Man’s best friend is also your best friend, especially if you enjoy picking up shed antlers. Think about it, antlers are just bone, albeit the most amazing bone in the animal kingdom. Can you grow a new hunk of bone annually? That bone has appeal to your best friend whether it is a trained antler retriever or your lap dog that enjoys watching “Wheel of Fortune” with you.
Labradors, golden retrievers and members of the spaniel community can be trained to look for, and retrieve shed antlers. Various nonhunting breeds have also been successfully trained to perform these duties. My border collie isn’t fond of bringing back antlers, but when we hike I watch her and she often stops near a shed antler waiting for her “dumb” master to come over and pick it up.
Dogs also excel at locating dead stuff. You’ve probably smelled your dog after it found a roadkill on an afternoon walk and rolled in it so you could enjoy the wafting odor as well. Stank aside, discovering dead whitetails on your property gives you evidence of bucks that may have succumbed to winter brutality or were wounded, and lost during hunting season. Regardless, it’s always informative to locate and decipher the cause of death of a whitetail on your property.
As a rule of ethical shed hunting conduct only take your dog along if it is well mannered and does not chase wildlife. If you fear it will chase you need to restrain the animal on a long tether so it can still troll for antlers, but not harass game. A dog training collar can also be a benefit for a dog with a questionable personality.
My border collie Sage joins me on every antler outing. She’s not a retriever, but she has a remarkable ability to sniff out antlers buried in the forest duff, some that have sat there for years. I can read her from a distance and when she locks up in the grass it’s time to walk over and dig out another long, lost antler.
Veteran shed hunter Joe Shead takes you on a journey through the late-winter and spring forests. With this great Shed Hunting Collection, learn what to look for and then go with Shead looking for white-tailed deer antlers along with a trip out west in search of elk and mule deer sheds. With this exclusive collection you’ll get:
- Shed Hunting: A Guide to Finding White-Tailed Deer Antlers
- Go Shed Hunting DVD
- Western Shed-Venture DVD