I finally did it. After dreaming of having my own four legged hunting buddy for years, I finally bought my own dog. So, may I now introduce you to Booner. Affectionately named after the legendary giant whitetails we chase year in and year out, Booner will be my companion in the woods during the off-season and back at home during the fall.
Growing up I always wanted a German Shorthaired Pointer, but over the last couple years I’ve gone bird hunting less and developed a need for a new kind of dog. In particular, a shed hunting dog. So after researching shed hunting dogs for the last year or two, I finally decided this spring that a lab was most likely the best choice for me because of their renowned status as the best shed hunting breed and their more laid back temperament. And so far, I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Booner is a bundle of energy, but when we’re not playing, he’s also really good at relaxing and chewing on one of his toys. Or even better, a shed! I’ve already introduced him to some of my sheds, and they’re quickly becoming one of his favorite toys! In the coming months we’ll start playing fetch with them and then eventually start hiding them for him to find. It should be a fun journey and I’ll be sure to share my experiences training him with you all along the way!
That being said, while on the topic of shed hunting dogs, I thought I might offer a few key things to look for in a potential shed hunting pup!
1. First off you need a breed that can do this kind of work. Naturally, shed hunting is a good fit for retrievers given the task at hand. Labrador retrievers have been found to be the ideal breed, but Golden and Chesapeake retrievers are good options as well. On top of retrievers, many other hunting and working breeds can be taught to find sheds as well. I’ve heard of German Shepherds, German Shorthairs, most bird dogs and various other breeds working as shed hunters too.
2. Once you’ve selected the right breed, you need to find a specific dog that has the hunting and retrieving drive to make a good shed hunting dog. Most literature suggests that you can’t assess this fully until a dog is around six months old. But if you’re buying a puppy, there are still some tell-tale signs you can look for. Keep an eye out for a puppy who is healthy, playful and active for as long as you are. You’ll want a shed hunting dog that can hike the woods for as long as you, so if you’re dog is getting bored when playing with you in the living room, you can bet he’ll get bored after 4 hours in the woods. You can also test for basic retrieving interest by throwing various objects for the dog, and seeing if he attempts to fetch them at all. At a young age a puppy may not know to chase the object or fetch it consistently, but a general interest and willingness to play and retrieve on occasion is a good sign that your dog has a chance at having shed hunting chops.
All that being said, we’ll be sure to share all of the shed hunting training experiences and lessons we encounter along the way. And hopefully come February next year, we’ll be able to find Booner his first shed! Speaking of, as I sit here typing, Booner is sitting at my feet gnawing on an old 2 point shed and I couldn’t be more proud. Here’s to Booner being on his way to becoming one heck of a shed hunter!