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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Bond of Hunters, a story by John Jeanneney

The Bond of Hunters

by John Jeanneney, copyright 1998

 Max was an old wirehaired dachshund  whose gray grizzled coat matched my own head. Neither of us could escape the truth that the hills were getting steeper, but for both of us finding wounded deer for hunters in the fall was the adventure which bound us together and around which we organized our lives.  We jogged regularly, linked by a short leash as we built and measured our strengths for the fall season when we would search once more together on the long leash as blood trackers. On our sedate runs along country roads, I eyed and Max smelled the wildlife in the green fields. The woodchucks, sitting up like sentinels near their dens were one of our diversions from the boredom of the road. We would charge the ramparts of their earthworks, arrive puffing and panting only to find that our quarry had dropped down and out of sight. Max was too big to enter, adrenalines at ebb we would return to the road.  Still, the surge of the  chase assured us that the old team was still alive and ready to take on the next wooly mammoth or great cave bear which blocked our path.
            Near the start of our morning jogs we sometimes stopped in the yard of my neighbor Arnold to stretch stiff muscles. Arnold had complained of an enormous gourmand woodchuck, old and gray as ourselves, but much fatter. This woodchuck was ravaging Arnold's garden and mocking all defensive efforts. Plunge holes were his temporary escape but he never stayed near the lawn and gardens to await serious retaliations. His favorite tactical retreat was through a  culvert under the road and into the  wide green field beyond.
            Max and I were returning from one of our three mile loops past the green field approaching Arnold's and there was the gourmand chuck, huge and self-satisfied. I held Max up so that he could see above the wall of unmowed grass at the road's edge and then unsnapped the leash. We launched our charge and sped the fifty yards. Sped? Well, anyway we scrambled just as fast as we could, two old boys as carnivores converging, the fat prey fleeing....all in slow slow, so desperate...straining, the distance closing, closing... flat out. We had him! Right at the edge of the woods, a faltering stride from his den under the old maple. Max grabbed first and rolled him. I took the tail hold, quickly swung our prey in hard orbit to the tree. It was over.

  I thought for both of us of good lives, well-lived and of quick death. 

    John with Max and one of many deer that they have recovered.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Video of wounded moose recovered by Susanne Hamilton and her dachshund Meggie

The use of tracking dogs in the recovery of wounded game has grown and expanded enormously in the last decade. The United Blood Trackers is still gathering numbers of recoveries from its members for the 2015/16 season, but in the previous season UBT members recovered 718 deer, 11 bear, 7 moose and 2 coyotes. 

One of the more active UBT trackers is our very good friend Susanne Hamilton from Maine. In fall 2015 she went on 73 tracks (while holding a full time job) and recovered 31 deer, 3 bears and 1 moose. Eight animals needed to be dispatched. Susanne tracks with Meggie and her sire Buster, who at 13.5 years made ten finds. Readers of this blog are very familiar with Buster, who is an amazing tracking dog. The video below shows Susanne and Meggie on a track of wounded moose. The track was 9-10 hours old and shows very well the spirit of tracking. You might notice that Meggie opens a lot on the track. Susanne said that the terrain was very rough and she moved slowly, too lowly for Meggie, who was getting impatient. There were also a lot of obstacles and Meggie swam at least 20 times. There were also times when Meggie tracked silently but the five minute footage chosen for the video does not reflect it.

Susanne, a top level dressage rider and trainer, is competitive by nature. Her passion for blood tracking is matched by very few handlers. Last fall she went on 6 tracks within 24 hours and recovered 4 of the 6 deer she tracked. This must be some kind of record! I don't think she slept in those 24 hours at all.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Are leashed blood tracking dogs going to be legal in Pennsylvania soon?

It has been a very long and difficult road to legalize the use of blood tracking dogs in Pennsylvania. Nobody knows it better than Andy Bensing, President of the United Blood Trackers and Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania. In October 2014 he wrote an excellent article "Why Can't I use My Dog?", which gave a good analysis of the situation and objections to tracking dogs in PA and other non-legal states.

Next week identical bills allowing leashed tracking dogs will be voted on in the PA House and the Senate. See the full text here.  Quote: "It shall be lawful to do any of the following:
(1) Make use of a dog to pursue, chase, scatter and track wild turkeys during the fall wild turkey season.
(2) Make use of a leashed blood-tracking dog to track a white-tailed deer or bear in an attempt to recover an animal which has been legally killed or wounded during any open season for white-tailed deer or bear." 

According to Andy there is a very good chance that both bills are going to pass. We are going to keep our fingers crossed that PA is going to turn green on this map:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Another deer recovered by Mossy Brooke (Viola von Moosbach-Zuzelek) from Georgia

Mossy's recovery #29 for the season took place on Sunday night, the last day of hunting. As it turned out it was not her last track of the season but we will have another post about that. A big thank you to Judy Catrett, Mossy's owner and handler from Georgia, who reported:  

The hunter had shot a doe quartering to him and had found blood and hair, 3 foot diameter area, at the site of the shot. The most hair I had ever seen at a shot site. Mossy tracked the blood trail easily into the woods and through a swamp for 200 yards with visible blood being seen by me as we tracked. She then tracked for another 600 yards, total of 800 yards, with me seeing no blood the last 600 yds. Craig was with us on this track, having stayed at the truck, so I called for him to pick us up and let Mossy start over. She again tracked 200 yards, but at this point went in a different direction than our initial track and within 100 yards, I began seeing blood again. She tracked for 300 more yards into a clear cut with thick briars.  

She jumped the deer which I could not see, but could hear. We then tracked very fast thru the briars which were chest high, with me seeing blood the entire time. I had shortened her leash to 6 feet so that she would be in no danger of again coming up on the deer without me seeing it and being hurt by the deer. Within 100 yards, the deer had bedded again and was unable to jump up and run. I was able to dispatch the deer with my pistol.  

This deer had sustained an open wound to the left side of its abdomen and had run 600 yards per GPS from the shot site with its stomach and intestines hanging out. I really had empathy for the suffering this deer had already endured and was so glad that Mossy had found it so that its misery could be shortened. Evidently, no major arteries had been hit and the deer could have lived for a while longer had we not found it. The deer had made several turns, so I am not sure how far she actually was able to run with this massive injury, probably 700-800 yards as GPS showed 600 yds straight line. Deer are very tough animals, being able to exert this type of energy with this injury.  

There were 5 other deer in the field when this deer was shot, and I assume that Mossy, in her haste to find the wounded deer, took the track of one of the other deer initially after 200 yards. I knew after 800 yards and no blood that we were probably on the wrong track, so we tried again and she straightened herself out. She is still very young in her tracking career, and things of this type are to be expected. She continues to excel in her tracking abilities.  

The picture is not pretty with all of the blood involved and Craig burst out laughing when he saw me in the picture. He said I honestly looked like I had been dragged through a swamp. Mossy was the only one who endured this track without any change of her looks. She is always rewarded with the tongue once she finds the deer. She swallowed this tongue whole, but is doing fine this morning. Could not believe that she just gulped it down as she normally chews them. She also supplied heart for supper for herself, Pache, Tiny Tink, and Buddy. Her sibs love having her around so that they can all feast on heart when she comes home from tracking--something they have come to expect when we get home from a track.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Finding wounded deer with tracking dachshund Mossy Brooke

Huge shout out to Judy Catrett from Georgia and her tracking partner Mossy Brooke (Viola von Moosbach-Zuzelek) on their 28th recovery of this tracking season. Mossy is going to be two years old in April, and she is a daughter of our Tommy (FC Tom von Linteler-Forst) and Tuesday (FC Tuesday von Moosbach-Zuzelek). Judy and Mossy recover deer faster than I am able to post about it.  Judy wrote:

What a day Mossy and I have had. We received a call last pm from a hunter who had shot a 6 pt. buck and asked if we could help him. As he was over an hour from us, and it was already dark, I told him that Mossy and I would meet him at daylight. Isaac had actually shot the buck at 4:30 PM yesterday and we arrived and started tracking at 8:00 AM.

When we arrived, Isaac was very helpful in showing us exactly the spot the buck was shot and Mossy was asked to find a dead deer and blood. She tracked without difficulty to the last place that Isaac had been able to find blood, approximately 50 yds from the site of the shot. She continued to trail in a light rain and around 500 yards later she ended up at the edge of the head of a pond. Mossy tried to swim into the pond, and at this area the pond was only 50 yards wide, but deep.

We made our way to a crossing that was not above our boots and I asked Mossy to try to find a dead deer and blood as we were then on the side the buck should have exited. She immediately went to the area she had tried to swim into from the opposite side. She again tried to swim into the pond. I did not let her do this on either side as it was cold and I did not want to take a swim this early in the morning. I told Isaac that Mossy was telling us that the buck was in the pond. We looked for any floating objects, but did not spot any.

I then asked Mossy to make a big circle of the area hoping she may pick up on a track of the buck exiting the pond. She made the circle and again led us to the exact spot on the edge of of the pond. Again, she wanted to take a swim. No, Mossy, I am too old for a swim at 8:00 AM in cold weather. I told Isaac that Mossy said the buck was in the pond--he agreed. I advised him to check the pond later for a floating deer. He had to leave to go home 6 hours away in just a couple of hours, so I suggested that he check with the landowner thinking that he would probably check the pond for Isaac.

As we were saying our goodbyes, Isaac asked if he could have his picture taken with Mossy to show his wife. Mossy, of course, obliged. Mossy and I had been gone appx. 5 minutes when Issac called. He had checked the opposite end of the pond near the dam and had seen an unusual object which on closer inspection turned out to be his buck. Mossy and I returned to celebrate with Isaac. I don't know who was happier--Mossy, Isaac, or myself. What an asset Mossy has been to my life and it continues to amaze me the new friendships created because of her. We left Eric skinning his deer with him assuring me the meat would not go to waste now--because of Mossy.

Jolanta, I have tried to let Mossy track every deer possible this year, easy or difficult. I had some concern that the easy tracks may make it more difficult for her to concentrate on a more difficult track. She answered my question today. She has such a desire to track that she has learned from every opportunity at tracking as have I. She and I definitely have the connection that Bear and I had. I do talk with Mossy while we are tracking--as I do when we are not tracking--the communication between us continues to broaden as Mossy's vocabulary increases. Don't think that we are quite at the Darren and Theo level, but we are making progress. If all of your pups are of Mossy's quality, you and John have reason to be proud.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Save on Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer and Dead On!

Until December 31, 2015 you can save 20% when you order these two books together. You can place your order here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Born-to-track Dachshunds Calendar for 2016

For the last few years I have been doing a calendar showing our dachshunds. It used to be printed through cafepress. I was happy with the quality but not happy with commission and all the agreements that one has to sign with the company So this year we are going with Last year I tried lulu and quality of colors was actually better. If you'd like order a calendar for yourself, you can place your order at These are the images in the calendar:

The cover shows Bernie, who is now 10 years old and still very much a puppy. He is a Big Uncle, always helps us raising pups as he is very good with them.

January features Luna (Luna du Domaine du Boise) who was born on April 13, 2014. She was bred by Benoit Blanchard and was sired by FC Sky von Moosbach-Zuzelek. When she was 13 months old we sold her as a tracking dog to Tom Rausch. Tom and Luna has been tracking a lot this season, and found a number of deer and bears.

The picture above was taken during the whelping of our "W" litter, which was born on March 9, 2015. It shows our Tuesday with her daughter Willette. Five puppies were born: Woody, Waldi, Willette, Wiki and Willow.

 This is Woody, who has turned out to be a talented versatile hunter.

Waldi reminded me of the sire of this litter, Kunox. He Lives in Michigan with Ashley Roseberry, DVM.

Wiki is a tracking dog in Michigan and she has already recovered a lot of deer this season with her handler Doug Brown.

The picture above shows Mielikki (FC Mielikki Raptor), who loves to dive and swim. Mielikki was bred this year to Dachs von Tierspur (a son of our Billy). She whelped 8 puppies (our "X" litter) on July 26. Because she needed a C-section, and it was her second litter born this way, we retired her from our breeding program.

Willette von Moosbach-Zuzelek is a tracking dog in Indiana.
Willow is staying with us, and now almost 8 months old, she looks very promising. In fact she might be one of the best dogs we have ever bred.

FC Keena von Moosbach-Zuzelek is 10.5 years old and she is still tracking with our friend Dan Hardin.

These are X-puppies. The picture shows 6 of them, but actually there were 8: Xander, Xenos, Xakary, Ximo, Xavier, Xoe, Xola and Xena. Xena is staying with us.

In November Mielikki went to her new home in Maine. This is a picture I took of her while I was there. This was a very tough decision as we both were very much attached to her. This is the dog with a big personality! But she is four years old and will be able to adjust to a new life - plenty of undivided attention and love, and companionship of Bazel, a five-year-old son of Buster and Quilla.

Tommy is 7.5 years old and is now in his prime. It is pleasure to watch him track.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A busy Thanksgiving weekend of deer tracking for Judy and and her dachshund Mossy Brooke

Mossy has had a busy week again this past week.  The only problem has been that most of our tracks have ended up with no dead deer being recovered, much to Mossy's disappointment.  The majority of these have been after a front leg shot, having found bone consistent with an upper long bone of the leg at the sight of the shot.  The areas these deer were shot were so thick that Mossy on leash dragging me could not move fast enough to catch the deer. And, at this point in Mossy's career, running off leash is just not yet an option.  We are getting closer to that point, but this will probably take a few more seasons of tracking. She is too vulnerable at this age to the dangers she has no idea exist, and she can move too fast.  When I was tracking off leash with Bear, he could make a deer with a leg wound move fast enough that it would usually bed down or stop and stand to defend himself once Bear had run it a mile or more, giving me time to get to them and dispatch the deer. Same scenario on a couple of occasions last year when Mossy ran off leash. As she became older and more sure of herself, she would venture further away and I am now concerned about her safety--highways, coyotes, wild dogs, snakes, etc--so on leash she will be for a while longer.

This young man, Jason had been deer hunting on several occasions, but had never had the opportunity to shoot a deer.  I have a stand that I take kids and have had a camera on it, but deer were coming by only during the night with an occasional doe during the day.  I explained to Jason that we could go and if we were lucky, we might see a deer. And, so we did.  After being in the stand for an hour with Jason sitting perfectly still and quiet, this 8 point walked out.  On the way to the stand, I had gone over the things we should and should not do to keep from spooking the deer.  His actions in the stand were those of a young man who had listened to everything we discussed and then followed through with them. I was very impressed.  When the deer was broadside, Jason took the shot. The deer hunched as if it had been hit.  When we walked to the site of the shot, my heart dropped when I saw bone--thinking--oh NO, another leg wound.  On closer inspection, the bone did not resemble a long bone.  So, I called Craig to bring Mossy as we could find no blood or the deer.  Mossy to the rescue.  She immediately picked up the trail--going in a direction in the woods I knew the deer did not go--but I allowed her to continue to track.  Glad I did because she had found Jason's deer very shortly. The deer was hit low in the brisket, but caused enough damage for the shot to be fatal. 

So, Mossy's and my Thanksgiving weekend turned out perfect.  A young man with his first deer and Mossy finally finding her reward at the end of the track. Life does not get any better for a WHD than this.  She guarded this deer with her entire body, but allowed Jason to act like his was his for a few minutes. 

Mossy Brooke received another call this AM.  The hunter had shot the deer 3 hours previous, had found blood for 50 yards and then had lost the trail of blood.  He and his buddy had walked in the woods for 2 hours searching for the deer.  They then ran into another hunter up town who told them about Mossy. We arrived and after talking with the hunter found that the deer was quartering toward the hunter who had made an app. 150 yd shot with the deer going down on his front legs, then jumping up, crossing a fence, and running off. The hunter had gone down to the site the deer was standing when he shot and found blood.  He heard a crash about 75 yds to his left and assumed this was the deer.  

Mossy started on the blood trail, went directly uphill and then to the right. The hunter advised me the deer did not go that way--he heard him crash to his left.   "When will she ever learn?"--were Mossy's thoughts at this point I am sure as I pulled her off the track and took her back to the area of the crashing noise. She appeased me for a few minutes and then we were off on Mossy's track again. 

Within 100 yards, I began seeing large pools of gut shot blood, then thru a thicket losing my glasses, and across the creek.  Now, Mossy is pulling hard, I have lost my glasses and cannot see very well, and the hunter has gotten behind. I am calling him to catch up so he can be my eyes and shortly Mossy is standing over the dead deer.  Thank goodness the deer was dead as without glasses I did not see the deer until she was touching it. Three blows from the whistle and the hunter comes running to us. Mossy is awesome, awesome, awesome. And, I have learned that along with extra batteries, flashlites, etc., I will have an extra pair of glasses.  Another awesome morning with my little Mossy Brooke.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Shot analysis by Bob Yax on the two deer recovered by his tracking dog Thor

These two bucks were recovered last weekend by Bob Yax and his tracking dachshund Thor. 

The Pittsford buck was hit low in the chest with a bow on Sunday morning. See entrance photo attached.   Also, check out the kid wearing shorts while he was tracking with us! Ouch!   We  jumped this liver hit buck twice, 6.5-7 hrs after the hit.  In its 3rd bed, the kid was able to put another arrow into it.  We found a 1 inch deep slice thru the edge of the liver when he gutted it. That was a long survival for a liver hit!

We jumped the Honeoye buck 17 hrs after the 7 mm hit,  from its 1st bed, about 700 yds from the hit site.   Up till then we had only found a few spots of blood to confirm Thor was on the bucks trail.  At times, I was really wondering since Thor took us close to 2 houses and across at least 200 yds of cut lawn and a main road with no blood.  After jumping up from a very bloody bed, the buck ended up  (luckily!) in a deep ravine 100 yds further up the trail.  The hunter was able to shoot  it a 2nd time from about 40 yds as it tried climbing  up the far side of the steep ravine.   The 7 mm hit was really low in the front of the chest and hit the top of both front legs – see entrance and exit photos attached.  The buck was quartering to him a little.   Not really sure what vitals he hit (maybe low lungs?) but I know he missed the heart entirely, since after close examination, it’s now in my fridge.  I’m going to check out the rib cage after the guy finishes butchering it to see if the bullet did make it inside the chest cavity. 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mossy Brooke finds a doe completely covered with pine needles and leaves by a bobcat

On Sunday we received this tracking report with some pictures from Judy Catrett. Judy is tracking with Mossy Brooke, an 19-month-old daughter of Tommy and Tuesday.

Mossy Brooke has been very busy these past several days. She has made several recoveries and we have not been able to catch up with several wounded deer. We have had two leg wounds, with bone fragment at the site of the shot.  We were not able to catch up with either buck even though she tracked with all of her might. The blood trail finally ran out on both, and after 1/2 mile with no blood and briars so thick, I could take no more, I stopped Mossy.  

Unsure as to whether I made the right decision, I came home, picked up John's book, Tracking Dogs For Finding Wounded Deer, and read the chapter on leg wounds. I often refer to his book when Mossy and I have failed to recover the deer, and usually I am reminded of things I could have done better. I am convinced that it is at times impossible to catch a 3-legged deer.  

We have had one buck shot high in the upper, anterior aspect of chest with an arrow.  Basically, same story as above. Tracked blood for 1/2 mile and then another 1/2 mile with no blood thru briars so thick Mossy had difficulty getting thru. She finally asked me on this track if I would carry her. This let me know that she had not had scent of blood in a while.  So, she definitely was ready for a reward at the end of her tracking.  No big bucks, but to Mossy a dead deer is a dead deer.

She has found 3 does this weekend. Fairly good blood trail on all 3 and better than anything for her, a dead deer at the end of the trail.  One of the does had been dead for only 1 1/2 hours when Mossy found it. It had been covered completely with pine straw and leaves as I have seen Mountain Lions out west do.  We left part of the deer and put up cameras---this was done by a large bobcat, not a Mt. Lion, much to my relief.  Mt. Lions in this area have not been documented.  

Mossy is one happy and tired tracker today--she is napping in hopes of being able to track again later today.   WHDs--Trackers, they are.

The last deer recovery for the old tracking dachshund, Ari von Moosbach-Zuzelek

This is a bittersweet story submitted by Walt Dixon of Ari's latest and most likely last recovery. Ari was born on March 11, 2003, and she is an older sister of our Billy. Her heart disease has been getting worse recently. 

I wanted to share this with you. Old Walt (with my back problems) and old Ari (with her heart problems) found this big buck for a bow hunter this morning. Although the gun season is open, they only bow hunt on this private property. The buck was hit at 3 PM yesterday, while I was at the Vets with both my dogs. Ari was being analyzed and now treated for a UTI in addition to adding Vetmedin to her other heart meds. Dachs was only in for a regular checkup. After the Vet listened to Ari’s heart she said she would not take her tracking any longer. 

Friends called me after dark to ask if I would bring the dog to try to track their deer if needed and since both dogs received shots and meds I said no, not until this morning. The hunter and friends tracked this deer until 9 PM with flashlights, before giving up, and it never laid down in about 500 yards. They marked their last blood and called me about 9:30 PM to ask if I would track in the morning.

This morning, after calling the hunter’s info into DEC law enforcement, I thought about which dog to take. We needed to move slowly and carefully in this bow only area, so as not to chase deer out to where the gun hunters sit. After some soul searching I decided to take Ari. When we got to the hunter’s last blood she immediately got a little too excited and began panting like she was not getting enough oxygen so I sat down with her and calmed her down. Once calm, the old girl started tracking and never wavered over 150 yard trail through tall swale grass and into a thorn apple thicket to recover this 130”+ buck! She was visibly possessive and proud of herself! The coyotes had eaten the entire deer, but the hunter was extremely happy to know this buck was not still wounded and on the loose.

So, all’s well that ends well. I really felt that if she went slowly she’d be okay, but also that if she passed away with a heart attack on this track she would die a happy and honorable death doing what she was bred to do. She’s a happy girl resting downstairs right now. The Vet felt Ari’s health could worsen any time. This is likely Ari’s last recovery. As you know, it’s sad to think of her aging. She and I have traveled many miles and recovered many deer over her lifetime. Her old eyes look up at me wondering where we’re going on our next adventure. The love and companionship a tracker and dog share is special! We’ll keep her as healthy and comfortable as we can as  she approaches her 13th birthday and beyond, Lord willing. I thought you’d like to hear this story and see a picture of Ari!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Darren Doran and his tracking dachshund Theo recover a deer 55 hours after the shot

By Darren Doran

A local hunter that I know called me Monday morning of November 16 after he had shot a good buck. He thought he had hit forward, and after the shot he just snuck out of the woods. He was going back after lunch to look for sign. I told him I would hold a spot for him in case he needed Theo.

He called me back and said that he tracked to a bed about 50 yds from the hit site and then he found another bed very close. The blood was wet in the second bed, and he thought he might have bumped the deer. He backed out. We discussed the hit and our options and decided that the hunter would look again the next morning and give the deer more time.

In a lot of places in New Jersey the properties are very small. A pushed deer, especially a mature buck, can cross many properties, all of which we need permission to enter before we can track. I always tell a hunter to give the deer time as if he’s dead he’ll be right there. If he’s pushed too soon and knows he’s 
being tracked by a man, the recovery can get very difficult.

The hunter called at noon on Tuesday and said he had advanced the line to another bed but thought the deer might have crossed the railroad tracks to another property. He marked his last blood and gained permission to enter the property just in case. I got there at 3:30 pm, 32 hours after the hit.

We went to the hit site and I looked at the arrow. There was white hair at the hit. The hunter described a hit forward with what looked like a long gash on his side. The shot was 32 yds from a stand about 22 feet high.

I started Theo and he circled the hit, took the trail the buck came in on, then turned around, tracked through he hit site and took the buck’s line. We tracked to the first bed and on through to the second and continued on. Theo was tracking with the intensity that usually accompanies a recovery, and he was extremely focused. The hunter pointed to his last blood as Theo tracked about 20 yds to the left and straight past it. Theo continued on and I marked another drop of blood and soon we were at the railroad tracks and on across. We tracked to a sandy deadfall, and Theo located 3 more beds. The hunter had never tracked to this point and had no idea the deer had gone this way. Theo then worked the line back to the tracks and across once again and back into the woods we just left. Theo tracked to the hunter’s last blood mark and past. It became evident that the hunter during his searching had found this blood by accident and cut of about 200 yds of the track.

We continued on paralleling the railroad and crossed a water filled ditch into some briars and swampy brush. Theo marked another bed with dried blood and then started out of the briars back to the tracks and across once more. We already had permission to enter so we just kept tracking. In a short while I heard a deer get up in front of us. I hadn’t seen any blood since the last bed and this was a typical deer bedding area. I wanted to make sure we were tracking the right deer and was holding Theo back and telling him EASY. He was barking and I had him close. All of a sudden the hunter says “I have blood”. I asked him to bring it to me and sure enough it was blood. I moved forward with Theo and soon we were on the deer’s bed. Theo was hot now and the deer started to bleed again. I also noticed a strong smell of rotten gut. The hunter could also smell this. We tracked about 300 more yds and started to lose the light. We decided to come back next day and restart the track. I marked the GPS and flagged the spot.

We started Wednesday afternoon about 3 pm and picked up where we left off. Theo started right away and we had gone about 100 yds when we ran into a large flock of about 25 turkeys. Theo jumped up on a log and looked at the birds flapping and yelping in front of us. I told him in a stern voice to “get back on the line and find the blood”. Immediately he forgot about the birds and resumed tracking. We had gone about another 100 yds right through the turkey distraction and started to turn to the left. I was familiar with this property and knew the deer was going to turn to get around the corner of a deer fence that went around a large nursery. We came to the corner of the fence and there was a T shaped water filled ditch that followed the corner and went out into the woods. Right at this spot the deer stopped for a while and there was a hand sized amount of blood. The deer has never lain back down since we jumped him yesterday.

Theo worked this check for a good while. He checked the banks of the ditch on our side. He went across and checked the other side. He came back to the blood a few times. Eventually he took a line into the woods away from the fence and in about 20 yds we found the deer next to a log.

This deer was finally recovered about 55 hours after it got shot, and would have never been found without a dog team. The arrow actually hit low on the left side just above the sternum. The arrow somehow bruised the left lung but never cut it. It went between the sections of liver and out the gut. That counts for the strong rotten smell we had when we put him up the day before.

Theo is now 3 and a half and is maturing into a very honest and efficient tracking dog. I love handling this dog and watching him work. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

When you track wounded deer with a dog in snake country: safety tips

By Jerry Gregston

Recently there was a question posted on the United Blood Trackers Facebook Group from a prospective buyer of a dachshund puppy. He is located in nothern Texas and was concerned about getting a small sized dog because of possibility of running into a snake.

Jerry Gregston from SW Oklahoma wrote this article to address questions that had been raised raised. Thank you Jerry!

First of all, the disclaimer. I am neither a veterinarian nor a herpetologist, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night! I am just a guy who dearly loves his tracking dog. A snake bite is something that could happen where we track, and I didn't want to get caught off guard. So, I did something anyone could do, I began to research, ask for info, and quiz those in the know. Any information contrary to or in addition to the following, I would very much like to hear, as this is again just a layman's perspective.

In our area (SW Oklahoma) poisonous snakes come in the form of rattlers (Western Diamondback), water moccasins, copperheads and coral snakes, and unless you are very lucky, these, plus or minus a few indigenous to your particular area, can cause a big time bump in the road that leads from the hit site to that prized animal the dog/handler team is trying to find. There are several weapons in the anti-snakebite arsenal. I will touch on some, and ultimately each handler will need to pick and choose what seems most reasonable and affordable for their needs.

Snake Clinic/ Avoidance Training: This is a training that actually can stop a bite before it happens. No treatment can compare with not being bitten in the first place. The use of a shock collar when the dog approaches a de-fanged poisonous snake leaves a lasting impression. Finding a clinic in your area can be a problem, and it can be a little tough for the handler to watch, but this is a "tough love" decision that has to be considered.

Anti-Venom Injection: This is given to the dog in the event of a bite (usually when arriving at the vet), and in actuality, the dog will likely get several of these injections depending on the severity of the bite. The downside here is, yes, you can carry it with you to administer immediately, but the drug is expensive and short lived (it will be out of date by next season). Note: if purchased online be careful of expiration dates and on dosage as there are different strengths and dosage is dictated by the size of the dog.

Snake Vaccine: There is available now, a snakebite vaccine. This vaccine does not prevent problems from a bite, but makes symptoms less severe.  Although vet opinions here varied, it was described to me as being as if the dog has had one injection of anti-venom when the bite occurs. Obviously that would be a worthwhile thing and would buy some time as you headed for the nearest vet. There are several drawbacks to the vaccine. It's expensive and not permanent (boosters are necessary). It is snake specific. Right now the vaccine is aimed at the Western Diamondback, so it does not protect against all poisonous snakes.

Kevlar Vests: I researched and purchased a Kevlar vest which is used mostly to protect terriers from hog cuts. It fit my Cletus (wirehaired dachshund) fairly well, and it covers the chest and most of the body. Most bites seem to occur on the face and legs, and  while these bites look almost instantly terrible, the consensus of opinion is these are bites a dog can get over, but a bite to the chest or body is much more serious/deadly (there is good info on dog size related to use in snake country in John's book). I was assured that it would stop a snake bite or an errant antler although to date we have experienced neither. We used the vest in place of the harness (has a large D ring in middle of back) in the warm months when snakes were more active. Downside here is that while it is adjustable, it seemed a little cumbersome or restrictive for Cletus and it was hot to wear in the already hot weather.

Snake Bite Protocol for Dogs: OK, we're tracking down that buck of a lifetime and the dog gets what? Consensus is stop tracking and give the dog 25mg of benadryl and 5mg of prednisone (20 lb dosage, and the anti-venom if you are carrying it) and get to the vet ASAP. Carry the dog if possible and keep him as calm as possible. Note: a great thing to know ahead of time when you are out of your neck of the woods is the nearest available vet.

Snake Bite Protocol for Handlers: OK, we're tracking down that buck of a lifetime, the dog just makes the snake mad as he goes by and the snake takes it out on the handler (or hunter) what? Try to remain calm and remove any jewelry or tight clothing. Position the bite below heart level as much as possible. Do NOT cut or flush the wound and do NOT use a tourniquet or ice. A photo or detailed description of the snake is very helpful, but don't try to catch it. And, no, do Not take your dog's benadryl and prednisone! Now get to an ER ASAP! You know where the nearest ER is.....right?

Decide what meets your needs according to the level of threat where you will be tracking and what your budget will allow. Make yourself be prepared for something you hope never happens.