Gearing Up for Shed Hunting in Canada

Pro-staff Contributor: Jeff Gustafson

Gussy's Friend with ShedWe are still buried under a blanket of snow across most of Ontario’s Sunset Country, delaying the start of our spring shed hunting season, but much of the Midwest is now clear of snow.  As soon as the snow melts it will be prime time to hit the woods in search of shed antlers across the ice belt.  This is because there is no grass hindering our ability to see freshly dropped antlers.  The snow also preserves all of the deer rut signs from the previous fall so we’re killing two birds with one stone when we hit the woods.  Not only might we find a giant shed antler, but we’re also able to see all the significant deer signs from the previous fall—things like fresh rubs, scrapes and tracks.

Hard Work Pays Off

I have put in many days where I’ve walked for 12 hours straight, through swamps, some of the thickest brush you can imagine and up big hills.  I strike out during some days and don’t find much, but many times my friends and I have found over 100 sheds in one day.

In Ontario’s Sunset Country region, we find most of our sheds on the south facing sides of the biggest hills and ridges.  We scout areas on topographical maps then make a plan for how to access them.  The best spots are more than a mile from the nearest road or the lake shoreline.  These are places that hunters generally can’t get to; so we’re walking on land that sees very little human activity.  When we find 100+ sheds in a day, these include a lot of old sheds—some of which are faded and chewed on—but when we find multiple sheds in the middle of an open ridge, we know that nobody has walked through that opening in a long time!

In the big woods that I shed hunt, a handheld GPS is critical to avoid getting lost.  It can be easy to navigate on our own during sunny days, but on cloudy days it can be almost impossible without GPS.  GPS units like the Garmin Rino 120 also feature a radio—which is an added bonus.  The cool thing about shed hunting is that there is no limit to how many people can be involved.  It’s a social activity, which is why I have so much fun doing it.  My friends and I have contests when we go for the most sheds, biggest or first find of the day.  Having a radio helps us interact and keep track of everyone’s location.

Good day for shed hunting

Finding Comfortable and Durable Gear

The most important part of enjoying a shed hunting experience is being comfortable.  That means dressing properly—from my base layers to my boots.  Walking through rough terrain all day is a great body workout so I want to wear quality boots.  Over the years I have worn several different boots and have come to rely on the Danner Pronghorn GTX for its durability and its water resistance.  The Under Armour-Armour Guard shirt is my favorite base layer because it’s not super tight fitting and it will dry quickly if I break a sweat climbing a big hill.  For my pants, I definitely want something rugged and durable because I’ll be rubbing them on all kinds of sticks and branches.  The Mountain Khaki Alpine Utility Pant is super tough and extremely comfortable—it’s the only pant I wear in the woods anymore.  It’s a top quality product!

Spring is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy time with your friends.  If you find any big shed antlers this spring, be sure to share photos with us on the Facebook page!

Jeff Gustafson is a professional angler living in Kenora, Ontario on the shores of Lake of the Woods. Outdoor writer, fishing promoter and host of “Fishing with Gussy.” You’ll see him fishing the Walmart FLW Tour representing and Lund boats among others. You can follow him on Twitter (@GussyOutdoors) and like him on Facebook (

Gussy and Friend Shed Hunting


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