We are convinced that shed dog training, shed antler hunting and the up and coming sport of using dogs to find shed antlers is becoming so popular because it appeals to all outdoors man and women, hunters, deer hunters, duck hunters, upland hunters, elk and moose hunters! It is the sport that transcends the actual hunting of animals and joins the hunting disciplines together by using the dog and interacting with nature and a dog to allow a connection with nature to exist that is different than any other sport out there. You can still enjoy animals, nature, and hunting for something with your best friend (your dog). This is also a sport that can be done with a group of hunters or with your family and friends.
Basically finding sheds with a dog allows you to take elements of each many sports and combine them into one sport. There is the act of “hunting”, which is searching the woods for the best spot to find shed antlers and learning over time which type of spots have produced the best antler finding results. And then there is the element of your dog and using your best friend as an extension or compliment of your hunting skills. From our experience more hunters use dogs to help them enjoy spending time in the woods and enjoy the comradery, as they enjoy actually harvesting critters. It boils down to dog people just enjoying the training and discipline of the relationship that we create with that dog and enjoy seeing the training we have provided succeed and thrive out in the woods. Shed antler hunting with our dogs provides all of this and more!
One of the other great things about shed dog training and hunting is that there is a relatively low barrier to entry from a financial prospective. For under $50 you can purchase the basic products to train a shed antler dog. Really you only need three basic products to start training. First you need an shed dog instructional DVD or book so that you can follow along in the training of your dog, second you need some sort of training antlers (either soft or hard work great) for your dog to learn what they look like and feel like, and last but not least you need some sort of antler related scent to training your dog what an antlers smells like. Scent is very important as your dog gets more advanced in finding antlers because dogs sense of smell is 100 times stronger than humans and once the training gets more advanced they will not be able to see the antler but will solely rely on “real” antlers scent in the woods. Once you have started the shed antler training then there is a new level of products that can be purchased to assist you in the training process. For example, we sell a professional level shed dog training kit, by Dokken Shed Dog Trainer that will provide more advanced training tools.
In addition to being a low barrier to entry financially, we really love this sport because we can fully engage this with our families and friends. After a long winter of being cooped up in the house it is awesome to get out in the woods in the spring with our families and friends and stretch our legs and get the dog some exercise. Most antlered animals lose their antlers in the spring, so it is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy the fruits of the spring that nature so magnificently produces and look for some of those antlers with your dog. Kids also can participate in the antler finding process and will enjoy the process of searching just as much as the dog and family will. We are big family people so this was a very important element to us.
Of course, there is the added benefit is finding those shed antlers and knowing what type of deer are on the property you are hunting. This is a huge benefit if you are big into quality deer management and are really hard core at measuring and monitoring what deer are on your property and which ones made it through the hunting season and hard winter. The shed antlers that your dog finds can be even more powerful if you combine this effort with camera surveys and other management tools. Our good friend Dr. Grant Woods has some awesome videos and info on how to run these survey’s if you want more information.
Overall, we believe this sport is the perfect fit for folks that enjoy the outdoors and have a dog. The other piece of good news is that there is no perfect type of dog that can find shed antlers. Any dog that has some retriever instinct can be trained to find shed antlers. Although labs are popular for this sport there is nothing special about them, any dog will can be great at this sport of shed antler hunting.
What I am saying here is not just my opinion; it is proven by the huge increase in the number of people that are participating in the sport. For example, the NASHDA (North American Shed Hunting Dog Association), which runs timed dog trials across the country saw an 400% increase in participants from 2011 to 2012. This is a huge increase of growth in any sport and supports the fact that it a great blend of many passions of outdoors men and women around the country. It is our opinion that the sky is the limit in shed dog training and hunting, and we are just thrilled that we can help the sport grow and be a part of it.