John Jackson


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By 5 years ago

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Train Your Dog to Retrieve Shed Antlers

This is an article that I wrote last year for

Shed hunting – Using dogs – A new sport or a new art?

One of my most enjoyable activities is to take short hikes through the woods.

Occasionally, as a boy, I would be fortunate enough to inadvertently stumble upon a shed deer antler. As an adult, during the early part of each year you will find me feverishly scouring the woods around my home and in our local public hunting areas for shed antlers. It’s a sickness I tell you! First it’s shed hunting, followed by Spring Turkey hunting. Will it never end?

Shed antlers, as well as other bones from deceased animals, provide an invaluable source of minerals and nutrients to a variety of animals, especially rodent-like critters such as squirrels, chipmunks, ground hogs (gophers) and a variety of other small furry animals. These animals are adept at recovering these bone products and will quickly reduce them to a gnawed hunk of something, little-resembling a once proud deer antler. These animals, in their own quest for nutrients, are your primary sources of competition in shed-hunting. Almost every shed antler I have ever recovered in late spring has had signs of gnawing or had tines missing from animal consumption.

Recently, while attending the Land and Wildlife Exposition in Nashville, Tennessee as a member of a manufacturer Pro-Staff, I was given the opportunity to find somewhat of a cure for my early spring passion for hunting sheds.

Introducing a novel idea, something so profound it made me stop and laugh, shed dogs. I kid you not; these dogs are trained to locate shed antlers by both sight and by smell. Seriously, if we can train tiny little beagle hounds to seek out and identify citrus fruits in an airport, or have standard poodles hunting bears, surely we can train retrieving dogs to locate shed antlers.

I spoke with Jeremy Moore, the owner of Moore Outdoors, who promotes a product that is quite amazing in its simplicity and effectiveness. Using a method of positive re-enforcement in training his dogs just as you would with any other canine training, he teaches his dogs to seek out and retrieve shed deer antlers. For the purpose of this article, let’s just consider these sheds to be from Whitetail deer. I can only imagine how well it would work with larger deer species such as Elk.

Jeremy is a soft spoken enthusiastic young man from the north who always appears to have the welfare of his dogs as his priority in their activities and training. He has developed a training dummy that is shaped just like a deer antler that he has called “The Dog Bone.” The primary differences between the Dog Bone and a real antler are hardness and density. It is soft as a matter of protecting a young pup in training from getting injured by a hard point of a real antler. They are weapons for the deer after all.

I met some of his trained dogs at the Exposition and they were very well mannered and obviously well trained. He explained to me that he starts his pups with retrieving tennis balls scented with a special formula that he devised that comes from real dear antler and is all natural. He “starts” his dogs with the enjoyment of recreation but it is accompanied by developing the relationship between the scent of the deer antlers and the fun of the chase in the tennis ball. He told me, “It’s about the puppy having fun and learning to associate the scent with having fun. If the dog doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing, he probably won’t do it for long.”

When I asked him about sight hunting these sheds versus scent hunting, he said that both are equally important. Many times a dog will be able to see a shed on the ground long before he comes in contact with its scent just because a shed may have been rained on, snowed on, or covered with leaves for weeks. Since we’re talking about sight, he did stress the importance of the dog being mature enough to control itself when moving to pick up a shed antler. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a young and hurrying dog to rush in and grab an antler in its mouth, only to be gouged by a tine. We certainly don’t want our dogs to lose an eye. This is why they train with the soft Dog Bone.

While I don’t have a sporting dog to train on this method, I do have a “dog-pound dog” that loves chasing tennis balls. Maybe she’ll be one to try out the scent program that Jerome has developed and is available at I’m enthusiastic that maybe one day, my own dog will be bringing sheds back to me.


Eric Risdal

Eric Risdal

Good Story. My labs have been finding blacktail deer, roosevelt elk and mule deer sheds for about 5 years now. They have doubled my Elk take, and quintupled deer.
Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson

great article. Shed hunting with a dog just adds more pleasure to your outdoor experience
Olivia St. James

Olivia St. James

Thanks for posting this, got my order on the way. Maybe I'll post some videos on here of training my dog how to do it. Can't wait though, we got a big ol' ten pointer who hides out in the woods behind my grandparent's farm, whom they won't let me shoot, maybe he can find some of his sheds this winter.
John Jackson

John Jackson

There are times, especially with young deer that I can recognize on my place, that I would rather have the sheds than the trophy mount. If you can find the sets of sheds for a couple of years, you can do some creative stuff with your "trophies." All from the same deer.

Tennessee, with the help of numerous agencies and sponsors, reintroduced Elk to the Upper Cumberland Plateau. Those big bulls that were there were jealously guarded for years and their sheds were found and maintained. Now, the managers of the WMA can show the progression of growth of numerous significant herd bulls that way.
Todd Copenhaver

Todd Copenhaver

where can you get the stuff that smells like antlers.....i have some new begal puppies that this would be great for....i also want to train them to track deer blood....
John Jackson

John Jackson

The link above to this trainer has it. That's part of his training program to use scented training aids.
Bryan Johnson

Bryan Johnson

I have a Boston Terrier 2 years old named Tobby, this dog gave me many problems. It ate my shoes, urinated in the room, the furniture stank. A teach my dog to behave with some training videos I found online. Pay 1 dollar for a trial period of 3 days. And 37 monthly payment, but worth every penny. My dog ​​is very well behaved, and does not make those deviltries and I have taught him many tricks. This is the location where I found the training:
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