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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.

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.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

When you can't find the deer you have shot, a trained tracking dog can help!

So February and March have gone by without a single post. There have been a number of reasons for my absence, most out of my control, but let's not dwell on the whole thing. It's always hard to resume posting after a long break so I'll start with something simple, like why, even in the states where tracking dogs are legal and quite popular, a lot of hunters don't use them.

I know that in Michigan there are a lot tracking dogs. Yet, today I came across the article that troubled me a great deal and made my blood boil: A Hunter's Hard Choice to Follow a Blood Trail, or to Wait, and the Consequences by Tony Hansen. You can read it HERE. Don't miss the comments. 

It looks like the author has no idea that a tracking dog could be of great help in his situation. And neither people who made comments. Tracking dogs are especially useful in situations when a deer does not leave much blood sign. They are trained to track an individual, specific deer, even if there is very little blood or none at all.

To locate a tracking dog handler Tony Hansen could have gone to the United Blood Trackers website and click on the "Find-a-Tracker" link and then a map of Michigan. The link is:

During the hunting season of 2015/16, members of the United Blood Trackers found 1000 whitetail deer, 15 mule deer, 11 bear, 4 hogs, 1 moose, 1 elk, 1 auodad sheep & 1 turkey.  

When you can't find the deer you have shot, a trained tracking dog can help! It's the only right and responsible thing to do.

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.