Shed Hunting with My Turkey Dog
I got an unexpected gift on Christmas day . . .
Holidays mean friends, family and if I can help it, time outdoors; ideally with my dogs. We were up early as I trucked both Radar and Luna to a local farm to take the edge off all of us. My wife's mother and brother were arriving soon. Tired English setters, like exercised toddlers, are a good thing sometimes. You parents, aunts and uncles, teachers and caretakers, all know what I mean. Enough said.
Light snow had just started to fall. We'd cover several miles just to enjoy the winter day, with plans to get back to the cabin in time to host family. Radar, my old boy setter, hung tight, checking back frequently. Ranging close. Luna, over half his age younger, cast at twice the range, keeping an eye on me, but also doing what bird dogs do best: covering ground, a wet nose taking it all in.
At one point she looped back, into thick cover. She was puzzling something out. Some inviting scent stream. I expected a grouse or hare to bound from cover. Head up, she then nosed down into the frosty field grass, and up she came with it. Whatever it was. My first thought: bone. Some coyote's partial kill in her mouth as she pranced along? She cast in a half circle, covering ground, toting her prize. When she fish-hooked back, I saw the three tines. An antler! How cool is that? I thought. I called her in and bid her "Give" as if she were retrieving a bird. My grin was as wide as the single antler was long. "Good girl . . ."
The plan? To hang my next handful of turkey beards from Luna's found antler shed, then put it on the wall with the others. An English setter for shed hunting to pass the winter until my dogless spring turkey season? Who knows. Stay tuned. And yep, I sure enough know some of you are still out there hunting whitetails and winter turkeys where seasons linger. Good luck as all that goes and you turkey hunters please keep us posted on how you do. You shed hunters too.
Any of you hunt sheds? Use dogs? If so, what breeds? Any tips to share? In the meantime here are some video training tips on shed hunting with dogs.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's Turkey Hunting Editor and Blogger.