My shed hunting buddies and I have had a long-standing joke that one of us would one day train a dog to find antlers. This thought might have also occurred to you if you’ve lived the twin curses of 1) being an antler addict and 2) having ever hunted over a bird dog or retriever.
The concept of a shed dog is near and dear to my heart whenever I’ve had an unsuccessful trip (which happened today) and especially when I’m accompanied by my doofus golden retriever (which is always). Though I love dogs on principle, I also believe they should earn their supper, and Colby has never done anything to pull his considerable weight while shed hunting. I have even rigged ingenious little collars that would allow him to tote a medicinal keg of Gatorade for me, but he refuses. And retrieve a shed? Maybe if I find it first and slather it with bacon grease….
Perhaps I should turn my freeloading golden over to Roger Sigler, an astute dog trainer and master of the shed, at his facility in northwest Missouri. Mr. Sigler has perfected the art of training shed-hunting dogs, and you can even purchase “started dogs” from him that will find and retrieve cast antlers. I found Roger by reading a magazine article that detailed a 3-1/2 day trip he and his dogs took to Canada last year, a safari that yielded for over 100 antlers. Check out his website for more info.
While Roger admits that Labradors make the best horn-dogs, he is getting so good at his craft that he’s even tutoring a young pit bull. No word on whether that pup actually gives up the bone he’s found, and I’ll probably wait to send Colby there for training ‘til I know the PB has graduated. In the meantime, guess I’ll rely on binocs and boot leather.