SHEDDING ANTLERS



One year in the early seventies, a whole bunch of us were spending the week after Christmas at the cottage.  There were groceries needed for New Year’s celebrations with all the relatives, so Mom sent me to the village for groceries.   My youngest brother was always tagging along with me, so he hopped into the car, too.

It was a fairly severe winter, with the snow already deep in the woods.  When we drove by  Gleason’s swamp, we saw an impressive buck drop down into the thick growth of white cedar, following a good runway, well-beaten and solid amid the deeper snow. 

My brother was just a kid, about 14 years old, but well-trained and experienced in the woods.  I suggested to him that if he pushed that buck, it might make him shed one or both of his antlers—the timing was right.  He thought it was a great idea, and jumped out of the car, saying, “pick me up here on your way back.”

I was gone about an hour, and when I returned I stopped at the runway into the swamp and waited.  There was no sign of the kid for about 15 minutes.  Finally, he showed up, grinning from ear to ear and holding the left antler of a big 8-pinner.  This is what he told me:
“I followed the buck down the runway.  He was moving fast—I could see his jumps in the snow ahead of me.  After a few minutes I saw drops of blood on the snow and when I pushed even more, the snow turned more red until there was blood everywhere.  Right there I saw an antler on the runway ahead of me.  I picked it up and thought I would find the other one.  I stayed with him a long time, but the buck never shed the other antler.”

The kid got into the car panting and soaking wet with sweat, but grinning and fondling his shed antler with great pride.
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