Outdoors Column: Time Well Spent

One day last week while discussing advertising with a customer at

his house, his wife came in carrying an antler that a deer had recently

dropped. She found it in their back yard, so they knew it had been lost in

the last day or so. I have seen several bucks in the last few days still

carrying their racks, so I know shedding the antlers is not a widespread

phenomenon yet, but they are starting.

 

When I told my wife, she was excited. She loves to look for shed

antlers or at least loves a good excuse to go walking in the woods. Finding

sheds is a good enough excuse. Saturday morning, she was ready to go on the

great treasure hunt. It was cold and overcast, but the wind was not howling.

A day with wind chill above zero is a good winter day. We bundled up and

headed into the timber.

 

The dogs thought it was a wonderful adventure. We would drive around

until we found a well-used deer trail, get out, and go with them on a walk.

They were hunting everything, except deer antlers. If they would only

cooperate, I am sure we could be much more successful. We had not been on

the hunt for too long when my wife spotted half of a nice ten-point rack in

the pasture next to some timber. That was all the encouragement we needed.

If we found one, there had to be more. We searched diligently in that area

hoping to find the other half of the one we found. We showed the dogs what

we had and told them to go find some. With great enthusiasm and not a clue

to what they were hunting, they took off with noses to the ground. They did

manage to scare up a rabbit and chased it until they lost the trail. They

came back, well pleased with their efforts and still not looking for

antlers.

 

On the opposite side of the timber, in the middle of a well-used

deer trail, I spotted another antler. Sometimes deer will drop their antlers

at the same time and are easy to determine they are a set from one deer.

Other times, the second antler will not drop off for a day or two. In this

case, it could be any distance from the first. The only way to guess if the

second antler was the mate to the first is by comparing size and shape.

Though the one I found was a considerable distance from my wife’s, I am

fairly certain they are both from the same buck. The set he grows next year

will be larger and should be quite impressive.

 

Over the next few hours, we covered many miles of trails and paths.

I followed one trail down a steep cliff, across the creek, and into a

clearing in a group of thorn trees. The ground looked as though fifty sheep

had been grazing in there. The grass was nipped off close to the ground and

what has been called deer raisins littered the area in abundance. Thinking

this would be a great place to bow hunt next year, I looked around for a

nice tree on which to hang a stand. The whole clearing was ringed with thorn

trees, and I do not climb thorn trees. The deer have found themselves a

fortress in the woods. It may not be a good spot to bow hunt, but I will be

back there looking for antlers.

 

By the time my wife and I decided to give up the hunt, our legs were

burning, and the dogs were tired enough to want a ride home. We only found

the two antlers, but we considered it a good day with time well spent.