All posts by Sam Morstan

A History of Hunting Dogs

Dogs and humans have a long history of friendship, and hunting has been one of the main reasons people have bred dogs over the centuries.

There are ancient cave paintings depicting stories of dogs walking alongside man. The story goes back 20,000 years to the time of pre-agricultural hunter-gatherers. As far back as 12,000 years ago, there’s evidence of dogs used for hunting, guarding and hauling weight. In most every culture, dogs have played a longstanding and important role.

The ancient Chinese kept dogs as companions and for hunting. In Egypt, dogs held great cultural significance and were often mummified and buried with their owners. In the tomb of the ancient pharaoh Ramses, there are paintings of him with hunting dogs. The ancient Greeks also valued dogs. Socrates even claimed dogs to be true philosophers. Ancient Romans also kept dogs as hunting animals and guard animals.

The history of selectively breeding dogs for an intended purpose goes back at least 9,000 years. By the 14th century, hunting dogs were common in Europe. However, because of the time and resources needed to develop a dog into a trained hunting animal, this task was only feasible for the nobility.

The first book detailing dogs used in hunting goes back to 16th century Britain with the 1570 publication of Dr. John Caius’ book, Of Englishe Dogges, the Diversities, the Names, the Natures, and the Properties.

Since domestication and specialized breeding began, the tradition of hunting dogs has evolved into what has become a diverse collection of dog breeds, each crafted for a specific purpose. Today, there are a few main categories into which most all hunting dogs can be placed.

Gun Dogs


Labrador Retriever

Gun dogs are great for flushing out hidden game including fowl and small mammals.
Gun dog breeds include spaniels, pointers, retrievers, setters and water dogs.

German Hunting Terrier

German Hunting Terrier

Terriers are great dogs for hunting small game. They can locate dens and flush out or kill burrowing animals.

Terrier breeds include Jack Russell terriers, wire fox terriers, Yorkshire terriers, Boston terriers, bull terriers, Scottish terriers and border terriers.




There are two types of hounds–sight hounds and scent hounds. Scent hounds are great at tracking prey over distance and are known for their endurance in the hunt. Scenthound breeds include foxhounds, beagles, coonhounds, and basset hounds. Sighthounds are known for their keen vision and can spot and track prey across considerable distances. Popular sighthound breeds include the pharaoh hound and the greyhound.

Other Categories
Similar in size and appearance to terriers, Feists are great at hunting small game. They’re especially good at treeing their prey.

Bred to hunt burrowing animals and smaller game, dachshunds can scent, chase, and flush out game.

Contrary to popular belief, a cur is not a worthless dog. Curs are a kind of North American treeing hound. Popular cur breeds include the Catahoula and Black Mouth Cur. Curs typical hunt larger game like boars, raccoons and cougars.

If you’re ready to hunt with your furry friend, make sure you’ve got all the gear you need. If you need quality hunting apparel for you (or your dog) head over to a high-quality outfitter like Carhartt to make sure you’ve got the right gear for the job.

Now you know a little bit more about hunting dogs, where they came from, and what each breed is known for. Here are some useful links for additional research.

Further Reading
List of Hunting Dog Breeds
Dogs in the Ancient World
United Kennel Club
American Kennel Club
North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

Your Deer Are Here

Where and How to Hunt for Bucks as Seasons Get Cranking in September

By Bill Adelman 

With several deer hunting seasons in full swing in California, options are many for hunters, assuming one will fit our personal needs.

Not many of us own or have access to a 20,000-acre ranch in the B Zone (most of the North Coast from the border to the Bay Area) that is crawling with deer, hogs, coyotes, cats, game birds and snakes. Option two is to join an established annual dues hunting club that offers access to hunts behind locked gates (reservations for all hunts required). You generally have good property to hunt, though you’re entirely on your own.

Our hog hunt neer Hollister - 084Number three might be a guided hunt, of which there are a few options. A fully outfitted hunt offers full-time guides, generally two to one, unless you kick in a few extra bucks to hunt one on one with Our trip to Washington to Deer hunta guide. They provide lodging, food, transportation, spot and stalk, blinds, in-field care, skinning, and in some cases even a walk-in cold box to hang your game. These are really the cat’s meow.

Some of the diverse topography you’re bound to encounter in Northern California. A good GPS will come in handy as well if hunting near private land. (BILL ADELMAN)

Some of the diverse topography you’re bound to encounter in Northern California. A good GPS will come in handy as well if hunting near private land. (BILL ADELMAN)

Other choices are semi-outfitted hunts, where the program offers private land, lodging, cooking facilities and direction to use the best methods, but you’re on your own from here on out. So first and foremost, bring a sharp knife.

A fourth possible choice might be the access-fee hunt, where you’re entirely on your own from setting up camp, scouting in your own vehicle and going at it blind unless you’ve been there before. Even though it appears we have ample opportunity to deer hunt, with the first season, archery, opening about the first weekend in July up to the final opening, about the first few days of October, opportunities are still extremely limited. You must decide and apply. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife website is much easier to decipher than it used to be and well worth checking out for particulars.
Knowing the lay of the land is necessary, and venturing out of state to hunt an access ranch is a daunting task. The same applies to California. There are many prebook questions that must be answered to your satisfaction. Four of us took this chance in 2010, venturing to Wyoming with deer and antelope tags in our luggage. We had to arrive prior to opening day, attend a seminar regarding the rules and regulations of the property, and tour the main sections of the ranch with the hunt coordinator and his son. Their prehunt requirements were well laid out and ranchers were available every day to rely on for advice.

Our hunt was five days in the field, and every tag we had was punched. We headquartered 11 miles from the ranch at a campground in Kaycee, Wyo., where there was a cooler available for our bagged carcasses. Everything we learned there was imperative information for here in California.
Back home brings us to the final option: hunting on public land. For most of us who started out on public land, this brings back positive memories of past successes and a few hairy situations. For me, it was introducing my then 10-year-old son to the new snows just at the edge of a pine forest while awaiting the migration – then getting our vehicle stuck. Of course this was before the days of the state’s zones.

Public hunts are available on CDFW land, state wildlife areas, ecological reserves, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management ground. Research is necessary. There’s also the SHARE program, PLM tags, and special hunts for juniors.

The terrain might dictate any physical limitations as well as expected harvest figures, which are available from the CDFW website and broken down by zone. Travel distance is another consideration.

Before the zone days my son and I used to travel to the backcountry of Plumas County for weekend hunts, leaving after school on a Friday. A six-hour drive was rewarded with outstanding country and successful hunts. It’s still good, but you must draw for it.

Later on, at a friend’s suggestion we hunted public land in Mendocino County. We settled in on an area called Poison Rock, just north of a defunct Eel River ranger station. All of the ridges to the north of the dirt access road were closed to all vehicular traffic – thus the hunting was fairly good. It’s still a huntable area but much busier, especially with road hunters. There’s a bunch of land available if you’ll walk just a little.

When hunting close to private land, as in Trinity or Lassen Counties, a boundary line defined by a GPS is critical. Remember that trespassing without permission is against the law, and there’s a gray area between trespass and wanton waste. Public land abounds the further south you venture, but the success rates rapidly diminish and the hills get steeper. Right up the central California corridor, opportunities present themselves on both sides of I-5. We used to take off about a month prior to opening day and just drive, hitting huntable ground and making our own maps.

Glassing for deer on a steep incline can be improved if you have a shooting stick to steady your binos on. (BILL ADELMAN)

Glassing for deer on a steep incline can be improved if you have a shooting stick to steady your binos on. (BILL ADELMAN)

We’ve located our ideal campsite, so what’s next? As you age, it becomes apparent that comfort is just as important as any other feature of the trip. Sleep on the ground just once more in a tent? You can’t be serious. This desire prompted our first four-wheel-drive truck and a mini 18-foot travel trailer that seemed like a five-star hotel at the time.

We then added a 500-watt generator, an enclosed portable shower and a screen tent. Just as a mention, after arriving at your hunting location, this is not the time to sight-in five weapons and raise Cain in the campground. Public ground allows one to camp almost anywhere they wish, so don’t be surprised when you venture out opening morning – 4 miles from your chosen hunt area – to find six camps that were set up the previous night.

Try to stay hidden rather than stop right on the top of a ridge to glass for 30 minutes. Glassing for 30 minutes is the right approach, just not skylighted. If you carry a shooting stick, it can be used to steady your binos, as well as to shoot from.

When shooting on a stick, lean it towards you with the leg away from your body. This is far more stationary than leaning forward. Slowly check out the shady spots not only across the canyon but below you as well.

If you were able to reach these areas in the dark and used a green headlamp rather than a white light, sit for a spell and look. If cover is scarce, why not try a lightweight blind like the ones a turkey hunter uses?

Deer pick up movement far more quickly than they do a stationary hunter. The wind direction is critical, and when you have the option of watching a western slope in the morning, give it plenty of time. Spotting the glint of a buck’s antlers as soon as the sun hits them is far easier than picking them up in a darkened area.

If you are on a private-land hunt, consider a pop-up blind that’s properly placed and camouflaged. Chances are it will remain unmolested in your absence.

Whether it’s an out-of-state hunt or a trip to the foothills or mountains near your home, when it all comes together it can be a memorable fall experience to take a buck home. (BILL ADELMAN) NORCAL

Whether it’s an out-of-state hunt or a trip to the foothills or mountains near your home, when it all comes together it can be a memorable fall experience to take a buck home. (BILL ADELMAN)

Since blacktail and granite bucks are not as predictable as whitetail, blind location should be in a general area where you feel confident that deer will be moving, such as at a pinch point. In our early zones and many later areas, it will be hot. If everything comes together, deer will move to water midmorning to midafternoon, as well as unbed to feed. Setting up in a forested area with the sun at your back where possible limits your shooting lanes, but that’s where the deer will be.

If approaching an open meadow, rather than just trek right through the middle, why not circle the edges inside the trees and stop to glass every 20 to 30 yards? The pattern here is obvious.

Going slow and having good optics are key, but patience is the largest key. When your camp holds three or four hunters, midmorning pushes will produce in blacktail country.

The shooters should be out of sight and the pushers with the sun at their backs should be slow and quiet. The
deer will know you’re coming well in advance of your movements and might not be running full tilt as they fly by your posted sitters.

It’s that time of year again for California hunters in search of a nice buck. Where to hunt is one of your ?rst factors to consider, so do your research and you might be rewarded with a freezer full of meat. (BILL ADELMAN)

It’s that time of year again for California hunters in search of a nice buck. Where to hunt is one of your first factors to consider, so do your research and you might be rewarded with a freezer full of meat. (BILL ADELMAN)

One last bit of advice: When you hear one of your hunters say, “deer down,” the entire hunt should terminate and full focus be placed on taking care of the animal.

Good luck this season. CS
Editor’s note: For season-opening dates, check out our Outdoor Calendar on page 33 and get more complete deer zone schedules at

Surfing And Bass Fishing USA

Todd Kline On Hanging Loose And Catching Wall Hangers

By Chris Cocoles

Todd Kline came west to become a champion surfer, and bass fishing never seemed to be in the cards. At least until he decided to play cards.

Growing up in Florida, Todd Kline’s two biggest passions included surfing and bass fishing. After giving the former a try on the professional level, he’s doing the latter as a co-angler on the FLW Tour. (KIRSTIN SCHOLTZ/COLIN MOORE/FLW)

Growing up in Florida, Todd Kline’s two biggest passions included surfing and bass fishing. After giving the former a try on the professional level, he’s doing the latter as a co-angler on the FLW Tour. (KIRSTIN SCHOLTZ/COLIN MOORE/FLW)

“I’d see bass boats going up to reservoirs when I was actually going to the casino on the Indian reservation, probably Barona (near San Diego),” says Kline, who has been both a surfer and an angler at the professional level. Perhaps next he’ll play in the main event at the World Series of Poker, but he’s made a living doing what drove him in his younger days in Florida before eventually relocating to Southern California.

“I had (bass anglers) tell me, ‘I’m going here or there,’ and I’m almost laughing about it and saying, ‘OK, cool; have fun,” the now successful FLW co-angler based out of San Clemente – located along the Orange County coast – says with a laugh. “But then when I did some research I realized that the bass fishing was actually great out here.”

After seeing the world as a surfing pro – he still racks up the frequent-flier miles as a commentator for the World Surf League – Kline is a four-time bass tournament winner on the FLW’s Costa Series Western tour, where he’s earned about $125,000 in prize money fishing tournaments with the established professionals, though co-anglers who win tournaments can make a large purse.

So, yeah – one week he might be interviewing some of the world’s elite surfers in Perth, Australia, and fishing a big tournament at Clear Lake the next – it’s good to be Todd Kline, who shared a little bit about hanging 10 and landing 10-pound largies.
Chris Cocoles You have done a little of everything you’re passionate about. Are you kind of living the dream?
Todd Kline I think about it all the time, how fortunate I am. I don’t think anyone’s getting rich doing it. But I see a lot of guys who might be wealthy financially but they’re not happy. And I’d rather have the happiness.
CC Let’s go back to your younger days in Florida and how you evolved into who you are now.

Kline cut his bass teeth back home near Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida’s famous fisheries, but after he moved to California he never expected he’d have the opportunity to catch big bass in the Golden State. (TODD KLINE)

Kline cut his bass teeth back home near Fort Lauderdale and throughout Florida’s famous fisheries, but after he moved to California he never expected he’d have the opportunity to catch big bass in the Golden State. (TODD KLINE)

TK I grew up in Fort Lauderdale and where I spent the most time in my childhood and my teenage years was a little bit inland in Davie-Plantation. And I did a lot of bass fishing out there on the golf courses and canals and ponds. But I also did a lot of snook and tarpon fishing because where I actually lived on the water in Plantation was brackish and there was a pumphouse and dam where the freshwater met the brackish. And when those pumps would open up due to rain, the snook would just go ballistic.

Kline (left) lands a bass during an FLW tournament, where he’s won four events and was co-angler of the year in both 2013 and 2014. (COLIN MOORE/FLW)

Kline (left) lands a bass during an FLW tournament, where he’s won four events and was co-angler of the year in both 2013 and 2014. (COLIN MOORE/FLW)

CC I know that some of Florida’s bass fishing can be epic. Did you have convenient access to it?
TK Where I grew up we mainly fished at a lake called Sawgrass and Holiday Park, which is part of the Everglades. We went out on boats a lot out there, but as I started getting older we started doing more trips out to (Lake) Okeechobee. But whenI lived back there I just fished, and I think that’s what most people do; they grab their tackle box and grab a rod and if they catch fish, they catch fish; if they don’t, they don’t. But when I moved out here (to California) it was for surfing. And I didn’t know you could bass fish because freshwater’s not prevalent. But once I had some friends out here take me under their wings that I really started learning about fishing and understanding why that fish bit and why are they eating shad versus crawdads and those types of things.
CC As a kid in Florida, you were in an area where fishing opportunities are endless, but what or who influenced you to love it so much?
TK For me, my father started it initially, but I’d say 90 percent of the time that I fished in Florida I didn’t care if I went by myself or if a friend wanted to go. Sometimes I’d even go fish mullet and give them to some of the (locals). I just wanted to fish and I loved being on the water and getting outdoors. As a kid I wanted to be a park ranger.

CC What are some of your favorite early fishing memories?
TK I’ve got a ton of them. Some of the things that really stand out at a young age, I was probably 8 years old and I would walk to the dam near my house. There was an old man fishing live bluegill and just smashing big snook. Another time I was at Lake Okeechobee with my mom staying at a friend’s house. I was walking the bank and I’d caught a wild shiner on bread and it had died. I was almost trolling it from the bank and remember this big wake coming up behind it and I ended up catching about a 6-pound bass. I was with my dad at Okeechobee and ended up hooking a big one that got hung up on the tules and I started crying [laughs].
CC When did you discover surfing among all this fishing?
TK Surfing came into my life a little later when I was about 13. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I gained a pretty quick success at it so it drove me to be better and better. It made me want to pursue it. And fishing and surfing did get similar in the sense that you don’t need anybody else; it’s just you, the environment and leaving the chaotic world behind. That’s what you do when you go surfing or fishing. That’s what I think the majority of people intend to do.
CC I’m curious about the surfing culture in Florida. The East Coast isn’t known for having big waves like here and in places like Hawaii.
TK Florida as a whole is very inconsistent for surf. From Palm Beach south it gets blocked by the Bahamas, so you miss a lot of it. The epicenter for surfing is Brevard County and that’s Sebastian (Inlet State Park) north (toward the Indian River and the cities of Palm Bay and Melbourne). I used to surf up there all the time and stay at friends’ houses. I used to spend a lot of time staying with Kelly Slater, the 11-time world champ. It’s very challenging to be a surfer there and what I think was positive was that you grew up on extremely small surf. When you surfed waves that small it made you a very good small-wave surfer. And it also makes you really read a wave where you have to calculate your turn properly. But once you were ready for a bigger wave, it was much easier. A lot of times when we would go to compete, whether it be anyone in the world, a lot of guys would already mentally lose. At the end of the day it’s just like a fishing tournament where the conditions are the same for everybody. If you mentally have your head in the game, you have a great chance of winning it. But if you want to sit back and complain and look at all the things that aren’t perfect, you’re probably not going to do so well.
CC On the subject of surfing, is there a connection of any kind between a surfer reading a wave and a bass angler reading water that looks like it might hold bass?
TK I think for me, the parallels that I’ve really seen between fishing and surfing: From the competition side, to me it’s the mental side. I see so many guys in tournaments – similar to what I’ve seen in surfing – we’re out there practicing in a presurf leading up to a competition and there’s somebody who’s just on another level. Their equipment looks great, they seem to really be in-tune with the waves that are on at that time, and as soon as they put their jerseys on, something changes mentally. Now they look like a completely different person. And you see that in a lot of sports. And at the end of the day, it’s between the ears. For whatever reason, we see guys in competitive fishing who got their photos on Facebook and
other social media and they’re catching 6-pounders, 8-pounders. But as soon as that tournament starts, you look through the list expecting to see them at the top and see that they only caught three fish. What happened? If you see this from these individuals time after time, you think, “Hey, this guy’s a great fisherman but as soon as they call for boat 32, and the guy takes off, all of a sudden his mind starts racing; “I need to go to this spot; no, I need to go to that spot. Throw the crankbait; no, throw the topwater.” And they’re done.

So the point I want to make: The mental side of things when it comes to competitive fishing is very similar to fishing or any other sport or even work, for that matter. If you don’t have confidence and didn’t prepare properly, and you don’t believe in yourself up until the final cast, you’re probably not going to be very successful.

Celebrating after a successful FLW tournament. (CURTIS NIEDERMIER/FLW)

Celebrating after a successful FLW tournament. (CURTIS NIEDERMIER/FLW)

CC Tell me about moving to California to chase the waves as a surfer at such a young age.
TK I think I was about 20 or 21 when I got out here. I had a good friend who I grew up with in Fort Lauderdale and moved out to San Diego for college at San Diego State. He came home one Christmas and we were catching up. He knew about my background in surfing and he said, “If you really want to try and make a living at this, you need to move out of South Florida because there’s only so far you can go down here.” He said, “Why don’t you come out and live with me in Southern California? You’ll be traveling anyway so I’ll charge you next to nothing for a room. Leave your stuff and you’ll have a hub to come and go from.” California is the epicenter for media for surfing and it’s a good base to come and go. He said I should come and give it a shot. Sure enough, I loaded up my little Toyota Tercel and he was driving his Forerunner out. So we loaded up both cars and carpooled across (the country). Fast forward 23 years now and I’ve never looked back.
CC How tough was it for you to get into the pro surfing circuit?
TK I had a handful of sponsors at the time, and one of them was Matt Kechele’s Surfboards, which was based in Brevard County. He was a good friend of mine and I used to stay in his house often. He had a distributor in Japan for his surfboards and I started going to Japan and promoting his surfboards. Back then (Japan) only had a domestic tour. You only could compete over there if you were Japanese. By the time I moved to California, they had stops there for not the world tour but the qualifying series. It opened up to anybody, so I immediately started competing in those. I think the first year I won three contests. I went from a guy who was just getting some editorial (coverage) to “this guy is the next Kelly Slater.” It wasn’t true, but that’s the picture that they painted. So it was great timing and I was able to get to a whole new level with sponsors. Things fell into place for me.
CC Did you surf most of the time in Japan?
TK They would hold the competitions as close as they could to major cities. One of the areas was a beach called Chiba, which is straight out from Tokyo. I’ve been to Japan I think 20 times and I’d stay up to five weeks in length. I’ve surfed everywhere from Okinawa, which is the furthest south, all the way to the very north, which is their Alaska, on Hokkaido (Island) in Hakodate. When I first started going over, people would ask me the same questions because you don’t know of Japan having good surf. August and September they get a lot of rain and when it does, it blows out the river mouths and they get these perfect cobblestone points in front of these river mouths. And right on the tail end of it is the peak of typhoon season. You get these typhoons going past Japan and they send in these swells. It gets literally world-class. But the contests were held in smaller surf, and again, going back to my background in Florida, I was able to capitalize on those conditions because for a lot of the guys who come in from overseas who would say, “Why are we competing in this?” And I would say, “Cool, there’s an opportunity for me to take this.”

“I’m living the dream life,” says Kline, with his mom and son after a day of fishing at El Capitan Reservoir near San Diego. (TODD KLINE)

“I’m living the dream life,” says Kline, with his mom and son after a day of fishing at El Capitan Reservoir near San Diego. (TODD KLINE)

CC With all that you’ve done at an advanced level, have the competitive juices always flown for you, whether it’s been on a board or a bass boat?
TK At the end of the day, I’ve always done it for fun, but if I’m entering a contest or a tournament, I’m entering because I want to win and compete against the best guys. Obviously the money’s awesome and helps pay the bills. But when you know you’ve beaten a field of 150 anglers or beat 125 of some of the world’s best surfers, that’s why you do it. That was one thing that was tough (eventually giving up surfing at around 25). You get to a certain age and with your body you know what you still want to do, but you just can’t physically do it at the level you want. It’s a bummer when you have to slowly step away from that. You always want to compete. When I transitioned from surfing I used to play a lot of cards. Let’s face it, it was gambling – but what I found in the tournament world I was still competing.
CC How did your post-surfing career evolve?
TK One of my first sponsors as a kid was Quiksilver, and I stayed with them until I was about 21 and I had moved out here so I went with a different company. And when that ended, I went back knocking on the door at Quiksilver. And they said, “We’re not going to bring you on as a 100-percent surfer, but we’ll bring you on as a surfer part-time and work you into a marketing position and build a future here.” I said, “Sign me up.” At the time, they were the Nike of the surf world and I wasn’t going to miss that opportunity. Over a 16-year run I worked my way up to one of the marketing directors. Eventually I got caught up in the corporate downsizing but they gave me a great package, which gave me time to sit back and realize what I wanted to do. And then I did my first FLW tournament and in the first year I was able to win angler of the year (in 2013). And this was something that I really wanted to do. I thought, “I can’t make a living at it necessarily right now, but I how do I do this, pay the bills and feed the family? But the timing couldn’t be any better because at the time, the Association of Surfing Professionals changed hands to a new group and renamed it the World Surf League. They brought in a unified broadcast team for the world tour events. And I was able to join that team and that has been the nucleus of my income, traveling the world to the tour events as well as some of the qualifying series. And I’ve been able to work with them on a schedule to give me the opportunity to fish the FLW events. And it’s come full circle. I’m living the dream life.
CC How much do you enjoy talking about surfing now?
TK I love it. I still get to travel to some amazing places. I just got to go to Western Australia near Perth, and (this month) I get to go to Fiji and that’s one of, if not my favorite place, to go in the world. There’s a small island called Tavarua, where the people are amazing. I’ve been going there for years, and I won’t see those people for a year and as I get off the boat with 50 other people, they’ll say, “Hi, Todd!” It’s so cool that they’re on the other side of the world and they still know my name. I love the job; I’m still passionate about surfing and how it’s continuing to evolve.
CC Were you always thinking about fishing while surfing consumed you?
TK In Florida I fished a lot more than I surfed, partly because it was so accessible there. Here, it wasn’t as accessible. When I traveled around the world, I brought along a fishing pole. I used to bass fish in Japan. When I got back here, I didn’t really get into (bass fishing) until 10 years after I moved to California when I stumbled across a little pond called Laguna Niguel with a buddy. We crushed the bass, and six months later I bought a bass boat, and in another six months I started doing team tournaments. And I haven’t looked back since.

CC And you can thank the trips to the casino for that.
TK (El Capitan Reservoir) is right around the corner from Barona (in Lakeside), and I’d see a beautiful bass boat and I would ask, “Where are you going bass fishing?” I was almost shocked to see a boat. But I bought a lot of books and researched online – it was about the time the Internet was just kicking in – that highlighted all the different fisheries in California. You read about the bass in the teens and all the opportunities to catch giant fish. I was like, “Whoa, this is right here? This is a great place to fish.” And it’s not Florida but at times it can even be better than Florida. So that’s when I started to dive into it.
CC What’s the biggest bass you’ve ever caught in California and how about in tournaments?
TK I actually caught two that were exactly the same – they were both (12 pounds, 6 ounces). The first one I caught early after the process started. I was fishing Lake Mission Viejo out of a rental boat and I had my wife with me. I was dropshotting a Roboworm in probably 25 feet of water. I got bit and set the hook and couldn’t move it. My wife was sitting back in the sun and I said, “Honey, I think I got a giant one.” As it was coming up you could see this huge fish. I had never seen a bass that big. Once it broke the surface I said, “Oh my gosh.” Probably four years later I was fishing Vail Lake (Temecula) with a friend, Art Hill, and we were throwing jigs. I got bit and swung and caught a fish just under 10; we were high-fiving and put it in the livewell and we were going to take pictures. I retied to make sure my knot was still good and fired right back on the spot. I felt the same bite and set the hook. I told Art, “I think this one was bigger,” and it was also 12-6. I had one fish over 8 pounds at, of all places, Lake Havasu on the final day of an FLW (event). And last year I got one almost 8 in the Delta. Those are my two biggest in tournaments.
CC If that wasn’t enough, you’re guiding now ( Where do you take your clients out now that you’re the one who’s the California bass fishing guru?
TK I just started doing it this year, but it’s mainly Lake Perris and El Cap. For me, the lake I know most – and unfortunately it’s closed – is Diamond Valley. That’s going to be reopening and I’m super excited for that opportunity. I can’t wait for (San Diego’s San Vicente) to reopen.
CC What’s the FLW experience been like?
TK This is my fourth year and it’s been fun on a lot of levels. I’m learning a ton, I’ve had success and I’ve met great people. One of the cool things is I’ve literally had pros either call me or pull me aside and ask me questions about how I’ve had that success in such a small span. They’ve (asked about) the mental capacity in competing. They want to pick your brain. To me, that’s rewarding. CS

“You read about the bass in the teens and all the opportunities to catch giant fish. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is right here? This is a great place to fish,’” Kline says of California’s bass fishing like Clear Lake, where he pried these beauties out of. (TODD KLINE)

“You read about the bass in the teens and all the opportunities to catch giant fish. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is right here? This is a great place to fish,’” Kline says of California’s bass fishing like Clear Lake, where he pried these beauties out of. (TODD KLINE)

Editor’s note: For more on Todd Kline and his guide service, go to his website ( and follow at toddokrine.


One of Todd Kline’s favorite bass weapons is a topwater lure, jerkbait or crankbait from Ima, a Japanese-inspired company based in Temecula.

Kline’s experiences fishing at Temecula’s Vail Lake with his friend Art Hill, who regularly threw Ima products at hungry bass, introduced him to the brand.

“A lot of times, if I was using a particular bait and wasn’t getting bit, he was using an Ima bait and I’d say, ‘Let me get one of those.’ It got to the point where they were baits that, for me, were sought after,” Kline says. “And once I got into the FLW Tour, I was going to reach out and see if I could partner up with them.”

“We were able to set something up that worked for both parties, and this is my third year now. It’s been a good relationship.”

Kline thinks his time in Japan surfing and bass fishing also makes this a good fit for him to represent among his sponsors.

“I think they pay a lot of attention to detail and I think that translates to the baits that they make,” he says. “Everything from the paint jobs, the hooks, weighting for casting or the bills that they put on and make them run, all of that goes into the making of a perfect bait. Sure, they don’t work every day. But they do seem to rise to the occasion more than the other manufacturers that make a crankbait or jerkbait. (Ima) has something more that make those fish react to them.” CC

New Spin On Classic Lure

Field Testing Shows Rooster Tail Minnow Catches Multiple Species
By Scott Haugen

I dropped my rod tip toward the river and stripped out some line. I watched as my spinner quickly sank, sunlight bouncing off its bright, chrome body. Then I pulled the rod from side to side, eager to see the action of the blade.

The first time the author used the new Rooster Tail Minnow, he landed and released over 30 smallmouth bass on it in less than two hours. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

The first time the author used the new Rooster Tail Minnow, he landed and released over 30 smallmouth bass on it in less than two hours. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

It took little speed to set the blade in motion, and soon an impressive swath of light reflected to the sides of the spinner. As I prepared to pull the spinner from the water and make my first cast with it, a smallmouth bass shot out from behind a rock and followed the lure. I kept the spinner in the water, now drawing figure eights with it, like I’d done before to entice pike and coho salmon to bite. Soon more smallmouth followed it – then one hit.

The spinner I was using for the first time was the new Rooster Tail Minnow. By day’s end, I’d catch and release over 50 smallmouth, most having fallen to the Rooster Tail. The biggest smallie of the day was caught on this spinner, and just like that, I was eager to try this presentation elsewhere.

The original Rooster Tail was crafted in the late 1940s and has established itself as one of the best all-around fish-catching spinners ever. I’ve caught a lot of fish in a lot of places over the years on that lure, and so after a summer and fall of fishing the Rooster Tail Minnow, I was even more impressed with the new product.

On my first smallmouth fishing experience with this spinner, river conditions were crystal clear. The same was true during summer fishing trips for rainbow trout in rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds. During these clear-water fishing trips, I was impressed by the interest fish showed in the highly reflective spinner. What impressed me more was how long the fish would follow the spinner and then attack it.

The details of the molded body – combined with the large eye – make for a very realistic, enticing simulation of a baitfish. Most of the time, when fish follow a spinner for any great distance, they pull away; it’s not so with the Rooster Tail Minnow. After following the lure and studying its details, fish hit this spinner more often than others I fished, including the original Rooster Tail.
Underwater video camera work helped me study the reaction of fish when they see this lure.

With the Rooster Tail Minnow’s intricate body details, there’s no doubt it was specifically designed to fish best in clear water. But as summer conditions led to algae blooms and moss growth, I was eager to try the new spinner in murkier environments.

The very first cast I made into an algae-infested pond resulted in a fat crappie. The next two casts also produced fine-sized crappie. In the course of an hour, I’d land bluegill and largemouth bass on the chartreuse-colored Rooster Tail Minnow.

As fall river conditions shifted from clear to turbid, I hit the water in search of rainbows and the spinner produced. Perhaps the most impressive display of effectiveness came last November. I fished a small lake that was shallow and muddy due to recent rains. In 18 inches of visibility, I hooked and landed a limit of five trout while standing on the bank – three on the silver/red Rooster Tail minnow, and two on the chartreuse one.

Even with the low visibility, the dime-bright body and spinner blade cast a halo of light that caught the attention of fish. Not only did this light-casting property impress me, the number of species that hit the lure did, too.

Even in turbid, dark waters, the author was impressed with how rainbow trout struck the new spinner in both river and lake settings. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

Even in turbid, dark waters, the author was impressed with how rainbow trout struck the new spinner in both river and lake settings. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

Having been an avid angler for 45 years, it never ceases to amaze me, the new innovations continually created to catch fish. The Rooster Tail Minnow is a fine example of ingenuity. I’m excited about this new lure, not only for my future fishing adventures but to see how it performs for fellow anglers around the country on multiple species.

As is the case with all fishing, when it comes to trying something new, give it a chance. Take your favorite standby lures but give the new stuff a chance to work before resorting to what you have confidence in. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the importance of trying new gear and thinking outside the box is key to becoming a better angler. CS
Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular book, 300 Tips To More Salmon & Steelhead, send a check for $29.95 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489, or visit

Gobbler Down!


By Brittany Boddington

After my first turkey fail, I was anxious to get back out and try again.

This time I headed to Kansas and hunted with Dan Bell of Bell Wildlife Specialties (785-589-2321; I was a little nervous since my first try for turkey was so unsuccessful in Texas (California Sportsman, June 2016), but Bell assured me we’d get the job done.

I arrived at midday and we immediately went on the computer and got my hunting license and turkey tag printed out. We had to wait for the rest of our group to arrive, but by the time they got there I was in my camo, ready to head out and redeem myself.

The view from Brittany’s blind usually included turkeys, but in many cases they were just hens or small jakes. The author wasn’t sure a mature tom would show up before her hunt wrapped up. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

THE FIRST AFTERNOON WAS pretty exciting. Bell thought that we should try sitting in a cool little grassy area with trees and a little creek bed running through it.

Boddington was dressed for turkey success, but she was going to have to work for this bird. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

We hid ourselves in a spot with some taller grass and bushes and brushed ourselves in as best we could. We sat as still as possible and Bell tried doing some calling on his slate. The sun was at that magical angle where everything looks golden when Bell made a little sound to let us know there was a turkey creeping in from behind us. I was so excited I struggled to stay still.

After what seemed like forever, a jake finally popped out from the creek bed and stood about 20 yards from me next to a tree. It was dead still while looking around, and I knew instinctively that this was not a big enough bird to shoot. Still, I was excited to see it anyways and wanted to let the guys know that it was around.

They were at a different angle and couldn’t see the young male turkey yet. I moved just a bit to signal to them that the jake was out, but it must have spotted me because it took off and was gone.

The next morning we went out long before daylight and climbed into a blind that overlooked a big field. There was water down below and a tree line that wrapped around us. We set out some decoys, did some calling and waited. It wasn’t long before the first hen arrived. She made her way along the tree line, heading toward the water below, and was followed by a few more hens. We settled in, called a little and waited. A little while later the same hen emerged from the trees closest to us and made her way over to the decoy. The other hens followed and circled around for a bit before they wandered away.

Besides guiding hunts for whitetail, pheasants and turkey in the Harveyville, Kan., area, Brittany’s friend Dan Bell is also a taxidermist there. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

As the morning progressed two coyotes crossed the field in front of us, but unfortunately I didn’t have a rifle with me and they never came in shotgun range.

That afternoon we tried another spot, which overlooked an old cornfield that was out of use. Bell had heard that the turkeys were roosting nearby, so we hoped to catch them headed in for the night. This time we didn’t sit long before the first one arrived. It was a jake, so we watched him circle around for a while.

To our right a hen popped out; as we watched her, two big longbeards came walking in right behind her. We all got pretty excited – probably too excited and I ended up rushing my shot and shooting right over the top of them. Things weren’t going as well as I’d hoped.

I ONLY HAD TWO days to hunt and I had ruined my first chance, so I was not very happy with myself. But I didn’t give up either.

The next morning we tried the same spot again and had the same result, except the coyotes didn’t show up. In the afternoon we tried a new spot tucked in a corner of a grassy opening surrounded by trees. We did some calling and heard some rustling in the brush but never got a turkey to come out.
That should have been my last chance. I had to leave for the airport around 8:30 a.m. the next morning, but we decided to squeeze in one last hunt before I left.

Finding a tom to wander into shooting range took patience. Eventually a big enough bird was within range. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Finding a tom to wander into shooting range took patience. Eventually a big enough bird was within range. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

We got up and out extra early and drove further than we had before. We settled into a blind on a tree line overlooking two big empty fields. As light started to break through the trees, a hen appeared. She slowly worked her way past us and across the field into the trees on the other side. We could hear more turkeys coming down from a roost nearby, and sure enough, one by one they crossed in front of us as they made their way out for the day.

The clock was ticking and no big toms had appeared. I started to consider shooting a jake just so that we would have a turkey to take home. I didn’t want to, but given my streak, desperation was becoming a factor. I second-guessed myself a few times after passing on a few birds.

Urban Huntress 6I knew we had to pull the plug on the morning hunt in about 30 minutes and was praying something would arrive before that. I looked down and when I looked up there were two big longbeards walking toward me. I got so excited I fumbled trying to get myself in position, but thankfully the toms were looking at a hen and didn’t notice. I waited for a good shot. When the turkey stopped I took it, and thank goodness the bird didn’t fly away this time! I had my very first eastern turkey and it was gorgeous!

Finally, success! Brittany was running out of time and staring at the reality of ending another hunt without filling her gobbler tag, but this nice tom cooperated for her and guide Dan Bell, allowing her to notch her first tag. (BRITTANY BODDINGTON)

Just before I shot it had started to drizzle, and when I pulled the trigger it seemed to open up the skies. By the time I got to the turkey it was pouring rain. We gathered up our gear and got out of there just in time to head to the airport.

Just when I thought all hope was lost, it ended up being a successful hunt, and definitely one that I will not forget. Now it’s time to hit the range and work on my shotgun skills for the next turkey season! CS

Editor’s note: Brittany Boddington is a Los Angeles-based journalist, hunter and adventurer. Like her at and follow at

Shellfish Pizza Toppings

By Tiffany Haugen

Clams can be cooked many ways, but the key to thoroughly enjoying them is making sure all the sand is cleaned from the meat. Once cleaned, clams can be fried, chopped, minced, smoked and more. In fact, it’s the diversity of clam meat that makes it so delicious.

Field to fire recipe 1One of the keys to enjoying fresh clams is not smothering them with ingredients that will mask natural flavors. This pizza works with any type of clam meat, even canned clams. With the perfect balance of herbs, garlic, creamy cheese, clams and a crispy crust, this pizza goes together quickly on any night of the week.

This is a family favorite, one that, no matter how many mouths there are to feed, there never seems to be enough pizza to go around. You know that when the kids and grandparents love it, you’ve found something good!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon roasted garlic*
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped clams
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon cornmeal for dusting
Fresh parsley for garnish
1 prepared pizza crust**

In a small bowl mix olive oil, garlic and Italian seasoning. Let sit at least 10 minutes at room temperature.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza crust to ¼ to 1/3 inches. Sprinkle cornmeal onto baking sheet, pizza pan or peel.

Spread olive oil mixture on to pizza crust. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over the top, followed by clams and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven (if using a pizza stone, preheat with the oven) 12 to 14 minutes until cheese melts and crust is lightly browned. Top with fresh parsley if desired.

The beauty of clams is they can be prepared a variety of ways, including as a tasty and popular pizza topping. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

The beauty of clams is they can be prepared a variety of ways, including as a tasty and popular pizza topping. (TIFFANY HAUGEN)

* To make roasted garlic, slice garlic heads in half, crosswise. Place on a large square of foil, drizzle with olive oil and a dash of salt. Enclose in foil and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven or grill 30 minutes or until garlic is golden brown and slips easily from skin.

Field to fire book cover** For a crispy pizza crust recipe, visit
Editor’s note: For signed copies of Tiffany’s new book, Cooking Seafood, send a check for $20 (free S&H), to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This and other cookbooks can also be ordered at

Rig Of The Month: Plastic Grubs

Use Small Plastic Grubs, Catch Mighty Numbers Of Light-biting Bottomfish

Ever wondered what those light nibblers are that never get hooked? Sometimes they’re small rockfish but other times they can be large light-biting rockfish and lingcod. Using smaller hooks and 2-inch grubs will quickly solve the mystery.



For ocean purposes, Gamakatsu makes snelled leaders with baitholder hooks ranging from size 2 through 6/0. They come pretied with long, 24-inch leaders to allow you ample room for tying your own tailor-made leader-sizes. The lack of a loop on one end gives you the choice whether to tie your leader directly to a swivel or to make your own loops. The perfection loop is the perfect choice for most bottomfishing rigs.
You can also resnell these ultra-sharp baitholder hooks using heavier pound test if you so desire. Go with smaller Gamakatsu baitholder hooks and they will rapidly tell you what the bait-stealer is on any given day. –Larry Ellis

Fathers Know Best

Sharing The Outdoors Is A Generational Thing

By Albert Quackenbush

Living in the land of drought, freeways and smog is not something that lends itself to outdoor adventures.
As a father, raising my daughter to appreciate the outdoors when you live in a world of concrete is also a challenge. Fortunately, my wife and I have figured out a few ways to incorporate the outdoors in many things we do. We don’t let our surroundings completely govern how we enjoy the outdoors. Be it archery, fishing, hiking or getting the binoculars out to view wildlife, we have a great time. Those were also a few of the many things my dad shared with me growing up, so I am encouraged when my daughter wants to be involved. He made sure that if the sun was up, we were outside doing something. I am forever grateful for that. Thanks, Dad.

Father’s Day with my dad was always spent in the outdoors, and most of the time it was fishing. Whether it was on the farm pond, our boss’s pond or out on the lake, we would fish and have a great time. For me, just spending that time with Dad was priceless. He had given us the tools to fish, shared his knowledge, and now it was our time to have fun and make the most of it.

MY FAVORITE FATHER’S Day story will take me back about 25 years. My dad, who we call Skip, loves to fish – I mean really loves to fish – and he’s very good at it. But I remember a time when we just got lucky and had the time of our lives.
We set out one morning to fish near the Seneca Lake Rod & Gun club, just outside of Geneva, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes. My brother and I had been looking forward to the trip all week, but I think Dad was even more excited.

As his father looks on, young Al runs the tiller while trolling on an Upstate New York lake near where they lived before the author moved to Southern California. They made some great memories in the outdoor playground, and Al is passing along the love of all things outside to his daughter. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

As his father looks on, young Al runs the tiller while trolling on an Upstate New York lake near where they lived before the author moved to Southern California. They made some great memories in the outdoor playground, and Al is passing along the love of all things outside to his daughter. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

Once we had our little 12-foot aluminum boat in the water, we motored out just where the dropoff began and anchored. It looked to me that we were far too close to shore, but I trusted Dad. I’ll never forget using live sawbellies as bait and dropping our lines down to just off of the 100-foot bottom. Fishing two poles apiece required some deft maneuvering in that little boat.
The first half-hour or so was slow, but then all broke loose when we got into a school of lake trout.
“Fish on!”
“Me, too! Fish on!” That’s how it went for the next couple hours. We kept catching fish and some we threw back, just because the average size was 7 pounds.
We ran out of bait, so we began using the old, dead sawbellies, and the trout were even hitting them! We caught so many fish that we almost breathed a sigh of relief when one threw the hook, but that rarely happened. To this day, the three of us consider it one of the best days we have ever spent together.
Spending time outdoors was what it was all about when we were with Dad. Between fishing, camping and hunting, we were always outdoors doing something. I have story upon story of great hunts, scary hunts and hilarious antics. I now want to pass that love on to my daughter.

A COUPLE YEARS ago I began to take my daughter Riley out to the local lakes to fish. The times we have ventured out have been very warm and the water levels very low, but we have had great times anyway. I love listening to her tell me about the fish she wants to catch and how big it will be.

We have a traditional breakfast of donuts on the tailgate of my wife’s truck, where we talk and laugh. By the time our lines hit the water, our faces are covered in powdered sugar, and it is wonderful.

I remember the day I bought her a bow with suction-cup-tipped arrows. She was very excited and I, of course, was elated! When I’d shoot with my bow she could shoot hers. It is great to see her emulate me and practice shooting at our pig target. Recently, as she asked me to get her bow out, I realized that she had grown a great deal over the last year and the bow no longer fit her. When I said we would have to go to Bass Pro Shops for a new bow, she actually seemed more excited than me.
Camping in our backyard is a favorite activity. Riley’s little eyes light up every time I ask her if she wants to camp. It reminds me of the days when I used to camp with Dad and the memories that we made. When my dad would ask us if we wanted to go camping, I remember the feeling of excitement knowing we would get to share in something wonderful.

CAMPING WITH DAD was always fun. We always had an adventure to talk about when we got back to school, but the best part were the laughs and good times we shared. The most memorable camping trip I ever shared with my dad and brother was when I was in my early teens. One of the things I love about Dad is that when we went camping, we did everything ourselves. I’ll come back to that thought in a minute (that’s when the story gets interesting).

The author has high hopes Riley will continue to enjoy the outdoors with her pop as she gets older. It’s become a family tradition to get out and have fun. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

Dad drove the 4½ hours to the boat launch. After we launched the boat and loaded our gear, we set off. I forget how long it took us, but we were in that very same 12-foot aluminum boat we spent Father’s Day in, so it wasn’t very fast. We motored to the far reaches of the lake. Two leaning pine trees marked our campsite by the water. We set up camp, ate dinner and prepared for the weeklong fish fest.

Fishing in the acid rain-affected lakes of the Adirondacks was a challenge. Over the course of five days, we caught two fish. No, let me rephrase– I caught two. The bobber zipping around the surface made us go a bit nutty in the boat. When I pulled in the whopping 4-inch perch we did everything we could from not tipping the boat from laughter.

A few hours later I would catch a very nice smallmouth bass, which we planned to eat that evening. We happened to be very tired when we got back, so we left it on the stringer by the boat, and went to sleep. The next morning Dad must have had an epiphany because he beelined for the stringer only to find a head and nothing else. He felt really bad (I mean really bad), but I didn’t fault him. In fact, I found it funny that we hadn’t thought about the raccoons and bears in the area.
Remember when I said we did everything ourselves? Well, it took a turn for the serious toward the end of our trip. Our motor kept conking out and Dad had to do what he could to get it going again. We were 5 miles from the boat launch!

He cleaned the spark plugs and it began to hum better than before, but it was short-lived as it completely died after that. So Dad had to row the boat loaded down with us and our gear the entire 5 miles back to the launch. I tried to help, but at just 14 years old, I wasn’t used to rowing a boat loaded with that amount of weight. My dad was a trooper that week, and we had the best time with him.

ALAS, I DIGRESS! Camping with my daughter, even in the backyard, is a wonderful experience. I absolutely love her sense of adventure and planning. We get to test out new gear, plus she gets to do something fun and gets to spend time with her dad. It’s a win for all!

A young author celebrates a conquest of a New York smallmouth bass. Unfortunately, when the fish was left on a stringer and hungry critter got a free meal out of the catch. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

The best part of every camping “trip” I take with Riley is watching her as she sleeps and knowing how much she loves the outdoors. My second favorite part is when she wakes up and she wants to read me a dozen stories from inside the tent. That tent is a magical place for her and, in turn, it is for me as well.

Once a child, and now a father, I feel as though my childhood disappeared very quickly. I realize as I write this that six years of my daughter’s life have flown by. Time has moved on, but do I hold any regrets? Not a single one! In fact, I plan on more father/daughter dates, fishing trips, camping trips, and archery practice.

Should she choose to drop them all and never want to do them again, I will continue to love her unconditionally as any good father should. But knowing her love of the outdoors, I will continue to nurture it in the hope that one day she will take her old man on an outdoor adventure that she will tell stories about like I tell of trips with Dad.

The author and his daughter, 6-year-old Riley, have become camping and fishing buddies. And Riley is beginning to shoot a bow with suctioncup-tipped arrows. (ALBERT QUACKENBUSH)

Editor’s note: For more on the author, check out

Rig Of The Month-Gamakatsu

Dancing Stinger Hook For Bottomfish


NOTES: Diamond jigs with a shrimp fly (or two) are the lure of choice for many bottomfish anglers. Not only is the rigging simple, it’s very effective at quickly getting down to the fish and enticing them to bite. It’s not uncommon to bring up two or three black, blue or other various rockfish at a time with this rigging.

Cutting the stock treble hooks off the bottom of the diamond jig and adding a dancing stinger hook (or two) will not only result in more fish hooked but keep you from snagging the reef you are fishing over. While the initial investment in new hooks may seem expensive, it will quickly pay back in saved jigs. –Andy Schneider

In Search of Sheds

By Scott Haugen

Hunting for deer and elk antler sheds has skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade. Not only do hunters learn what  bucks and bulls are in their hunting areas by finding sheds, but nonhunters, artists and collectors are getting bit by the craze too.
Shed hunting is like an Easter egg hunt, as you know the antlers are out there; it’s just a matter of finding them. From Rocky Mountain elk to mule deer, brush-country Roosevelt elk to blacktails, using a dog can greatly increase the odds of locating antler sheds.

Hunting for shed antlers is a popular late winter and early spring activity- here, Lon the pudelpointer brings in an elk antler– but searchers must
weigh their impact on winter-weakened animals. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

However, just because you have a dog, don’t head into the woods under the misconception that simply turning Rover loose will result in a pack full of sheds. Think of where bucks and bulls are this time of year and over the next couple months, and start there.

South-facing slopes are where many of these animals live this time of year. Here they can soak up the sun and feast on the first of the green grasses of spring.
Bigger bucks often bed toward the tops of south-facing ridges, where they have a commanding view. Some bucks and bulls will hang out in brushy fringes on these southern slopes. Some bull elk live in the deepest, darkest canyons.

At lower elevation, where nonmigratory  animals live, brushier habitat is the norm. Keep in mind that the movement of these animals is minimal in February and into March, especially during hard winters. Their food sources have held little nutrition since November, and in anticipation of spring’s arrival, they travel little in an effort to conserve energy. Scouring the ground of these slopes that face south can  take days, so narrow down your search for antlers by focusing on bedding areas and trails – especially where trails cross over downed trees, creeks and fences.

Whenever a buck or bull has to jump to get over an obstacle, the likelihood of their antlers popping off increases. As the pedicles weaken, a jolt to the body – even a headshake – is all it takes to pop the bone from their head. This is why bedding areas are also great places to search for sheds, because a buck or bull often shakes as it gets up, dislodging the antlers. In order to maximize your dog’s chance of locating sheds, these are the habitats you want to turn them loose in.

As with hunting upland birds, start the dog into the wind and encourage them to range out. But don’t send them out too far, as the last thing you want is them chasing game. If shed hunting in migratory wintering grounds, don’t use a dog until the animals have moved out, usually by late March.
I use an electronic collar when shed hunting with a dog, but not for the shock feature; I use it for the GPS option. When the dog works thick brush and big, brushy  timber, you want to know where they are.

If your dog has never hunted antler sheds, they can be  taught. Start by introducing them to an antler you have – either a shed or one cut from a buck you’ve taken. Thoroughly wash the antler with borax soap to remove any human odor. From that point on, only handle the antler with rubber gloves. You want the dog to familiarize itself with the scent of the antler, not the oils from your hands.

To “freshen up” an antler so the dog will be attracted to its scent, breaking off the tip of a tine or scoring the main beams with a file or abrasive paper will help. Give the antler to your dog, but only for a minute or two. You do not want the antler to become a chew toy, and you want to take it away from them with their interest piqued.

When first teaching the dog to find the antler, place  it in the yard in an easy-to-find location. Don’t let the  dog see you plant it. Once the dogs find the planted antler with regularity, it’s time to head into the hills or the brush. With the dog kenneled, plant a few antlers by tossing them away from the trail on which you’re standing. You don’t want the dog following the smell of your boots to where you set the antler, so toss it 10 to 20 yards off the trail, making sure it doesn’t get hung up in any brush. Remember where you toss them, just in case the dog can’t locate them.

Once your dog picks up the tossed, planted sheds, it’s time to get them on the real deal. Stuff a training antler in your pack when hunting for sheds, just in case you don’t find anything that day. The shed you take can be planted to reward your dog with success. You want them to have success so they develop the drive of wanting more.

Using a dog to locate sheds will dramatically increase the number of antlers you find, but the key to success is putting the dog in a area where bucks and bulls are located this time of year.

Echo, my 2-year-old pudelpointer, loves looking for sheds, and that’s one of the reasons I was attracted to this breed (not to mention the fact they are proficient with upland birds, waterfowl and blood trailing). Any dog that hunts birds can be taught to find sheds, and I’ve seen success with many breeds, especially Labradors early and late in the day before it gets too hot out.
As winter turns to spring, and antlers start dropping,  now is a great time to be afield, searching for sheds. Not  only is shed hunting a bonus for getting your dog into the field and both of you in shape, it can open your eyes to just how many bucks and bulls are really out there.

Editor’s note: For signed copies of Scott Haugen’s popular adventure book, Life In The Scope: The West, send a check for $15(free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, W97489, or visit Follow Scott on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.