout. I came across multiple tree stands in the woods. In Michigan, tree stands have to be taken down after season, so most of these tree stands are illegal. As I was coming across these tree stands, I carefully climbed into each of them, just to check out the view and see how the terrain was over the ridges that I couldn’t see from the ground. I carefully climbed down from the one tree stand and started heading down an old logging trail.
To my surprise at this time, I didn’t have a clue what to I was about to find. As I headed down this logging trail, just 50 yards from that tree stand, I was walking slowly looking at the leaves trying to just pick out a shed, liked I was doing for 36 miles. Well, I noticed something ahead underneath a limb that had fallen, I slowly walked up on it and I couldn’t believe what I thought was the end of a bucks antler. As I reached down, I thought no way, I slowly grabbed the antler and was in disbelief. After walking over 36 miles, I just accomplished my goal of finding my first public land shed in Northern Michigan.
I was in ahhh, I had a clean cut off of the buck, it was now mine and I couldn’t believe it. I immediately called my Dad, tearing up on the phone as I worked so hard to accomplish such a simple goal that means so much to a deer hunter. I took some pictures and a video and just sat there with that Shed, looking at it, we had a moment in the woods I will never forget. The 4 point sided shed, I placed the shed back down and thought to myself, how lucky am I to walk over this shed. If I would of walked 5 feet in either direction I wouldn’t of found that Shed, good to be alive and great to be lucky!
Our quest to bring the real side of Public Land Shed Hunting in Northern Michigan was complete, over 36 miles later. Hunting Northern Michigan is challenging enough, finding a public land shed in Northern Michigan can be even more challenging. Thank you for following along with us on this Journey and we will continue to set our quest next year to find another public land shed in Northern Michigan. Congrats to all who have found a Shed, regardless of where you have found.on, the odds of me finding that shed were slim. I got lucky. As I have always said about luck, if you spend enough time, energy, and passionate about something, you will eventually get lucky and catch a break. That happened to me that day. I was a happy Shed Hunter that day, that shed made it all worth the time spent out in the bush looking for that elusive shed. It was a delightful walk out of the woods that night, as I continued to look for his other side for 2 more hours, with no luck. It was special to me. To this day, that shed still sits right underneath my bear, something that I look at everyday and look back on the memories that are truly the important things in life.
Hunter: David Derusha
Location: Northern Michigan & Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Weapon: Bare Hands & Lacrosse Boots