Train Your Dog to Hunt Sheds

With more than 30 years of gun-dog training experience, Tom Dokken has a new book out that goes beyond the marshes of the waterfowl world and the CRP fields of the upland universe but will be of benefit to enthusiasts of those disciplines nonetheless, as well as big game hunters. His newest endeavor teaches you how to train your dog, any dog, to find shed deer antlers.

Dokken, owner of Dokken's Oakridge Kennels in Northfield, Minn., inventor of the Dokken Deadfowl Trainer and author of Tom Dokken's Retriever Training, collaborated with Jerry Thoms of Gun Dog Magazine to produce a short handbook that outlines the step-by-step process of training any dog to search out, pick up and deliver antlers dropped by deer during late winter and early spring.

The 21-page handbook explains the most elementary beginnings of encouraging your pup to search out antlers hidden in the house and other play-training and advances to tools to use in the field (from check cords to e-collars to scents to antlers with ribbons attached) and controlling your pup from a distance (much like upland work with your dog).

In addition to the actual training steps, Dokken covers where to look for sheds, how finding sheds can help the big-game hunter be more successful in the fall and what you can do with sheds (from making key chains to selling them for a profit). He even hints at a national, and perhaps international, club-driven event organization for shed collection, ala hunt tests and field trials.

Dokkens' "Training Your Dog to Hunt For Shed Deer Antlers; A Handbook of Practical Teaching Methods" can be purchased online for about $10 by clicking here. It offers gun-dog enthusiasts another avenue of training and spending time afield with their pooches and one that even non-bird-hunting dog owners can enjoy. But for your die-hard upland and waterfowl hunters, and even hunt testers, don't worry, Dokken says teaching your pup to locate sheds won't interfere with his desire to hunt and retrieve birds -- a fresh-killed duck or live pheasant will win-out over a piece of antler any day.