If you look closely at the expression of my child, you may find yourself asking the same question I did, namely: Does she look crazy all by herself or because her Daddy is making her that way with his deer and shed obsessions ?

I knew I was in trouble this year when I got lucky shed hunting in the first two hours of my first day. I was walking an old fence line – dating from the days that cows grazed inside the Beltway – in a steep area of a public park along the river. I looked down and there it was: just a three-pointer, but heavy (18 ounces on my office postal scale) and palmated. It was right where it was supposed to be, at a place where jumping the fence had dislodged it. A feeling of elation swept over me, quickly followed by an intuition of bad juju to come. I’ve never felt comfortable when I got lucky right off the bat, whether it was in hunting, fishing, athletics, or with women of the opposite sex. In my experience, easy initial success is an indicator that disaster is in the immediate area and will descend just as soon as it finds a place to park.

And so it has been. I have been out at least part of each of the last six days, from two to four hours a day. I’ve walked public land and private, seen deer that would bolt at the first shuffle of my feet in the leaves and others that approached so boldly it was clear that somebody has been hand feeding them. I have seen sticks on the ground that initially stopped my heart, Pope & Young-caliber sticks. Sticks that looked so much like antlers I nearly kept them with the intention of posting photos of them here and starting a contest devoted entirely to antler-like sticks. That’s when I decided my preoccupation was getting a little out of hand.

My plan is to stay out of the woods today. It’s now 9:11 a.m. So far, so good.