Fennario's "Antler Dogs"
ANTLER SHED - Every year, shortly after Deer season comes to a close, the male Bucks will lose their antlers.
An ANTLER dog, is taught to find the shed, and alert the person of the find.
SHED HUNTING IS NOT DEER HUNTING.
In fact, it's no more hunting than locating a lost ball, toy, Search and Rescue techniques or "NoseWork"
Deer and Elk shed their antlers like many species in the deer family. There are several factors that play into this biological- and chemical-based occurrence.
Antler drop is influenced by genetics. Every subspecies of Elk or deer is a little different on when they let go of their headgear. Depending on what species is in your area, will influence when they shed, and when your season will be. Here in Colorado, Mule and white-tailed deer start dropping their antlers in mid-December, but some don’t shed until early April. Elk shed last, between January and April, though the great majority lose their racks in March.
Nutrition and food source availability factor in, too. Deer suffering from malnutrition are subject to shedding sooner than healthier ones. Once late winter arrives, the antler base loosens, and then the antler falls off. All of the factors above cause the connective tissue beneath the base of the antler to degenerate even faster.
Antlers are used for:
Furniture - Lighting fixtures, chandeliers, support legs
Arts and Crafts - Antlers can be carved and decorated
Knives - handles and sheaths
Wall decor - collectors will trade and sell, or keep personally
Training the Rocky Mountain CD puppy to be an "Antler Dog" starts, as always with basic obedience. Having a very good recall down and solid is the jumping-off point to the rest of the training.
Teaching pup a good ball/toy retrieve is helped greatly if the focus is on the "retrieve" part of the game, not the toss of the object. Once pup is reliably engaging and bringing an enticed object back to you, it is time to introduce the visual aspect of antler-finding.
It is best to start with soft rubber "fake" antlers. Some come equipped with "Antler Scent holders" on the tips. Once pup can identify the desired shape and weight of an antler, we will begin nose work by adding scent lures. Remember, each species of deer and elk will have it's own shed-scent, we will specialize some pups for mule, whitetail deer and some for elk.
Nurturing and using the low prey drive in the RMCD pup is essential for real-life antler finding. Under no circumstances can it be seen as helpful if your Antler dog runs the deer, elk or rabbits onto private property. Keeping focused on locating a non-live object is the name of the game here. E-collar training may be taken into consideration, as we may be nearing highways, dense ravines and game-trail switchbacks.
5 myths about shed-finding you should know
article from realtree.com
"I'm a big fan of engaging my dogs in everyday activities. I like to be their partner in a common goal. The Rocky Mountain Companion Dog's temperament of low prey drive, calm, mellow, intuitive - naturally lends itself to Therapy or Service work. Some more than others. I find myself wondering "What shall I do with the Others?"
Temperaments of mid-line energy, but little stamina, work drive but no prey drive, large athletic bodies and a need to interact and engage with their people intimately.
Inspired by others who have had many happy and perhaps lucrative experiences finding Antlers with their dogs, I've decided to train and use the pups kept from this litters to specialize in tracking and finding Antlers. - Shawna Davies
The NASDHA hosts field trails, special events and offers trails. Visit their website for more info on training, equipment supplies and membership to the Association. We hope our Antler dogs can join the fun some day
Fennario Kennels will host a beginners introduction to Shed finding and trainin
your own "Antler Dog" email
for details days and times