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Elite Shed Dog Series Rule Update Regarding Antler Requirements

August 22, 2017

Source: Todd Kellam, UKC
Phone: 269.343.9020
Email: tkellam@ukcdogs.com

An antler is an antler, right? I mean I knew we would need to address acceptable antler size in our original draft of the rules but I thought that was all that needed to be said about antlers? Wrong. Not only is there antler size to define but there are also the issues of sheds versus cuts, the condition of the antler and even real versus artificial. For these reasons, we revisit the rule that defines which antlers may and may not be used in Elite Shed Dog Series events.

The rule which addresses the antlers used in an event can be found under the section heading Course Description and is Item F. This specific rule was updated recently to be more descriptive. The new wording is as follows:

F. Antlers may range in size from those carried by average to large whitetail deer but may not consist of spikes. Antlers must be natural sheds in good condition with no chew marks or splintering. Antlers which have been cut from a skull plate may not be used. Artificial antlers may not be used. In the event a naturally occurring shed is recovered it is eligible to be scored.

The first portion of this rule is perhaps the most difficult to define. Antler size may be described by the number of antler tines, the age class of the buck or the actual scoring or measurement of the antler. Each of those methods of description have their pros and cons. The term we settled on "average to large" while not being super descriptive does give some leeway to clubs and judges regarding what they have available for use. You can't use spikes. You cant use tiny little fork horns and you cant use monster buck sheds. That leaves a whole lot of middle ground made up of most of the sheds you typically find in an outing.

Next the rule addresses the condition of the antler. Our primary concern is that the shed is in good shape to prevent injury to a dog or person. A shed should not have any splintering or chew marks for this reason. Beyond that it comes down to good judgement. Should you use an old bleached out, moss-covered shed? No, you should not. Take some pride in the sheds that you are providing for your event and make an honest effort to provide the best that you can.

Probably the most important point in this rule is covered next. The difference between a naturally shed antler and an antler that has been cut (sawed or ground) off a skull plate is very important. It is the general consensus of those in the sport that cut antlers retain a burnt smell from the cutting process. For that reason, cut antlers will not be allowed to be used in ESDS events. A club must make the effort to obtain natural shed antlers to be used during events. For a new club, this may pose a problem. Over time it should not be a problem for a club to gather a collection of actual sheds to be used for their events. I do have an option to announce that will help new clubs and we will discuss that in a moment.

Finally, and what seemed like an obvious requirement to me, is the fact that you must use a real antler shed and not an imitation or artificial antler. I have learned that when writing an event rule, you do not omit something just because it seems obvious. Those are the ones that will come back to haunt you when it is later challenged and the rule is not specific. Some examples of artificial antlers would include plastic antlers designed for rattling and the rubber antler designed for training. When it comes to your antler sheds, keep it real. And in good shape. And not too big or too small.

I mentioned above an option that new clubs may wish to consider. If you are having difficulty coming up with an assortment of sheds to use for an event think about this. Scott and Amy Kuchenbecker, the good folks from Bone Clone antler scent, have come up with a great idea to help you get started. Bone Clone has a set or two of antler sheds available to be loaned out to clubs who will in turn use Bone Clone scent for their event. At the time of this writing the details for borrowing an antler set have not been finalized. Clubs interested in this option should contact Bone Clone directly and speak with Scott or Amy. Purchasing a set of antlers for an event can be quite costly. Many thanks to Bone Clone for this generous offer that will help new clubs get started in the sport of shed dogs.

View the updated UKC Elite Shed Dog Series Rulebook (PDF)

A Kalamazoo, Michigan-based company founded in 1898, United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. Celebrating the unique Total Dog philosophy, UKC events highlight the instincts and heritage of dogs that look and perform equally well, as more than 60 percent of its annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct. United Kennel Club prides itself on its family-oriented, friendly, educational events, welcoming both purebred dogs and dogs of unknown ancestry.

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