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February 19, 2008

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Bad Juju Among the Shed Heads


If you look closely at the expression of my child, you may find yourself asking the same question I did, namely: Does she look crazy all by herself or because her Daddy is making her that way with his deer and shed obsessions ?

I knew I was in trouble this year when I got lucky shed hunting in the first two hours of my first day.  I was walking an old fence line – dating from the days that cows grazed inside the Beltway -  in a steep area of a public park along the river. I looked down and there it was: just a three-pointer, but heavy (18 ounces on my office postal scale) and palmated. It was right where it was supposed to be, at a place where jumping the fence had dislodged it. A feeling of elation swept over me, quickly followed by an intuition of bad juju to come. I’ve never felt comfortable when I got lucky right off the bat, whether it was in hunting, fishing, athletics, or with women of the opposite sex. In my experience, easy initial  success is an indicator that disaster is in the immediate area and will descend just as soon as it finds a place to park.

And so it has been. I have been out at least part of each of the last six days, from two to four hours a day. I’ve walked public land and private, seen deer that would bolt at the first shuffle of my feet in the leaves and others that approached so boldly it was clear that somebody has been hand feeding them. I have seen sticks on the ground that initially stopped my heart, Pope & Young-caliber sticks. Sticks that looked so much like antlers I nearly kept them with the intention of posting photos of them here and starting a contest devoted entirely to antler-like sticks. That’s when I decided my preoccupation was getting a little out of hand.

My plan is to stay out of the woods today. It’s now 9:11 a.m. So far, so good.


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She has her mother's hair and her father's eyes. Or perhaps she also has her father's hair, since he no longer has his?

(As if I should talk.)


Bad juju comes in all forms. I've nearly worn out my new Honda Foreman 350 riding the entire fence of my 240 acre lease. I've crawled on hands and knees through brambles, mesquite and briars. The focus on my old antiquated 7 X 35 Bushnell barnacles will no longer adjust, worn slick. Alas! I found a shed. It was on the opposite side of the fence. It was off a COW!!! I swear, a cow horn! That's all I got for the scratches, punctures, aching back and butt and nearly $7 worth of gas burned up!
THAT'S bad juju!


anonymous-too embarrassed to say

You wanna hear bad juju? 3 years ago I put in for elk for the first time in my life. I got drawn the first time putting in, in Arizona, for a really good unit near Flagstaff. Unheard of!!My dad got a tag for the same unit and tagged out 5 minutes into the 3rd day. So guess what happened to me. I got one shot and had a bad primer. The elk got away, haven't been drawn since. Better luck this year maybe.


Wanna hear bad juju!?

I put my name and the name of three friends into a drawing for a feral hog hunt on the Engling WMA near Cayuga, Texas back in the late 70's! We didn't get drawn! SO, you say! So what!!
The day after the drawing, they had a radio interview with a biologist from the area. During the interview, the biologist stated that they had drawn "...one hundred hunters out of the one hundred and four entrants!" WE WERE THE ONLY CARD NOT DRAWN!
How's THAT for bad juju?!


bill heavey

dear anonymous-too-embarrassed,

why would you be embarrassed by a bad primer? c'mon, son! you're not in the game if that hasn't happened to you. and it certainly doesn't rank up there with bubba and friends being the only guys NOT drawn in a hog lottery.

nobody else finding sheds?

anybody else finding it nearly as addictive as regular hunting?

i'd like to know whether it's just me or whether i'm due for my 120k psychic belts-and-hoses replacement. bh

Laura Bell

Poor Kid is catching what her father has!! Lol J/K!

My Shed hunting doesn't ever go well, I only have one fresh shed in my collection that I found. The rest are chewed and weathered.
One time I was Coon hunting and I was with 4-5 others and we're all walking along together side by side. Well this one kid decides he wants to lead, that's fine and dandy right? Well as we're going along he lunges forward and grabs up a MATCHED set of the biggest 8-pointer in the County!! Coke Can bases, thick beams and tines, just huge and sick looking. After a little I asked if I could see them and he handed them over and said "Sure, but I'm keeping them"
I should have said "Possession is nine tenths of the law, buddy!" and Ran! Lol

But I have been lucky enough to find one in the ground, a hooked horn one, and was also given a monster 5-point side. I'm going to try and get me a set though, I don't care how big or small I just want to find a set.

John D

No doubt, it's as addictive as hunting – with the added perk of being low pressure. I don't stress myself out about being scent-free or picking the right stand. You just lace up them boots and go. I've tried to articulate the joy there is in finding a shed, but always seem to come up short. This year I've been lacking in time to get out there (my stomping grounds are 80 miles from my house) and my fiancee is tired of hearing about how bad I want to go shed hunting.

It offers an intimate connection with the wild places and the animal we love without the investment of too many resources (brain power, money, patience).

Finding a big shed is the porn of deer hunting.


Morning Bill -

I have come to conclude that sheds are crack - and I can quit anytime I want.

I have 2 hot spots to look. One is a 3600 acre preserve just down the road. I am striking out there. I am seeing too many boot prints. I may be searching land that's been picked over.

The second spot requires me to trespass on guvmint property (it's an archeological site of a battlefield from the 1700's - about 150 acres). It is packed with deer, which I see every day driving home. I need a creative excuse to explain my presence if confronted by the ranger.

Any ideas? Other than lost dog, paper airplane blown off course or demented shed hunter?


I must be approaching some form of delirium. I have this bizarre idea of creating a whole new line of must-have gear devoted to shed hunting.

Tinted eyewear, specialized gloves and boots, logo headgear, special tracking devices that seek calcium concentrations, net bags to haul your catch, etc. (Hey... we used to hunt dear with sticks and pointy rocks, now look at the burdens we carry just to miff a shot.)

Imagine the gear reviews in F&S for the latest in shed hunting. Gear hounds, in their craven inferiority, would be powerless.

This could lead to B.A.S.S. tournament style shed hunting. Imagine setting loose teams of competing shed hunters (with camera crews) tromping about the hardwood forests, fence rows and stonewalls of America.

Shed Masters! The next great Saturday morning T.V. show.

Sponsorship and ad revenue!

Shed Mag, the new monthly! (Don't tell Bonnier just yet - let me get some conceptual galleys and proofs first.)

Think big! Big big!

Good grief - I'm going outside.

anonymous-too embarrassed to say

Dear Bill,

Thanks man. I feel better now. Bubba you got me beat for sure. No luck on sheds for me yet though.


What's a woman of the opposite sex? I think you're a little addled from the shed obsession.


Hey Too-embarassed:

About three years ago, I get an old black powder rifle out that I hadn't shot in years. Finally got her all scrubbed out and shooting somewhere within an acre of where I'm pointing it and go deer hunting.
At this point in the story, it's time to tell you that I prefer the Remington No. 11 percussion caps. All that was left in my possibles bag were so old, the container they were in was an antique! Also in the bag was a small tin of CCI No. 11 percussion caps. Hey, they were at least 10 years fresher, so they should work just fine. Then ol' Murph steps out.
I'm sitting in a pop-up blind, aware that I really shouldn't shoot over about 50 yards when a passable buck suddenly appears from the right, twenty yards from the blind, slowly picking his way along the edge of a rye field. I cocked the rifle, sighted, and "CLACK"! The buck looked back, spooked, and left! That little hard CCI primer looked like a mushroom sitting on the nipple!
I sowed the remainder of them in the rye field and went back to the Remington's.
By the way, never saw another deer to shoot that smokepole season!
If you never have a misfire with a smokepole, you're not living.



Ugh! I've not had time to go and look. Bill, I feel your pain. My wife has said on several occasions that I'll be going to hell for what I've put my kids through (nothing that would be considered abuse) because it makes them look just like that! She's kidding of course, at least I hope she is.

Bubba - What can I say, man - sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes your the bug. I passed on a nice 6-pointer opening day of rifle season, only to immediately hear him get shot by another in our group.

John D - Girl giving you grief? Simple, take her with you! It would be a good way to introduce her to an activity that you enjoy. I'm taking the wife and both of my girls with me when I go. More eyes makes for better odds of finding a set.


Ok, here's some bad juju:

In a word, my deer season was crap. First, we aquired some prime new huntin land from a lady in our church. scouted it and found good sign and well travelled trails. hunted it about 3 times, and the lady's son decides he wants to hunt it. so we got kicked off so he could hunt it about two times the rest of the season. (and no, he never saw a deer!!!!)
so, back to the rest of the season...bow season's fairly uneventful (except for the doe i drew back on and spooked). muzzle-loadin rolled around and i got to go one saturday evenin. And what do ya know? a nice 8-point walked out, and was beginnin to think my luck was changin. WRONG!!!!! a good ole muzzle-loader misfire ruins my chance at a good buck!!!! CRAP!!!
The next saturday, i'm back in the same stand, and a nice cowhorn spike walked within spittin distance. i painfully let him go in hopes of a bigger one. my wish was granted about 10 that mornin when i nice buck that looked to be about 17 or 18 in. inside appeared!!! my luck was changin!!!! NOT!!! before i could get my gun up he was gone!!!!!! CRAP!!!
that evenin, though, i shot a nice doe from about 165 yards. FINALLY, A DEER!!!!!!
saw one more deer the rest of the season!!!!!
oh yeah, one other thing...THOSE WERE THE FIRST BUCKS I'VE SEEN IN 2 YEARS!!!!


The key, FreeBorn, to success is: "Don't Give Up!"
Last year was a real bust for me too! Got a neat place to hunt. Didn't have much scout time. Was able to hang a couple of feeders early in the fall (Sept). Finally killed 1 doe. Saw two nice bucks but was unable to get a shot at either. I know one is still there, saw him last week "shed hunting". Yep, he still had "both" antlers! Also booted a shot last day of bonus antlerless, so freezer is almost empty.
Oh, well! At least I'm looking forward to "this fall"!


bill heavey

bubba's right. and you killed a deer, right? that, any way you spell it, is called SUCCESS.

failure is a far more universal experience than success, anyway. if you had to be "successful" hunter to be an outdoor writer, i'd be on welfare.

jack,your gear idea has all the earmarks of an outdoor writer. forget it. i don't need the competition.

greetings, barbara bell. great to have a woman in the room.

guys, mind your manners.

off to pound the woods again. bh

bill heavey

it's LAURA bell, of course. i've only had two cups of coffee.

and the problem with blogs is nobody but me looks over what i write. which is why there are so many editorial bullet holes in my foot. bh

Chris H.

I have one question. I assume you are a man based on the fact that you refer to your self as her father and state that women are of the opposite sex. Have you ever run accross a woman of the same sex or a man of the opposite sex? Your statement perplexes and unnervers me greatly!!

Blue Ox

Chris H.,
I'm pretty sure Bill had not yet finished his first cup of coffee while making a statement like 'women of the opposite sex'. Now if you'd like to bear witness to 'a woman of the same sex, or a man of the opposite sex', go and visit the nearest penitentiary.
I guarantee that what you see there will perplex and unnerve you more than Mr. Heavy's statement ever could.


Blue Ox,

Please allow me a stab at a little ironic humor!

BUT.... Blue "Ox" (a neutered male?!) refering to a woman/man of the opposite/same sex with the "moniker" Blue Ox bringing on thoughts of an neutered male bovine by the name of "BABE"?!
No offense to you, just thought it rather "wry"!


Blue Ox

Bubba, how did I know you was gonna pop off with a shot like that?! LOL!!
Guess this means I hafta explain...and it's got nothing to do with Paul Bunyan or his beast of burden.
The nickname 'Ox' was given to me a number years ago by some co-workers based on my overall build and preternatural strength. The name has stuck to this day.
Blue is my favorite color, and unless I'm clad in realtree camo,
I won't be found without jeans and a blue flannel on.
And there ya have it.
Blue Ox.


Nah, you ain't gotta explain, Blue Ox. Just glad that you are good natured enough to see the humor in the thought process! Actually blue is my favorite color next to camo.



hey bill,
I read your book.....you talked about hunting chat rooms....what were some of the ones you visited?


Scott in Ohio

Chris H,

I too noted BH's turn of phrase about "women of the opposite sex" and it made my eyebrows rise!

Was out scouting for sheds for second time ever last week. No dice. Aside from looking beside jumb obstacles (that by landing impact would jar loose antlers) and keeping the sun to my back do any of you have any suggestions that have proved successful?

Blue Ox

I try to go after it's been raining, wet antlers tend to shine and stand out against grass & brush.

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