Are you planning to go shed hunting soon? Then you might want to train your dog to help you out! That’s right, your hunting dog can also go shed hunting with you and provide the successful results, so you can come home with a strong set of shed antlers to show off!
But the question is: How can you start shed hunting with your dog and what are some strategies to train him well? Read on as I show you the top tips on how to train a dog to shed hunt. After this, I’m sure you’ll find it easy to teach and hunt with your dog!
What Is Shed Hunting?
Shed hunting is actually quite different from the usual hunting, where you’re on a tree stand or ground blind, waiting for your game! With shed hunting, you’re hunting naturally shed antlers by mammals who bear antlers, like deer, elk, moose, or caribous.
Yes, surprisingly, deer shed antlers every year, growing new ones when it sheds. And when it does (usually at the same time of the year, depending on your location), many hunters are out there to look for these antlers!
What’s beautiful about these antlers is that they have such majestic looks and the unique properties, with no two antlers being the same. They can be used as decoration around the house, showcasing your finds from the field.
A lot of shed hunters love to do this because it’s enjoyable and can also provide valuable information on animal behavior with the antlers, which can be the next hunting strategy. One can also sell these antlers to craftsmen, health specialists, collectors, or furniture artisans for extra income!
How To Train A Dog To Shed Hunt
While you can do shed hunting alone, your hunting dog can actually do an amazing job in shed hunting as well. They learn where to find them to save time and effort! After all, they already have the sense to find bones, antlers are just as similar, especially when you refine their training. Where exactly can you start with training your dog to shed hunt? Here are some extremely helpful tips:
1. What Kind Of Dog Is Best For Hunting?
Before anything else, you have to figure out what kind of hunting dog is best for your goals. Unless you already have a skillful dog to train, do your research! It’s important to have a dog without any mental or physical problems, having a clean bill of health and the strong bones suitable for hunting.
I also recommend that you get a puppy for the bonding and to easily train and nurture him. Also, while there isn’t specific dog bred to get, Labrador Retrievers are one of the most preferred choices hunters go for when hunting.
2. Start Off Slow and Simple
I highly suggest that you start off slow and steady. Think of the training like teaching dogs to retrieve, but with an antler! Begin at home, throwing light sheds (without sharp edges) in the hallway and at a shorter distance, making it easier to learn from before moving to the big fields.
It’s also best that you train your dog only up to 15 minutes a day. Short and frequent training can provide the time and energy your dog needs when learning how to shed hunt. It also lessens the chance of frustration and the like.
3. Teach them to Retrieve and Identify Shapes and Smells
Continue to teach your dog how to retrieve, may it be with the antlers or a ball. Remember to reinforce awards when the retrieve successfully!
Once they are able to retrieve successfully, you can introduce it to a soft shed antler if you haven’t already. I like starting with replicas to prevent injuries but still have your dog recognize the smell.
Dog owner trains his labrador retriever
After some weeks, introduce the real antler and allow your dog to chew it for only a few minutes to let them know what it is, but to make sure they don’t see it as a toy. With that being said, do NOT play fetch with this antlers, but hide them and have your dog find it.
Furthermore, you should teach your dog what antlers smell like. You can do this by getting a bottle of antler scent and coating the antler’s base with it (use gloves to prevent human scent from coming in).
4. Have Him Hunt in the Fields and Introduce The Antlers
When your dog is already familiar with the scent and shape of the real antler and has already learned how to find it around the home and your garden, it’s time to level up. Take it outside and have him hunt on his own.
Make sure that the initial hunts are easy so your dog stays excited and feels successful. And also, remember to always give him a treat for every successful find.
5. Raise Your Standards and Level Up Your Training
Now, he’s ready to start hunting in the fields! Continue to level up your training as you go, hiding antlers in tougher areas and the like. Take him hunting with you as well during antler shedding season, which can help him improve his skills and continue to find great antlers for you.
Need more tips to help you out with training your dog to shed hunt? Check out this helpful video:
Wrapping It Up
Shed hunting isn’t as intimidating as one thinks, and you gain more success with the help of a good hunting dog by your side! As long as you know how to train a dog properly and use your own shed hunting strategies, you can take home shed antlers and enjoy your finds on the field.
I hope that this article on how to train a dog to shed hunt helped you out. So don’t wait any longer and look into shed hunting today!
If you have any questions or want to share your tips and experiences with shed hunting and the like, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated.