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 – RETRIEVE 

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 own:  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 2nd level of Virtual Shed Antler tests – RETRIEVE

Retrieve Elements:

To Complete the Retrieve Badge

Successfully complete all four Element tests to earn the Retrieve Badge.   For the RETRIEVE assessment category, each Element requires one search set up. The mission for this category is to assess your dog’s willingness to pick up and efficiently return to the handler with the antler.  A retrieve is considered complete if it is delivered directly to the handler’s hand, or within 3 feet of the handler. A handler may not move towards the dog while they are completing a retrieve, but may back up to encourage a delivery.  For antlers delivered to the ground, a handler must be able to reach and pickup the antler without moving more than one foot step forward (~3 feet).   Video of each test must include at minimum the dog approaching the antler, completing the prescribed challenge for that Element, picking the antler up, and returning promptly with the antler all the way to the point where the handler has the antler in hand. A dog that accidentally drops the antler is expected to pick it up quickly and keep coming. A dog who drops the antler to sniff, roll, or otherwise stop their return with deliberate action or distraction will not pass that Element.  The dog may witness the antler being tossed- the search itself is not evaluated in this category.  The maximum search time for each search is 3 minutes.  The dog may wear a plain collar or harness, no head halters or corrective collars, and can work off leash (required for the 30m Element) and either off leash or on a long line (15 foot minimum length) for the other Elements. For each element, the handler will first show a ‘hide’ video (which must show the antler, the toss or placement of the antler  in respect to the prescribed challenge for that Element and show the working area). The hide video will be followed by the retrieve video as described above.

Overview of Each Element:

  • One 30 METER  (30 yard) retrieve- which will challenge your dog’s ability to work away and stay committed to a retrieve over a longer distance. Note that your hide video should give the judge an accurate sense of the distance covered (ie show the antler thrower stepping at least 30 large steps (meters) away fromt the dog to toss the antler, or some other guide on the distance challenge).
  • One  GRADE retrieve – demonstrating a retrieve on an uphill grade (ie handler at the bottom of the hill slope, and the dog going upwards to collect it and then returning down). A minimum distance of 5 meters (5 yards) is required.
  • One OBSTACLE retrieve- where your dog must climb, jump, or cross an obstacle to complete a retrieve of at least 5 meter (5 yards). The obstacle must be a naturally occurring challenging in that environment, such as a fallen log, a stream or a ditch crossing. Be sure that the element of challenge is present but without compromising your dog’s safety!
  • One BRUSH retrieve, with the antler placed into a shrub or cluster of small brush such that the dog will show perseverance to retrieve it. There is no minimum distance for this retrieve.




  • Failure to meet the minimum distances required for each Element

  • Failure to display the appropriate challenge described for the level.

  •  More than 3 minutes of elapsed time between the start of the search and the delivery of the antler to the handler.

  • Failure of the dog to complete the retrieve fully

  • Active distraction or avoiding completion of the retrieve, even if the retrieve is ultimately completed.

  • Handler movement towards the dog while they are completing the retrieve

  • Wearing/use of electronic collar, head halter or corrective collar (pinch collar or slip chain collar)

  • Failure to meet video requirements for both the hide and the test video.

Video submissions can occur in two parts. First the HIDE, and then the RETRIEVE. 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 before submitting for this 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

For the Retrieve Assessment Category, we are not concerned about the dog’s ability to locate the antler- so the ‘hide’ does not require the dog to be out of view while the hide is made. However, this video must show that a naturally shed antler is used, and the placement or toss of the antler such that the challenge for the Element will be met. Challenge your dog! A hide that does not meet the challenge criteria will result in a non-qualifying score. 


Be sure to show:

  • The antler
  • The toss or placement of the antler 
  • A clear demonstration of how the antler placement will result in the challenge being met.  

The Retrieve

This video must clearly show the dog introduction and the retrieve, 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 retrieve, where the dog should be seen approaching the antler, picking it up, meeting all of the challenges for that Element, and returning it directly to the handler (to hand, or to within 3 feet of the handler). 

Note: The judge cannot assess what the judge cannot see. Since the retrieve completion is important, please keep the video rolling until the antler is successfully in the handlers hand.  




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!