Antlers are the fastest growing bone in mammals. Deer, elk, and antlered critters shed their antlers after breeding season. They no longer need antlers to fight or attract the females.
Now is when antlers begin to fall off. The Pedicle, on the deer’s head, is the detachment point for old and new antlers. Within days of being shed, antlers begin to regrow. During prime growing season, antlers can grow a few inches a day!
Dog owners have become more and more interested in training their pups for Antler hunting. This allows them to find antlers and enjoy another form of hunting. Antlers can be sold by the pound, make great crafts and decorations, or can be enjoyed by the pups as doggie chew toys.
To start training your dog to hunt antlers, it is much the same as other skills. Repetition that is consistent, is important. The trick is to get the dog to hunt on their own, and not just by your side. Stash a couple sheds in a pack and place them where the dog can find them. Command “find the bone”, or something consistent. You always want to guarantee success. Every time the shed is found, make positive reinforcement. The more successful, the better the dog will hunt, just like real bird hunting.
Ultimately, you want the dog to range and quarter in front of you. Whistle commands are helpful to change direction, stay closer, or come. If the dog is staying too close, slow down and let them move ahead. 25-30 yards is perfect.
Sheds can be found just about anywhere. Most of the sheds I find are along fence lines, where bucks jump. Hay bales are also a good area, especially after severe cold weather. Hedgerows and strip of cover also are producers. With that being said, I have also found sheds in the middle of an open field. Think about where the critters bed and move during shedding season. The trails and signs will often lead you to a bone.
January through April are the best times to hunt sheds. I have also seen fresh sheds in November and May. Bucks do what they do.
Once you have a bucket full of sheds, you have the fixins for more dog toys, decorations, tools, or whatever you prefer. Fresh sheds can also be easily sold for a premium.
Hunt the Bone!