Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Bone Collector

I love teaching. I just love having students.

My students are not always the two legged kind. Although I love teaching them too.

Dixie is my winter student. Sundance was to begin her lessons this winter but we ended up using the round pen to store large square bales.

And she loves all kinds of weather. Her hound coat is such that it sheds water and keeps her well insulated.

She is a willing student and thrives on "Good Girl!". 
At this time of year, I like to walk the woods and look for antler sheds. It is a hobby that is really just an excuse to get out and hike during these blah months. The days can be wet and dreary or cold an windy, yet at least there is a purpose to the hike.

I thought it might be fun to try and train Dixie to help me find sheds. She is already a master at finding dead disgusting things from a long distance.

Perhaps we could find antler sheds! I've looked up how to train a shed hunting dog. Apparently it is well known that you need to use retrievers and labs are very popular for this. You need to start the pup out very young. A pup out of shed hunting parents can be purchased for a mere 2 grand. An started dog just $3,500 or a bit more depending on their field experience. A trained dog? Hold onto your seats! Just 6 to 7 grand. Of course that dog will hunt sheds.

"Dixie! Will you hunt sheds for me?"

I see the twinkle in her eyes and see her brain working. "Haaa----whuuut?" 

Oh well, we'd go have some fun together. I figured since she isn't supposed to a retriever but she will retrieve a ball with gusto we might be able to do other things that a hound like her isn't supposed to do.
I do know she has a fantastic nose. Sometimes too good.

The east wind was cold and damp so we opted to cut through the woods and climb up to the ridge. Facing the winds after warming up would be easier than just walking straight into it.

Yesterday's run off seemed to power freeze. 

We made it to the ridge and I walked along the cropland next to the woods. I've heard from guys I used to work with that were avid shed hunters that this was the prime area to look for antlers.

Dixie checked each trail that went into the woods. She would run in and look around. I'd watch to see if she was finding anything and say "Hey" if I felt she was going in out of my sight.

She'd blast back alongside me and head to the next trail.

Well, I think we were doing something sort of right. I hit my leg twice and Dixie came to sit with me while we watched this deer watch us.

It finally ran off.
Dixie ran down another trail and seemed to find something.

An interesting skull. I picked it up and put it in my back pack and told Dixie "What a Good Girl!"

Wag, wag, wag...twisty wag...

I motioned for her to go ahead of me and off we went again. We got to about where the deer was and she trotted up to something on the ground, gave it a whiff and went on.
A shed!

I stood near it and asked Dixie to come and see. "Look Dixie! Look! This is what we are looking for!"


I don't think she'll ever understand that I don't allow her to run off and grab deer bones or chase deer, but I would like her to show me an antler.

Rome was not built in a day. I'm sure we can figure this out.
She did take me to bones though. She found them and then ignored them as if to say. I know they are there and I know you don't want me to dig them out of the ice.

Good dog.

I turned and headed up the valley along the creek. Yesterday the waters were raging. Today the creek had retreated to its quiet self. 

When I got to my part of the creek I discovered something very interesting.

The ice flow that had built up during our cold spells was still there but the creek flowed under the ice. Okay, not that strange, but look at this photo that I took by sticking my hand under the ice.

We came home with a skull and an antler shed. We'd hiked nearly 3 miles on rough terrain and we felt good.

The Bone Collectors can't wait to go out again.


  1. I am certain Dixie may be a shed hunter! Maybe next time she will bark when she sees one:) That is one cool photo you took from under the ice:)

  2. It seems to me that a scent hound like Dixie would excel at finding sheds. She is clearly intelligent and biddable and she sure has the nose for it.

  3. Dixie is such a beautiful girl! You two are going to have a great time. And yes! The photo taken under the ice is fabulous.


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