It’s no secret that this has been a yawn of a winter across much of the country. And the arrival of spring ahead of schedule by several weeks — like most everything Nature throws at us — can be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Shed hunters were largely frustrated this year; while some tremendous antlers have been found, most of the serious hunters I know (guys who snap up 100-plus sheds in a season) have seen their totals drop in 2012. Bucks were simply not concentrated on winter food sources, and finding sheds has involved a lot of walking and more than the usual amount of luck.

Of course, sheds aren’t the only measure of spring. Morel mushroom hunters have already started finding their tasty targets, weeks ahead of schedule. Most serious morel hunters I know start looking as lilac trees begin to bloom, and those fragrant blossoms are now appearing in Minnesota. My friends Tim and Bea Walmsley, who live in west-central Illinois, have already found a bunch of morels, including a 17-pound take just last Friday. The lovely Bea (pictured above) is also holding a great four-point side from a whitetail living on their farm. When you can nab some great table fare and an antler in the same day, you’re living right!

So, the spring of 2012 has its pros and cons. Sheds are tougher to find, but they’re still out there. And mushrooms are an early bonus; with turkey seasons just starting in my region, it’ll be fun to add some sauteed morels to any wild turkey meals that we can cook up — a decent tradeoff for low-volume shed hunting, in my book.