Outdoors Column: The Great Shed Hunt

Last week we put two trail cameras out again, just to see what was moving. One was placed where the salt block for the horses had been. Deer seem to enjoy eating the soil where the trace mineral salt block has been. I have learned to put the block in a remote location so someone does not accidentally drive into the crater the deer leave behind. One year, I put the salt block in the middle of the pasture and forgot about it. The next summer, when the grass was tall, I almost ripped the front wheel off my truck when I found where the block had been.


We placed the other camera near a scrape near the west side of the farm that has been active all fall and into the winter. The scrape is under a cedar tree where two major deer trails intersect one of the ATV trails. Tracts in the area make it look as though most of the deer in the county pass by at one time or another.


Sunday, afternoon was chilly but the sun was shining. My wife, the dogs, and I all needed to get outside to get some fresh air and let the sun shine on us. The dogs were running wild as we headed across the dam and up the hill to the first camera. As we expected, a lot of deer had visited the salt lick. Most of the pictures were does, but we also had pictures of several bucks, a rabbit and a raccoon. On the west camera, there were pictures of both bucks and does still checking the scrape. A scrape is used by deer of both sexes to communicate readiness to breed. To our surprise, there seems to be young does still in heat and bucks ready to breed them. We also had a picture of a buck that had shed his antlers. This was what my wife has been waiting for. She loves to shed hunt. Every day we see bucks that still are carrying their antlers so she was excited to see they are finally starting to lose them. This may be the only buck on the farm that has lost his, be we had to immediately start looking. The dogs thought this was a wonderful idea as we turned toward the far fence rather than heading toward home.


We drove along ravines, followed deer trails, and checked at the fences where deer jump over to the neighbors place. We have tried to convince the dogs to find antlers but I think they are too easily distracted by all the other wonderful smells in the woods. Jag took off after a rabbit, yipping loudly and sounding more like he is being murdered than chasing something. Louie saw a squirrel racing up the trail and was hot after it. When it ran up a tree, to Louie, it was as if it magically disappeared. He has not yet figured out that squirrels climb trees. He looked back at us as if questioning, “How do they do that?”


After several miles, my wife decided only one deer on the farm had shed his antlers and we were not going to find them. By then, the dogs were tired enough, they wanted a ride home. As the whole happy group of us rolled home, we decided it just felt good to be outside enjoying nature.