Last weekend I went out shed antler hunting. That is not a news flash. Typically at this time of year it’s a good bet that I can be found in the woods. I always think of the shed antler hunting season as the second part of the previous year’s hunting season. All of last year’s trail camera pictures are still relevant and “the Big Eight” point buck is still the big eight-pointer. It will all be different this coming fall when that same buck sports a rack that is bigger, heavier and wider. Well, at least I hope he does but that’s the next rack. I won’t worry myself about that until fall. For now, I’m just happy to find last year’s rack.
Shed hunting is a sport where not much happens. More often than not, it ends up being just a walk in the woods. So if you’re set on results, shed hunting probably isn’t the sport for you. Me, well I have been doing this for decades and know what the expectations are. Although I see some pretty neat things every once in a while, I stumble onto something that is really out of the norm.
I came around the corner of a woodlot and something white caught my eye. Instinctively I thought it was a bleached out deer antler but as I cleared the bush line, I could see that it was a square piece of styrofoam. As I got closer I found out that it was a radiosonde from the National Weather Service. The giveaway was the writing on the side that red: “REMOVE BAG FOR MAILING INSTRUCTIONS.” During my entire shed hunting career this is the third “weather balloon” I have found. I was curious and decided to spend a few minutes checking the internet to find out more about my radiosonde.
Among other things, the website that I clicked on told me the following about weather balloons: Twice a day, every day of the year, weather balloons are released simultaneously from almost 900 locations worldwide. This includes 92 released by the National Weather Service in the United States and its territories. The balloon flights last for around two hours, they can drift as far as 125 miles away, and they rise up to over 100,000 feet (about 20 miles) in the atmosphere.
The number that caught my eye was that twice a day balloons are released every day. That means that over 33,500 balloons are released every year. For argument’s sake and for easy math let’s just say that I have been shed antler hunting for 30 years which would mean that during that time over one million weather balloons have been released.
Do you understand what that means? I may not be a very good shed antler hunter but I’m absolutely horrible at weather balloon hunting.