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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Short track and recovery for Thor: Important deer anatomy lesson

By Bob Yax
On Nov. 8th, Thor and I took a track in Geneseo.  The hunter, Josh, hit the buck about 4 pm the previous day.  While interviewing Josh about the hit, not long after he shot it, he said that the buck was broadside when he hit it and the arrow passed thru near the center of the deer.  Surprisingly, the buck bedded within 20 yards of the hit, then got up shortly after and bedded 2 more times in the next 50 yards before getting up and walking off.   

Josh waited awhile and then inspected the hit site and arrow along with a few yards of the early trail.  He saw a reasonable blood trail and then backed out and called Deer Search.  The quick, frequent bedding, signaled a liver hit, but then Josh described the arrow as having heavy intestinal matter on it.  With a broadside shot it’s hard to hit both liver and intestine.   I told Josh that the options were to go after it late that evening, like 11 pm (assuming it was liver), or to wait to later in the morning assuming it was intestine only.  It was a tough decision.  A liver-hit deer could be dead in less than an hour (typically 7 hrs covers 95% of liver hits), but an intestine-hit deer can go for over 24 hrs.  We had to worry that it might spoil if it died early or we might jump it if we go too early.  We decided that we’d wait till late morning to start the track.  

We started at about 11 am, 19 hrs after the hit.  I inspected Josh’s arrow and confirmed it was covered with intestinal matter and a little blood.  We started the track and quickly got through the first 100 yards where blood sign was still visible along the way.  Soon we came out to a standing cornfield, where Thor spent about 10 minutes circling around in about 20 rows of corn.  I was happy to find 1 spec of blood on a corn stalk, while he was circling.  Finally, Thor came out of the corn and headed off pretty hard across a clover field for about 125 yards, until he entered the woods that surrounded a 1 acre pond.  Soon, he was walking through the shallow water at the corner of the pond.  He came out of the pond and climbed up a short bank.  There I found a single drop of blood.  Thor then took a path through the brush along the edge of the pond, and again ended up along the water’s edge.  He was really interested in the water. 

I scanned the pond hoping to see a floating deer. Finally, he walked off the bank and started swimming into the pond.    I let him go out a few yards, and then pulled him back to shore.  He jumped up the bank and then I spotted a bloody leaf on the shore.   I let the leash go and told Josh to grab it as I climbed through the heavy brush.  He grabbed the leash but had a hard time holding Thor back as he dug in and pulled hard into the brush.   A few seconds later the reason was obvious.  The dead buck was lying about 40 yards from the pond. So far the track wasn’t that interesting, but the deer and the hit changed that.  Looking at the 8 pointer, it was obvious that the deer had passed just a short time before we arrived.  There was no rigor, and the internal organs were freshly warm.   The other observation was that the lower half of the deer was soaking wet and his legs were brown with pond muck.  It had obviously been laying in the pond.  The autopsy revealed the biggest surprise, the 3 blade broad head clearly passed thru the liver, before exiting out the intestines.  This buck, with a solid liver hit, likely lived for 17 or 18 hours!   Not sure if laying in the pond had any influence, but most liver hit deer are dead at 6 or 7 hours.  I did have one buck years ago, that we jumped after 20 hrs with a liver hit.  The general rules usually apply, but not always!  Photo of hunter and buck, below. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New version of John Jeanneney's book Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer

The first edition of Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer was released in 2004, and was followed by the 2nd edition in 2006. The book had been selling well but in the last few years it became clear that we needed to update it. A new version was printed in October 2016. 

This "new" 2nd edition has additional 7 chapters, new pictures and appendices, and an index. The information has been updated throughout the book. While the 2006 book had 360 pages, the new version has 424. Its cover is green. The book can be purchased on our website (CLICK HERE) for $39.95 plus $4.00 for shipment within the United States.

Just today we received feedback from Marianne Jacobs who lives in Luxembourg, and has a lot of experience in hunting and blood tracking. When John read it, I could see some tears of happiness in his eyes. Thank you Marianne!
I wanted to give my feedback on the book “Tracking dogs for finding wounded deer”!

First of all: I am amazed and this book should be on every trackers book shelf! 

It is very clearly structured and written in a great English. The chapters and words are well chosen, and the sentences are easy to understand (important for me as a non-native speaker). I never had to read a sentence twice to get the meaning of it! Reading the book was a real pleasure for me.

Concerning the content: It covers all that I could imagine: blood-tracking in general, breeds, puppy-choosing, training for all age stages, equipment, different game, tracks, problems, tests and so on! And what I loved the most about the book were the small summaries at the end of every chapter!

The information given in this book is priceless! I would recommend this book to every tracker; to the ones who gets started and also to the experienced ones. There is plenty of information for everyone, no matter if they where they track in the world.

I have read many (especially German and French) books about blood-tracking, but this is clearly my favorite now. I truly have the impression that the author wants me to learn (a lot) from his book. I always missed this feeling with the European books: they gave some information, but the content was more about the authors’ dogs and his personal successes and tracks. And they often only praised certain breeds, and ignored others completely. I couldn’t get that much information from these books, especially practical information about training and trouble-shooting were often missing. But not in this book!! While reading, I could feel how the author put his soul and all his knowledge into it. 

I will absolutely recommend this book to our puppy buyers, fellow trackers and hunters, they can learn a lot from it. I learned so much and I already know that I will often look something up in this book, because this is definitely NOT a book that you only read once and then put away.

Thanks a lot for writing this wonderful and educational book!

Marianne Jacobs, 
Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg    

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thor tracks and recovers a liver-hit buck 4 days after the shot

By Bob Yax

Just got back from a cold rainy day (Wednesday) of tracking.  This afternoon I had to shoot a 12pt non-typical 18 hours after the hit, and that wasn’t the most interesting track of the day!  

The track we started this morning at 9:00 has a long backstory.  The Hunter, Charlie, had hit a big buck this past Saturday morning (11/5) at 9:30.  He thought his arrow had entered low in the ribs, about 6 inches back of the front leg on the right side.  The white hair at the hit site indicated that the exit was near the bottom of the deer. Being pretty new to bowhunting, he waited about 1.5 hours to begin tracking.  He and his hunting friend tracked the deer about 300 yards, when they jumped it.   They then backed out for about an hour and continued tracking a dwindling blood trail.  After several hundred more yards, they jumped it again.  Finally, after about 3 hours of tracking, they jumped it a 3rd time and then tracked it a few hundred more yards to the last blood sign at the edge of a golf course, on a cart path.  At this point they’d tracked about ¾ of a mile.  After the cart path, the buck headed across a fairway and then along the woods on the other side.  Charlie was able to track the buck’s hoof prints in the soft dirt.  About 100 yards past the cart path, they lost all signs of the buck.  From that point on, Charlie and his hunting friend grid searched the woods on that side of the fairway for another hour to no avail.
Two days later, on Monday 11/7 at 8:30 am, Charlie called into Deer Search asking for help.  The rut in our area, as well as cross bow hunting began this weekend.  As a result, we had 30 to 40 calls waiting in our system.  We don’t have the manpower to handle all those calls, so on Monday evening I began deleting calls older than 36 hours and then calling those hunters back to say sorry and to discuss their hits.  Charlie hunts in an area far from most of our trackers and it was now 59 hours after the hit, so I deleted his call and then called him.  After hearing the story of his hit and track (jumping the buck 3x) it certainly sounded like a liver hit.  It went a long way between beds, but it was being pushed.  I knew the deer was dead, and Charlie made it clear how much he wanted to recover it, his best buck to date.  I thought that a body search, to smell the dead deer might have a chance of working – but they usually don’t!   I told Charlie, that I might be in his area on Tuesday and that I might want to give it a try.  Well, Tuesday didn’t work out, but I did catch a call for Wednesday that would be nearby.  Charlie and I traded a bunch of text messages Tuesday night, and he even emailed me a Google Maps photo of the area with his deer track marked on it.   At that point I didn’t realize that the track so far, was ¾ mile long.     The photo showed that the area was very large with diverse vegetation.  I agreed to meet up with him on Wednesday morning at 9 am – 4 days after the hit.  From Saturday thru Tuesday it had been sunny, warm (65deg) and breezy, but Tuesday evening and Wednesday AM the forecast was for rain.  Sure enough it started raining about 9 pm Tuesday evening.  At that time, the thought hit me that with this moisture, Thor might actually be able to follow the 4 day old track! 
Wednesday morning, as I made the 60-mile drive to Hume, Allegany County, the rain was pretty heavy, but luckily just about stopped as I met up with Charlie.  After doing our paper work, Charlie showed me his arrow & Rage 2 blade broad head.  The arrow and fletching showed not much blood, and the first 10 inches had a coating of white fat / suet on it.  Likely from passing thru the fat on the bottom of the chest. I decided we should start the track at the hit site in the hope that Thor could actually pick up and carry the track beyond where the hunters had lost it.  I started Thor where we thought the hit occurred and headed off in the direction the buck went.  I never saw any blood, but Charlie convinced me that Thor seemed to be going the right way.  After a short time, I was convinced that Thor did have the track.  

To make a long story shorter, for about the next hour, we followed Thor down what seemed to be the right track through the mixed hardwoods.  On 3 or 4 occasions along the way, Thor got into a circling pattern 30 or 40 yards in diameter, obviously trying to figure out which direction the buck went after it stopped and circled.  Once we got to within about 200 yards of the golf course, Thor got stuck in a circling pattern for about 15 minutes. He was working hard, but couldn’t get out of it. It could have been the Hunters bloody boots that complicated that area.  The 3rd bed was ahead in the thick brush between us and the golf course.  We were now about an hour into the track and still hadn’t gotten to where the hunters had lost the track.  At that point, I asked Charlie to take us to the last sign of blood at the edge of the golf course, 200 yards ahead.  Soon we were at the cart path where the buck came out of the woods. Still in the path, was a dime sized blood clot.  The 1st blood I’d seen so far.   Thor caught the scent again and headed off hard across the fairway towards another woodlot.   A short time later, Charlie confirmed that Thor was on the path of hoof prints in the fairway that they had followed 4 days earlier.  75 yards further along the edge of the fairway and we were now at the point where Charlie lost the trail for good.  At that point, Charlie and his friend went on to search the woods on that side of the fairway, and the woods beyond.  Now I was hoping / praying that Thor would take us in a totally new direction.  Soon after, he was in the middle of the fairway, heading back across towards the cart path and woods beyond.  Yes! Charlie, had never searched in this area.  It was totally clean and Thor was heading hard into it. That buck should be lying, dead ahead within a few hundred yards.  So, I hoped!  

Well, we continued into the new section of woods for another 200 yards with Thor seemingly, still on the trail – I sure thought so.   Then, just as I was beginning to doubt him (I shouldn’t do that!) I spotted what I thought was a blood spot on a wet leaf.  I stopped and dabbed it with a white paper towel – BLOOD!   The last blood sign I’d see on this entire track.    A short time later, Thor was in his 4th or 5th area of circling.  I stood by for 5 minutes trying to be patient – it’s hard!  Finally, he was off on another 200 yard line thru the woods.  I expected to see the dead Buck ahead of us at any moment.  We’d been in this woods for at least 400 yards, the buck should have bedded by now.   After another 100 yards we were at the corner of the woods and a clover field.  Here, Thor spent at least 10 minutes circling a 30-yard diameter area in the woods.  This is torture!    Multiple times, he would seem to head off on a line out of the area, only to come circling back!  In our early tracking days, I couldn’t take it, and would pull him off in a direction I wanted to go.  Now, I’ve learned that he almost always figures it out, if I give him the time he needs. Finally, Thor headed into the clover field and then took a good straight line, for about 100 yards, across it to the woods beyond.    He quickly got thru the woods and then we headed into a large thick brushy basin.  We were now more than a half mile beyond the last bed, with no sign of the deer.  I began to have my doubts, but Thor was still determined as we headed down the narrow deer trails in the dense brush.  After a 200-yard arch thru the brush, Thor’s nose was suddenly up, scenting hard.  10 yards later I caught a whiff and a few yards later I saw half a rack poking out of the weeds ahead – we had him!!!  The buck was a big 6Pt, and the shot was just about where Charlie thought.  The broad head looked to hit the bottom of the liver.  Unfortunately, after 4 days, only the rack was salvageable.  But that, and the track it took to find him, will provide memories of this Buck well into the future…  Photo below shows Charlie and his Buck.  Map shows total track route.  Red portion is where Charlie tracked the Buck,   Thor tracked the entire route.  I learn more and am amazed more every day!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bob and Thor track and find three deer in one day

Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek, a brother to our Tuesday and Darren Doran's Theo, has had a great tracking season so far. He helped hunters to recover their deer that otherwise would go to waste or feed coyotes. This is what happened today, in Bob Yax's words:

After breaking my streak of Birthday recoveries yesterday, I was ready for some success today. Boy, did we get it! 3 recoveries on 3 tracks that were all hit yesterday and sat overnight in the heavy rains. Thor was awesome today... relentless on every track.

Track 1 was in Romulus. I started it yesterday afternoon thinking it was a liver hit. We then postponed it till today when I saw only intestine matter on the arrow. The arrows level / broadside path could have not have hit liver and intestine so we needed to wait overnight. Yesterday there was no blood found on the 1st 20 yds of the trail. That's as far as the hunter tracked it. This morning just as the rain was ending we took up the trail - 0 blood was seen, but Thor took off hard down the trail. To our surprise, we found the buck dead 100 yds from the stand. Autopsy showed arrow deflected (off a branch) down thru the back strap, lung, liver, stomach and came out the intestines. The 9pt was likely dead after 5 or 6 hours. We found it at the 24hr mark and it was still good, likely due to the heavy cool rain.

Track 2 was in Pavilion. Hunter wasn't sure what he hit on the big buck, but he had a pass thru with only blood on the arrow (no guts). Yesterday, he and his wife tracked it for hours over a mile till the blood petered out. We started the track 29 hrs after the hit. The arrow look almost clean to me, maybe from skidding thru very wet clover? Over the next 30 min we covered the mile long trail with 0 visible blood again. We did go right past 3 markers the hunter left along the buck’s path. That is always reassuring! Finally we hit a railroad track where they had stopped tracking yesterday. The thick brush on the other side was a promising place for the buck to bed. Thor headed down a trail into the brush, then came out into a clearing in the swampy woods. About 50 yds later his head was up scenting the air hard - was the buck nearby? - yes! It was laying in the open wood 40 yds ahead. It looked dead, but it was laying straight up on its belly with its chin on the ground and antlers up? Thor was barking like crazy! I had the hunter hold Thor's leash as I slowly approached the buck. Soon I was 15ft from it and it was still motionless. Just when I was sure it was dead, it blinked and took off running. I got my 20ga up and shot when it was going away at 30 yds. It tumbled into one of the big puddles then ended up lying head up in the woods 40 yds ahead. My hit to the back knee put it down, but it was still trying to get up. Too long story short - 2 more shots finished it! (this included an "ammo run" to get a 3rd slug!) It was a Big 10pt. The Hunters shot passed thru the top of the lungs just under the shoulder blades. PS, it was a 4 blade Muzzy. This was the 1st marginal lung shot we've ever recovered, and it wasn't easy...

Track 3 was in Dansville. Hunter said that yesterday he hit the buck broadside and far back. He saw stomach contents on a tree. The arrow showed me only intestine contents, but I did find stomach matter on the tree. Yesterday the hunter tracked it (pushed it!) about 175 yds with a little blood, he then backed out. We started on the track 23 hrs after the hit, again no blood was visible (dam rain!). Thor again got hot on the trail and was soon passing the hunters backpack that he left where he backed out. About 300 yds later, Thor again had his nose high in the air looking for the Buck. We then saw it dead, 50 yds ahead. The 8pt was very fresh, no rigor. It had only been dead a few hours. The entrance wound was halfway back and about 6 inches from the bottom of the deer. It hit Stomach and exited out the intestines. A day that started with driving in the pouring rain, turned into our best tracking day ever. Tracking conditions were great, damp and cool, and Thor was really on his game. The heavy rain that washed away all blood sign probably helped us.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Track or treat" night: Winnie and Jared's first track in pursuit of a wounded deer

Some tracks are more memorable than others but most likely every handler remembers their very first track. This week we received email from Jared Brueggeman, who got a female pup from our only 2016 litter. Winnie (Yola von Moosbach-Zuzelek) was born on July 3, 2016 so she is just turning 4 months old tomorrow.

My neighbor shot this doe on his land at approximately 5:45 pm Halloween evening. He said he heard the arrow hit but was unable to locate it or any blood at the shot site.  A few hours later Winnie, myself, the hunter and two friends took to the field. We started tracking at 9:15 pm.  It was difficult to locate the first blood as there was none at the hit site that we could see. We tracked for quite a distance.  Some heavy blood fading to some light blood and back to heavy.  After several hundred yards and it was apparent that the deer was still alive as we were finding fresh blood that was not dried like at the beginning of the trail.  We never found a single bed.  We pushed the deer to make her bleed and we ended up through the large block of timber where the deer crossed the road.  We located a few drops on the road and Winnie was anxious to push on. Shortly after crossing the road Winnie came upon her first real deer.  The deer was dead and Winnie realized what she has been training  to do. She went right over and started licking the blood and eventually she latched right on and was biting the deer with all she had. She showed no possessiveness as last night I think Winnie realized that we are working as a team.  All of the other people and the lights in the woods were a distraction at times as this was only her second time in the woods at night, once on an artificial line and then this actual call. I would reassure her with a calm tone that she needs “find the deer” and she was back to tracking. We recovered the deer at 11:28 pm. The deer was shot quartering away hitting the gut, liver and a single lung. There was an entrance and exit wound, however, the arrow was still in the deer. She had not been dead long as there were still bubbles coming out of the exit hole near the lungs. The track totaled just about a mile in distance. The Halloween deer that Winnie found will be one I will never forget. Winnie did get on Halloween a little treat of her own, a few slices of fresh deer heart.

On the track there were a few times where I needed to reset Winnie on the last blood found and then she was back on track. She persevered and did great. I was very proud of her as you know she is not even 4 months old yet! I am on cloud nine right now and I have the itch to get back out there and let the sniff hound go find another!  Thanks for being a part of all of this. 

Sincerely, your friend and now fellow tracker,

Jared Brueggeman

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A long track for Darren Doran and his dachshund Theo leads to successful recovery

A big thank you to Darren Doran who wrote this report a week ago. Following Monday he had a rotator cuff surgery. The surgery went well and Darren is recovering home. Darren's tracking partner is Theo (FC Theo von Moosbach-Zuzelek).

A hunter called about a deer he hit on Friday morning, October 21, about 7:30 am. At the hit the deer walked off about 60 yards and lay down. The hunter thought that the deer was going to die right there. After about 20 minutes the deer got up and slowly walked away. The hunter stayed in the stand for a while, then climbed down and snuck out. He came back around noon to check the arrow and look for the deer. During this time it had rained heavily and was threatening the rest of the day.

When the hunter checked his arrow he smelled gut on it and saw white hairs on the ground. Despite the rain, there was a substantial amount of blood in the bed. He began to track the deer and eventually lost the blood alongside the creek. The hunter looked me up on the UBNJ web site and called me. It turns out that the hunter was a new resident to the town I work for and was hunting right out of his back yard.

At this point I would like to say that this swamp buck was a mature deer over 3 ½ years old. I have seen this behavior in this age class of a buck many times. At the hit the deer doesn’t run or panic. They don’t elevate their blood pressure by running, and by bedding quickly they slow their blood loss. With the onset of the rut, this type of buck with this type of hit can be very hard to kill and recover.

I made arrangements to meet the hunter after work and I was at his house by 4 p.m., 8½ hours after the shot. We went to the hit site and I got Theo ready. The arrow had a slight gut smell and the white hair was there just as the hunter had said. I started Theo and he took the track and ended up in the wound bed. I could see good blood indicating it was a liver hit. Theo tracked to the creek to where the hunter had quit and began searching. He kept going up and down the bank and then just jumped in and swam to the other side. The creek was about 15 feet wide and I just kept feeding out my lead. Theo got to the other side and after a quick check started up a little draw away from the bank. 

It looked like we were going to get wet. The creek was mid-thigh deep and a little chilly but had a pretty good bottom. We got across quickly and tracked along the top of the creek to an ox bow. Theo started down towards the creek again and stopped on a log that was in the water. He was stretching out and sniffing but hadn’t committed to taking the plunge. The creek was deep here but not wide and if we went in we were going to have to swim.

Theo came back up to the top and began searching the bank. All of a sudden he took a line right over our track in. The deer had back tracked. He bedded high on the creek bend with the deep water at his back looking over his back trail where he crossed the creek the first time. It’s quite possible that the deer saw or heard the hunter from this vantage point looking for him earlier in the day.

Theo then tracked out of the flood plain and up to higher ground. I hadn’t seen any blood since the bed at the creek and we were heading right for a housing development in the neighboring municipality. Theo was tracking right behind the backyards of the houses and I was praying that the deer stayed in the woods. All of a sudden Theo’s tempo picked up and the hunter said he saw a deer get up and go to the right. Theo was really excited and tracking left towards the road. I just held back on the lead and let him settle a bit. It was obvious that there was more than one deer here and they left in different directions. Theo took a line that was straighter, and the hunter said that the deer went right. I asked him to stand by and wait. When I saw a small drop of fresh blood 30 yards later I knew he had the right deer. I went about another 30 yards, found another spot of blood and called up the hunter. Theo was tracking towards a mowed retention basin behind the houses and he was pulling hard. I planned to track up to the edge and look across and check for the deer. The basin was about 125 yards wide and there was no dead deer in it. I pulled Theo back and it was time to discuss our strategy with the hunter.

I was afraid to push the deer because of the houses. I’ve lost big deer to the developments before and did not want it to happen now. I laid out our options. We could continue and risk losing him in the development, we could come back around midnight and re-start, or we could take our chances with the rain and start in the morning. I reassured hunter that Theo could track after a rain and it wouldn’t be a problem, but I didn’t realize how much we were going to get.

We decided to resume tracking in the morning. It had poured over night and was raining hard in the morning. I sent a text to the hunter to make sure that were still on and he said yes. I was a little apprehensive about tracking to the deer but felt confident that if it stayed in the woods we could find him. I picked up the hunter and we started at the first creek crossing. I swear when Theo saw the hunter he knew we were going to finish what we started. 

I brought Hip Boots for the crossing and just made it. Theo swam across and was dragging he short lead following the exact same track to where we stopped yesterday. I hooked up Theo about 50 yards from the edge of the basin and started. He ran down yesterday’s line and into the basin and began searching his way across.

At the other side he began checking runs. I was really hoping to find the deer just inside the edge but it didn’t happen. We had the wind in our face,a and I was sweeping Theo in a search mode from the houses to our side of the creek in an effort to pick up the trail of the deer or air scent a body. Theo was working nicely through the thick green briars and brush and we went about another 500 yards sweeping through the bottom without any luck. Now the plan was to work the creek back and have Theo check the runs leading up to a crossing. We had gotten about 150 yards from the retention basin when Theo started sniffing the briars while standing up on his hind legs. When he does this it usually means he’s confirming the scent of our deer or has caught a piece of familiar scent. Theo started to take this run towards the creek and worked down to the bank and was looking across the water. I happened to look downstream and there was the deer floating in the middle of the creek stuck against a fallen tree. As soon as I saw him I shouted out my favorite saying “I gottem”. The hunter came running over and because of the briars and the creek bank he couldn’t see him. He said “where, where “. I said "he’s in the creek, you got him".

Theo got him!
By now Theo had seen him and was swimming over to him. He climbed up on the deer and began to pull out his hair. I waded out and dragged the deer back to the bank. The deer died about 100 yards behind the hunter's stand and looked like it was headed back to where it had come from. We had a heck of a celebration, and I was genuinely happy for this hunter. He was a good guy and I’m glad we could find his deer. The deer was hit low in the liver and because of the way it acted after the hit, it lived a long time.

This kind of track makes believers out of hunters and legends out of tracking dogs. This may be my last track this season and if so it was a great one. Theo is still learning and getting better every time we track. We have developed into a team that knows what to do to get the job done. I love working this dog and finding deer with him.

Darren and Theo at the end of successful track

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wired To Hunt podcast with John Jeanneney on how to track and recover wounded deer

Few days ago Wired To Hunt posted a podcast with John Jeanneney on the topic of deer tracking and recovery. The podcast can be accessed HERE. The whole podcast is about 90 minutes, and the first 30 minutes or so are on other topics. John's part starts around the 60-minute mark and lasts an hour. We hope you enjoy it.

This is the first year when John is not tracking. He turned 81 in April! He still stays very much engaged, dispatching hunters' calls to local handlers and advising hunters on the phone and over email.

Few days after the podcast had been aired we received this email from a hunter:

I was fortunate enough to have been able to listen to Wired to Hunt Podcast #124 with John’s infinite wisdom filling the hour.  I wanted to express my thanks for opening my eyes to the “let it lay overnight” theory.  I let a buck I hit in the shoulder lay overnight when I knew he was close by last year.  To keep a long story short, I ultimately saw him dragging his front leg (shattered at the shoulder) by a camera then out of my life that next morning.  I believe I would have continued pushing him had I learned this information earlier, and definitely would have done nothing but increase my odds of harvesting the animal. I know he died in a very thick, impassible portion of my property.  I never recovered the animal, and think about it very often.  With this new found knowledge I gained from a short listen to John, I firmly believe I will in the future have a much better chance of finding a deer in various situations, as well as be much more inclined to contact someone with a tracking dog to assist me in the harvesting of the animal.

I know that was a lot of rambling, but I wanted to say THANKS!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Andy's thoughts on starting a young dog on natural tracks and Hazel's first recovery

First Track for us Both

By Andy Bensing

It was with great anxiety that I anticipated the start of the tracking season this year.  My 9 year old veteran dog, Eibe, had continued to partially lose her sense of smell since last year and I knew she would only be able to handle a very limited number of calls this year; perhaps even fewer than last year.   On top of that my two 16-month-old young dogs, Hazel and Hunter, who I have been training for the last 14 months were struggling to come out of a very difficult adolescent period after demonstrating unbelievably great work, basically perfect, up to about  7 months of age.  Hazel had been coming along especially well the last month of training but I still had my reservations as to how much I should put her in the field this year. 

When I train a dog I always look at the long term results, and I don’t like to put a dog into the field to soon on an unknown natural line until I can fully trust the dog.  On an unknown natural line, a young dog can learn a lot of very bad habits if you are not careful.  The most damaging  bad habit being that the dog can learn that it is enjoyable to track any deer, not just the wounded deer that they started on.  Hazel’s last three training lines before the start of our season showed me enough progress that I planned to definitely put her in the field this year but I planned to be very careful in track selection.  My strategy was to screen calls carefully for her and only take tracks likely not to be too long and the ones that have a dead deer at the end.  The last thing I really wanted was for her to jump and chase a wounded one still alive.  She was already gamey enough.  She certainly did not need that type of stimulation.  I also planned to curtail any track we might be on if I did not have some confirming sign or circumstance where I could be absolutely sure we were still on the correct deer.  Without confirmation, I planned to quit any track where I had not have confirmation of some sort for more than 200 yards.

Well luck was certainly with us for our first call of the season this year.  When the phone finally rang last night I got a call that sounded close to perfect.  An hour after the hit the hunter had started tracking and tracked 200 yards to a puddle where the deer stood with drips of blood.  My interview of the hunter revealed a likely liver hit so the deer had a very good chance of not being very far from the puddle and almost for sure dead.  The hunter got to the puddle 2 hours after the hit and judging from the described light blood trail coming to the spot where the deer stood, the deer had stood there a long time to create the puddle.  The hunter on my advice decided not to continue tracking and give the deer more time to die.  I arranged to meet the hunter at first light and put my rookie dog Hazel on the deer.

At the hit site in the morning, Hazel’s natural instincts really kicked in.  There was only a small speck of blood at the hit site, which she basically ignored and clearly locked right in on the hoof/body scent of the wounded animal.  She easily tracked the 200 yards to the hunter’s point of loss in 5 minutes. Her adolescent lackadaisical attitude that she still showed in some of her recent training was nowhere to be seen.  It was all business.  At the point of loss at the puddle where the hunter and 2 helpers had done some walking back and forth  she had some trouble.  In her training she had never encountered that type of thing before.  She seemed to interpret it like it was a star, which we had trained for and after  maybe a 5 minute long check in the area of the puddle she found her way out.  For a moment  during the check I thought she was going to lose concentration and drift off onto junk, something I still saw but less and less in training.  But with a very light call of her name by me standing near the point of loss, she refocused and found her way out.  She got back on the line, pointed out a spot of blood to me maybe 30 yards past the point of loss, and found the deer maybe 20 yards past that.  It was a perfect situation: Right after correcting herself back onto the line a big reward; the dead deer for her to tear into.

This certainly was not a difficult track.  Even my Eibe with her debilitated nose could have found this deer only 12 hours after the shot. Heck, the hunter would have found without the dog, but it was a perfect track to further develop my dog.  And as you can see from the photo, the deer sure made for a great photo for my dog’s first find of what I hope is a long career.

Hazel's first recovery

Friday, June 17, 2016

Help needed NOW with the Leashed Tracking Bill in PA

This came from Andy Bensing and his organization Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania:

The effort to legalize Leashed Tracking Dogs for recovering wounded deer in PA has been ongoing for 17 years and right now we are the closest we have ever been and almost there.  The PA Game Commission, PFSC, USP, UBP, QDMA ,NRA and 97% of PA hunters as of the last survey taken support the legalization of Leashed Tracking Dogs.  HB1722 which will legalize the use of Leashed Tracking Dogs has passed the House and is awaiting a final vote on the Senate floor. 

The problem is that HB1722 has been languishing on the Senate Calendar for the last month and has not been brought up for the final vote.  There are 2 weeks left in Harrisburg before the Senate goes on Summer Recess.  If HB1722 doesn’t come up for vote by the end of June, PA hunters will be going another hunting season this fall without access to Leashed Tracking Dogs.

The Leashed Tracking Dog movement needs every hunter’s help right now.  
There is no time to waste.  To help make this finally happen, here is what you need to do.

Send an email or letter to Senator Jake Corman right away.  Tell him you support HB1722, the Leashed Tracking Dog bill,  and ask him to bring it up for a final vote on the Senate floor.  If you are really feeling motivated, in addition to sending an email, call his office and let his office know you would like him to bring HB1722 up for vote.  Senator Corman is the Leader in the Senate and he is in charge of deciding which bills get a chance to be voted on.  Here is the contact info for Senator Corman:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beginnings of the United Blood Trackers

Compiled by Jolanta Jeanneney

The need for a national organization of blood trackers became evident in March 2005 when Henry Holt ran into problems regarding using tracking dogs on public land in Illinois. In his email circulated within borntotrack group (for owners of dogs bred by John and Jolanta Jeanneney), hosted by smartgroups, he wrote:
“Last season here in Illinois there was an emergency administrative rule issued prohibiting tracking on public land. Just before the season opened, Larry Gohlke, Cheri Faust, Al Diehl and I all attended a meeting in Springfield with Tim Hickman, the DNR head of public lands, Jack Price the DNR attorney in charge of wildlife and administrative rules, and Mike Kennedy a Captain in Law Enforcement (and also a Drahthaar trainer). It looked as though everything was on track until I saw a new rule published on the DNR website.
1) Tracking on public land has to be conducted outside of legal shooting hours which are 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.
2) Dogs must be certified as deer tracking dogs by a national dog tracking organization.”

At the time there was no national organization able to provide this kind of certification. After many emails and lively discussion, several members of borntotrack yahoo group decided to go ahead and form the organization. Ken Parker, an owner of Bavarian Mountain Hounds, was invited as well.
An organizational meeting was held July 21-22, 2005 at the home of John and Jolanta Jeanneney in Berne, NY.

Top row from left: John Jeanneney, Henry Holt, Larry Golhke; bottom row: Andy Bensing, Cheri Faust and Ken Parker. Jolanta Jeanneney was behind camera.
Present were John Jeanneney, Jolanta Jeanneney, Henry Holt, Ken Parker, Andy Bensing, Cheri Faust, Larry Gohlke, Tim Nichols (Friday).
We discussed:  Bylaws, Deer Search, Inc., Testing, Judges, Benefits of Membership, Membership Application and Dues.

The following were selected to serve on the Board of Directors:
Larry Gohlke (2006) – appointed Director of Testing
John Jeanneney (2006) – appointed Director of Education
Cheri Faust (2007) – elected as Secretary
Henry Holt (2007) – appointed as Director of Membership and elected as Vice President
Susanne Hamilton (2007)
Ken Parker (2008) – elected as Treasurer
Andy Bensing (2008) – elected as President
Jolanta Jeanneney (2008) – appointed as Director of Publicity

Initial UBT-approved judges were:
•             Larry Gohlke
•             John Jeanneney
•             Jolanta Jeanneney
•             Henry Holt
•             Andy Bensing

A Board of Directors meeting was held September 23, 2005 at the Black Horse in Denver, PA, and on September 25, 2005 at D-Bar-W Equestrian Center in Reinholds, PA. Present were: Andy Bensing (President/Director-2008), Cheri Faust (Secretary/Director-2007), John Jeanneney (Director of Education-2006), Jolanta Jeanneney (Director of Publicity-2008) and Larry Gohlke (Director of Testing-2006)

The Secretary received a letter from Henry Holt, who resigned as an Officer and Director.  Dave Johnson was elected for the Board of Directors to serve as Director of Publicity.  John Jeanneney was selected to fill the vacancy of Vice President.  Jolanta Jeanneney was appointed as Director of Membership.

In 2005 Bylaws were drafted, finalized and incorporation was filed with the State of Illinois.  A website ( was established.  The Board of Directors has exchanged over 1,600 messages via the email group list, in addition to private emails, telephone communications and discussions at other events for organizational purposes. Even though the organization was started mainly by handlers of tracking dachshunds, it has never discriminated against other breeds. From the beginning handlers of all kind of tracking dogs have been accepted, regardless whether their tracking dogs were purebred or not.

The next meeting of the Board of Directors was held on June 12, 2006 at Neal and Debbie Meyer’s, Quincy, Illinois, the site of Trackfest 2006. Even though this event was not officially affiliated with the United Blood Trackers, it was organized by the core of the UBT and everybody present was encouraged to join the organization. The report from this events is at  Neal Meyer’s dachshund Chloe was the first dog certified by the UBT. This was a press release describing it:

First Dog Certified To Track Wounded Deer On State Lands

Chloe, a wirehaired dachshund owned by outfitter Neal Meyer, was the first dog tested and approved to track wounded deer on state-owned lands in Illinois. The bill passed in 2004 legalized the use of leashed tracking dogs. The associated regulations require that any dog tracking on Illinois state lands must pass a test demonstrating basic ability and training.

Chloe’s blood tracking test was administered by United Blood Trackers (, a national organization, on June 11, 2006. The dog was required to track a blood line with two sharp turns for a quarter of a mile to part of a deer that was placed at the end of the line. The small amount of blood used for the simulated trail, combined with the heavy ground cover, would have made the line very difficult or impossible for a hunter to track by eye.

Dachshund Chloe has little in common with the beloved wiener dogs of cartoonists. She is bred from German hunting stock, has longer legs and a harsh, wirey double coat. Chloe weighs only 20 pounds, but in her own mind she is a “big dog”, big enough to track those huge Illinois bucks, even if they are still alive.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Theo's advanced blood tracking training

by Darren Doran

This April Theo turned four years old and is developing into a solid tracking dog. We had somewhat of a disappointing tracking season last year as the call volume just wasn’t there. I really only got a few calls that I would consider difficult enough to test Theo’s current tracking ability. With that in mind this spring I decided I would really push Theo hard to see where he really is in his development.

My first line was a 800 yd, 24 hour old tracking shoe line with about 1 oz of blood used. He ran this in about twenty minutes and it was obvious that this was too easy.

My next line was a  880 yd, 40 hour old tracking shoe line with no blood. Again Theo ran this with no problem.

My third line was a 700 yd 72 hour old tracking shoe line with no blood. Part of this line went through a controlled burn area in the woods that was done three days before I placed the line. Theo made one mistake when he left the line on a turn to follow only what I imagine was fresher deer scent. I gave him the opportunity to correct himself but he didn’t. Also his body language was such that if the line wasn’t marked I would have followed him. The second spot that slowed him up was the burn. He really had to pick his way through this. Even though he had a mistake and got slowed up it only took 40 minutes to finish.

So far my training with him had been excellent. So I decided for my next line I would try to make it as close to a real hunting track as I could. In New Jersey you are allowed to bait deer and most of my tracks start in a bait pile. I have a spot in a natural county park which holds a lot of un-hunted deer. I train here frequently and I decided that I would pack bait into the park in two spots. After the deer started feeding there I would start a training line in one bait pile and track through the second about 300 yds before the line ended. In about two weeks I had the deer cleaning up about 25 lbs of corn every two days or so. I had a trail camera out at what was going to be my hit site and pictures confirmed that deer were there regularly and at any time of day, but mornings and evenings were the best just like in hunting season. I also had raccoons visiting the corn at night as well.

Deer visiting the bait
I decided that Friday after work I would pack in another 25 lbs of corn and the materials needed to make the training line. I dumped the corn and put on my tracking shoes. This line was going to mimic a bow shot deer from a high tree stand with a pass-through the liver and gut. I brought an old half of an arrow and put it in a plastic bag and poured blood on it and let the fletch soak it up. I put a wad of hair in the hit site and dropped in the arrow. I was going to walk out of the hit site for 30 yds put down a small squirt of blood every third time my right foot hit the ground. After the 30 yd mark there would be no more blood on the line. I tried to walk out so that I wasn’t on a deer run but there were tracks everywhere. I wanted to make it as evident as possible that Theo was taking the line and not just any deer leaving the bait.

Getting ready to lay the track
One thing I want to mention is that all my training materials used on a training track come from the same deer. The feet, blood, hair, and skin and not only that I only use materials that come from a deer that has been shot and run before it dies. I don’t use road kills or deer that die instantly from a gunshot.

I believe a deer that has been shot and is going to die smells different to a dog or predator than a healthy one. I see a difference in my dogs tracking style on a deer that we get as opposed to one that is high back or shoulder hit. I want my training lines to be as close to real thing as possible.

Shed buck in the bait 1.5 hour before the start
The line ended up being about 900 yds. It started in a creek bottom and went through various terrain to include saplings, a gas line crossing, brush, mature forest and finally across a power line.

The second distraction was located in the mature forest in a clear area amongst a bunch of blow downs. This was about 300 yds from the end of the line. Again I left the distraction in a way that was not being used by the deer so I could tell if Theo was tracking the line correctly. I also lost one of the hoofs from the tracking shoe in this area and didn’t realize it until I was finished.
We started the track on Sunday morning at 9:15 am it was 34 degrees and 40 hrs after the line was put down. Also we had a steady rain most of Saturday. This was going to about as close to a real track as I could get. The trail camera had pictures of deer up to an hour and a half before we got there.

I started Theo at the hair and arrow. The rain had washed all the blood off the arrow but I was sure the fletch still held some scent. Theo started too quick and really didn’t lock onto the hair or arrow. He was all over almost instantly. The amount of fresh and old scent there must have been intense.

Working the hit site.
As with most of my hunting tracks, I had a direction of travel the deer took from the hit site. I didn’t let Theo take any of the deer runs for any length of time. He crossed over the line a couple of times and didn’t acknowledge it. I was beginning to think that this was just too hard. I restarted him three times and made him smell the hair and arrow each time. The second restart he had part of it but pulled off. On the third restart he ran right down the line to the spot I picked him up at the second time, made a correction and started tracking the line. He had it! We spent over 15 minutes at the hit site and by him settling down recognizing the proper scent and ignoring the hot scent we were finally making progress.

We tracked out of the bottom, through the saplings, across the gas line, into the brush and finally to the mature forest without any real problem. He located the wound bed in the forest and I gave him a meat reward. Theo was now heading for the second distraction. When he got into the blow downs and other scent he started searching. He found the dropped hoof and I made a mistake here. I rewarded him with some meat, and I think he thought the track was over. 

I was encouraging him to track and he kept going to where the hoof was laying and smelling and digging in the dirt. I imagine that there was a lot of scent there as the hoof laid there for 40 hrs and was rained on for a day. I finally got him going, and he was now tracking only 1 hoof . We went up through the hardwoods and turned towards the power line. He tracked to the power line and out into it. He was searching around and moving side to side in an arc moving in a forward motion. The skin was just inside the edge on the far side. I wasn’t sure and I didn’t think he really had it but at one point he was heading right for the tree that the skin was behind. I dropped the lead expecting him to find the skin at the tree but he passed on the upwind side and went right past it and into the next woods. He continued on and I called him back and was going to do a controlled search on the power line. On his way back he air scented the hide and went right to it.
This line took 55 minutes total and 17 minutes at the hit site and maybe 5 minutes at the second distraction. Once he locked on to the right scent he had no problem finishing this line. 

Theo has a very good nose but he also has great mental ability on a track. Put those two things together and you get a very honest tracking dog that gets the job done without a lot of mistakes or very little help from me.

I couldn’t be happier with our training so far and I’m already looking forward to the next tracking season.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Myasthenia Gravis takes life of a talented tracking dachshund: RIP Aleah

With a very heavy heart we are sending our deep sympathy to Andre Guerin from Louisiana. Today he lost his beloved 3.5-year-old dachshund Aleah to Myasthenia Gravis. I met Aleah and Andre at Trackfest in May 2014 in North Carolina. She was a beautiful, talented dog and Andre could not keep his eyes off her. They had an incredibly strong bond. Even though we did not breed Aleah she was related to our dogs. Her dam, Macaria Raptor, was imported from the Czech Republic, and she is a sister to Mielikki Raptor. Her sire was Remy von Moosbach-Zuzelek "Remi". More info on Myasthenia Gravis can be read here

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Old Deer Tracker" John Jeanneney: Happy 81st Birthday!

Today is John's 81st Birthday and I thought it would be interesting and fun to look back at the 81st year of his life. Last year I blogged very little, and many of these events have never been written up.

The picture below shows how John spent April 7, 2015. Paul, his son, and Marilyn came to have a birthday lunch with us, and they put some serious work into cutting down the tree that got damaged due to ice accumulation during previous winter. 

Last year we had two litters of puppies, our W litter and X litter. The W pups (Woody, Waldi, Willette, Wiki, and Willow were born on March 9, and in the picture taken on his birthday, John is holding one of them. The X litter was born on July 26 and produced Xander, Xenos, Xakary, Ximo, Xavier, Xoe, Xola and Xena. This was a lot of work... and fun... and satisfaction.

On April 24 John gave a talk at the Annual meeting of the NADKC (North American Deutsch Kurzhaar Club) in Cobleskill, NY. Dick Aronica thanked him: "Your presentation on the actual practical side of deer recovery was perfect."

One of the highlights of John's year was participation in the Annual Workshop (Formation) given by ACCSQ on May 2-3 in St-Apolllinaire, Quebec. The ACCSQ is Association des Conducteurs de Chiens de Sang, which could be translated as Association of Handlers of Blood Tracking Dogs. John gave a talk at this extremely well organized and attended workshop on  creating a tracking dog/handler team.

On May 8-9 John was at the QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association) National Convention at Louisville, KT, where he gave a well received presentation on blood tracking.

This lead to an article written by Kip Adams, the QDMA Director of Education and Outreach, for Quality Whitetails. Kip said "Thanks for giving such a great presentation at convention.  I took a page of notes so I’d remember your advice and realized I needed to share them with others.  That’s where the article came from and I hope it can help others this fall and beyond."

In July John and Andy Bensing traveled to Ontario, Canada, where they conducted "An Introductory Seminar and Field Workshop about Using Trained Tracking Dogs to Find Wounded Big Game". This was in support of Big Game Blood Trackers of Ontario (BGBTO).

During the summer John spent many hours in his garden (this is something he can't live without)...

... on training dogs...

 ...spending time with friends...

... and working on our grounds (thank you Larry and Cheri!)

We went to some concerts to socialize pups...

and attended Dan and Faith Hardin's wedding.

In July John was interviewed for the Hunting Dog Podcast and this interview "Blood Tracking Big Game with Little Dogs" can accessed HERE.

In September, there was another presentation in Ontario:

When a hunting/tracking season arrived, I had my serious doubts whether John would be able to track. He has been battling multiple health issues over the years, but the Old Man proved me wrong again. He found 6 deer for other hunters and he shot a doe to provide meat for this human and canine family.

This past winter John gave more talks at local churches, which serve "wild game dinners" accompanied by informative presentations on topics related to hunting. His last one was at Bethlehem Community Church in Delmar, NY on March 5, 2016. Four days later he was in the hospital and had a pacemaker inserted.

Nobody ever knows what next year will bring, but it looks like being inactive while getting older is not an option for John. His tracking days are over, and now he admits it himself. I am sure that he will find a way to stay engaged in the field of tracking dogs and will continue to share his knowledge through articles and books. Happy Birthday My Love!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tragic loss of two accomplished handlers, Tom and Chris DiPietro, and their tracking dogs

Chris DiPietro with a recovered deer in 2012.
On March 22 we were shocked to learn that Tom and Christine DiPietro, both 59, from Jericho, VT, died due to the accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Their three dogs, Scout, Filou and Addie, died with them. For more information about it go HEREPoughkeepsie Journal published the full obituary

This article about Tom and Chris DiPietro from Jericho, VT, was written five years ago - see

It is impossible to express the impact of Tom and Chris's death in a couple of short paragraphs. People who were close to them have been grieving deeply. 

Their lives touched so many people, and this sentiment has been expressed with such emotion by many of their tracking friends, who were started in the field and supported by Tom and Chris. 

I received this e-mail from Tom 15 years ago:

"My name is Tom DiPietro and I live and track in Northern Vermont. I came to Vermont nine years ago when my company transferred me to its Essex Junction plant from Dutchess County New York where I grew up. My love for tracking started many years ago when I was a bow hunter in New York. One day I made a poor shot on a doe, after searching all day, I failed to recover the deer and called a number I had received at a local sportsman show for a group called Deer Search. The Deer Search volunteers came out and assisted me in tracking the deer, which we never found. I was very impressed with the way the small Wirehaired Dachshund worked the trail and the dedicated handlers who gave their time to help a person they didn’t know.  

After moving to Vermont, due to the demands of a new job, my family adjusting to their new home and being unfamiliar with the hunting area, I didn’t hunt as much as I would have liked to.  As I became more familiar with the area and my life settled down, I found myself drawn back to the woods.  A few years ago I heard about a man named Tim Nichols who had helped pass legislation legalizing leased dog tracking in Vermont similar to the service that I was so impressed with many years ago in New York.  I called Tim and he helped me to obtain a tracking license in Vermont.  Now all I needed was a dog.  I contacted a breeder in western New York, who does blood tracking with Wirehaired Dachshunds and had just had a litter of puppies, so I decided to go out and take a look.   I came home with a three-month old male puppy whose nose seemed as long as his body and my son named him Musket."  

Musket's first deer
In December 2001 this email arrived showing how serious Tom and his tracking family and friends were about helping hunters:. This was a summary of their 2nd tracking season.

Well tracking fans the year has finally come to a close. I have some mixed feelings on this: I'm glad to no longer be waiting for calls but at the same time I want to be in the woods and find some deer. It drove me nuts when we went out for an evening, then found out I'd missed a call and lost an opportunity to find a deer.

We did much better this year getting out on calls taking 24 of the 37 calls we received. Last year we took 26 of 44 so that shows some improvement. Calls were definitely down this year because of last year's winter kill but the lack of snow in VT extended our season 3 weeks over last year and we came close in the total number of calls. Perhaps the best improvement we had was in the number of finds we had: 12 of 24 for a exceptional 50% find rate. When you add to this the fact that we actually came up with 2 other deer that we found but determined they were okay and stopped chasing, and 2 more that we didn't find but they were seen alive later in the season I think we had a season that far exceeded our hopes. For comparison sake we found only 6 last year.

A few more numbers of interest: our avg call time was 9 hours after the hunter shot and the avg time of the deer we found was 7.8 hours.

We did get some interesting feedback from a guy I tracked for last year and didn't find his deer. Last year he shot a deer in the shoulder with his rifle and we had a very good run, but came up empty. Well this year he shot a deer in the same area that had a broken leg and a nasty healed over wound on the same side as the one he wounded last year. We believe it was the same deer that survived the year, what a great animal!
As far as our last 4 finds we had one very easy run where the deer made a quick turn and lost the hunter. Musket and I never even got to the last blood before Musket turned left and started down a trail. The hunter was saying: no, the blood is over here, you are going backwards.  I was starting to pull Musket in when I noticed a smear of blood on a tree. I let him go and within 15 - 20 yards we had the deer. The deer had executed a little J maneuver and I had to tell the hunter twice before it sunk in that we had the deer that quickly. We could still see his boat in the backyard.

Another find was in Craftsbury over an hour away and perhaps one of our best tracking jobs of the year. We went a long, long way with no sign before we found a single drop of blood. The hunter had walked out on the same trail the evening before so we had our doubts but Muskie was working well so we stuck with him and went a long way again before we found another spot of blood. The hunter was quite impressed and studying the blood spot when the trail got hot and we found a few more good spots of blood and then the dead deer. Something else had found it before us and a fair chunk of one hind quarter was missing and leaves had been thrown over the deer. We could have given up on the trail a number of times but Musket "looked" like he was working so we didn't quit and ended up with a very impressive find. Chris was with us and we followed the guy to the check station where we enjoyed celebrity status.

We had another very exciting chase on a four point buck 41 hours after he was shot. Someone else had tracked the deer the prior evening but they couldn't get a shot into it. We went out the next day and took up the trail from where the first tracker had started the previous evening. We eventually kicked the deer up (this was 41 hours after the shot and he was still alive!!! Like I said what a animal) after a short chase and a few more shots we had him down. It ended up the hunter had not shot him in the gut as he had indicated but shot his front leg completely off. Yes: "off " and the bullet also passed through into his other leg so he was running on 2 and a half legs. Chris says it was really a unfair chase because 3 people, 3 guns and 2 different dogs seems a little unfair. But it was really a good find because this deer was coyote bait for sure.

The last deer was another rifle shot that the hunter lost the trail after a long track. We re-established the track very quickly and took it to the deer in just a few minutes. This was another very impressed hunter who we had to tell twice that we had the deer because he didn't think a little dog could be that good.
 In review the season was great, we found 12 deer but we were able to share the finds with Rei, TJ, Danny, Scott Lopez, Scott's friend Joe, and Chrissy. I think the most fun day was with Rei, TJ, Danny and Scott where we found 2 deer.  

I can't wait till next year, I'll be losing Scott Lopez to college but Chris is going to get licensed and we will be running Filly and Musket which is sure to be a great team. We've learned a ton this year and made some equipment improvements. I never mentioned the night my light died and I had to stop and go back the next day.

In my opinion Musket was the best. Tom got Musket from Sue Redden, a Deer Search tracker from Western NY. Sue bred her Sage von Moosbach-Zuzelek, our Sabina’s littermate, to a male that had been bred by Gary Huber. Sage was a small, feisty female, who turned out to be a very good tracker. Musket, her son, lived to be 14.5 and found 148 deer for Vermont hunters.

Tom seemed to be a bit impulsive when it came to getting puppies. I remember he came to us to get a backup dog for Musket, and at the time the only pup we had was Filou von Moosbach-Zuzelek. She did not look too promising, but Tom did not want to wait for the next litter and got her. The arrangement was that he could return her within next few months. He kept her. In spite of a pretty good tracking start, she never turned out to be a decent tracking dog. At one point she was placed with a new family but she missed her old home too much and came back to live with Tom and Chris as their pet. She died with them at almost 15.

In fall 2003 Tom came back to us to get another dachshund, and around that time Filou’s sister Fredrika (Rica) became available. In October he wrote:

John,  I wanted to give you a quick update on our last few days and Rica's progress. First off, while we were gone the boys took two calls and found one so we didn't miss much while down at your house. Saturday night we got a call where the hunter indicated a shot through the body cavity but he wasn't sure exactly where. I took both dogs out with Scott handling Musket and Rica with me. We put the dogs down and Musket started the track while Rica ran off a little to the right. Once Musket was gone I restarted Rica and she marched along the track that Musket had taken. She appeared to be tracking so I let her do her thing. When we caught up to the others they had just gotten to the point of loss and Musket was doing some checks. Rica never faltered and marched right through! With us now leading the way we covered 50 yards when Rica turned left up the side of a cut corn field. Musket reached the point where we had turned and stayed straight, found blood, and continued the track. We followed for quite a distance when we reached a point that Musket was having trouble and we fared no better. Musket eventually restarted the track and we were off again but I kept Rica back behind on the trail. We reached another field where Musket was having trouble and once again Rica marched through without hesitation. With us now leading we crossed a stream and recrossed again. Just when I was thinking we were lost we picked up some blood to confirm the track, found her bed and kicked the deer up! Not long after finding the bed we lost the track and never regained it but I was thrilled with her first track and the way her and  Musket had worked their own trails but combined to have a very impressive track

In 2006 Larry Gohlke leased Fredrika (he raised her) and bred her to Susanne Hamilton’s Buster. This litter produced Danika and Nix; Cheri Faust’s Danika is an all-time #1 field trial dachshund in the States. Tom had one more litter out of Fredrika and Buster, and Scout and Avy came out of that breeding.

The last time I saw Tom, Christine, their son TJ and his wife Laura was at a tracking workshop organized by the United Blood Trackers in New Hampshire. The pictures below were taken during the workshop.

Chris DiPietro
Chris DiPietro
TJ and Tom DiPietro and Sally Marchmont 
TJ and Tom DiPietro with Dan Valdez
In 2013 John wrote a blog post about women as handlers and this is what Chris said:

The original motivation for tracking was to spend time with my husband, Tom, who loved tracking more than hunting.  I love to be in the woods and he would always ask me to go with him, so I would go and help him spot blood.  I also love a working dog and truly enjoyed watching Musket unravel the puzzle to find the deer.  My motivation to continue is to train our newest tracking dogs, Scout (WHD) and Addie (BMH) and to help the hunting community find their deer.  It is very rewarding to find a deer that the hunter could not find him/herself. My favorite weekend to track is our Youth weekend.   It makes you feel so good to help a young hunter find his/her very first deer.  Other motivations are that it keeps me in good health and you meet so many interesting people.  I remember my first years of tracking, I would be so exhausted.  Running up & down mountains and through swamps and thickets is very tiring.  Tom and I started training for sprint triathlons to keep us in shape for the "tracking" season. Just another thing we could do together.  Now I can track for hours and still get up the next day and do it all over again.  The hunters are very appreciative when we come out to help them and we have made many friends through our tracking connections.  I love the time I get to spend with Tom, in the woods with my dogs.  It's my favorite time of year.

Our deepest condolences and sympathy go to the DiPietro family and their friends such as Susanne Hamilton, Sally Marchmont and Scott Lopez. Tom and Chris lost their lives way too soon but they made difference in this world and they will never be forgotten. RIP.