Should I start looking for sheds today?\u00a0 Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? As deer seasons come to a close across the country, the inevitable question of, \u201cwhen should I start looking for shed antlers?\u201d fuzzes our deer hunting wired brains.As soon as the hunting season ends, the urge to replace that emptiness consumes us and all we want to do is find the hardened headsets of those that outwitted us this past fall.\u00a0 While the urge is great, you will find more bone if you wait until the time is right.Use the following factors to determine when the time is right in your area.Why do they shed?First and foremost, in order to understand when a buck sheds, you need to know the science behind the physiological process. \u00a0A previous article (The Science Behind Shed Antlers & Why Rack Traps Don’t Work) covers this process in much greater detail,\u00a0but to sum things up, photoperiod is the trigger.\u00a0 Yes, just like the rut, photoperiod triggers antler drop.Photoperiod (amount of daylight) signals changes in testosterone levels, which controls antler growing, hardening, and casting periods.\u00a0 Antlers usually fall off within hours of testosterone levels falling below the antler threshold limit, which is why so many sets are found within a couple hundred yards of each other.\u00a0 Since photoperiod is at the helm of controls, you can expect healthy bucks to shed around the same time year after year.Above is a very simplistic and general interpretation of how the level of testosterone in a buck signals different antler phases.Mid-February is a good time to start your search for antlers throughout much of the U.S.\u00a0 Early-February if you really need to scratch that itch.\u00a0 If I had to put a percentage to it, I would say 90% of bucks are shed by March 1, compared to just 25% by\u00a0February 1.InfluencersNow, of course there are many factors that can play a role in when a buck sheds.\u00a0 First off, every buck is a unique individual, meaning what happens to one buck may be completely different from the next buck.\u00a0 Similar to growth spurts in humans, some kids shoot up in middle school, most grow the fastest in high school, and some don\u2019t hit their spurt until college.\u00a0 For deer, some drop in December and January, most drop in February, and some hold their antlers until March or April in much of the country.\u00a0 Many of the Southern states like parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and especially Florida are exceptions to the normal shedding dates.Stress related factors can also influence when a buck sheds his antlers.\u00a0 Stressful circumstances such as injuries, fighting, poor nutrition, and severe winters can often lead to an early suppression of testosterone levels, thus an earlier antler drop.When should you look?Like many answers relating to wildlife\u00a0. . .\u00a0It depends.\u00a0 Use the following list of scenarios and suggestions in order for you to determine the best approach and time to be out shed hunting in your area.Private vs. PublicObviously this will have an impact on when you should be out in search of white gold.\u00a0 If you have a nice piece of private land all to yourself, you\u2019re better off waiting until March to begin your search.\u00a0 By then most of the antlers have dropped and more importantly most of the snow has melted.\u00a0 Simply stated, there\u2019s no real rush to get out there because they\u2019ll still be there when you do decide to look.Public land, now that\u2019s a different story.\u00a0 Welcome to the world of combat shed hunting (in certain areas at least).\u00a0 Here\u2019s where the early bird gets the worm. Good public lands often get hit early and often by competing shed hunters.\u00a0 The best approach here is to join them.\u00a0 Don\u2019t just go in their once and check it off your list.\u00a0 If you want to have success, you\u2019ll have to more than likely walk the same chunk of ground multiple times throughout the season because you never know when a buck will drop his antlers.\u00a0 I\u2019d start around the 1st of February and check it several times throughout the month.Is there still snow on the ground?Again, an obvious, but important factor to consider.\u00a0 Is there snow on the ground? How much? And when was the most recent snowfall?\u00a0 There\u2019s nothing worse than a Late-February snowfall in my book.\u00a0 Just as you\u2019re about to really ramp up your shed hunting . . . WHAM! In comes a snowstorm and all the sheds are buried for another couple of weeks.\u00a0 Like most shed hunters, I prefer little to no snow on the ground.\u00a0 Not only is it easier to spot the sheds lying on top of the dead vegetation, but it\u2019s also much easier to hike around.Here in Wisconsin, the snow is usually around into March and sometimes even April.\u00a0 This is when knowing the most recent snowfall is important.\u00a0 If the last snowfall was in January and the cold weather has been the only thing keeping the snow around, then hiking through the white stuff can yield good results.\u00a0 This is because most antlers were likely shed after it snowed, therefore will be on top.Are you in a competition?Do you have a friendly competition with your other shed hunting buddies over who can find the most or biggest sheds of the season?\u00a0 I know I do.\u00a0 Competition is a great excuse to get outdoors.\u00a0 Miles = Piles baby!\u00a0 If you got a honey hole of your own that you bring your buddies to shed hunt later in the season because you\u2019re a nice friend, I see nothing wrong with sneaking in there early for first dibs on the \u201ceasy\u201d ones.You might bump a buck. This kind of ties back into the public vs. private land scenario.\u00a0 If you\u2019re out shed hunting on public land, you\u2019re probably not all that concerned about bumping a buck before he sheds his antlers.\u00a0 However, for private land hunters, this a very common concern.\u00a0 While there is a possibility of this happening, especially on smaller properties, they aren\u2019t likely to move far from food during this time of year.\u00a0 If you bump one still holding its antlers and you happen to have the main food source or the bedding near it, chances are the buck will be back.\u00a0 Again, if you don\u2019t want to risk this happening just wait until March when you can be sure most bucks have shed.Can you fight the urge?Hopefully you\u2019ve gotten a pretty good idea on when to shed hunt after considering the above factors. \u00a0The real question is . . . Can you fight the urge?\u00a0 I know I can\u2019t, which is exactly why I try to gain permission on as many properties as possible and hit the public land early.\u00a0 Just remember, roughly 90% of bucks are shed by March 1st, compared to just 25% on February 1st.