Finders Keepers.

Love Shed Hunting. It's not just about looking down - it's about looking up and all around - it's the whole magical experience.

Love Shed Hunting.  It’s not just about looking down – it’s about looking up and all around and listening…the birdsong at eventide is sublime.

It is my experience, late April heralds the time of year when Red Deer cast their magnificent antlers; they cast not only their antlers but a magic spell – that holds me in thrall until I find one – it is a Quest.

There is no way of knowing exactly where or when an antler will fall because they fall at will – but it is the expectation and excitement of finding one that’s addictive; I say expectation because you have to believe that you will find one.

Every evening this week – I have disappeared for a couple of hours or more into the forest I call ‘Shedland’ – in the hope that I’ll find a cast antler.  There is nothing more exciting in my eyes – than that first moment of recognition when suddenly I realise what I’ve been searching for – a huge, branched beast of an antler! Tuesday – 18th April 2017 was my lucky day – and it came right at the end of a two hour shed hunting session when day had almost descended into night.  Suddenly five beautiful, glowing white tips lying on a muddy bank in the darkness stopped me in my tracks – their tracks. I waited until my eyes fully opened and acclimatised to what lay in front of me – it ‘s a magical moment that I often play over and over again in my mind – it is so powerful.  Before picking it up – I took a photograph of it in situ… 

White in the darkness - moment of recognition.

White in the darkness – moment of recognition.

I say ‘always’ – I have only ever found three – two whoppers in 2016 and this beauty. It’s what makes all three so prized.  The odds are I won’t find a shed antler because they are more likely to be cast over a huge area of thicket that’s impenetrable to mere humans – thank God ‘my’ four boys have sanctuary away from people with guns.  These are truly wild stags. 

‘Four Stags of Yggdrasil’

My boys! I call them the ‘Four Stags of Yggdrasil’.

A freshly cast antler provides a great calcium source for many nocturnal animals too – foxes, badgers, mice – and the deer themselves enjoy a wholesome gnaw and nibble – so I’m deeply grateful when Nature leaves one for me.  I know the date that this antler was cast because I covered exactly the same ground the night before.   

They enjoyed a nibble and left the rest for me.

They enjoyed a bit of a gnaw!

It's like finding magic!  It measures thirty-one inches from its pedical to it's tip.

It’s like finding magic!  It measures thirty-one inches from its pedical to it’s tip.



Casting a shadow. Bringing my prize home under the orange glow of the street lamps.

Casting a magical shadow.  Bringing my prize home under the orange glow of the street lamps.

When finally I emerged out of the forest – I carried my prize all the way round another three miles on the road – it was a perfect excuse not to get home too early and put it down – even though it’s got a good weight to it!  I stopped off in the church yard – to show it to my Dad…  

Forget-me not.

Old habits die hard.  I still like to show him my finds!

Showing Dad my first find.  'Yod' an eight-point cast antler in April 2016.

Showing Dad my first find.  ‘Yod’ an eight-point cast antler in April 2016.

I placed the antler on his plot and sat awhile next to him.  I listened to the owls – and thanked the stars above. They were shining over the church more brilliantly than I can ever remember…

I didn’t really want to come back in – I was so happy!

Earth to earth.

From earth – to earth.

Yod and Son of Yod - cast Red Deer antlers.

Yod and Son of Yod – my other ‘pair’ of cast Red Deer antlers.

My three cast antlers have all been given names – my first is ‘Yod’ – my second is ‘Son of Yod’ – and this year’s find – is ‘Yaffle’! 

‘Yaffle’ because it’s got a ‘Y’ at one end – a huge ‘E’ at the other – and in between there is a small white mark on its trunk-like structure where the wild animals got to it before me – it looks like a Woodpecker’s hole!  ‘Yaffle’ is a country name for a Green Woodpecker.  It all makes perfect sense to me! 

Deer Yaffle!  From muddy bank 18th. April 2017 – to crowning a cushion of Daisies in my garden – 21st. April 2017.




One thought on “Finders Keepers.

  1. …beautiful animals with these formidable weapons! How do they KNOW when they are ripe for shedding to the ground as beautiful windfalls, without risk of harm to themselves…another of Nature’s mysterious clocks. Congratulations on this marvellous find!

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