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Guest Blog

Shed hunting, or something more

Tue, March 25, 2014

By EVERY MAN

I am the first to admit this – I am the world’s worst shed hunter. I’ve tried over the years going with a big group, I’ve tried with small groups and with just one other person. While the group social aspect of the day is always enjoyable and entertaining, it is so rare that I actually pick up a piece of bone. I mean never.

So this year I thought, what the heck, let me try this thing going solo. It can’t hurt a .000 record and I needed to get out of the office, off the couch and away from phones, TV’s and all the distractions they bring. I needed a walk in the woods.

I use the term walk in the woods because really that is all I expect this day to be. It’s not like I will step foot in the timber and all of a sudden I will stumble upon stretch of bedding area that offers up dozens of former head gear like a dead elm offers up morels in the spring. It just simply doesn’t work that way.

So grabbed a bottle of water, took the Quad into the timber’s edge and headed off. I really didn’t have much of a plan. I wanted to move towards a suspected bedding area and maybe along field edges. It really didn’t matter. I knew I wasn’t going to find anything.

Head down and eyes focused, I headed deeper with the sun at my back. It didn’t take long for something odd to attract my attention. It was a glass bottle. Not an ordinary glass bottle. This one was sitting straight up as if the former owner had placed it just so near a tree many years ago. I examined the bottle. The cap was on, it was empty and it had raised letters on the glass that said “DO NOT LITTER.” That cracked me up. The cap was a metal twist cap that had the faded word “Faygo” on top. Once home I looked that bottle style up on their website. It appears it would be between 1964 – 1972. So how could this bottle survive nearly 50 years, possibly in the same place and remain frozen in time, sitting there straight as can be. It is my normal practice to pick up all the trash I find in the woods- however, this somehow looked like it should stay. I can visualize a turkey hunter of days gone by sitting against that try trying to keep his young boy quiet. Regardless, I found my mind wondering. So again, head down and press on- I’ve gone bone to find.

bottle pic

Stumbling through a big bunch of briars , (which in reality is nature’s barbed wire fencing) brought me to the suspected bedding area. It was a perfect spot for deer to feel safe and why I had never push into this area during the season. Thick briars surrounded a level open area where the deer could see forever. A doe could easily hide her fawns or herself in the briars and still see predators coming from a long way off. Hmmm… I know people like that. I might be like that. Find that one safe spot where you don’t have to be seen and you can relax and if you see trouble coming, you can hide from it. I question myself, “is that a good thing or a terrible thing….?” Forget it… push on. I have sheds to find.

I am starting to raise my gaze a little. Instead of looking in front of my feet, I am seeing out in front of me more. In doing so, I see this crazy looking site. This tree is contorted and sheared in such a way that I just cannot fathom how this happened. Is Buck-zilla lurking in these woods? How many things are in here that I just don’t know about? What happens when we are not around? Something caused this, even though, I can’t see it- it is there. Wow- I am starting to really get lost in my own thoughts… Stop thinking. Start walking.

tree photo

I slip out and head towards the fields’ edge and grab a seat against a red oak. A short break to sit and re-tie my boots feels good. A pull from an ice cold bottle of water sure tastes great. Almost takes my breath away. A handful of raisins and nuts and I feel more and more nourished. Is this really what is nourishing me? I am feeling stronger and better the more I go on this “walk in the woods.” Anyway- shake it off, I say. You’ve come here to find something and by gosh you’re gonna give it your best shot.

I shift my angle to cover more open ground before I duck back into the timber. I stumble on this.

deer spine

I wonder what happened? Coyote bait? Old age? The neighbor who is a poor shot? Who knows. It doesn’t matter. When the end came, it came. It completed something. Yes- a journey. It reminds me to move myself forward and back into woods as it’s getting a little late in the day.

Deeper and deeper I walk. Nothing on the ground is jumping out at me. Those sheds must be hiding. Further and further I walk. I hate to admit this but in all of the walking and thinking and walking and thinking, I become a little disoriented as to my position. I did the old 360 gaze and spotted a seldom used tree stand that hung a couple years ago. Now I have my internal GPS working overtime. I look at the tree stand and my position. I am standing at about the exact spot where I missed a buck a couple years ago. At least I hoped I had missed. I could have sworn it was a missed opportunity. When it happened, I felt like I had shot under him, but it was dark, I didn’t have a Lumenock on and since I never found the arrow, I have always wondered. I looked for two days for some sign of a wounded deer or that arrow. No luck.

arrow picture

I took a few steps and look what I found! I searched for this arrow originally and now once found, it confirms what I had thought. That missed opportunity didn’t hurt the deer as confirmed by the broad head being 2 inches into a tree root. What a surprise. I knew in my heart it was there but because I couldn’t actually see that arrow, I had my doubts if I had messed up. The arrow had been there all along. It was me who couldn’t believe it 100% because it wasn’t right in front of my face. Gets me thinking again… How many other times in life, have I done that…

Pushing darkness and having come to the realization that my Quad is on one side of the property and I am on the opposite side, I walk with a purpose to get back. Eyes straight ahead and with a quickened pace, I can feel the blood pumping. Not the kind of pumping that this out of shape guy gets when I walk a few flights of stairs, but a different kind. A rush, an all-encompassing shot of energy, power and focused awareness. I can see the Quad in the distance and as I do, I can see a bunch of deer coming through the timber at an angle. If I can hightail it this last 100 yds., I can duck behind it and watch them all pass. As I got to the vehicle, I crouched on the opposite side from when I originally exited. This concealed me on the correct side and I got to see 50-60 deer pass within 20 yards. I love that feeling. When the last one was gone, I got up to walk around and start it up for the ride back.

Then I spied this just 3 yards from where I originally parked…

shed antler

It was there all along. I just did not see it. I didn’t have faith in my ability to find it. It didn’t leave. It was there all along. I spent my whole day looking down, and I now realize I should cast that gaze skyward in thanks much more often.

When I mentioned that I was going shed hunting alone, I didn’t realize that was the farthest thing from reality. I was not alone.

Comments

Great read !

Nice shed too. Congrats !

Posted by Lynn on March 25

Fun read!!!

Posted by WhitetailFreak on March 25

Loved the blog but I take exception with your subtitle.  I would argue that I am the world’s worst shed hunter.  Congrats on the find!

Posted by jcurri on March 25

Great find!!  Gotta love it when you find any shed but a nice one is a bonus!!

Posted by Andy Meador on March 25

Heck of a shed.  They are always in the last place you thoughts they would be! I’m glad to see you found one, towards the end of the story I was getting worried.  I’ll be heading out this weekend to look for a few.  I like to say, If I find a shed, then I am shed hunting, if I don’t, then I was scouting.  smile  Therefor, I’m always a 100% when I shed hunt!

Posted by Bigb on March 26

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