Any breed with a retrieving instinct can be trained.
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One of the biggest challenges in shed-antler hunting is simply covering enough ground to find the bone. But according to renowned Minnesota gun-dog guru Tom Dokken, I own the solution—and he’s sprawled out on my living-room floor chewing a slipper. Dokken has spent the last several years perfecting a training regimen that can turn just about any dog into a shed hound. My golden retriever, Lucky, may have spent his last idle winter.
“I’m a longtime bowhunter, and I’ve always hunted sheds,” says Dokken. “And I’ve been training hunting dogs for many years. It just seemed natural to develop a training program that put the two together. I finalized the course four years ago, and it’s taken on a life of its own.”
Dokken now conducts seminars across the country on training shed dogs. He’ll train your pup for a fee. He developed Rack Wax, a training product that mimics the natural scent from the base of a cast antler. And every April, he hosts the North American ShedHunting Dog Association national championship at his Northfield, Minn., facility. “It started as just a fun competition,” Dokken says. “Now it’s a two-day event, and we have three different trial classes. Last year we had 25 dogs from all over the country.”