After writing in my last blog about looking for deer antlers in the grove on the family farm south of Worthington, my nephews hatched a plan to expand the search area to one of the Wildlife Management Areas in Bigelow Township.
So, with the weather cooperating last Saturday, Matt, Zach and I set out on an afternoon adventure in search of the elusive deer sheds.
Frankly, I have very little experience in searching for antlers. I found my first — and only — shed last spring, smack dab in the middle of the cattle yard on the Buntjer farm. It couldn’t have been in a more obvious locale, surrounded by young sprigs of green grass. At the time, I was hauling tree debris from the ice storm into the cattle yard, and I steered the ATV right past the two-point antler.
That antler is still proudly displayed in my house, surrounded by fake pine greenery in my attempt at interior decorating.
After Saturday’s adventure, I feel like the deer shed I found isn’t quite as worthy as one that, say, took several hours to find.
As Matt, Zach and I split up to walk through rows of evergreens and an assortment of other tree varieties, Matt told me about their previous successes — and failures — in the quest for trophy-sized antlers. Could you imagine spending eight hours walking through trees, matted down grasses and rows of corn stalks and still coming up empty handed?
Well, Matt’s done that. So has Zach.
It sort of makes our three-hour quest on Saturday afternoon seem, well, not at all a waste of time. After all, Nephew Zach found not one — but two sheds — a matching pair, in fact. If I had to estimate the distance, I’d say the two were found a quarter-mile apart.
What was interesting about the finds, besides discovering a matching pair, was that the first antler was missing its very tips. It seems, according to Nephew Matt, that the varmints — squirrels, rodents and other critters — gnaw on the antlers for their source of calcium.
Antlers are like bones, bones contain calcium — it made sense to me. I have such a smart nephew … and another nephew (also smart) who I now refer to as the Master Shed Hunter. (Actually, I better refer to both of them as Master Shed Hunters … I know Matt has quite a collection as well!)
Meanwhile, I got skunked on Saturday (not in the real sense, of course!). I was so desperate to find a deer shed, I even walked through a couple of areas twice — just in case I missed something the first trip through.
I also encountered an awful sense of being lost, thanks to the thick understory of some pine trees and my decision to follow the deer trails instead of maintain my sense of direction.
My quest to enjoy nature and find a treasure led to mild panic — a feeling of claustrophobia and a fear that I might come face to face with a skunk or a raccoon just beyond the next tree trunk.
I didn’t admit that to the guys though — I didn’t want them thinking I was a sissy.