Sunday, April 20, 2014

Shed Hunting Artwork

We have finally done it! Bit the bullet and had prints made of one of Rob's paintings. It's the "Standing Guard" painting of a Bull Moose skull with antlers, that Rob painted for the 2014 NHSHC Annual Raffle. This painting is the mate to the 2013 NHSHC Raffle Painting "From Death Comes Life" of a Whitetail Buck skull with antlers.

IF This print sells well, we will be having the matching Whitetail painting made into prints as well.

The Artist proof of "Standing Guard" is sold, as are prints #1 and 2. The first 5 prints sold will come with a free ($20 value) remarque (small sketch near signature). There will be ONLY 100 Giclee prints in total and they are all signed and numbered.

For more info see RJRJR Print page


Sunday, March 9, 2014

30+ Inches of Snow Still on the Ground in March

Sunday brought forth nice temperatures and sun. It also brought a road trip to my best shed site, "The Farm". It's funny that no matter how bad it is everywhere else, the farm always makes me feel better. With this winter being so bad for finding those wonderful bones in our area,I needed to get on to "Hallowed ground".

I needed to collect up a Wildgame Inovations Camera I had set up in a hemlock grove that surrounds a stream valley.This spot has been a traditional wintering yard for ever, but I had my doubts after the last snow storm. The camera had been sitting there for a month and 2 weeks and the batteries were going to be long ago dead in this cold.

I secured my snowshoes and threw on my pack and headed out. I was hoping to get a picture of the big deer wounded during rifle season. Upon reaching the brook crossing, tracks caught my eye. These crazy deer were walking down the frozen brook using it for a main trail because of the lack of snow on top of the frozen stream compared to the woods where it was DEEP.

So since the tracks were days and days old, I thought it safe that there would not be deer close by (not wanting to disturb the deer or lead predators to them), so I followed the brook and tracks down into the wintering area where the camera was. There was also a total lack of fresh tracks near the camera, but the camera had 4 photos on it. Yup only 4. A button buck with his buttons still intact and 3 does. No big bucks and nothing recent. I pulled the camera and moved out.

I worked my way up to a place called "Bear Ridge" to get a look at what was going on. Bear Ridge is a finger ridge that separates the stream valley from the foot of the twin peaks on the farm, both are respectively 1400 feet above sea level. After scanning the surroundings I could see a trail leading from the South East end of Bear Ridge up the lee side of the mountain to a series of shelfs that starts with hardwood and slowly mixes with some hemlock as you climb up. After a lunch break I started my assent.

I had been measuring the snow depth with my walking stick all during my trek and to this point it had varied from 12-28" but as I went out into the low spot out in the open on an old tote road it was a whopping 30" still. As I wove my way through the hardwoods I could see a beat down trail up on the next shelf, I followed this trail until I came to an acceptable place to leave the camera (with fresh batteries and card), it was a 3 way trail intersection facing North. I left the camera facing the intersection and starting following the winding trail rolling over these shelves but avoiding going down any of the trails that lead down to bedding areas in the hemlocks (for now, while the snow is deep to respect the deer's needs and safety, I'll come back later after melt).

This entire backside of the hill is my favorite place in the world, Patriarcal Mountain. It was completely covered with sign. I did a quick scout about in 30" of snow here knowing full well that realisticly the odds are way against me finding a thing. I worked the shelf at a moderate pace heading up and out the old clearcut the deer had worked over at some point this winter towards the outskirts of another wintering area at the back of the cut to see if the deer had in fact used it.

Since the sun was kissing the tops of the mountain though I decided to take another snow measure in the cut itself. 33", this alone illustrated to me that it was in my best interest to head back to the farmhouse for some coffee and wait til another day to comb the hills for sheds. Since this property is fully closed to the public and I have exclusive shed hunting rights, I have no fears of someone legally getting out here before I get back given that tresspassers are not tolerated by the farm well.

While out today I noticed that the "lee side"/ low snow side of the mountain is on the Northwest side this year and almost all of our storms have blown in from the South East and North East meaning the snow is deeper on those sides. You might keep this in mind when going out shedding this spring as the deer stay mostly in the low snow "lee sides" and at least in my areas this will mean check those North West hillsides first!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Too much snow for March

Last week at the Granite State Outdoor Show James, Justin and myself (The Granite State Hunting Adventures Crew) decided that enough was enough and we HAD to take to the woods. The plan was to find some orchards down in the valley that had deer sign , film some shed hunting and also get some "B" roll for our DVDs (which are still in the production phase, not for sale yet).

We started our shedding half way down the mountain and when we got out of the truck we could hear some coyotes howling on the ridge above us. So our shedding turned into an inprompto coyote hunt. James had his rifle and his Foxpro in the truck, so we grabbed them as well as the filming gear and out we went. Well, sort of.... Justin did not bring any snowshoes and the snow was still at a knee freezing 24" deep even with the day being in the 40's/50's.

We trudged past our original intended target, the orchard, and could tell that not one deer had been there since the last big storm weeks ago so that was a no go anyway.

We got set up for the Song Dogs on a flat spot over looking a gully and a large hay field. We called with a fawn in distress call every 10 minutes for an hour with no response. We had the wind but in retrospect the coyotes had either found food when we heard them or they had moved off out of hearing range before we got to our setup. No harm no foul, that's hunting. Mood could also play a part. Basically I could care less about shooting/hunting coyotes. They are not as big of a problem where I am because we have a lot of dog hunters that run the coyotes with hounds. But I digress.

Justin had to split after our foray because he had to go to work, so James and I decided to go scout a spot near a friend's sister's house. She had wanted me to come over and look for "horns" for quite awhile. She has a 160 class "Booner" running around her property based on trail camera pics. We wandered down her lawn toward her apple trees and I was blown away. The ground beneath every apple tree (some still with fruit hanging) had been packed down like a barnyard. The trails that feed into the orchard were just crazy!

James and I decided to wander out some of the trails. They dropped over a steep bank down into a hemlock grove, just a perfect bedding area, beds and trails everywhere. There was still 12-18" snow even under here so the prizes are still hiding.   We scouted a bit more and then touched base with the landowner before heading back over to the Unity Mountain farm to film a "Shed tip of the week" segment on finding matched shed using the clean and dirty pedicel trick. Seems like it turned out all right, so James will try to load that one up on You tube.   Tomorrow I'll head to my brother's farm and check on a camera that has been out for a month, change the batteries and cards in it and re set it in another area. I am checking for a couple deer that were wounded during rifle season to see if they made it through til now.   Next weekend is the Rutland, Vt show and we shall see how that turns out. Stay tuned

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shed Hunting and YOU

If you have ever gone hunting for shed (dropped) deer and moose antlers, or if you have just thought about it, if you have found zero antlers or 1000 antlers, if you buy, sell or collect antlers; you need to read this.

Yes this is going to be long, and yes you might completely disagree with it, but you still need to read this through. Please note: This letter is NOT about antler "ownership", real or perceived, this is strictly about human behavior and attitude.

My husband, Rob and I are the original founders of the New Hampshire Shed Hunters Club (NHSHC) which was the FIRST such club in N.H. and one of the first in all of New England. We started the club as a way for people with the same passion- hunting shed antlers- to share photos of their finds, to exchange tips and to just be able to connect and converse with fellow shed hunters.

As a whole the people we met along the way were nice respectful people. Time passed and the club responsibilities grew too great and we passed the leadership of the club along to James Smith Jr who is just as passionate about shed hunting as Rob. The passage of time has also brought other changes, some good and some not.

Shed antler hunting has exploded in popularity, it's become popular with the young, old and in between. That is the good.

The commercial aspect of shed hunting has always been there, but that too has increased tremendously with the jump in antler prices to feed the Asian and dog chew markets. This is good AND bad. As more people come to shed hunting- for hobby or as a business- we are starting to see a huge and ugly change. There are people being drawn to shed hunting we have never encountered before and that is what we NEED to address.

In the past shed hunters have been a pretty respectful group. They get to know what the vehicles of other shed hunters look like and the areas favored by each other and generally avoid "poaching" a fellow shed hunters traditional areas. They ask permission before crossing land owner's property except in huge tracts of public access land, they go out of their way to cultivate posted landowner access permission and they never steal from anyone.

The new, ugly change we are seeing relates to competition and also in part to the commercial aspect. There are new groups of shed hunters who make a special point to "stalk" the roads looking for the vehicles of other shed hunters and then come back and scour the woods another day, or slip in ahead of them further along the property. They follow other shed hunters and steal found antlers that were tied to trees for pickup on the way out, this is causing a human danger element as altercations in the woods are increasing. They sneak (tresspass) onto posted land to obtain shed antlers. They also go out during hard winters with deep snow pack on snowshoes or snowmobiles and pressure already stressed deer and moose herds out of their "yards" in their quest to get ahead of other shed hunters and in the process pack trails for predators to more easily acccess these animals: something an ethical shed hunter would never do.

We as responsible, ethical shed hunters owe it to the animals we love and respect AND to our fellow shed hunters to regulate ourselves BEFORE the State steps in and regulates it for us by implementing seasons or fees. If the State ever decides that shed hunting is at all causing a decline or is detrimental to the well being of the animals, they could shut down winter shed hunting altogether as has happened in many Western States. No antler in your collection or your sale bin is worth THAT!

Like with ethical hunting we cannot let these "bad seeds" sully the reputation and public image of the ethical, responsible and respectful TRUE shed antler hunter. By using common sense and courtesy the ability to hunt shed antlers will continue without regulation.

In closing, there IS room in the woods for everyone regardless of why you shed hunt, but greed should never play a part or be taught to the new generation.


Diane & Rob Richardson Jr

No We Did Not Die or Get Lost!

Sometimes life just gets away from you and things not at the top of the "Must do list" get forgotten. That has been the case with this blog.

Rob was at the Granite State Outdoor Show this past weekend in Concord, NH in the booth for the NH Shed Hunter's Club and Granite State Hunting Adventures and several people came up to him wondering just WHEN we were going to start writing on this blog again. We heard you and here we are!

Rob will next be at the Vermont Outdoor Show in Rutland, March 15 and 16 (check the Facebook page for the NH Shed Hunter's Club for a copy of the poster) and the NH Shed Hunter's Club will be drawing the winners of the raffles they started selling tickets for at the Concord, NH show. First prize is this painting by Rob called "Standing Guard"

After this show the men folk will be at the Trinity Baptist Church Sportman's show and banquet in Concord, NH April 5th

Rob and Bella had a good start to their Wildlife Recovery/Blood tracking season and then Bella slipped her harness and was lost for 58 hours. To read about this and other tracks of theirs, go to Bella's Page and scroll down to the Tracking Log link.

Hopefully we will be able to keep updating the blog again on a regular basis and watch for a second post today in fact!

Have a great shed season!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

4 for 4

Okay so I am on a hot streak of sorts in that I am finding shed antlers every time I am hitting the woods. When I get up today I knew I got some things I have got to do, like put a new battery in my truck so we will not get stranded out in the out back again( long story for a different day) so before I into the big town I do a recon through the neighborhood to find where the deer had been. A quarter of the way through my tour I hit pay dirt and notice that an orchard I have permission to hunt is just destroyed with sign. Well mission control we have acquired a target for this afternoons hunt.

After my horrible Walmart morning(also another story for another time) I had lunch ,packed my gear and headed into the woods. On my short drive I knew I would be successful, call it positive thinking or cockiness or what have you I just knew. Upon reaching the orchard I was just blown away with all the big buck tracks I was seeing. I don't mean big tracks I am talking splayed foot dew claw gouging 200 lb + mature monster tracks. Those of you who are in the know, know what I am talking about. As long as a 30.06. shell and almost as wide.

Okay now I am just wound tighter than a ten day clock. big buck = big rack (mostly). I first work the upper orchard with the persistence and skill knowing the big Ol' stickers buck is still kicking around with that massive non-typical rack. The upper level has nothing that I can see but there is some snow covering potential small sheds, however big ones should still poke up.

I work into the lower section and immediately find its just as tracked up and that the deer had been bedded only fifty yards from the road. Not only is it more tracked up but there are more paths between sections. I kick around every tree and move gradually to the East then follow a trail to another section. I am walking stooped over because of the under brush and stopping and scanning the ground every few feet side to side up and down. and then as I scan just to right of my foot I see just a few inches of tine popping up out of the snow. I reach down and pop out a nice 3 point side .

A basic clean six with no brow tines. Fairly good size off a 2 and one half year old. I spend until dark thirty looking for the match. To much to cover and the bedding area is a way off so I will have to come back. Just 10 minutes from my house so I can even stop by after work. notice the size of the pedicle base huge, huh! he has some growing to do. well stay tuned, the streak will continue