Shed Antler Test Program

Shed Antler Tests offer a way to evaluate the specific skills desired in shed antler hunting and trial dogs, via video assessment. Tests compare demonstrated skills against an objective standard, without comparison to other dogs.  Dogs who complete each assessment category will earn a Badge of Acknowledgement. Dogs who earn all of the Badges will earn the Shed Antler Skill Verified title.  Your dog needs an NDS Competition Number to compete in the Shed Antler Test Program- click HERE to register for a number. 

Virtual Test – LOCATE 

Tests are set up to evaluate specific skill elements within the sport. Tests can be informally organized as a group, where you and friends get together to help each other set up and video-  or you can do it on your on:  video your dog completing the specific test elements and submit them for evaluation. Less space is required for tests compared to trials. Complete all the element tests to earn your dog’s Skill Verified Title!


Scroll Down for more info about the first level of Virtual Shed Antler tests – LOCATE

Locate Elements:

To Complete the Locate Badge:

Successfully complete each Element test to earn the Locate Badge.   For the LOCATE level, each Element requires two search set ups (submitted at the same time). Both searches for that element must be successful to earn a qualifying score for that element. You MUST show at least 10 seconds of searching behavior so plan the start location to assist in achieving this minimum search time (ie further away if your dog is really fast/efficient/experienced). The searches are not blind- the handler is likely to know the location, but the handler must not direct the dog to the antler. Maximum search time for each search is 5 minutes.  The dog may wear a plain collar or harness, no head halters or corrective collars, and can work off leash or on a long line (15 foot minimum length). 

  • OPEN FIELD- this can be an open space of at least 1000 sq feet- an actual farm field or meadow, a large fenced park space, etc
  • One OPEN FIELD search will have your antler near the edge of the search area (near, but not in, a tree line, fenceline, or cover change)
  • One OPEN FIELD search will have your antler somewhere in the middle space of the area. You can use the same search area for both searches.
  • One BRUSH/FOREST search should have your antler at the base of a tree or bush.
  • One BRUSH/FOREST search should have your antler at least one foot from any tree or bush, in a bushy/forested area.  You can use the same search area for both searches. There is no size limit for the search area for this element. 
  • Two Gully/Ditch searches with antler placement in different locations. You may use the same or different gully/ditches. The objective is that the antler/search location is in a bit of an environmental ‘dip’. There is no size limit for the search area for this element. 
  • Two Dangler” searches, with antlers suspended at least the height of your dog’s nose in an elevated natural manner – hanging from a low tree branch, sitting on a stump, suspended in stiff bushes. You may use the same search area for both searches but the Dangler must be located in a different part of the search area. There is no size limit for the search area for this element. 




  • Less than 10 seconds of searching before the antler is located

  • More than 5 minutes of elapsed time between beginning of search and antler location
  • Failure to display acklowdgment of the antler on location
  • Handler direction to the antler (ie pointing, verbal directional cues, direct handler movement to the antler, leash direction) 
  • Wearing/use of electronic collar, head halter or corrective collar (pinch collar or slip chain collar)
  • Failure to meet video requirements- Show antler, show antler toss into search area in the Hide video. Show dog, dog’s collar, and announce dog’s name and NDS number in continuous video with searching behavior in the Search video. 

Video submissions can occur in two parts. First the HIDE, and then the SEARCH. Videos will need to be uploaded to a hosting service (ie YouTube or Vimeo) and you’ll provide the link for each of these. Videos may be submitted in an ‘unlisted’ or ‘public’ format but do NOT use a ‘Private” privacy setting, or the judge will be unable to view your video.

Elements may be submitted in any order, or may be submitted one after the other, without first waiting for results from each element test. However, you must have successfully passed the Locate badge in it’s entirety in order to move on to the Retrieve badge. 

Please note all of the details that must be shown, in order to have a successful submission. See these examples below:

The Hide

The antler must be tossed to it’s final hiding location to avoid having a foot trail that leads right to it. Please first show the shed antler and then video this action. Allow your video to show where the antler is, in relation to your search area. This can be done with your camera on a tripod in a way that captures the search area, or with a hand held camera that clearly shows the toss, followed by a scan of the search area.


Be sure to show:

  • The antler
  • The toss of the antler (or placement of antler, for dangler searches)
  • Where this occurred in the search area 

The Search

This video must clearly show the dog introduction and the search and must be one continuous video (ie if you make a mistake, start over from the beginning- no edits in the middle of this video are permitted for a qualifying score).


Be sure to show:

  • The start of the video must show your dog, the collar that they are wearing, if any, (to demonstrate that it is not an electronic or corrective collar), and you must state the dog’s name and NDS registration number
  • Proceed directly to searching. 
  •  At least 10 seconds of searching behavior before the antler is located
  • The find- the dog should clearly show recognition upon location of the antler. This may include a retrieve, but a retrieve is NOT required at this level. Other possibilities include but are not limited to: stopping at the antler and looking at the handler,  nose touch of the antler, some sort of trained indication (sit, down, bark, etc), pawing or mouthing the antler. The handler may move to the dog to reward them in some fashion AFTER this clear alert is complete

Note: The judge cannot assess what the judge cannot see. Please keep the dog in the camera view and clearly visible throughout the search! The use of a helper to operate the camera is totally allowed! 




Dogs must be a minimum of 6 months of age to compete in shed antler tests. There is no upper age limit. 

Dogs must earn badges in the following order: Locate, then Retrieve. After Retrieve, Seasonal or Multiples can be earned in either order, or simultaneously.

A video showing the required skills in the prescribed format must be submitted separately for each element of the Assessment Categories.

Dogs who successfully complete all requirements to earn a badge in each of the 4 Assessment Categories will earn the Shed Antler Skill Verified title!