Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The picture above shows the first recovery for a new handler Darin Katta.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This past bow season I took a shot at a fairly nice buck. The deer went on a death run and crashed in to the thickets. After a brief wait, I got down off my tree to check out my shot. I started to track and backtrack using the overturned leaves and kicked up mud. I found the back 1/2 of my arrow at the initial hit site with n0 blood or hair on it. I finally picked up a few drops of blood about 40 yds from the hit. I started marking his trail with tape and found he came out of the thickets and started up and across an open grass and weed field for 300 yds and back into another thicket 50yds wide before he went into a steep grown up type gully. Still following very sparsely spaced blood droplets, I started down the other side when I seen what must have been him crest the far side and the last I seen him was going across the outfield of a ball field. He was exhibiting a slight limp at 200 yds away. I walked back to my truck about 800 yds and circled around to another road that took me to the ball field. I walked and searched for and tracks or signed of blood from where he was the last time I seen him. There were tons of deer tracks in the area and I could not pick out the ones that might have been his nor could I find and more blood. I followed clear as well as obscured deer trails for several hundred yds each without finding him or any additional sign of him. I have killed over 30 archery buck over the years and very reluctantly chalked this one off as making a high shoulder shot and quit my search hoping and praying that my buck survived my hit.
Finally, my question is: Would this incident have been a candidate for your team to be called to help in the search?
We have learned though many years of experience that high shoulder shots seldom create a situation where we can catch up to a deer. They just keep going and most of them certainly survive. If I had known all the details that you describe in your e-mail, I don’t think that I would have taken the call since their was little likelihood that I would have accomplished anything.
I am forwarding your letter to Kevin Armstrong, an experienced tracker. He may want to offer you his viewpoint. In any case he is a good man to know, if you ever have problems with another wounded deer.
I concur with John. Your description has all the hallmarks of a shoulder hit. Had we talked on the phone and you described the same things you mention in your email I probably would have asked you a number of questions, the most important questions being; Did you see any air bubbles or froth in the blood? And did the deer take a bed(s) in the first 2 or 3 hundred yards? If the answer to either of these questions was YES (but I'll bet your answer is NO) I might have considered taking the call. If you had answered NO I would have declined the call considering it a shoulder hit and an unrecoverable deer.
If you ever require the service of Deer Search our central dispatch number is 585-395-5220. You can leave a detailed message at that number and the first available tracker will respond to your call.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thanks for writing a wonderful book. It not only helps train the dog but also the trainer. I have recommended it to everyone I know. Attached are some success pictures from last years tracking. Dixie (pure bred Catahoula) was only 1 year old then and you can see how much the hunters in the area appreciate her. We went 4 for 5 last year. Not bad for a pup.
Friday, December 26, 2008
He can only handle out 20 minutes, and then he gets tired.
He has been a lot of fun and we are really enjoying him. The weather has been really cold and we got alot of snow here in the UP of MI. He's doing great on overnight blood work and is a little retrieving fool. Ran a couple lines with him; he seems to do well considering he went from NC weather to 3ft of snow and 10 deg temps. I will keep you posted as soon as the weather warms up and we get out a little more. He seems to handle the cold well. He loves going out and playing with my lab in the snow which is great cause he'll get lots of cold weather work up year. Hope his retrieving keeps up; we might try him on duck hunitng with the labs next fall.
For more information on Sian Kwa's dachshunds and available puppies, see http://www.nchuntandfish.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10294
Monday, December 22, 2008
Full Cry March 2005
Personal decisions about the best size for a tracking dog are in good part a matter of personal taste. Many of us grow up, I think, as either big dog or little dog folks. Much of this is a product of what we became accustomed to at an early, impressionable age. A handler, who grew up with 80 pound blueticks, would most likely feel ridiculous if he set out to find a wounded deer with a 20 pound dachshund at the end of his tracking leash. He would feel the same way, if he took a .410 duck hunting.
Your personal taste in hunting dogs will be subjective, but this doesn’t mean that you should try to shrug it off as unimportant. One of the fundamentals of tracking is that you must trust your dog and be in tune with him. For a new tracking dog handler this is easier said than done, but it really does help if the size of the dog fits in with your own unconscious feelings of what a serious dog should look like.
Charlette Curtis, a member of Deer Search, has recovered many deer with her mini longhaired dachshund.
Looking beyond these matters of personal taste, there is much that can be said about the concrete and practical advantages of different sized tracking dogs. Maybe you shared my good fortune of living a mixed-up childhood; I hunted woodchucks and squirrels with terriers or feists, and coons with Redbones and farm collie types. A background like this puts you in a position to make more objective decisions about the best-sized breed of tracking dog for you own needs.
The wounded game tracking regulations in your own state will be a major factor in the decisions that you make about appropriate size. In the “new” tracking states of the northeast and mid-west, the laws and regulations legalizing the use of dogs to find wounded big game specify that the dog must be kept on a tracking leash at all times. In the states with “older” tracking traditions, dogs are generally allowed to work off lead.
If you are required to keep your tracking dog on a leash at all times, there is no special advantage in having a big dog. You don’t need 80 pounds of muscle and bone helping you over barbed wires fences and through multiflora rose faster than you want to go. You can’t travel in the woods at more than a fast walk or a jog, and for this a 20 pound dachshund or Jagdterrier has all the strength, desire and stamina necessary to follow that wounded deer for four miles or more. A leg-hit deer, with the leg broken and swinging, will often go that far before you walk it down and bleed it out. (Better this than letting deep snow and the coyotes do the job later.)
In leashed tracking dog states, there is one situation that can tip the balance in favor or the larger, longer legged dog. In extensive swamps and freezing, or near freezing temperatures, a Lab-sized dog, with its greater body mass and longer legs, will hold up better. The little dog may be able to swim and take scent off the swamp vegetation as you wade behind, but it’s a tough proposition if you have to go more than a hundred yards or so. I spent thirty years in a nearby county that has lots of swamps and beaver ponds. In these situations I would wade the water and work the wind with my southern black mouth cur. Such conditions would have been very tough for my 20 pound wirehaired dachshunds.
When we get into the South and Texas, regulations usually permit use of a tracking dog off lead. (These state-by-state regulations are too complex and variable to summarize in this article.) In these states the vastly superior bay power and pull down power of a big, Lab-sized dog can really make a difference. Typically a buck with a smashed shoulder will be bayed by a big dog within 200 or 300 yards from where he is jumped. The northern tracker will have to follow a deer hit in the same way for a least a mile to catch up to the deer. And for the northerner this job of walking him down will be done more easily with a smaller dog.
There are many sides of the big dog, small dog discussion; snakes are a big factor too. For a southern hunter the word “snakes” refers to the poisonous ones, which are the only ones that he has to worry about. Such snakes are bad news for a little dog, which is likely to die if struck in the neck or shoulder. A bite on the leg is more likely for a big dog; this will put him out of commission for a while, but it won’t be life threatening unless a coral snake was involved. Down South snakes are not a big threat in the winter months, but bow seasons for deer usually start in warm weather when snakes are active.
We came across this rattler snake in the woods at the NATC blood tracking workshop in Reading, PA.
In the North we have very few poisonous snakes. For example in my state of New York, the timber rattler is officially considered an endangered species, and you will pay a big fine if you brag to the conservation officer about how you killed one. Up North little dogs are pretty safe from big, bad snakes.
Transportation considerations must also be considered when decisions are made about the appropriately sized dog for a given situation. If you can drive to your hunting area in your pick-up, then any size is good. However, if access to the hunting sites is restricted to ATVs, which can negotiate rough, narrow trails, then the smaller tracking dogs have their special merits.
Our wirehaired dachshund Billy loves ATVs. Here John and Billy are being transported to a hit site on one of the deer calls in 2006.
I have found that our wirehaired dachshunds love to travel for miles on the ATV gas tank in front of me. No matter how rough the ride they seem totally at ease and are ready to start tracking once at their destination. Most of the time I keep one hand on the dog’s collar, and it is a good idea to have a small, rough-textured mat beneath the dog to assure a good surface for his claws to hang on to.
There is a good chance that leashed tracking dogs are going to be legalized in some of the Rocky Mountain states where a lot a Federal Land is used by outfitters for elk hunting. Sometimes there is no access for motor vehicles into these areas. How could you get a tracking dog back into that big country if you needed one?
I’ve discovered that our laid-back wirehaired dachshunds are about as comfortable on a horse as on a four-wheeler. I did some experimenting with my son’s horses, and these self-assured German dachshunds were very much at ease in that new situation. It didn’t seem to matter to them whether they were riding a horse or a four wheeler. The next step will be to get a packsaddle, with panniers or a pack, to see if a harnessed dog will ride alone on top for a few miles. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
Getting a large dog to trot along with a pack train headed into elk country would require the right temperament and quite a bit of training. Probably a Lab would be better suited than a hound. Labs would better resist the temptation to take off after game on the ride into the hunting area than would the typical hound.
Among the tracking dogs being used in the United States, I would view the dachshunds, beagles and Jagdterriers as the most promising of the small dogs at the present time. All have their stronger and weaker points.
In the mid-range category I would place the Bavarian Mountain hounds, the Blue Lacy dogs and the smaller Labs.
In the heavy weight division I would include the large Labs, Catahoulas, black mouth curs and other cattle dogs, the German versatile pointing breeds like Drahthaars, and finally coonhound breeds of the “pleasure”, rather than the “competition” type. Good prospects are to be found in other breeds not named here.
Catahoula Indy belongs to John and Elly Hoinowski.
If you want to get into tracking dogs, you have plenty of choices. There is no “best” for everyone. Select what suits your needs and what you are comfortable with.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It was great to hear from Susan L. from Chicago who owns Hobbit v Moosbach-Zuzelek. Hobbit is six years old now and he is out of our Alfi and FC Gela von Rauhenstein.
Hobbit with Santa
Hobbit has a short coat and his color is chocolate wild boar. Both traits are recessive and Hobbit's parents, Alfi and Gela, carry them. So even though they are wild boar wires, they produced some pups with chocolate boar coats and some pups with short hair.
This is how Hobbit looked like when he was eight weeks old.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It was nice to receive the below message from Mike Martien from Louisiana. Mike is tracking with Waldo, a dachshund bred by Laurel Whistance-Smith from Ontario, Canada. Waldo's sire is our FC Asko von der Drachenburg and his dam is FC Lutra von Löwenherz.
Greetings from North Louisiana! I hope all is well with ya’ll and the ice storm hasn’t taken too much of a toll on you! We have been thinking about ya’ll and hope this message finds all well. I realize your internet connection and electricity is probably on the blink (at best), but wanted to send ya’ll a message and update on my wonderful Waldo.
I have had numerous dogs in my life, but none of them have ever had the impact on me that Waldo does. I am so grateful for the help that each of you did in getting me, Laurel, and Waldo together! This year has been kind of slow and it seems that the only calls I have received have been some of the toughest jobs that Waldo and I have gone on. Simply put, Waldo is a tracking machine! I’m including two pictures of Waldo with a small buck that was shot a little over a week ago and no doubt this deer wouldn’t have been found with out Waldo (the pics were taken with my cell phone at the find and aren’t very high quality). The deer was shot quartering away and had terrible shot placement. The bullet entered approximately 2 inches below the deer’s anus and you can see in the picture where the exit was. The hunter had blood for about 80 yards into a pine thicket and then there was no sign of tracks or blood in the pine straw. I wasn’t able to get there quickly and it was 18 hours after the shot when I was able to put Waldo on him (the temp was in the 30’s). Waldo covered trail straight on through the last blood sight and continued on for another 200 yds or so. I had been watching the ground, weeds, and trees the whole time and couldn’t detect the slightest sign of a deer coming through that area. Fortunately, I kept the faith in Waldo (as he has made a fool of me and proved that he knows more about deer tracking than I do numerous times) and just kept a tight hold on the lead and followed him another 200+ yards to the deer. This deer went close to 500 yards (with apparently numerous turns according to Waldo) and didn’t disturb anything or leave a single spec of blood for the last 400 yards on its trail. Given the time between shot and tracking and the numerous mud holes the deer went through, we all were absolutely amazed with his ability. He has proven us “expert” deer hunters and trackers wrong once again… WALDO is the expert. I’m just the loving owner who enjoys holding on to his lead and following him through the woods…
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Luckily we have a generator, which now is being put to a good use. Our coal stove and water pump are hooked to it, as well as a microwave oven and toaster. So we are warm, running water is on and we can cook some simple meals. To get gas for the generator we have to travel 25 minutes to Schoharie as everything around us is shut down. I don't know when we will have our power restored - it might be a matter of several days. Cable (tv and the Internet) came back on a couple of hours ago.
Today (Saturday) the sun finally came out and the scenery was breath taking. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Below is a wirehaired dachshund Dita, an Alfi/Elli daughter, with a piebald deer she tracked.
And this is Pepper Berger Von Arno Yergz who is expecting puppies any day now.
The picture below shows Desna (Blue Hill Ashley), a Billy daughter, owned by Amanda. According to Amanada "desna has done amazing this year. She's tracked 5 deer and done great. My husband and my cousin were hunting together and my cousin Mat shot a deer right before dusk; he shot it in the hind quarters with a bow. He was having trouble finding blood. My husband called me to bring Desna up to where they were. We got there and started her on the line, she was following it strongly with me and Mat in tow, now finding the blood that Desna was following. She stopped and locked up, and started to act strange. She had come upon the deer still alive, and they could not get a clear shot at it to put it down. The deer continued for about another 1/2 mile (this being after we had already gone about 1/4 mile tracking the deer) finally they came on it and had a clear shot to put the deer down. But she did so great.
With her training, she seems to know the difference between the "training lines" vs. "real lines". She doesn't work as hard on the training lines and isn't as excited as when I tell her we are going to find a real deer.
I have been helping a new Deer Search member from Yorktown Heights, NY, become certified. His name is Marc Niad; and this was his third call with me. It was also his first find handling my dog Lisa. On our first call, his jagdterrier, 1 1/2 yr. old Dakota, was lead dog on a 22 hr. old track. He did an impressive job recovering a buck hit through both front legs that we tracked for a mile and found still still alive (he was dispatched). This 8pt. buck was also still alive after 27 hours, shot through both back legs. We have plans in place to track on Long Island this weekend.
Pete Martin with Lisa, a hunter, and Mark Niad with Dakota
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Full Cry, December 2008
What’s your success rate? This question is so simple… and so complicated. I hear it a lot, and I know that the people who ask expect to hear a high figure like 90%. Some tracking dog/handler teams, in some parts of the country, may get close to this figure, but usually the percentage will be far lower. Let me explain.
If I really wanted to impress the Guinness Record Book folks, I would move to a part of Texas west of the Piney Woods, to a county where it is legal to use up to two dogs, off lead, to track, locate and possibly bay up the wounded deer. I would want a big dog, like those used by Roy Hindes in South Texas, who can stop and bay a deer, even if it has a potential for many miles of travel. Some of these bayed, wounded deer might otherwise survive, but the management objective is to satisfy the hunter and keep alive only the healthiest deer.
By contrast in the North most state regulations require that the tracking dog be worked on a long leash at all times. The majority of northern deer hunters clearly want it this way. And because of small properties, numerous highways, and big, dog-hungry coyotes, I personally wouldn’t want to do it any other way.
Getting back to Texas, most of it is dry country with tough tracking conditions. To avoid messing up the dogs, and to avoid pushing the wounded deer too far, hunters are discouraged from trying to eye-track on their own. “Easy deer” that might be found by the hunter, according to the “do it yourself tradition” of the North, end up being found by the dog in the Texas. This makes for better success ratios. This difference is a factor in many of the Gulf states as well.
It’s pointless to argue that the Texas dogs, for example, are better than the northern dogs because the Texas numbers are better. Traditions and conditions are very different around our country. To each his own.
Both North and South, recovery percentages can be manipulated to improve recovery rates. Every handler has to turn down a few deer calls because it’s extremely unlikely that the deer is seriously injured. For example I had a hunter call me because “his” buck snorted after the shot. Another showed me the white tail that he had shot off.
The magic of the dog only goes so far! Personally, I turn down the high back hit cases in which the deer went down instantly, and then, while the hunter was congratulating himself, took off. “He couldn’t have gone far. I hit him hard!”
But in between the low percentage calls and the dead certain calls there’s a broad range of requests that you just can’t be sure about. The wind was blowing so hard that the hunter couldn’t find any hair, white or brown, at the hit site. It could be purely a muscle shot, non-fatal, or a stomach shot certain to kill the deer. The handler, himself, might be able to evaluate the hit in the first 200 yards, but he has to make his decision to take the call on what the hunter tells him over the phone.
It rarely does happen that a deer shot far back in the large bowel is both mortally wounded and unobtainable. The handler can follow it with his leashed tracking dog, but it will not die for days. A jaw-shot deer is in a similar situation. Then he will wish he were in Texas or one of the Gulf states where the dog could be released.
In any case the tracking dog that follows the line perfectly, but fails to find the unfindable deer, is not a failure. This dog did his job, yet the handler can’t claim a find. His recovery rate/success rate actually goes down a few percentage points. Still the experienced handler, with his professional attitude, believes that his dog was a success.
How does the hunter feel about it? After 890 deer calls, I find that the hunter feels much better for knowing what happened, even if he did not tag that deer. Of course he wanted the trophy and venison, but knowing that the deer did not die a lingering death and then feed the coyotes is the next best thing.
For the large landowner managing his property for quality deer, it is also important to know what happened. What was the real deer harvest on his acreage as opposed to the guesstimates of his hunters? What actually happened to the quality bucks? Will they be available for future seasons as breeders and trophies?
I was never very good at numbers. I can add and subtract all right, but I would prefer to avoid the higher math of calculating success rate percentages. The important thing is tracking and finding as many deer as you can!
Monday, December 8, 2008
Numbered #2 of 5 special edition custom hunting knife lost in a 300 acre thicket in Yates County; $110.00
350 minutes of cell phone overage charges, from talking to hunters with lost deer, at $.50 per minute; $175.00
Recovering eight beautiful whitetail deer that would have been lost and wasted if not for my effort; Priceless!
Kevin & Karma
Friday, December 5, 2008
Even though tracking wounded game with dogs is called blood tracking, often there are long gaps without blood in a scent trail left by wounded deer or there is no blood at all.
Dana Sparks and Time Eastman from Michigan recovered this great buck when there was almost no blood to track. Dana tracks with his puppy Mika and Tim uses Dillon, an experienced three-year-old tracking dachshund out of Kathy Vincent breeding.
The deer was shot the night before, there wasn't much of a blood trail at all for that deer (no exit hole). The only blood we found was what Mika turned me onto (a hilltop away from last blood speck). It was about a 10-15 foot droplet trail with one good quarter size blotch still moist that caught my eye when I seen Mika changed her tune and plant her face down hard with a light bulb flickering inside her. We had no trail before that as the deer ran though a swamp, and I had no real starting point for her grasp onto to begin with.
I had to leave Mika behind the second trip out, after Tim arrived because we only had one 4 wheeler, and it was back quite a ways with me driving. I took Tim to where I hadn't thoroughly combed, and where I expected to find him if he were to be found, and within 10 minutes, there he was. We didn't find any blood between Mika's blood find and the deer.
Her blood find was actually the key to that recovery (about 80 yards from deer recovery area). I didn't take any pics of her because I didn't think I should, but she was great in what she did find because it told me the direction I needed to search in.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Cabela showed a lot of promise on an artificial blood line even though she was only three months old.
The hunter called Thanksgiving night @ about 6:30 stating he shot a buck at about 4:30 that day. They tracked the deer for approx. 200 yards before they jumped it and lost blood. After the interview it was determined that it was a gut shot. I told him to stop and leave it for the night. I met him Friday morning at 10:00 a.m., 17 ½ hours after the first shot. We went to the spot of last blood where Cabela, my 7-month-old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, went into action. We tracked through the woods and fields where it crossed a road heading back into the hardwoods. The blood was spotty, but Cabela didn’t give up. We finally found the deer 100 yards from where it crossed the road, lying in an area of brier bushes.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I was never a very orthodox speller myself, but the creative talent I’ve encountered in e-mail and over the phone astounds me. The various spellings of “dachshund” reveal so much about the deeper yearnings of the human heart.
I talked to a guy over the phone about his desire for a DASHOUND. He was into racing, dogs not cars. He feared that greyhound racing would be outlawed in his state, and he had heard about dashound racing. He wanted to hedge his bets.
An e-mail correspondent was a bit confused. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted a dog or a car. But he did know that it had to be a DATSUN.
I talked with an old New England logger, who had used oxen all his life to snake logs out of the woods. Now he was retiring and he wanted a DOXEN for companionship because his wife was so boring.
A hardworking man told me his pension plan had been wiped out in the great financial crash of 2008. Since no one could spare him a thousand he would settle for a DAUSAND.
Of course there were also some people with nothing much on their mind at all. They used all sorts of silly, meaningless spellings such as: DOXSUND, DASHUND and DACHSHUN.
After this spelling review, I fear that some of us will never be able to spell the breed name of this important breed in the “orthodox” manner. Here is a memory aid. DACHS is German for badger, one of the animals that dachshunds were and are used to hunt underground in their dens. HUND is simply the German word for dog. DACHSHUND = BADGER DOG. Got it?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
In Indiana Joe Walters blood tracks with Doc (Magnum v Moosbach-Zuzelek), who was born on March 19, 2007. Doc comes from our "M" litter - his parents are Buster and Keena.
Doc found this buck yesterday after a 2.4 mile track, which was 14 hours old. Buck was hit high and back with little external bleeding. It wasn't a very pretty tracking job but accomplished the mission. As we started track two deer crossed in front. Later a pheasant flushed and then three turkeys flushed right in front of Doc. I wrongly assumed he was tracking turkeys and pulled him off track for a restart at last blood sign. He tracked to fence and then turned right and proceeded about 175 yds. The hunters behind me yelled they had found blood going straight to fence and said there was water about 50 yds beyond. I wrongly pulled him off track again and crossed fence for a fruitless search on other side. I told hunter Doc wanted to continue down other side of fence and we proceeded over the 175 yds and after another 200 yds found buck. The gentleman in the picture is the owner of two sporting goods stores that I had dropped off fliers before the season. Good publicity.
Congratulations Joe - this sounds like a very demanding track with a lot of distractions. Great job!
Susanne Hamilton wrapped up her tracking season in Maine with two long difficult tracks, which both ended with recoveries. She is a dressage trainer, and now is on her way to Florida, where she spends her winter training horses. She told me that the last two successful tracks resulted in 3 marriage proposals! I am not surprised. It is not uncommon that hunters' wives and girlfriends don't support their men's passion for hunting and spending so much time in the woods. Male hunters must be surprised when they call Susanne for her tracking services first time. They see this beautiful blond who is ready to track regardless the weather and terrain conditions, carries a gun, has a great dog... and finds their deer.
Susanne tracks with Buster, who is now 6 years old and is in his prime. The November 24 trail was a very long one, and took 3.5 hours of fast tracking. The deer had a leg injury, and injuries like this call for immediate tracking and fast action. There were very long stretches where there was no visible blood on the ground at all. Few times Susanne wanted to verify whether Buster was on a right line and restarted him, but Buster always pulled in the right direction. This is Susanne's description of the second half of the track.
Buster had to work really hard at a spot in the pasture, where the deer had crossed, and where a truck with three barking Great Danes had just driven over it. Buster worked up and down the tire tracks, and eventually went bouncing back into the woods… now again almost 300 yards with absolutely no blood. I hoped that we would find something, and low and behold, as Buster took a right turn into the woods, Andy told me he had found a little bit of blood.
Buster then went yet another 200 yards with no blood, and crossed a paved road, went alongside the paved road, and went back into the woods. At this point, we started to find a little drop of blood about every 20–50 yards. We went through the woods, and then through a Christmas tree farm, went across the paved road, back into the woods, and at this point, the deer started to bleed stronger.
By the time we crossed the next Christmas tree farm the deer bled a lot. Andy, KC and I entered the woods. Big smears and patches, and even a piece of bone indicated that we where successfully pushing that deer. I had talked to Tracker Tom to ask his advice, and he encouraged me to really push this buck. He figured that if he bled now, and if we managed to bump him, that we’d likely eventually catch up with him.
Tracking through this woods was really easy going, when eventually things turned boggy. We entered Plymouth Bog, it was dark and mossy and frozen, except for the places that the ice was not strong enough, and we almost went through. It was the place where I figured we’d eventually get him. However, the bog was getting really difficult to go through, and really thick, but we saw places where the buck had fallen and slid on the ice. I thought I heard a crash, but wasn’t sure, but about five minutes later, we finally bumped the deer. We saw this large buck about 25 yards away leap away through the trees and bog. At this point I told Andy to go ahead and load his rifle.
About ten minutes later, looking only at my dog, trying to keep up and trying to keep the sticks out of my eyes, I see my dog latching on to a deer tail. Seeing that the buck was still alive, but down and slightly stuck with his antlers between two trees, I pulled Buster back, and gave Andy the go ahead to shoot.
It took us almost an hour and a half to get the deer out of the swamp, and on that way out, is where we found all the weak spots in the ice, and kept sinking through it getting really wet feet (in 25 degree weather). By that time, KC and Andy got sweaty from dragging, and I was freezing. Maynard caught up with us in the bog, and Scotty and Skip had the four wheeler and the truck waiting for us, as soon as we got out of the bog.
Buster was super tired, but still digging into that deer any time they took a break. They dragged about a 180 pound deer with my 20 pound dog hanging at the end of it.
Back at the cabin we took some pictures, gave Buster some heart, and warmed up by the wood stove, reliving this speedy 3 ½ hour track. Anyone who knows Buster (or has his kids) knows that he tracks at a pretty good clip… too fast for some people's taste. We covered an enormous distance, and reliving the track in the cozy cabin, made it a special event.
I found out that this cabin is a taboo to girls, and that I am now considered a life long “honorary dude”. We had some beer, some good laughs, and molasses cookies, and Buster was the “king”. What a GREAT day !!!!
The next day Susanne was tracking again - this was a 24 hour old trail. It took 2.5 hours of tracking to find this deer at the end:
Susanne with Buster - the last deer of the tracking season in Maine
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Nevada found this deer eight hours after it had been shot; there was no blood to follow at all.
And this is a nice update on Nevada's half-brother, a 2008 pup - Frodo von Moosbach-Zuzelek aka Roscoe. Roscoe belongs to Will Sims from Alabama.
"I just wanted to give you a Roscoe update. We unfortunately had a really slow archery season here but things are picking up and Roscoe is doing great. My brother shot this deer opening day of gun season and we had a great 150 yard blood trail to run. After waiting 3 hours Roscoe took us straight to this deer with no problems at all. He missed a couple of turns but quickly got back on track, it was great. I've had several calls on questionably shot deer but we've been passing on those until he and I get more experience. I think this track has really helped him put things together. I hope to have him on at least one blood trail a week for the rest of the season which runs to January 31. It was my nephews first blood trail as well and we all had a great time with it. Roscoe is doing great otherwise and is just a great all around pup."
Roscoe's first real blood trail
Friday, November 28, 2008
"Dear John & Jolanta,
I thought I must let you know how I have enjoyed the 'blog' page on your website.
Some really interesting articles. Since we have started the Bavarian Mountain Hound Society of G.B. it has brought a lot of attention to tracking wounded beasts, and more & more people are wanting a dog for the job. How many of the new owners of prospective blood tracking hounds put in the time to train their k9 friend, time will tell. Most people wanting a dog want it for their own purposes, i.e to put the dog straight on the track or in very short time."
Peter submitted a picture of his two Bavarians, Mintaka and Wallace, with a Muntjac buck, shot by his friend L. Stennett. This track was a 14 hours old, buck was gut shot.
Muntjac deer is also callled barking deer because of its unusual vocalisation. The species was first introduced from China to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the early 20th century, and now it is quite common throughout UK. Bucks reach no more than 40 lbs. A good intro information on Muntjac deer can be accessed at The British Deer Society website at http://www.bds.org.uk/muntjac.html
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Turkey, Turkey, we are not at war.
On this day truth comes to the fore.
We hunt the wildness that we love.
And for ALL thank God above.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The nose factor in tracking dogs for wounded deer probably has a lot in common with nose in cougar and bear dogs. We are often dealing with old, cold lines in both cases. In wounded deer work it’s called “blood tracking”, but as I have pointed out before there is usually little or no blood. If you have visible blood to track by, why do you need a dog?
Useful dogs need a brain wired to process scent so they know what to do with it. They have to have “line sense”, an instinctive awareness that scent leads from “A” to “B”. You would not expect or need this in an English pointer, but a scent hound or cur, which is going to track game, better have line sense. And it does not always happen.
Years ago I worked for about a year with a well-bred Leopard Cur. As you know the Leopards have a reputation of being the coldest nosed of the cur breeds and the most suitable cur for lion and bear work under tough conditions. I am sure that this reputation is well deserved, but this particular bitch was an exception, and she taught me something. We could go out on a couple of inches of snow, and I would show her a coon track from the night before. She would respond and her tail would swing with excitement. She could smell it very well, but she would not move with it. She lacked line sense and despite a lot of work, she never learned that a scent led somewhere. I never tried to use her for tracking wounded deer. She did not seem retarded in any other way, and I was lucky to have a friend who needed a yard dog.
There are some dogs that can follow the line, sort of, but they lack focus and they will not gear down, dig for the scent and walk it slowly when necessary. They are smelling around all over the place. This is more a matter of temperament than a lack of nose.
Some hounds with good noses drift a track. They always seem to know where the scent line is, but they are not on it every yard of the way. These dogs are going to find wounded deer, but they are not going to show you all of the sign, blood smears and so forth, that you need to make your determination about how the deer is hit, and whether it is going to survive.
A few years ago I was tracking with a man who had a German shorthaired pointer. The GSPs were developed in Germany as a versatile hunting dog, and some American versions of the original breed have retained this; Bill and Buckshot found a lot of deer together and that GSP got better and better at it. This time I was tracking behind Buckshot with Clary, who was a very good wirehaired dachshund. Buckshot, out in front, was drifting the line pretty fast, not always right on it, but certainly following the cold track of the wounded deer. However, Buckshot completely missed a wound bed that Clary showed us because she was working closer. That wound bed told us something that we had not been able to determine before because we had not been able to start at the hit site. Blood and saliva, outside the perimeter of the bed showed that we were dealing with a jaw shot. These deer are doomed to die, but they remain strong for days and death comes slowly. You don’t have any chance to put them down unless you can get them out in the open for a shot. In the dense scrub oak and pine barrens where we were tracking, there was no hope of that. Clary showed us the sign that spared us from a lot of fruitless tracking.
I have seen individual bird dogs that stayed close to the line and were excellent trackers. But most spaniels and the various continental pointers do have a natural tendency to quarter back and forth on the scent line. There are various ways to train them out of this, but it is not simple. For a bird hunter who needs to track a wounded deer now and then, dogs that quarter or weave back and forth on the line can still be useful.
For the handler who puts finding wounded deer at the top of his priorities, tracking will be easier with a dog that works closer to the line. Particularly in bowhunting, you encounter many superficially wounded animals that are going to recover. Many miles of wild goose chase can be avoided, if the hunter can read the occasional drips and smears of blood over the first half mile. The dog will show the handler where the sign is, and then the chances of catching up to the deer must be evaluated.
A Cold Nose
A dog that has line sense does not necessarily have a “cold nose”, the ability to smell a very old or faint track. Every handler appreciates a dog with a great nose provided that this nose is used well. Still, in wounded game tracking too much emphasis can be placed on a super cold nose to the point that it outweighs everything else. In most wounded deer tracking situations you don’t need all that nose. To save a deer from spoilage or the coyotes, you generally have to get on the line before it is 24 hours old.
This winter I had to put down my old Southern Black Mouth Cur, who came as a pup from Howard Carnathan. Cleo did not have a great nose for ground scent, but she taught me that great intelligence can be more important than great nose when it comes to finding wounded deer. Cleo, with her cowdog smarts, was not distracted by the hot lines of healthy deer, which is the biggest problem for most dogs. She was just fine on deer lines up to four hours old, and she was an excellent wind scenter. She was the wounded deer finder of choice on days when the wind was roaring, and there was no ground scent. She was my deep swamp dog. Cleo had a warm nose by hound standards, but she would have been an excellent dog for a southern deer lease where wounded deer are usually tracked within a few hours.
Cleo was John's loyal hunting companion. She excelled at squirrel hunting but she also recovered a number of wounded deer. She did not have a cold nose but she was very intelligent and learned quickly to stay on a right line.
Size of the Nose; Size of the Dog
In beagling you hear the term “big nose”. A dog with a “big nose” is a dog that can recognize the rabbit line and move it while other hounds in the pack don’t even know that it’s there. As used the term has nothing to do with the physical size of the dog and his nose. Early in my tracking career it still seem logical to me that a large dog, with a large nose would have better scenting ability than a small dog. Later experience, and the scientific articles that I have read, both indicate that there are many other factors, in addition to the size of the nose, which determine scenting power. This doesn’t mean that a Chihuahua and a Bloodhound are equal is scenting power, but it seems that the relationship between size of the dog and his nose power is not as close as I once thought.
From what I have seen in competition beagles and in tracking dogs, there is little or not much relationship between size of the dog and scenting ability. In field trials beagles are separated by sex and into two size categories: either 13 inches and under or 13 to 15 inches. The two sizes seldom run together in brace or in a pack, but when they do, the larger hounds have no special advantage when it comes to nose. A good beagle, 12 inches at the shoulder seems to have just as much nose power, as a 15 incher, who weighs nearly twice as much.
Steve Nappe of Westerlo, NY has a miniature wirehaired dachshund, Zin, who weighs only nine pounds. He found three wounded deer last fall under tough circumstances, but no one expected what Zin did this April (2003) in the Annual Deer Search Blood Tracking competition. He more than held his own; he won the competition and the runner-up was a 70 pound Deutsch Drahthaar, the original German version of the German wirehaired pointer. Zin was very well handled by Steve, who contributed to the win, but it was clear that Zin’s “miniature” nose was not a handicap, and that his “miniature” brain processed the scent data just fine.
Steve Nappe's Zin is a very accomplished blood tracker. He is a dapple wirehaired miniature dachshund.
In 1996 two researchers, Laurie Issel-Tarver and Jasper Rine at the University of California, Berkeley published their research on the genetic basis for scenting ability. They compared the DNA of ten scent hounds, including American foxhounds, bluetick coon hounds, bloodhounds, beagles, bassets and dachshunds with that of 10 sight hound and 6 companion/toy breeds. They found that the genes controlling the scent receptor cells in the nose were surprisingly similar for all 26 breeds. This implied that differences in scenting ability were based upon other factors.
Issel-Tarver and Rine also pointed out that the size of the scent reception area in the nose of some breeds was 16 times greater than in others but that the size of this area, the olfactory epithelium, was “not simply a function of body size”. They cautiously concluded that the size of this olfactory epithelium and the number of nerve ending to be found there might influence scenting power. They also offered some other complex genetic possibilities that had not yet been researched. Folks, it ain’t simple!
Without getting hung up on this heavy scientific research, there are certain things that we can conclude:
1. You do need line sense in a tracking dog, so don’t select a breed that has been bred exclusively to quarter back and forth and scent birds on the wind.
2. Nose is necessary, but you don’t need the coldest nose for practical deer tracking. In my opinion brains and the ability to recognize and stay on the right line is even more important.
3. The biggest dog is not necessarily the best for tracking work, and it will not always have the best nose. Work with the size of dog that you are comfortable with. A man who has worked Walkers and blueticks all his life may feel a little bit ridiculous with a 20 pound standard dachshund or Jagdterrier. A man who lives in the suburbs may not want a 75 pound Catahoula as a family dog.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
If you live in New York state, calling Deer Search is your best option. This volunteer-based organization was formed in 1977, and currently it has three chapters. For tracking services call:
- the mid-Hudson Valley area call (845) 227-5099
- Western part of New York state (716) 648-4355
- Finger Lakes Region (585) 935-5220
In the Capital District the number is (518) 872-1779.
In New York state only trackers licensed by Department of Environmental Conservation can track wounded game with leashed dogs. If there is no Deer Search tracker in your area, call your local conservation officer as he might know of local tracking services. Not all licensed handlers are members of Deer Search.
If you hunt in other states, you should first learn whether tracking wounded big game with dogs is legal where you hunt. Don’t assume that if blood tracking is legal in New York state, it is also legal in neighboring states. Regulations are controlled by state, and vary a lot from one state to another. Now this activity, which many view as a very integral part of ethical hunting, has been legalized in 17 states where any use of dogs in deer hunting, including the recovery of wounded deer, was previously illegal. Yet, it is hard to believe but it is true that in states such as Iowa, Pennsylvania, Kansas and many others blood tracking is still illegal.
State regulations can be checked at the United Blood Trackers’ website at http://www.unitedbloodtrackers.org/state-reg.php If you are looking for tracking services, the United Blood Trackers website can help you as well. Go to http://www.unitedbloodtrackers.org/find-map.php, click on your state, you will see a list of available trackers.
Robert Rubie from Michigan is a member of United Blood Trackers. His tracking dachshund Mirabell von Moosbach-Zuzelek is a year and a half old and it is her second tracking season.