December 7, 2022

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A Little Bone Makes My Day!

7:10 a.m.  dropped my truck off at the shop for repairs, estimated cost  $300 -$400.00.

7:30 a.m. returned home, no truck means the day off, $240.00 in lost time

10:15 a.m sold a stock in my account for a loss of $330.28

10:16 a.m a thought crossed my mind, could the day possibly get any worse? I had already lost $970.28 and it wasn’t even noon yet.

Yes, it was time to get outdoors, I’d had enough. Something about being outside always cheers me up.  I’m not quite sure what it is, the solitude, the wildlife, the scenery, fresh air ……… maybe it’s a mix of them all. Whatever it is, I love it.  I packed my camera bag threw the tripod over my shoulder and headed for the ridge out back. I figured I’d try to get a shot at the deer that bed down in the Balsams seeking a little break from the winter wind.

11:37 a.m. I hit the mother load!….. I found gold.  No… not that shiny yellow stuff that’s really heavy. I mean, you can’t buy anything with this gold but none the less it’s gold to me.  Twenty five yards off the trail of deer tracks I was following something caught my eye. It just didn’t look right,  a little to much shine maybe, the color, or maybe that the point just looked to rounded.

Antler!!

There’s just nothing quite like the excitement of finding a shed antler. If you’ve never experienced it you just wouldn’t understand. Here in the Adirondacks finding a shed amongst all the blow down and fallen pine branches is akin to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.  So is this one worth $970.28?  No, in dollars it isn’t worth much, you could sell a single shed for maybe 10 bucks on Ebay. I learned long ago that everything doesn’t have a monetary value.  This piece of bone is worth much more than the cash I lost today.  Twenty years from now when I hold that antler in my hands, I’ll look back in my mind and I’ll be 48 again. I’ll be working my way up a that ridge, pulling my collar a little higher to fight the chill, smelling the Balsam that brush against my sleeve. Clearly in my mind it lays there,  a glint of sunlight on the tine. I’ll relive the excitement of my find. I’ll remember, I’ll remember and I’ll  smile.

Today I lost nearly $1,000.00 but I made a memory, a priceless moment that will last forever.  I found a bone, an antler, a piece of nature, an experience. Something money can’t buy and I’m all the richer for it.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Shed Hunting

It’s that time of year again, the time when whitetails  start dropping their antlers.  Here in the Adirondacks the majority of  bucks start shedding right around Christmas. This year they seem to be a little late as I just saw a big 10 pointer last night with a matching set still on his head.  On the 6th of January I spotted a buck with half a rack which means he probably shed the other antler earlier that day or on the 5th.  Antler hunting can have some big rewards and some big headaches. Anytime you find an antler whether it be a spike horn or half a rack, it’s a special moment. Here in the mountains where White Pine and Balsam branches litter the landscape it can be next to impossible to find an antler on the forest floor.  After awhile all those branches start to look a lot  like antlers.

Can you find the antler?

A few years back  I  spotted a huge 10 pt. buck one evening who had just shed his left side that day. I knew it was that day because I had seen him the night before.  I probably spent a total of 40 hours looking for that shed and never found it, to this day I still find myself looking.  While I searched for that shed I passed by another antler at least a dozen times  lying amongst the dead pine branches until I finally saw it. They blend in that well.

A couple of inches of snow can be a big help when shed hunting. Snow does three things for you. One:  it covers most if not all the dead and downed branches. Two: deer are much easier to trail in the snow you can follow their tracks right to their bedding areas  where the probability of finding a shed is the greatest. Three:  dropped antlers show up in fresh snow like a beacon from a lighthouse. On the other hand too much snow especially several inches of light fluffy snowflakes will make it nearly impossible to find a shed.

Your not the only one who’ll be excited to find a shed antler. Rodents and there are many of them love calcium.  It just so happens that antlers are made up of none other than ….. you guessed it, Calcium!  Squirrels, mice, and porcupines, they all love antlers.  If you find an antler that’s been lying around for a while chances are that it has chew marks on it or it has been partially devoured already.

rodent chewed antler

The most important thing about shed hunting to remember is don’t get discouraged. It takes a certain amount of luck to find an antler laying in the middle of nowhere. There are years I turn up empty handed. The great thing is your outdoors with fresh air and sunshine. A little bit of nature goes along way on a winter day.   Enjoy!!

Wild Hogs

Many animals have similar tracks,  Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Elk, Moose, Antelope to name a few.  Distinguishing between them can be difficult if your not aware of the size difference in their tracks or other minor differences. One track that greatly resembles those of the deer family is that of the Wild Hog. Wild Hogs are known by many names including, Feral Pig, Feral Swine, Wild Boars, Wild Pigs, Razorbacks and Javelina.   Javelina and Wild Pigs although similar are of  two separate families.

This track on the left is from a Wild Hog. Wild Hog tracks tracks measure approximately 2 to 2 1/2 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. They have a broad track and much more rounded than a typical deer track you would find.  Many times you may find the tracks with the dewclaws showing. The dewclaws are set back and further out to the side than those of deer.

This image below shows a good example of the position dewclaws  on a Wild Hog.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

It’s always a good idea to find what  animals are in the area you’ll be spending time  in.  If your interested in identifying their tracks once you know this information you can greatly narrow down which animals tracks you may have found.

Happy Tracking!