John's Journal... Entry 233, Day 1
LEARN THE SECRETS OF A SHED HUNTER
How John Frank Became a Shed Hunter
Editor's Note: John Frank of Rubio, Iowa, takes more trophy bucks each season than any other hunter I know but probably kills fewer really-big bucks than most trophy deer hunters do. Frank, the most-ardent shed hunter I've ever met, explains that, "If I could hold a gun or a bow on a deer, and say, 'Give up your horns, and I'll let you go,' I'd probably never shoot another buck. I'm totally fascinated with bucks' antlers and what I can learn from them." Frank often finds big bucks that other hunters who hunt the same property he does never see and learns more about those deer's movement patterns than he will if he only hunts during deer season. Shed hunting allows a deer hunter to stay in the woods and hunt without a weapon, learn more about deer, pick up trophy antlers and become a more-proficient deer hunter during the upcoming season. This week, John Frank will share with us the art of shed hunting. Come back every day this week, and you may get as excited about shed hunting as Frank.
John Frank's enthusiasm for shed hunting has become an on-going and evolving sport for him. Due to Frank's passion for finding shed antlers, he's adapted some of the latest technology in deer hunting and has learned a vast amount of information about deer, which has enabled him to become a better deer hunter and a more-effective shed hunter. Frank often finds big bucks that other hunters who hunt the same property he does never see and learns more about those deer's movement patterns than he will if he only hunts during deer season. Shed hunting allows a deer hunter to stay in the woods and hunt without a weapon, learn more about deer, pick up trophy antlers and become a more-proficient deer hunter during the upcoming season.
"I was 10- or 11-years old before I knew and understood that deer shed their antlers each year and grew a new set of antlers to replace them," Frank recalls. When Frank first began to bow-hunt, he went to his ground blind early one morning and found a shed that the squirrels already had started to eat, which allowed him to see the layers of the bone and the soft inside part of the antlers. "After I looked at that first antler and realized that that buck had survived Iowa's shotgun season the previous year, I wondered how many other bucks might have survived and what their antlers might look like," Frank explains.
In Frank's quest for more knowledge about the bucks that still lived on the land where he hunted, Frank began to take a 35-millimeter camera hunting with him to photograph the deer that he didn't intend to take each season. Then he could study the deer's antlers later in the photographs. After deer season ended, he would try to locate the shed antlers of the bucks he'd photographed to attempt to pre-predict what those bucks' antlers would look like in the upcoming season. "I realized that if I let 120-class-or-less Boone & Crockett bucks pass one season, they could be 130- or 140-class B&C bucks the next season," Frank remembers. However, Frank took so many pictures that he unintentionally conditioned the deer to look up at him in the tree when he clicked the shutter on his 35-millimeter camera. To solve this problem, he used a video camera that made no noise to photograph the deer he chose not to take. With the zoom capabilities of the video camera, he could magnify the bucks' antlers and later study all the intricate details of the racks. Then after the season, Frank could hunt for the shed racks of the specific bucks he'd videoed.
TOMORROW: HOW FRANK DEVELOPED HIS ANTLER ADDICTION