Off to Montana!

March 30, 2010

Move over, Hannah Montana! Shed hunter coming through! That’s right, on Thursday I’m heading to Big Sky Country with Dan Hess of the North American Shed Hunters’ Club for nonstop shed hunting action! (And that’s no April fool’s joke!) Sounds pretty promising. Dan has been there before and has done well. This will be a first for me … wearing a backpack while shed hunting. Usually I can carry all my sheds home in my hands, and sometimes even in just a pocket! We’re hoping for double-digit hauls of mule deer and whitetail sheds each day, with the possibility of some elk sheds. From what I understand, elk shed in April and we may be too early for freshies, but some old ones would be just fine (until I have to pack them out). Now don’t think this is all fun and games. This will be hard work! We will be filming for a new DVD for the NASHC. This will be 8 days of grueling work. I hope I am up to the task! And if that isn’t enough, later in the month, Dan and I are heading to Idaho to shed hunt with a year-round shed hunter! (Now that’s extreme!) He says in Idaho we will have the possibility to find mule deer, whitetail, elk and moose sheds, and even antelope sheaths. Antelope shed the outer covering of the horns each year. I don’t know if I’ll have Internet access while I’m in Montana, so I apologize if I can’t get to your questions/comments right away. I promise I’ll post pics when I get back. I have never shed hunted out west, with the exception of my trip to Saskatchewan in 2006. Hoping to bring back a truckload of bone! Good luck everyone. The snow is gone and things are still brown around home. Still plenty of good shed hunting to be had.


Back from NASHC show

March 28, 2010

Just got back from the North American Shed Hunter’s Club show. Pretty cool. Saw some real nice sheds and got to meet a lot of people. Had one funny moment. I gave a seminar on Saturday at 3. After the seminar I took questions and comments. There were a few, then I asked if there were anymore and no one said anything, but most people didn’t leave their seats either. I was puzzled. It took me a second, but I figured out why no one was leaving: Tiffany and Lee Lakosky were going on stage at 4 and everyone wanted to keep their seat for their seminar! So I don’t know if the people genuinely wanted to hear my talk, or if they were just getting good seats for Lee and Tiffany! Fun show and the NASHC collection always has some really unique sheds. Here are some pics. First is 7 sheds and then the rack of a dandy buck. The rack netted 191. 2. Cool 10-point shed with two rows of tines from the NASHC collection. 3. The woodpile shed from the NASHC collection. 4. A 100+ inch shed from the NASHC collection from 1938!dsc_0621dsc_0628dsc_0630dsc_0631

Wisconsin Shed Show Today

March 26, 2010

If you’re within striking distance, the North American Shed Hunters’ Club is holding its Wisconsin Big Buck Classic in Wisconsin Dells this weekend. The good news is there will be lots of sheds. The bad news is it was in the teens this morning, so I don’t think all the outdoor waterparks will be open, but the indoor ones will be! I’ll be down all weekend. Stop in and say hi if you’re in the area.

Personal Best!

March 24, 2010

That’s right, 73 ticks today! Far and away my best total ever. What happened? Yikes! After a woeful day yesterday (see yesterday’s post if you missed it) things went a little better today, if you can get past the ticks. Luckily they don’t freak me out, I just keep pluckin’ ’em. Things were looking up today when I found deer droppings right away. They were nonexistant yesterday. I didn’t think that was possible in a wooded area! Searched for a couple hours in a good spot to no avail. There was some new logging in here, but it’s a red pine plantation, so I can live with that! I broke for lunch, then came back renewed to hit the other side of the road. At this point I was like a drug addict going through detox. I needed to find a shed pretty bad. It’s been a long time. (Don’t ever try to move during mid-March). There are a lot of foxes in this area and old deer bones are scattered everywhere. So as I was walking through some locusts, I had no reason to think the bone in front of me was anything other than another leg bone. But I checked it out anyway. It was a shed at long last! It was neon white. It’s been out here a while, but I haven’t been on this side of the road for a couple years. Just a little 3, but I needed it! It was 20-yards from a driveway! A bit later I found a year-old 4-point side within 20 yards of a busy road. I grabbed my two sheds and went to stash them so no one would see them from the road. I decided to stash them under a lone pine 70 yards away … and there was the match! This guy was growing a kicker of the G-2. Later in the day I was in a promising looking spot I’d never ventured into before and was going to just walk to that pine, then decided to keep going. 10 yards past the pine was a 5-point side. Not a bad day. The only thing that concerns me is all the sheds are old. Some people were hired to come in and shoot some deer in this area to thin the population and they have certainly succeeded. I just didn’t see the sign like I used to. There were rubs from last fall, but who knows, those deer could have been shot by now. This cull hunt has been going on for a few years now. I’m not liking the results.


Things Change

March 23, 2010

Man, it’s been a rough streak lately. Beautiful weather with no time to shed hunt during prime time! Well, today was MY day to get out. It just wasn’t my day. I was very excited to get back into one of my favorite spots near where I used to live. I have done very well there over the years, even though these days I only get in there once a year. I planned to basically grid search the area and spend all day in there if need be. Right off the bat I found a dead buck. The antlers were still on the skull, but were broken off about 2 inches above the pedicle. Not a great find. I found a fresh buck fawn skull, an old buck fawn skull and an old skull from a buck that had shed before it died. I didn’t find a single dead doe. Ouch, not what you want to find in a favorite shedding area! It got worse. There was almost NO fresh deer sign. The droppings were old and fuzzy. In other words, the deer didn’t winter there. What’s worse, there was plenty of fresh coyote sign. After an hour it was obvious this was a waste of time, but I hit the high spots anyway. A few things happened here. There was a logging operation about a mile away, which may have pulled a lot of deer. Crops were rotated. Coyote sign was abundant. Not a successful equation. Very disappointing because this is my ace in the hole spot! I broke for lunch, then stopped in to see my old boss, Dan Schmidt, editor of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. After that, I went to another old haunt. This place I haven’t been in for 3 years. I used to find a lot of sheds there too. I have traveled from Florida to Alaska, and this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen anywhere. It’s a big swamp with some really unusual plants and animals. I was actually horrified to discover the neighbors had clearcut their land right up to this property. I am not against clearcutting. I have seen how things recover in just a few months’ time. But this is a pretty fragile area. Let’s just say it made me nervous. Once again, no deer sign. In Wisconsin! How can this be! I walked through red osier dogwood thickets. Deer love them and will nibble every stem, but these were untouched! I found fewer than 5 old piles of droppings and no fresh tracks. I would expect deer might have moved to the slash from the logging, but there wasn’t even deer sign where the public land met the logging, which should have been a perfect bedding area. Seriously, ZERO tracks. None! There were rubs from last fall, and some big ones. I did get lucky and found a small antler that had broken during a fight last fall, but no sheds. Although I quickly realized there would be no fresh sheds, I stuck it out in this place because it’s so beautiful and I wanted to see an old favorite hangout again. Seeing the cutting was disturbing. And beavers had dammed up the creek, flooding part of the area. I suppose it’s human nature to resist change, but it was really shocking to see a place I really love look so different. Tomorrow it’s off to another old haunt. Hope I fare a little better there! And I hope everything looks exactly as I remember it!03230851

Dubuque Show

March 22, 2010

Another show has come and gone. It was beautiful in Iowa the day I arrived and the next morning there was 2 inches of snow on the ground! But that melted quickly. I am always amazed at the antlers at this show. I would estimate there were 10,000 antlers up for auction there. Sheds the first day, sporting goods the second and racks the third. We’re talking 200-inch racks for sale! And matched sets of sheds bringing thousands of dollars. Those antlers just boggle the mind. A couple years ago a matched set of sheds sold for $19,000! Here are some pics from the show. The last is of a 96-inch 5-point typical! Now I can finally get out and walk some ground!


Dubuque Antler Auction This Weekend

March 16, 2010

The bad part about being involved in shed hunting the way I am is that I end up at sport shows. Why, oh why, do they have all the sport shows in the spring? Why not in January when it’s below zero and there’s nothing better to do? I will never understand it. Anyway, it’s prime time … and I’m not shed hunting. I am actually in the process of moving. Rotten timing! I will be at the Circle M Antler Auction in Dubuque, Iowa this weekend. If you’re in the area, stop in and say hi. Next weekend I’ll be at the North American Shed Hunters’ Club show in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Luckily I have a couple places down that way where I usually find some sheds. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Hope everyone is having success!


Not the Best Idea

March 12, 2010

The weather has been pretty lousy here late. It’s been raining quite a bit, which has really melted our snow. In sunny areas, everything is bare, but in some areas the snow is still quite deep. Despite the lousy weather, I decided I needed to get out yesterday. It’s March. It’s prime time. But I’ve been busy … too busy to shed hunt! Disgusting, I know! Someone with common sense would have went to the many, many areas devoid of snow. But not this guy! I wanted to hit a spot that I assumed had gone untouched. It also had a lot of snow. I was up close to my knees in very soft snow many times, and in the low areas, I was that deep in water. I expected this, but pushed on. The bad news is, no sheds. But the good news is, the snow helped me find where the deer were. Last winter they were all over this area and I found a really nice antler in there. This year when I was there in early February, areas that held deer last year were trackless this year. I did find a small concentration of deer sign. Yesterday, I found a large concentration in another spot. I’m hoping to get back in there after the snow melts. So the fact I identified a prime area means the trip wasn’t a total loss. I really need to pick up some bones though.

“That looks like a good spot”

March 11, 2010

It’s early March, prime time, and I’ve been too busy to get out much. I did get out for a bit on Saturday. My friend Deb and I went skiing one last time before the snow melted. It has been raining here this week and now our snow is pretty much gone. We were talking about maybe taking a little walk after the ski. We were driving along and she says, “That looks like a good spot.” She didn’t have to twist my arm! We walked for maybe an hour or two. It DID look like a really good spot. We were nearly ready to go. Deb was in a prime-looking area. “Hey, Joe,” she yelled. I walked over and she was holding a shed. Unfortunately it had been there a few years and was weathered. It was also broken just beyond the brow tine, and I don’t think it was chewed on, I think the buck snapped it off still on his head by the looks of it. Too bad, too, because it would have been a good-sized antler. But I was proud of Deb. Not only did she find the shed, but she called the spot. We’ve gone shed hunting a few times before. She’s found both deer and moose antlers before. But this time it was all on her shoulders. Too bad the shed wasn’t in better condition. And too bad we forgot to take a picture! Get after them, folks. It’s prime time!


Great Father/Son Shed Hunt in Iowa

March 4, 2010

Hey folks,

I got an email today from Don Barry Jr. He shared a cool story about him and his son, Liam. Check it out below. Awesome job guys!

Hey Joe,

Just wanted to say you’ve got a great website and I always enjoy the updates on the blogs. In addition to being an avid hunter I love to shed hunt. I attached a picture of a huge shed my son and I found on our Iowa farm a couple weeks ago. Only the last 3 inches of the main beam were poking out of the ground. Luckily the beam measured almost 29 inches. Otherwise we wouldn’t have found it. The shed scored 87 inches. For the first couple days my son, Liam, wouldn’t let it leave his hands he was so proud. Glad to be passing down a great pastime!




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