Shed hunting yields an immense amount of information about the animals we pursue and the terrain they live in. During summer scouting or fall hunting season you typically only learn about animals and their movement patterns during the first two and last two hours of daylight. During shed season you hike from dusk to dawn and are constantly picking up on clues in the forest. Each spring I spend 30+ days out searching for sheds and adding to my knowledge base of game animals.
In the spring of 2016, I found these two antlers 100 yards from each other in an old growth forest. They belonged to the same buck. One was from the current year and the other from the year prior. I had no idea this buck existed, or that one of this size could exist in this region of my home state. And so began my pursuit…
I spent the following summer and fall searching for this buck to no avail. This past spring I grid searched the zone where I had found the antlers. Nothing. Surely he was taken by another hunter or died of old age.
During the summer of 2018, while setting trail cameras, I spotted him. His big eye guards and palmated beams were a dead giveaway and he was only a quarter mile from where I picked his sheds. Clearly he called this section of the forest home. I later caught him on trail cam and the thought of connecting on that buck in rifle season, with all the history, had me laser focused.
This fall, on my 6th day of searching for him I found him. It was a strange feeling to put the cross hairs on his vitals at 300 yards. Just locating him and getting this far felt like an accomplishment. Part of me just wanted to video him with my Phone Skope and search for his sheds the next spring. In the end, I chose to pull the trigger. It was a sobering moment that left me both excited and sad.
The pursuit of wild animals and wild places has been a primary focus in my life for over 10 years and the older I get, the harder it is to pull the trigger. I’m proud to have complete control over where my meat comes from but I do wonder if I’ll get to a point in my life when I’ll hang up the bow or rifle and stick to taking photos and picking sheds. I’m not there yet, but as my respect for wild animals grows, my desire to pull the trigger lessens. Does anyone else feel this weight after years of hunting?
A VLOG of my pursuit: