A Woman and her Dog…and their growing pile of antlers

Amber Stimatze and Winnie with some of the antlers they found Tuesday afternoon.

Amber Stimatze is a self-described “rodeo brat” from St. John, who has always enjoyed working with animals.

It’s hard, though, to call what she’s doing with Winnie, a young Labrador retriever, “work.”

Whenever they get the chance, the pair are out walking the central Kansas countryside looking for antlers that have fallen from whitetail or mule deer bucks earlier this year. With keen, experienced eyes and binoculars, Stimatze is pretty skilled at finding them. Winnie is the real pro, though, because she uses her sight, scenting ability and some unique training to help her find and fetch antlers.

Winnie comes from Roger Sigler’s Antler Ridge Antler Dogs kennel in western Missouri. An accomplished animal trainer for several decades, Sigler and his family have nearly perfected the ability to produce pups with the natural ability to search for antlers. Their unique training techniques helps those pups reach their antler finding potential.

Winnie, a specially-trained antler dog, fetches a shed mule deer antler she found Tuesday in Edwards County.

Sigler said he’s placed antler dogs in about 40 states, and that their dogs are continually improving because of a selective breeding program.

Tuesday afternoon Winnie and Stimatze teamed up to find 17 antlers in a few hours.

You’ll be able to read a lot more about their hunt, and what it takes to make a good antler dog, on the Outdoors page of Sunday’s Wichita Eagle, or at www.kansas.com/outdoors.