About 60 dogs and their handlers converged at Dokken's Oak Ridge Kennels near Northfield, Minn., on Saturday for the first day of the weekend-long World Shed Dog Championship, sponsored by the North America Shed Hunting Dog Association.
Hailing from states as distant as New Hampshire and Missouri, the dogs were welcomed by nearly ideal conditions: a warm, mostly blue sky, with enough wind to aid the dogs' keen scenting abilities.
The dogs — mostly Labrador retrievers, with a smattering of pointing breeds — were judged by how quickly they could find six antlers hidden in courses comprising either fields or woods.
The competition has its roots in the increasingly popular pastime of "shed hunting,'' in which hunters train their dogs to walk with them in wooded or open areas to find antlers deer have dropped over the winter.
Champions in three classes, Junior (for dogs under 2 years old), Amateur Handler and Open (for professional or amateur handlers), will be named Sunday, following a second day of competition.