Shedding the Winter Blues
By Jana Waller
Jun 19, 2008 – 7:24:40 AM
I have always been one to appreciate all four seasons in Wisconsin. This winter, consisting of sub zero temperatures and record breaking snow fall, seemed to linger forever. Along with the anticipation of warmer temperatures and longer days comes the excitement of being able to go shed hunting. Since all bucks lose their antlers every winter, one would think that finding a few sheds might sound easy, but once the forest and field vegetation start to grow and the critters stop their gnawing, you can think of them as ‘buried’ treasure. More often than not, I’ve walked away from a day’s hunt empty handed. When you finally stumble across one you feel like you’ve struck gold.
Over the years I have found sheds all over my father’s property but I do believe that there are certain places to search that will improve your odds. Bedding areas are excellent spots especially if the deer have been through a harsh winter. They tend to group up and bed down tight near food sources in order to conserve their energy. Since part of our property was logged last year, the mess the loggers left behind created excellent ground cover where the deer feel protected from the weather and predators. South facing hillsides are another favorite spot for deer to lay in the winter’s sunshine, despite its rare appearance this season.
My husband, son and trusty yellow lab headed out today, enjoying the sunny, beautiful 40 degree weather. Since Otis, my furry friend, isn’t trained to shed hunt like some dogs are, he’s just along for the exercise. All 110 inches of snow had melted and the leaves looked dark and damp. Some shed hunters I know actually prefer a little snow still on the ground. They feel it makes the off white or yellow tone of the antler stand out. I like to look when all the snow has melted and the sun is shining bright.
We decided to walk a logged section of the woods that has a lot of pine trees and is adjacent to a cow pasture. After about 1 hour I glanced down to see a nice right handed 5 point. . My husband shook his head in disbelief but I knew we’d find at least one! I’m overly optimistic to a fault. I get so disappointed if a search doesn’t produce a shed but my husband is shocked at every find! I’m not sure which attitude is the right one to have but my optimism paid off today. We combed a 100 yard radius in hopes of finding its match since they say when one jumps ship the other one soon follows. We didn’t find any pairs today but I did find another left handed 4 point not far from the first. They are obviously not a set but they were found less than 150 yards apart.
The true treasure of the day was in fact the smallest shed I’ve ever found. My husband called me over to look at the enormous amount of deer droppings in one particular area and at closer glance of a stick, I discovered it was in fact a spike. I had just commented earlier, “wouldn’t it be funny to find a spike!” Careful what you wish for, right?
While driving through the woods heading back to the car I spotted what I thought was another shed. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an eight point buck’s scull. There were no body bones around the scull and it was apparent that it had been there for years since it was bright white and picked clean. I can’t help but be curious about how the buck died but there were no clues left behind.
All in all, it was a very successful day of shed hunting. We didn’t find any huge scoring sheds but to find even one, no matter the size, is a treasure to me.
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