The search for sheds: a great time in the woods

Albert’s dog, Pete, is still learning the ropes when it comes to being a hunting dog, but the author has high hopes. (Photo by Joe Albert)

Let’s get one thing clear: I’m no good at finding shed deer antlers. In my defense, part of the reason is I focus almost solely on the marshy, wooded area behind my home. There are a few deer there, but not that many. Really, what I classify as shed hunting is little more than taking a walk in the woods and hoping to see some bone.

And yet, when I took my dog back there recently on his first “shed hunt,” I had visions of getting more serious about the sport. I’ve written previously about Pete, the 6-month-old golden retriever who puts up with me knowing little about dogs.

Pete and I headed out to the woods last Sunday. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and my only intent was to get some fresh air and let him sniff around a bit. I let him off his leash – tentatively, at first, but I was pleasantly surprised by how close he stayed to me, even as his nose was to the ground, doing what dogs do.

This was shed hunting only in the sense that we were in the woods where it might be possible to find one. In reality, I spent more time watching the dog and marveling at the way he followed invisible scents here and there. I could picture him stopping suddenly and lifting an antler from the snow, even though I knew it was extraordinarily unlikely.

In the end, we didn’t find any antlers. That was fine, and exactly what I expected. But what I didn’t expect was for a simple walk in the woods – exercise for dog and human alike – to conjure such visions of future, more successful hunts, whether for bones or birds.

Categories: Joe Albert

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