As far as shed hunting gear goes, what do you need for a shed hunting adventure? In other words, what are the essential items that you need when venturing out to go shed hunting?
My shed hunting experience has taught me that these 11 items are definitely what you “Must-Have”.
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In my video above, I do list 8 items that you should carry with you, but I’ve updated the list to include 11 items that you must have. Time and experience can change things and I have since then updated my list to reflect my time and experience while in the woods. Hope this post helps you out.
Our bodies are made up of more than 50% water, so it’s always important to stay hydrated at all times. You especially need to stay hydrated when doing any type of exercise because a lack of water can lead to a heat injury that can be life-threatening. And remember, the warmer it is outside the more risk you take in getting a heat injury.
Have you ever tasted your sweat before? Yep, it’s pretty salty tasting. Whenever you exercise, your body releases moisture (water) and electrolytes as well. That’s why your sweat tastes salty – it contains potassium and sodium and these are the electrolytes that your body’s cells need to function.
So when I’m out shed hunting I make sure I bring plenty of water as well as an electrolyte supplement that I get from MTN OPS. MTN OPS products are great fuel for your body and their stuff tastes great! I use their Ignite product and their Electrolyte product which are the STM Stick Packs.
You can also hydrate yourself with an electrolyte drink that you can buy anywhere. Gatorade and Powerade are some electrolyte drinks that come to mind. These drinks will hydrate you as well as provide the electrolytes that you need to function properly.
Make sure you bring along snacks as well. I usually bring along beef jerky, a sandwich and some sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds, besides being great protein also contain sodium (salt) which as we discussed earlier is great for your body, especially when you’ve been under heavy exertion and you are sweating profusely.
3. Toilet Paper
Bears aren’t the only ones that poop in the woods. We shed hunters also poop in the woods. When I’m out shed hunting or deer hunting I usually bring a small amount of TP with me in a plastic bag. And actually, I think paper towels may be a better option because they hold up better.
Before there were stand-alone GPS units out there that the consumer could use and even afford, there was the compass.
I rarely will bring a hand-held compass with me anymore when out hunting or shed hunting because I usually rely on my mobile phone for helping me to get around and to know where I’m at. Most modern mobile phones have a GPS receiver built into the phone and having a mapping app on your phone will enable you to find your way around in the woods.
I do however still carry a compass with me when out hunting or shed hunting. The compass I carry is a small button compass that I attach to my gear. I keep it close so that I can just glance down at it every now and then just to get my bearing on where I’m heading. It’s also a good idea to have a compass as a backup to your GPS. And there is no substitute to looking at maps and knowing your area somewhat before you head out the door to explore.
You need good glass when you’re out shed hunting. I’ve used my binoculars many times to find sheds, but mostly use them to confirm whether or not that “shed” I see really is a shed antler or a just a common tree branch.
You will often see something with the naked eye and then use you binoculars to confirm what you are seeing. You might think something that you see is a shed antler, but upon further examination with your binoculars you see that it’s a “6 point tree branch” instead of a 6 point antler. Binoculars can save you that extra bit of a hike to check things out.
I recommend a compact set of binoculars. Compact binoculars are lighter to carry and they have plenty of magnification to get the job done. I use Zeiss 8x20B Binoculars and have been using them for years. Zeiss makes some awesome optical products with beautiful glass.
Get yourself a topographical map for your area. I don’t always carry a paper map but sometimes I will still carry one, depending on the area. I find myself using the mapping apps on my phone most all of the time. If you are going to use a paper map, get a USGS quad map in 1:24,000 scale. Having a paper map really does allow you to get to know your area much better.
7. Mobile Phone
Yes, bring a phone with you. A phone can serve many functions. You can take pics of your newly-found shed antler, or any other deer or animal sign you may come across in the field. Besides taking pics, the most obvious use of your phone will be for communication and GPS purposes.
After you’ve found that deadhead whitetail skull, you can take a pic of it and then send that pic in a text message to your shed hunting buddies. If you’re in cell range and have an emergency, then it goes without say that a mobile phone is a useful piece of gear.
A mobile phone is a great piece of gear to have to help you stay found and not lost. A modern phone will be equipped with a GPS receiver that will communicate with satellites to give you your current location. You can even be without cell service and still use your phone to guide you. An app that I use will allow me to download maps of my hunting and shed hunting areas to my phone so that I can even use them when not in cell tower range. This app has many awesome features besides maps. The mapping app I am talking about is On X Hunt. It is published by OnX Maps. I use this app every time I’m in the outdoors.
Get yourself a good sturdy backpack. You need a backpack to help carry those shed antlers home that you find. I use an old Camelbak hydration pack that has an H2O bladder and a drinking tube. Sometimes I’ll go without the bladder and tube and just carry a water bottle or two. I also have a couple of other packs that I will sometimes use.
9. Pepper Spray
If you are in bear country, then I recommend you carry pepper spray. The brand of pepper spray I carry is UDAP. And it may not just be a bear you have to use it on. You might have to use it on other mammals as well. Where I hunt, there are wolves as well as cougars and this spray will work on them as well. There is also the possibility you might run into an aggressive domestic dog as well.
It’s difficult for me to mention pepper spray as a deterrent without mentioning a firearm for protection as well. It doesn’t hurt to carry both a firearm and pepper spray for protection but I would – at the minimum, carry a good sized can of pepper spray.
10. First-Aid Kit (FAK)
Definitely bring a First-Aid Kit with you when heading out to shed hunt or just going out anywhere in the great outdoors. In each of my vehicles I carry a fairly decent sized FAK. I have one that I got at REI years ago and it’s about the size of a small book. I carry that one in my Jeep. I have another one made by Adventure Medical Kits in my truck. That one is about 10″ square and is about 3″ thick.
I also keep a large one made by the American Red Cross in my house. I know I probably have other small first-aid kits around the home.
As far as a FAK to take with you when you’re hunting or shed hunting and you’re not near your vehicle, you still have decent options for small kits that will attach to your belt or that you can fit into your backpack. I always carry at least a small pocket-sized first-aid kit with me. This small kit will fit in most pockets and in cargo pockets for sure.
I wasn’t really going to mention shoes or boots as a must-have for shed hunting because I assume most people aren’t going shed hunting in their flip-flops or bare feet. Just get yourself a good comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots with decent ankle support and you’ll be fine.
Common sense and the weather should dictate what type of shoe or boot you are going to wear for shed hunting. A good all-around boot that I wear while hunting or shed hunting is the Danner Pronghorn. I am on my 4th pair right now – ready to buy a 5th pair. And, this is over a 15 year period of putting many hard miles on them. I also wear other boots as well, depending on the weather. If I’m in the snow or other cold and wet weather I will wear White’s Pac boots or my Lacrosse Pac boots. Both are insulated.
I hope this list will at least give you a jumping-off point when it comes to figuring out what gear to take on your shed hunting adventure. I have learned the hard way at times when coming up with this list. Like, for instance, when you leave your binoculars at home and know that you have to glass some hillsides, or you are out all day and realize that you didn’t bring enough water or snacks with you. So, I make sure I have at least all of the above items before I head out.
And, if you are using a dog for your shed hunting adventure – don’t forget the dog. I have trained two dogs for shed hunting and they always made sure I didn’t leave them behind. 🙂