It’s that time of year again where the snow starts melting and the deer start shedding their beautiful antlers. It’s the perfect time to head out on a hike through the trees to see what has been left behind for the lone shed hunter to find.
I finally had a weekend off and decided what better way to spend my gorgeous Sunday afternoon than going for a hike with my two sidekicks. Recently I have been going to physical therapy because of a knee injury I had last year. Just before the week was over, I was told I could hike a mile or two at the most with a brace for support. It’s amazing news to me. Everything was good to go so I definitely wasn’t going to spend another moment inside. I finally brought out the Badlands pack and all my supplies, and headed out the door before a snap of a finger.
I called for my two girls, Trixie and Scrap, (aka, the dogs) loaded them up in my truck and we were off. They were just as excited as I was. For my first hike of the year, I figured I would go somewhere easy. Luckily one of our close friends allowed me to hike their property for the day. This way if something happened to my knee, I would have someone close to call and get me. Before I knew it, I was there. I had planned my route on the way, so as soon as I parked and unloaded, we were off and hiking.
Down the snow covered hill we go, me, the cow dog and the short dog, who’s also a cow dog. I couldn’t believe how much snow was still around, but it wasn’t stopping me. To get to the ridge I wanted to walk, I had to cross a big creek. Just as I got to the creek I jumped up 30 mallards. I thought to myself, “Woah! New duck hunting spot this fall!” As the beautiful birds flew off, I tried my hand at crossing the creek where I thought would be easiest. I grabbed Scrap as she is very short and would have a hard time and took a step towards the water.
As the saying goes, “That first step, it’s a lulu!” That’s exactly what it was. As my foot hit the mud it didn’t stop until about my knees. In a panic, my first reaction was “save the Swaros!” I tossed Scrap back on the bank. I’d already covered her in mud then gathered the binos before they were swallowed by the mud too.
By now both of my legs had been gulped up by this mud, and I couldn’t move. I hollered for Trixie as I figured she could somehow help me. She came running to me. I grab around her with one hand and the binos and the other. Then I grabbed what I could of my boot. Trixie heaved me out and luckily by boot came with me. I managed to untangle myself from the rest of the mud, and all I could think of was, “Thank goodness I wore my tall Lacrosse boots today!”
I dusted myself off and looked at the girls and said we better find another way across this stream. Within a few feet behind some nearby cattails, there was a perfect place to cross. We hopped over it like it was nothing. After this, I figured I had faced the worst of it, but I spoke too soon.
The next challenge was getting myself through the knee-deep snow to the top of the hill. I thought to myself “Think light” as if I could float across the snow. That didn’t happen. Post hole by post hole for about a 100 yards can wear a girl out. As I clawed my way to the top, I found a nice tree and plopped down under it. I rehydrated myself, caught my breath, then managed to get up and going again.
Just after I got to the sage-flat I wanted to explore, something caught my eye to my left. As I turned, to look, I couldn’t believe what it was. Laying there under a tree was an amazing dead head. It was a cactus deer. It had to be at least two years old lying there in the sun. I had to bring it with me. I clicked a quick picture of it and loaded it into my pack.
I ventured into the sage and through the slippery mud. I didn’t want to spend too much time in it because I knew my knee would start to freak out and hurt after our adventure through the mud hole and snow. We walked and walked and walked, but I never found anything so I moved on to another ridge.
I was getting a little tired, so I figured I would take a rest and glass the other ridge and maybe see some on the other side. I sat for quite a while just soaking up the sun and enjoying the fact that I was outside. I never spotted anything across the way, so I continued.
I walked back and forth across the ridge with my two girls galloping along the whole way. We finally hit the end of the ridge. I hadn’t had enough. I was still hoping just to see something stick out so I jumped over to the next ridge, which would lead me back to my truck, and ventured on.
I was getting wore out and was ready to prop my knee up. I knew I could do this hike on my own, so I didn’t call for a ride. With the soreness in my knee growing, I didn’t go back and forth to see if I could find anything. I figured my best chances would be along the fence line. I walked along, by a nice pasture, where we often see the deer feeding in the afternoons but still no luck.
Finally, I saw the truck and was glad I could relax. I gazed at it, and as I walked toward it, I looked into some trees. All of the sudden Scrap and I both just sunk. I was crossing the flat and never saw an irrigation ditch that was so full of snow. I looked over at Scrap to see her digging herself out. All I could do was sit there and laugh.
I may not have found any sheds that day, but it sure was one of the most fun, relaxing and entertaining shed hunting trips I have been on in a while. I ended up walking four miles and couldn’t be happier. I am preparing for hunting season, many months down the road, and I want to be 110% ready.