Bill Heavey: Son of a Beech

I've nearly had about three heart attacks in the past weeks. The cause: beech leaves. The 3- to 6-inch long leaves of Fagus grandifolia, which grows in fertile woods in the eastern U.S., turn ivory-yellow when dry and have a maddening tendency to curl in tightly upon themselves. Such a leaf, standing perpendicular among the leaves of the forest floor, looks exactly like an antler tine. The guy treading the woods in search of antlers or any part of an antler is at the mercy of these nasty little guys.

This week’s tip: If you use a CamelBak or other backpack with a bladder, be extremely careful about how you stow sheds. Nature designed antlers to puncture. That’s really all I care to share at this time about that one.

I found two 5-pointers yesterday, both left sides, on the same hill where I found two 5-pointers last year. The bigger of the two was in the same exact spot – give or take 10 feet – of where I found a big one last year. I raced home, compared the two antlers, and confirmed to the extent that I can say they are both from the same deer. This year’s is just like last year’s, down to the wave in certain tines, only a little bigger around, with slightly longer tines, and the G4 that was part of a crab claw last year is now an independent tine.

The pleasure this find gave me, of confirming the survival and something of the habits of a buck I have yet to see, is enormous. And very hard to explain.