Now that Wisconsin’s late archery season is over, it’s time to start a new pursuit. Actually, the end game is the same but the pursuit is the difference. A week ago, I was using my bow in hopes of bagging a buck with a big set of antlers. This week I’m hoping to find that same big buck’s antlers while using my boots. Yep, it’s shed hunting season and I’m ready to stretch my legs.
Over the last 30 or so years I have been hunting for shed antlers. I can take you to the exact spot where I found my first shed. Like most antlers that are found, I just happened upon it. I was walking down a deer trail and there it was. It was almost as if someone slipped it by my boot in between eye blinks. I stared in disbelief thinking that I had just accomplished something that only seconds ago was impossible. The truth is that finding a shed isn’t the hard part; walking forever to find one is.
This year I am a little late to the party because the area where I bow hunt was open until the end of January. I hunted the morning and afternoon on that last day because it would be seven or more months until I would carry a bow and in pursuit of white-tails. On the one day I did shed hunt, it was more to get out before a winter storm dumped another layer of snow that would cover any and all antlers that were already on the ground. The plan was to just hit the edges and cover as much ground as possible before nightfall. One secret to success when shed antler hunting is to cover the ground.
I had walked two or three miles when I decided that it was not going to be my day. I was about to head to the truck when at the last second, I changed my mind and my direction to hit one last little finger of woods. I could see from a distance that there had been a lot of deer activity in that area and it deserved to be searched. Upon my approach I could see that there wasn’t a single inch of snow cover that didn’t have a deer track on it. When I eased around to the other side it was the same thing. Deer had used that space so often that the snow looked more like a well-traveled sidewalk. I stood there for a minute looking into the woods, giving it the once over when my eyes returned to the place where I was standing. There it was. I can’t swear that it wasn’t there when I first turned the corner to cover that area with my eyes and my boots, but just like deer seem to be all of the time, there it was.