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Winter Shed Hunting 2016-17 - My First Shed

Winter can be a long season for those who are outdoor obsessed with cold temperatures, a lack of daylight, and less hunting/fishing opportunities taking a toll on all of us. Scientists tell us that there is a real disorder that affects untold numbers of people, called “Seasonal Affectation Disorder” or “SAD” (I’m really not making this up!).  As the hours of sunlight diminish, the weather deteriorates and millions of people become largely confined to their homes (and yuck… their offices) they become “SAD”.

What can we do to avoid the Winter Blues?  Take advantage of whatever opportunities the outside gives us, taking advantage of whatever pastimes nature and the climate in your area afford. The winter of 2016-17 has been milder than usual in Southern New Brunswick with less snow coverage than we would typically encounter, so the past few weeks I’ve been tromping through the woods and fields looking for shed antlers, or “sheds”.

The first weekend in February, I joined the ranks of those who are shed-obsessed. Allow me to explain: Although most of our readers are likely outdoor-obsessed people, we try to be mindful that some may not be aware of the way things work in the animal kingdom during the winter (suggestion: read our excellent series on animal wintering). Although it may be common for most of us, some may not realize that the cervids in our area (moose and whitetail deer) lose their antlers each winter and regrow them the following season. These enormous pieces of headgear fall off and are left in the woods, in a natural process each winter. The shed antlers are often chewed on by small mammals such as porcupines and squirrels. The animals begin shedding their antlers around mid to late-December, and nearly all them should be without headgear by now.

The first shed Wayne ever found

My first shed was lying mostly on top of the snow on the side of a woods road. Before disturbing it, I took a picture of it as it was lying. This is a moose shed. We walked around in the area nearby, and were able to find the missing left side antler making a set! My friend Mark spotted it lying up against a tree, around 10 feet from where I found the right side. Although it is difficult to prove this is a set, the base size was identical, the antler pattern is similar, and the fact they were found in such proximity gives us confidence this is a matching set.

We spent the rest of the day carefully hiking through moose and deer areas looking for more antlers, however the pair was all we found that day. This was the second time we’ve been out chasing sheds so far this season, and was the first one I’ve ever found. Mark on the other hand has many of them adorning his house as decorations, and is a more seasoned shed hunter.

As any shed hunter will tell you, each one you find leads to a deeper and more intense obsession… and I can’t wait to get out and look for more! So excited was I that I even told the attendant at the gas station, who was unaware that moose and deer shed their antlers and not anywhere near as excited as I was about my story. The rest of my day was spent telling the tale, perhaps annoying my friends and anyone who would listen to how and where I found my prize. I’ve been watching the weather forecast all week, entirely to watch for possible snow storms and plan for the next trip…

Wayne showing off his found trophy

If you’re looking for something to avoid becoming “SAD” this winter… consider taking up shed hunting! Spending time in the great outdoors is always amazing, and you literally never know what you’re going to see! In addition to finding those antlers, we got to see dozens of wintering deer, a wide variety of birds, lots of wildlife sign, and even got to see an area where it was apparent an airborne predator had successfully eaten a small rodent between the time we passed the area on the way in and back!

Yup… I’m obsessed with shed hunting now. If you’re looking for me next weekend, expect to find me tromping through the fields and woods looking for my next shed. Every hour spent outdoors is a blessing… and I can’t wait to see what the next trip brings me! I’m definitely a shed hunting rookie… but I’m now in the game!

Mark holding the spoils of the day - a matching pair

(Note – for an interview we did with one of the most accomplished shed hunter you’ll ever meet, check it out here.)

2017-03-06 15:48:17

 

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