Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hunting The Elusive Shed

The season is upon us -- shed hunting season, that is. One of the great passions in my husband's life is finding sheds, any size, shape, or age --- and we have hundreds!

Not the small- storage- structure -type of shed, but the horns-that-have-fallen-off-a-whitetail-deer-type of shed. It's quite a popular hobby for hunters and non-hunters now days, but when I met him years ago, I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought: why would anyone "hunt" for a small building - just go to the hardware store! He immediately clued me in and it has been a big part of our lives for the past 17 years.

The above photo is the first thing you would see upon walking into our living room. The sheds displayed here are behind a small couch that faces into the room. Then upon the fireplace mantle, in front of the fireplace, on top the television, my music CD cabinet, a large bookcase, and in a wicker basket you'll see sheds.

Since whitetails grow them anew every year, there is, at least theoretically, an endless supply of these things where ever the bucks have been. Actually, it sounds pretty easy, but it isn't. You'd be surprised how those sheds look just like fallen branches, leaves, or when covered with dirt and lichen are almost invisible!

Steve, my husband, starts the shed hunting in earnest in January when the bucks begin to drop their prizes. If there has been a small amount of snow they will show up and not sink down. But, it's not as if they drop both sides at the same time, or on a well worn path, or on your lawn. No, they can be dropped anywhere. Steve's crawled under thickets, walked miles through brush, scoured muddy bare corn, soybean, alfalfa, and wheat fields, examined railroad tracks and the undergrowth along them, and searched all kinds of woods.

And, if he puts in enough man hours, he can be rewarded with a nice half with 6 points on it that has just been dropped - you can see the fresh blood on the end. Or many times he finds a small piece of a shed antler that is years old and has been nearly gnawed away by mice, squirrels, or chipmunks - they get needed minerals that way.

Some years he has found 20 plus, and other years it has been slim pickins with only 6 or 7. But they all find their way to our home and the mantle holds that season's sheds through the summer. Shed hunting time lasts only until the woods and fields begin to green up - then everything is hidden.

You'd think that this kind of hobby would be pretty laid back and mellow -- Oh no! Steve has sons and friends who also hunt sheds and it is quite competitive. He won't tell his friends where the "honey hole" is for that year (he does tell his sons) and good areas are secrets. If you meet another shed hunter in the woods or fields, you don't give away too much info or brag too much about what you have. Sometimes, if he's found a nice shed, he'll hide it under his coat the whole rest of the time he walks. Just in case he meets up with someone. It isn't always a solitary time, he does go with his boys and makes a whole day of it.

During the week, since we work 2nd shift, he can do some walking in the mornings. Most people are out walking on the weekends so he generally has the areas to himself. It's funny, but most of the good shed areas are behind and around subdivisions, industrial parks, and developments, not up north or extremely wild spots. That does make things pretty tough since he won't trespass on private property. Luckily, there are lots of parks and sanctuaries near the developed areas and the deer like to hang out there.

This snowy winter wasn't good for shed hunting and last weekend Steve went out but came back within an hour. The snow was still boot high and everything was still covered - even in the wooded areas. But this week we've begun to warm up and the snow is disappearing fast and tomorrow it will be the official start of the season.

I like it that he does this kind of hunting. Nothing dies and he gets a lot of exercise and fresh air. And if you could see his face and hear his voice when he slyly pulls one out from his jacket pocket and says "Guess who's still got it!" you'd agree completely with me.
He has such patience, an excellent eye, and just loves doing this that I hope he'll be able to do it until he's old and grey (actually he's nearly all grey now!) I'd go with him when we first dated, so I know how truly hard it is and I'm very proud when he finds them. The elusive sheds are out there and quietly waiting for him.
Bye for now, Alyssa

1 comment:

Lizzie A said...

Hello again!
I really wish that my brother could do that kind of hunting!! But no, he likes going up to Minnesota to hunt with his cousins and uncle, the "real" hunting with camo and guns and deers getting killed. I would never go, even if it didn't get in the way of school. I hope you are doing well! I have to go, dinner is ready!
hope to hear from you soon!