The votes are in, the decision is final, and the winner of the shed hunting contest is Jack. He didn’t win because he came up with a good name, but because any guy who needs a Gerber folding knife bad enough to write poetry for it is embarrassingly desperate. (Also – and this is the painful part – it was actually a pretty good poem.) Jack, send your snail mail address to and he’ll forward to me. I’ll get you the knife – eventually.


Sore losers, repeat after me: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

I have neglected every responsibility under the sun to go out four times this week. What I have to show for it is a single fresh shed, barely a 5-pointer, right side, that could belong to what will be a nice buck next fall.

In the same area, I came across a long-dead buck with antlers, four on one side and a single 10-inch spike on the other. This was significant because it indicated that either nobody was hunting antlers in the area or at least nobody was desperate enough to cut horns off a rotting carcass. The absence of competition made my heart soar.

I’ve been finding a disconcerting number of small buck skulls and sheds that are at least a year old: bleached white and porous by the sun, chewed ragged by rodents. It got me wondering if I simply can’t see the new, darker antlers all around me or if better hunters are just leaving the old stuff.

On public land surrounding the Beltway in Maryland, I found three hang-on stands and a Moutltrie broadcast feeder (legal in Maryland). They must have been there for years, because the trees involved had all grown over the screw-in steps, effectively making them permanent. Talk about audacity.

Late yesterday afternoon, I was walking south-facing slopes and hilltops in a stream-valley park near mega-mansions in Potomac, Maryland. There were trails so highly used I expected to find “HOV Only” signs along the route. And there wasn’t a shed to be found. As the afternoon wore on, I neared the crest of a rise and heard a sound like fast applause. Turned out to be dozens of hooves tearing through very dry leaves. I sprinted to the top and saw the host of white flags departing. Being unpressured suburban deer, the herd stopped after 60 yards. And there, real as an envelope from the IRS in your mailbox, was a big, fat buck. I could tell it was a buck because of his large body. The other giveaway was antlers firmly affixed to his skull. He was a tall-and-outside-the-ears 7-pointer. I watched him for five minutes before he ambled out of sight. This was at 5:32 P.M. on March 2.

At least now I’ve got an excuse for why I’m not finding more.