You don’t want to look too closely at the number of hours you spend shed hunting compared to the number of antlers you actually find. William Shakespeare had this in mind when he wrote,

“O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that.”

I spent a good deal of an afternoon last week tramping the deer-rich country near where I live. Some of it is very steep, some very thorny, and some both. You need duds that can take it and shoes stout enough to kick footholds into steep hillsides. A good stick is a handy thing to have, too.

I sometimes make a beeline for the roughest terrain I can find, on the theory that this is where larger bucks spend most of their time. I mean stupid-steep, places where you wouldn’t stop for 70 feet if you stepped wrong. I’ve gotten myself stranded in briars so thick that retracing my steps out would be crazy and forging ahead would be crazy. All for a hunk of bone. It’s not the kind of thing you can rationally explain to most people.

Anyway, last week, after about two hours, I was so lost that I had to use whatever map program is on my phone to get back to a road, then I had to walk half a mile to the car. And I didn’t find anything.

Then, last Sunday, I was back in D.C. for the afternoon. Emma and I had walked upstream along the Potomac from Fletcher’s Boathouse, and then cut over to the C&O Canal towpath to walk back. Just as we got to the canal, I caught movement on the hillside across the road. It was an 8-pointer — still carrying a big, typical, white rack — patiently dogging a doe, who didn’t seem to mind the attention.

I’m going out again as soon as I can.