by John Jeanneney, October 2008
Asking a seven month old pup to track long difficult scent lines of wounded deer always disturbs me a bit. Recently I’ve heard such tales relating to deer, bear and moose. Would you send a 12 year old boy out on a long difficult combat mission?
However, exposing the seven month old puppy to safe, non-demanding tracking of the real thing is another story. There is no better way to turn on a puppy, bored with fake blood trails, than to let him “find” an easy deer that you or one of your friends has already shot, found, gutted and tagged.
There are two caveats. First, the original tracker must stay off the blood line as he goes to the downed deer. You don’t want to have the pup confused by blood that has been spread around by the hunter.
Second, it is preferable to wait at least two hours until the air scent over the blood line has dissipated or blown away. You don’t want your pup wandering around all over the place in a big “tunnel” of scent that is just as strong to him when 10 feet off the blood line as when he is right on. This could encourage excited, sloppy work.
The reward and the motivation comes when Pup finds this huge deer and is encouraged to approach, sniff and then pull hair to a big round of applause and praise. Then he will realize that there is more to this blood tracking stuff than he had ever realized.
Recently we received two e-mails from trackers who are doing it right.
Thought you'd like to see this pic of my pup, Cedar and her first "find." She's 15 weeks. Actually, there wasn't much tracking involved, but she had fun pouncing on it, then sat beside the door for an hour whining to get back out!
I am attaching a few pics of Mika's latest finds - 40-50 yd trails, hunters knew deer were down and called me to give Mika the real experience. She lead the way, and her eyes never left the ground until she bumped her head into the deer before she realized it was even there.
One of the trails went through a swamp, and the blood trail on the grass was about 2 feet above her head and swirling in the wind, but she got it worked out sooner than I thought she would.