Whitetail Hunting photo

If I’m not the world’s poorest shed hunter, I’m certainly a contender. I spend a fair amount of time in the woods during early spring—sometimes intentionally looking for sheds, but mostly just scouting around—and if I had any talent for finding shed antlers, I should have a pile by now. Instead, I’m lucky to find two or three, even in a good season.

And a matched set? I’ve found exactly one, nearly 25 years ago now, when I bumbled through a cedar thicket and practically tripped over both antlers dropped by a smallish six-point.

So when I took a loop through one of my favorite public land hunting spots yesterday, looking for sheds was certainly on my brain, but tucked far in the back. I wanted to check for rubs and other buck sign from last fall. This is one of the reasons I stink at shed hunting: my eyes are always looking for rubs or scanning potential stand trees. In other words, I’m not looking at the ground, where the antlers are.

Well, I must not have been firing on all my spring-scouting cylinders yesterday. Because just when I spotted a nice rub, I did not engage in my normal routine, which is to scurry immediately over to the tree. Instead—for some odd reason—I looked down at my left boot. And in my peripheral vision I spotted something white, which turned out to be one of the nicer sheds I’ve found in my long and highly unsuccessful tenure.


My heart was doing a little dance when I picked the antler up, and then I stuck it on a log to photograph it. And then something even stranger happened. My head was just barely thinking “where’s the match?” when I looked slightly downhill and spotted something white, lying 20 yards away.

I’d not only found the other side, but I realized the sheds were from a buck I knew. We called him “Mr. Potential” because he sported a dandy rack—six tines on one side, five and the hint of a sixth on the other—for a deer that didn’t appear to be very old. He’s one of those bucks you wouldn’t blame a soul for shooting. But, you also can’t help but think that it’d be cool if he made it another year. Bucks that grow 12 typical points are dang rare in this deer country, and wouldn’t it be fun to know there was an old-timer running around, toting that kind of head gear?

Well my hunting buds and I thought about Mr. Potential quite a bit last fall. But that was all we did, because right about velvet shed, he disappeared. Naturally we wondered if he’d survived the season, given that much of the home range that we know about is comprised of public hunting area.

Well, thanks to a brief scouting trip on a cool Monday morning in April, we now have an answer. Mr. Potential will be around for at least the summer, and hopefully we’ll get some trail cam pics of a big 12-point buck. It’s something to look forward to … Kind of like finding my next matched set of sheds. Which, by my calculations, should happen sometime in the spring of 2040.