Thursday, Feb. 19, 2014 | OUTDOORS
Winterkill expected on some lakes this winter
A little shed hunting
An invitation via text came early Sunday morning from a friend wanting to do a little shed hunting on his property in northern Dunn County. I was reluctant to move, really, as chilly, overcast skies draped the day and would continue through until dark, and there’s always stuff to do around home. But oftentimes, a refreshing walk is just what a person needs to erase the dreariness of another cold spring.
It wasn’t long before the gang started gathering on a secluded back road early in the afternoon. I was first to arrive, and Neil, the property owner, wasn’t far behind with a four-wheeler and trailer in tow. Then Adam, with his son Luke, 5, and daughter Ella, 7, and Brian along with his son Blake, also 7, showed up. The group was eager to get going, especially the kids, who seemed to have more energy than the combined group of adults.
Once we all piled onto the trailer, we rode through some deep pools of mud and water and eventually drier ground where we spotted a deer carcass in the distance. Everyone piled off to investigate. It was a young doe that had died at some point during the winter, but it offered a bit of a science lesson for the kids and the opportunity to start looking for shed antlers.
Prior to everyone else’s arrival, Neil had brought along a small bag with a shed antler each for the kids, in the event that shed hunting got slow, and oftentimes it does. After spreading out among some other deer trails winding through a young stand of pine trees, Ella and Luke could be heard yelling off in the distance.
“Blake, hey, look what we found!”
They each sported grins as white as the antlers in their hands and Blake, who had yet to find an antler in only the first half-hour, seemed now even more determined to find one of his own. Everyone piled back onto the trailer to the next chunk of land where deer had been seen wintering in a recently logged section, and sign was evident as soon as we entered the woods. Not a sapling was spared from the heavily browsed area but it made for an exciting place to snoop around for antlers. Just a few feet into the woods along a picked cornfield, a small side of an antler was spotted, and Blake scooped it up. It was a find that hadn’t previously been placed by one of the dads and gave everyone a renewed energy to look for more.
The search continued for the next couple of hours and the woods was very much alive even after everyone had dispersed to cover more ground. Blake eventually found another antler and the sounds of him clicking them together could be heard as he walked along behind his dad. Ella and Luke were pacing right alongside their dad and with everyone mostly wearing dark or camo clothing, only Ella could be seen traipsing along the ridge top in her brightly colored pink jacket.
A few different flocks of tundra swans flew overhead on occasion, and a pair of strutting toms surprised us as we crested a ridge and came out into an open field. Adam climbed one of the several deer stands in the area, and spotted a pair of toms strutting almost too close to believe. They lasted just long enough for a photo before heading for cover.
By the end of the day, and after several hundred yards of walking, and picking off several wood ticks, the youngsters, and maybe even a couple of grownups, began to get weary. It was a small portion of the day but a grand event for three kids and their fathers who got a chance to spend a little time outside together, enjoying what nature has to offer.