It's a strange obsession, hard to explain to someone who wants to understand it, let alone to the many who don't. In lots of ways, shed hunting is perfectly suited to crazy people. Those bitten will go out day after day, come home empty-handed, and keep going out. In other ways, shed hunting is an immaculate compulsion, as pure as music or painting or sculpture. Aesthetically, deer antlers are as beautiful as anything the natural world creates. They're like the trunks of ancient trees, pheasant feathers, or chambered nautiluses. They're palpable and improbable, and each is as unique as a fingerprint. Sure, they have their uses. You can turn them into buttons and toggles and chew toys. Outhouse handles, knife handles, and chandeliers. You can sell them, but work out the ratios of time to mileage to money and you'd do better thumping parking meters, which is what my friend Paula Smith does when it's too miserable outside for a day of falling on your butt in the woods.