There is a new twist to the sport of shed hunting, it is the use of a highly trained dog that can actually scent the antlers and retrieve them for you. A little over two years ago, I decided that if a dog could be used to locate drugs in the gasoline tank of a car, why couldn’t I train one to find antler sheds. I am always happy to talk with anyone interested in purchasing a dog or anyone that has questions about training their own dog. I am from Mississippi, and shed hunting with dogs is fairly new to us, but I have a 13 month Lab that I am training to blood trail deer, and wanted to know if starting her on shed finding would interfere with that. Had a chance to visit old friends over on the Eastern Shore of Maryland last weekend before a conference scheduled for Annapolis on Monday.
Cabin fever got the best of me, and even though I knew I’d be pushing around a good number of bucks still toting antlers, I went strolling in search of some early sheds anyways. On my second outing of the year, I decided to return to the same area where I had encountered all the antlered bucks the weekend prior.
A little later, I started exploring the small thicket from the aerials and I found more of what I was looking for. It appears that some sort of critter was thinking of pulling the antler into its den for a mid-afternoon snack.
I hope to hit this area at least one more time, but I am going to stay out until at least March 20 so that all the bucks have had adequate opportunity to drop.
Headed out to sweep some woodlots that I have been seeing some good concentrations of deer feeding out of in the evenings. I ended up flushing somewhere between 25 and 30 deer out of the 2 isolated woodlots and the herds contained at least 8 different fully-racked bucks. The landowner where I harvested the Monster 8 was gracious enough to give me the buck’s sheds from the year prior when we thought he was a massive 7 point.
That is crazy considering his rack scored 146 and change when I harvested him a year later.
First spot I went was a pine stand that was burned about 6 weeks ago.  As you can see, the regrowth is really aggressive but there was an antler in this tangle of stuff. Before I left that area, I picked up a few bleached antlers that were missed in previous years but were glaringly obvious in contrast to the black background. After I had thoroughly searched the area, I made a loop around a clover field and made this good spot on a little yearling buck’s antler. Hard to see, but look right in the middle of the sunlight spot and there is a nice mature 4 point side laying tines up.
But when I flipped the other antler over I realized they were both left sides from different deer!  What are the odds?


If only I could find his 3 point matching side.  After 30 minutes of gridding the immediate area, I hit the jackpot.  Match!
Shed hunting is certainly a whole lot tougher this time of year than it was 2 months ago, but if you can get over your fear of snakes, ticks, chiggers, and whatever else might ail you, there are usually still antlers to find. Plans are to hang stands (maybe a little shed hunting too) on Friday, do a little turkey hunting Saturday morning, hang more stands during the day, more of the same on Sunday, wrap the weekend up with a good cookout, and be back to Alabama by Monday afternoon. Have a great weekend, and I look forward to sharing the trip with you next week on The Outdoor Smorgasbord. But I did head down to the study site and attempt to dart deer this morning.  Nothing doing except some shed-out bucks and a buttonhead that was much too far to attempt a shot.
After trying to dart deer, I put the walking boots on and went shed hunting with my advisor from Auburn Univ.  We picked up about 15 antlers, most of which were old and chewed.
However, I did manage a nice 5 point shed that was fresh and we tag-teamed on 1 side apiece of a 2.5 year old 8 point set.
To boot, we even threw in a little fishing and managed to pull out a handful for the freezer. Yesterday, I saw some really pretty Red Buckeye trees that were flowering out down at the study site.
I used four of my young dogs, that had not really been used in a natural setting and we found 21 sheds in a short three hour hunt. Most of the sheds found by the dogs were in areas that a human could never have found them. It is truly a family sport and you don’t need a gun, or a license and it has no limit on the season. My new pup has already stated to show interest in my collection, probably more as a chew toy then anything at this point. I live in Pike County, Illinois and I am an avid shed hunter and I have never used a dog but yet I find a good number of antlers every year. I would love to train this pup to be a great companion along with a job ( Shed Hunting ) I plan to order your DVD today if your christmas deal is still available. One of my setters got ahold of one of my shorthairs (who was not supposed to be fertile) after having a litter of 8, we found great homes for all but two of which I decided to keep out of couryosity. If you don't think it would be a problem, I need to know what I should do to start the process, and what material is availabe to me. I have antlers all around my house which they love to play with and was wanting to train them to find the sheds on our land.
I own 2 labrador retrievers and began working with them searching for an antler in the yard and was amazed that they would pick it up everytime.


I love the idea and with the help of a friend of mine (master trainer) will be working with many different dogs for purpose of shed hunting and many other ideas. Red buckeye flowers are prime hummingbird nectar sources, though otherwise the plant has little wildlife value.  The small fruits that are produced are poisonous to humans.
With my back ground of training bird dogs and having worked with some of the leading drug detection dog trainers, it was just a question of which dog would work best for the job and putting my scent training methods to work. It was so exciting to watch the young dogs go right to work, just as if they had been in the field for years. With the use of a trained Antler Dog, just look for a field or wooded area that has potential deer population and go hunting. I know that I might not be able to fully train my Aussie but does my Bloodhound puppy have potential? I live on 5 acres and was amazed that when they would come to within 50 feet or so they would stop put their noses in the air and follow their noses right to the antler. I am 17 and have been archery hunting at our home farm for 4 years now and just came across some sheds myself on a walk though the woods. Many outfitters are finding the use of one of these dogs, can truly expand their hunting season.
Who knows maybe she doesn't have it in her, I trained hounds for a number of years for coon and squirrel had average luck with tha. Also I read that teaching a dog to find sheds is bad because they will learn to "chase deer" is true? We have found a number of antlers so far this year and its a great feeling knowing that with the 2 of them in the field your not just going for a walk in the woods! With that being said, I know many people that would love to spend the man hours looking for them but they just don't have the physical ability to do so.
You can train an adult dog for this job as long as he has not been used to hunt live game and has the required attitude for hunting sheds. What would be the best dog to get to hunt not only whitetail sheds but mule deer and elk especially.



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Comments to «Shed hunting dogs»

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