A Season on the Edge

Montana shed hunting, antler hunting, ATL, deer antler

One man's quest for a trophy shed.

I’ve been shed hunting a long time, and it takes a lot to get my blood pumping these days. The average rack just doesn’t do it for me anymore—I pick up four-pointers like matchsticks every year. But last spring, I laid eyes on a buck that really got me excited. He had huge devil tines, nice G2s, and royals like something fresh off Noah’s Ark. Thus, I nicknamed him “the Detonator.” I knew from the moment I saw him that I had to get my hands on his antlers. This is my season spent in pursuit of the Detonator.

I knew that to find this buck’s antlers, I had to pattern him, to find his beds, his feeding grounds, and his hideouts.

My story begins in January: training season. With shed season just months away, I had to get in shape for what was sure to be my best season yet. I checked out the Mountain Project’s training plans, but they looked a little soft. Fortunately, my girlfriend Bridget was a body builder, and she helped me write my own fitness plan. Soon, I was hitting the gym almost every afternoon. Bridget even bought me an antler T-shirt from my favorite YouTube shed hunter. It had tight-fitted sleeves, so my biceps looked really big in pictures. Guys at the gym started asking me if I was a shed hunter. I always kept my answer pretty vague—I didn’t want to give away any clues. But I noticed one dude always lurking in the back of the gym, watching me. I followed him to his truck one day—a green Tacoma with a three-inch lift, and, of course, an antler on the dash. Competition.

In February, I hit the ground for some scouting. That’s when I first saw the Detonator. I think my heart stopped for a few seconds. I knew that to find this buck’s antlers, I had to pattern him, to find his beds, his feeding grounds, and his hideouts. I had to get into the mind of this animal. I spent hours watching him through my spotting scope. Glassing that hard was difficult work, and it took a lot of mental fortitude. I must’ve eaten six pounds of sour gummy worms in a couple weeks, just to maintain the necessary focus. But things were going south with Bridget. She seemed to think, “I’m looking for racks this evening,” meant something else entirely.

Spring rolled around, and this buck kept holding his antlers. Everything else had long since dropped, but the Detonator wasn’t going down easy. I reluctantly skipped a glassing session one afternoon to meet with a new sponsor: Haribo. They had seen my challenge on social media and set me up with a gummy worm pro-deal. That same afternoon, Bridget told me we needed to talk. I met her in the Sportsman’s Warehouse parking lot. She said I was whispering “detonator” every night in my sleep, and gave me an ultimatum: the Detonator or her.

When I showed up to my glassing knob later that evening, I was startled to see that the Detonator only had one antler. That’s around the time I saw the lifted Tacoma in the parking lot. I had to act fast.

I sprinted to where I last saw the Detonator. And there, resting in the bed I just bumped him out of, was the right side of his rack. I snapped some shots for my Instagram, and immediately posted them with the tag #AsTheyLay. Then I picked that baby up. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. It was better than sex—with Bridget, anyway.

Montana shed hunting, deer antler hunting, taking picture ATL of antler

I never tracked the Detonator to find his other shed. One was enough for me, and it was really all I needed for a cool thumbnail shot on my YouTube channel. Once I finished editing my film, I sold the antler. I called up my buyer, who drove from Livingston the same afternoon. For $12, I parted ways with the shed that had consumed my life for the last three months. It was bittersweet, but I knew it had to be done to fund my obsession. Then I called Bridget. It went straight to voicemail.

I’m already dreaming about picking up the Detonator’s antlers next year, and how to sabotage that punk in the Tacoma. Maybe I could bribe him with gummy worms. I’ve got plenty.