More than a dozen dogs whose owners had booked them into the clinic arrived Saturday morning full of energy.
The Smokin’ Guns Working Dog Club, which meets weekly to give dogs and their owners fun new activities to try, hosted a clinic at the North Jefferson City Recreation Area to teach dogs how to “deer shed” hunt. Deer shedding occurs every year when deer shed their antlers.
Some dog owners harvest barn horns for sport. Some collect them for money. Horn can fetch $10-$14 per pound depending on the variety.
Those at the clinic were looking for fun things to do with their dogs.
Club member Patty Ypya, of Stover, said the club just goes around and does different things. The Jefferson City Parks and Recreation club is kind enough to let him meet every Saturday at the recreation area so he can do obedience training or practice and practice with discs. Dogs at the club participate in a Speed CAT (Coursing Ability Test) in which they chase a lure for 100 yards. Dogs can participate in protective sports — their ability to protect themselves or their handlers (participants are required to be safe for handlers and the general public).
Rapid CAT has been done once at the North Jefferson City site, but it’s usually done near his home, Ypya said, because it takes a lot of effort to set up and take down.
“I just want to promote people who are out and about with their dogs. I don’t care what it is,” Ypya said. “We had people interested in the stable, so I got an instructor from St. Louis to come and do a clinic for us today.”
The key, he said, is to get people outside, moving and doing something with their dogs.
Shed is becoming very popular, he said.
Ypya said the dogs participating Saturday ranged from beginner to those able to compete in national trials.
“Anyone can just kind of learn. As long as people want to learn today, it will continue,” Ypya said.
Ypya, a 4-year-old cattle dog named Allison, who is a world champion docker, has never actually hunted an antler. However, since Ypya loves to work on any task that is put in front of her, she felt that she would be quick to accept it.
Samantha Bolen of St. Louis and Gus, a 4-year-old black labrador, were admitted to the hunting clinic.
“It’s a growing sport, both for competitions and wild hunting,” Bolen said. “It started with a lot of people with waterfowl dogs. That’s why we see a lot of Labs out there. But duck season is only a few months a year. Throw in goose season and you only get another month. .”
So the dogs end up with a lot of “down time,” Bolen added. He said he started training dogs to hunt in 2018.
“That’s how we started it — we just gave it something else,” he said. “The sport has grown rapidly on the competitive side.”
There are now four clubs that host trials and competitions. He said he has one each in Branson, Mountain Grove, one near Hannibal and one at a club he just started in St. Louis.