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How To Articles for More Successful Shed Antler Hunting

  • Why Shed Antler Dogs and Shed Dog Training Is Taking Off!

    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.

    Shed Antler Dog Training

    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.

  • 200 Inch Deer- How To Start Finding Their Sheds

    Find Huge Shed Antlers

    There are a couple factors to finding big sheds; obviously being in an area that holds big bucks is the biggest factor to finding big sheds.  If you are in area that doesn’t hold a ton of big buck doesn’t mean you can find them, with a quality shed dog and the determination to get out in the woods before everybody else should increase your odds of finding that big shed. Most people that shed don’t have a dog, but that is changing on a daily basis more and more people are using dogs making it harder for people without dogs to find sheds.

    Getting off the beaten path and getting farther back into those off the wall spots will increase your odds of finding a big shed, this is where a good shed dog comes into play.  Most of those out of the way places are thicker then thick and are hard to pass through but a good shed dog should be able to get through and find those hard to get to sheds, does this mean you are going to find big sheds all the time?  “Nope” but it sure does increase your odds of finding bigger sheds.

    Once you know where bigger deer hang out from finding their sheds, you can go back to that area year in and year out until the deer is harvested, and hopefully you get a chance to see the antler growth from year to year.  Just remember that the deer don’t drop their antlers in the same spot every year.  But you have a better chance of finding antlers in the same area that you did the year before.   Get your shed dog out in the general area and let them find the sheds for you.

  • The Foundations of A Successful Shed Antler Dog!

    Even with shed hunting, a good foundation of basic obedience is very important.  An obedient dog in the field and in the home will lead to more time enjoying yourself being in the field with your four legged friend.

    Here……HERE…..HERE!!!!  We have all had those days in the field when your dog, or maybe your buddy’s dog, is not on the same page as you. It’s going to happen, and the difference between a good day with your dog and a bad day is whether you can break the cycle and get him/her locked in and not spend your whole hunt training your dog. Here are some of the basics that should be solid with any dog to prevent you from more of these training days then hunting days.

    “SIT”

    When we teach the command “SIT”, that’s exactly what we are demanding our dog to do. They are to “SIT” not walk a few more feet and then sit. We mean NOW. SIT means “sit and stay there”. If you teach the SIT command correctly you should never have to use the command “Stay”. The SIT command is also the main heartbeat of all the other commands you will teach your dog so naturally you want this command to be flawless. Teaching your dog to sit on command no matter where they are is the most important command you can have with your dog. This command can stop them from getting into trouble or can even save their life.

    “HERE”

    The command “HERE” has to be the next most important command we use.  We train the dog to come back to us no matter what is going on. When training the command “HERE”, start in a controlled environment like inside of your garage or in a basement. Keep things simple because simple = success = progress = more time hunting less time training. You should start with the dog in the “SIT” position and then stand about 10 feet away and give the command by saying your dog’s name followed by the word “HERE”. Slowly, as your dog catches on to this and doesn’t break before your command, you can back away.  As you get to your limit of space and your dog can do the drill without fail, start putting distractions off to the side of your dogs’ path to you. Place objects that the dog knows and might see on a daily basis on the floor first then work your way up to putting some decoys out, and then some bumpers. This now lays the groundwork for working on single and multiple retrieves cleanly and gets your dog used to coming to you when you demand it.

    By:
    Rick Schmitz
    Behind the Blinds Kennel and Dog Training

  • Making your property more valuable with Sheds Antlers

    Double shed Antlers

    In today’s market, when people are looking for hunting land they are generally looking for quality animals to hunt.  Some people are looking for a property to buy cheap and manage them the way they want to and some people are looking for a property to buy that is ready to hunt, with quality deer on it.

    Finding sheds and saving them is an easy way to prove that your property holds big deer, in turn making your property more valuable.  Having a good shed dog to help you find those sheds is a must. Yes you may be able find a shed here or there, but with a good shed dog and sometime in the outdoors you should be able to find 95% of the shed on your property.  Having some trail cam picture to go along with your sheds would probably help the cause too.

    Also if you have the same bucks sheds for a couple years, you can prove that your property holds older deer, remember generally people are looking for that 4 ½ to 5 ½ year old buck and proving that may spark a little bit more interest towards buying your property vs. another property

    By Rick Schmitz

    Behind the Blinds Kennel and Dog Training

  • Top Shed Antler Hunting Tips

    Whitetail Shed Antler- Shed Tips

     

    1. Use Snow To Your Advantage
    2. Use Ridges and Hills
    3. Deer Bedding Areas
    4. Use Your GPS To Find Antlers
    5. Check Thick Areas For Shed Antlers
    6. Shed Antler Hunting Dogs

     

    Hey guys and girls is Mid February 2013 and the bucks are going to start dropping
    their antlers and you are going to want to get out and find those antlers. This is a
    perfect time to test out all the hard work you have put in to your new shed dog.
    Here are a couple tips to make your trip into the woods more successful:

    1. Use Snow to your advantage: If you are in an area that has snow still on the ground you can use this to your advantage follow the deer trails in the snow and let your dog wonder
    the area looking for sheds remember don’t travel to fast as some sheds
    might be covered in snow, trust your dog and let them work like you would
    if you were bird hunting.
     
    2. Use Ridges and Hills: Locate southward facing ridges and hills; this is where bucks will hang out during the colder months to soak as much heat from the sun as they can.
     
    3. Deer Bedding Areas: Locate bedding areas and a food source then work both areas and the area between the two, remember during the cold months deer will congregate
    in these area so they don’t have to expend as much effort for food.
     
    4. Use Your GPS To Find Antlers: Mark waypoints on your GPS from year to year bucks don’t always drop their antler in the same exact spot, but sometime having a starting point
    the next year will increase your odds of finding more sheds.
     
    5. Check Thick Areas For Shed Antlers:  If you are in an area that gets a lot of snow look for a “deer yard” generally these are located in thicker areas, such as cedar swamps or pine
    plantations, the low hanging branches will aid in knocking the antlers off.
     
    6. Shed Antler Hunting Dogs: The last and most important tip, is to have a well-trained shed dog to go out and help you find those sheds, and the best way to have a well-trained
    shed dog is to follow www.everythingsheddog.com ‘s blogs written by
    the foremost pros in the field, and to make sure that you have the best Shed Dog Trainig
    equipment for training from everything shed dog

  • Set Your Shed Dogs Up for Success!!!

    Bone Collector LogoSet Your Shed Dogs Up for Success

    In 2010/2011 we were able to train a dog for a great friend of ours, Nick Mundt, from the TV show Bone Collectors.  Nick’s dog is named “Jeb”- an English lab from Wildrose Kennels.  Old Jeb is turning out to be a fine shed dog!  The title of this blog is “Set Your Dogs Up for Success.”  This saying is something we use and repeat throughout our training in countless situations and you will find this out as we continue to post short articles here on EverythingShed.com.   We will use this important rule here discussing our early “hunts” with our partners.

    One thing we are very strong believers in when it comes to working our dogs is that we are never in a rush to get through our training.  In fact, we are often accused of moving along with our training at a snail’s pace, which I’m not offended by whatsoever.  The reason being- I know that when we take the time to ensure we have created solid habits through repetition and consistency, we have truly trained our dog and formed that solid habit of whatever behavior it is we are working on.  Because of this, when the time comes for us to work our dogs in the field on actual shed hunts, our dogs will be set up for success.

    In a typical year, I find between 200-300 sheds depending on a lot of variables (weather, time in the field, locations/access to ground, etc.).   Some folks I talk with think that’s remarkable, while others aren’t so impressed.  We do a lot of shows, seminars and appearances with our dogs and I often get the question, “Do you find sheds every time out?” and my answer is simple…ABSOLUTELY!  My dogs will ALWAYS find sheds when they are out.  Are they natural shed antlers that they are finding? No, I wish it were that simple, but it’s definitely not.  I have some very good places to look for sheds, but there is no way that I’m going to find sheds or even a single shed for that matter every time we go out.

    However, when I’m working with a young dog in training (and even with my older dogs at times) as the handler I have to realize that an actual shed hunt is nothing more than an extension of our training or of our lessons.  In between our spring show schedule I try to line up at least a few shed hunts every year that are “cupcakes” (Iowa, Kansas, Canada for example) that I know we are going to put these young dogs on lots of opportunities for successful picks.  This is a great way to build confidence and put the final pieces together for finish training.  The problem is, sometimes I’m stuck looking in places like my backyard (in central WI) and unfortunately we have extremely high hunting pressure and low numbers of mature deer.  After all, we can’t pick up sheds from bucks that are killed at 1 ½ yrs old!  This forces me to put my dogs in an environment that will ensure success for them each and every time.

    The easiest way I’ve found to do this on an actual shed hunt is to pitch a shed 50 yards from the truck on my way out to the field.  Then, on the return, the last thing I do is circle my dog downwind and end the lesson a high note before putting the dog up.  I also bring a small shed in my back pocket with me and throughout the walk, when I’m seeing my dogs focus fade, I pitch the shed while they are not looking, circle them downwind and let them find it and make the retrieve.  This will bring new life into my dog for another short duration and then I repeat as necessary.  I like to compare it to when I took my son fishing for the first time.  We didn’t go to northern Wisconsin on a musky trip where we may cast for 3 days and never get a hit.  Instead, we went to my dad’s farm pond and caught bluegills one after another to keep him having fun and keep his interest peaked.

    Set your dog up for success and you will find a dog that is eager to learn and continue to work for you.  When we are lucky enough, we make sure to take advantage of those “cupcake” trips, not just because it’s a great time picking up a ton of sheds, but because it allows for some of our best training opportunities.  The picture attached to this blog is from a 1 ½ day trip to Southern Iowa that we took Nick Mundt’s dog, Jeb, along with a few others we had in training.  We picked up 79 sheds during that time and when we came home we had some very tired, but confident shed dogs on our hands to keep moving forward in our training system.

    Visit and shop the full line of DogBone Product here!

    Remember, set your dogs up for success in training!

    By Jeremy Moore
    DogBone Products

     

  • The Shed Antler You Would Never Find- That’s Why We use Dogs

    8 point Shed Buck

    Shed hunting is hard, even the most experienced shed hunter has a difficult time finding every shed in the woods.  Having a well-trained shed dog to take on your next journey into the woods after shed will increase your shed finding ability almost 50%.  Think of it this way, there are 3 major benefits of having a well-trained shed dog:

    1. If you walk a mile looking for sheds, making a zig zag pattern through the woods you might find 1-2 sheds, but if you figure for every 1 mile you walk your dog runs 3 miles, you are tripling the amount of area that you can cover in the same time and hopefully tripling the amount of sheds you find.
    2. Your dog has a better nose then you do.  You could walk past shed after shed as you stroll through the woods, they could be buried in the snow, cover in leaves or they could just blend in with a small bush and you would never see them. But your dog is using its nose so finding sheds in the snow or under leaves shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

    Your dog can get into to those places that you can’t or don’t want to get into, like those pesky brier patches, thick fence lines, and brush piles where the big bucks like to hang out. The thicker the area the generally the hard it is for a person to successfully find sheds, but with a shed dog this task becomes a lot easier.

    By Shed Dog Trainer,
    Rick Schmitz
    Hortonville, WI
  • How do I Start a Training Program For Shed Hunting?

    Like I said in the previous article start with the basics up until around 6 months, but after that here are some simple techniques to start with when you are getting into a shed dog program.

    Give your dog an antler for a period of time to get it used to the feel and the smell, making sure they don’t chew it to pieces. Remember it’s not a play toy.  The dog should enjoy playing with you and the antler.  Make the antlers something special for the dogs to associate with when they are with you.

    Force fetching
    Force fetching is using an act of stimulation to train a dog to pick up an object on command and reliably return it to the person telling them the command.  Force Fetching is probably one of the most important training techniques that you could teach you dog for shed hunting.  The reason for force fetching is so that when you are shed hunting your dog doesn’t pick up a shed, get distracted, and drop the shed - then you never knew the shed was there.

    Right around the 6 ½-9 months of age is the right time to start force fetching, once their adult teeth come in.  It also depends on how mature they are when determining whether they are ready to teach them to force fetch. I would recommend that you hire a professional trainer to force fetch your dog, you can ruin a very good dog by force fetching it the wrong way.  Most trainers that force fetch know how to read a dog and can generally force fetch a dog with ease.

    It’s not necessary to force fetch with antlers if your dog will be a bird dog as well. But if the only thing you are training your dog for is shed hunting, then you will want to teach them to force fetch with antlers.

  • Can I Train My Dog To Shed Hunt and To Bird Hunt?

    Can I train my dog to shed hunt and to bird hunt?

    The answer is “Yes.”   This is often a common misconception because people think that you can only train your dog for one thing and not the other and that is just not true.

    What you need to do is start your dog into a good basic obedience program, whether you hire a professional trainer or you do it yourself.  The basics will be your best ally, because once you have a basic program picked,  and don’t deviate from it, it helps keep things simple for the dog.

    Once you have your dog through the basic program you can start into a gun dog/shed dog training program.  Teach them the basic commands: sit, down, here, kennel, and heel. Don’t be too hard on them. It’s OK if puppies makes mistakes, this time period is like kindergarten, this is their time to learn, and your time to bond you’re your dog

    The big thing you need to remember that you need to keep the different training separate; you can really confuse a dog when you work on marking drills and then switch to finding sheds in the same training session. Work on one step at a time, and work with that certain step until the dog is proficient and understands it completely, and then move into the next step whether it be for shed training or gun dog training

    As for the actual gun dog/shed training, the pups should ideally be six months of age or older. They should be house-trained, as well as introduced to the environment they’ll be hunting in. Until they’re six months old, let them be themselves.

    By Rick Rchmitz

    Behind the Blinds Kennel

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