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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Blood tracking in Texas: Hunter's first find of the 2008 archery season

We received a nice message from Kevin Breaux who has been blood tracking in Texas for many years.

Our archery season started this past Saturday and the fun has began. This was the this archer's first (Buck) whitetailed deer with a bow. They called me last night (28th Sep) but they still could not find it this morning. It took us ten minutes to find it, nothing beats the nose of a good dog. The archer, Sean, was beyond happy!

Hunter is a very accomplished blood tracker, and he has been foundation of Kevin's breeding. He is a son of our FC Sabina von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

For more info on blood tracking in Texas go to

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blood tracking test without judge

We spent Sept 24-28 at the annual events organized by the North American Teckel Club. They included Blood Tracking Workshop held in Reading, PA, on September 24-25. Andy Bensing, NATC Judge, was the workshop organizer, and he did a super job. Andy provided classroom instruction and then field exercises focused on the preparation of blood lines, training and handling techniques, and GPS use for training and testing. John Jeanneney gave a presentation about tracking team psychology and real life blood tracking.

One of the highlights of the workshop was an exercise preparing for a “Tracking Test without Judge”. During such a test there are no judges observing each dog’s work. Small wooden markers are placed along the blood line and the dog is supposed to "indicate" them. The marker is scented with deer blood and a piece of raw deer hide, which is stapled to the wood.

Wooden markers were placed along the blood trail.

The dog is able to find the markers only if he works close to the line. The dog/handler team's work is evlauated by how many markers they can find and whether they can get to the end of the blood line where the deer hide is placed. This track is not marked in any other way so this exercise simulates a real tracking situation when a hunter does not know where a track of his wounded deer goes and has to rely on his tracking dog.

In the NATC exercise, the blood lines were 500 meters long and aged about 20 hours. Four ounces of blood were used to create a blood line (which is not a lot). There were two “wound beds” and two right angle turns.

John Jeanneney, Andy Bensing and Carrie Hamilton are shown here distributing deer blood into small bottles used for laying blood trails.

I watched two handler/dog teams work these "blind" lines, and in both cases I was very impressed with dogs and handlers' performance.

The first tracking team was Susie Gardner with Greta. Susie and her husband Jody run Buck'Eye Outfitters of Ohio, and Greta (Melodie von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who is just a year and a half old found 14 deer last fall in her first year of tracking. So Susie and Greta are not new to blood tracking, and they both have done really well on the artificial track.

Susie Gardner with Greta following a blood trail

Greta at the end of track

Greta is trotting to the truck after the successful blood tracking exercise

The second tracking team I watched included Patt Nance and Owl (FC Alpine Owl von Dorndorf TD BHP-3 SchwhKF). This is also an experienced team. Patt does AKC type of tracking with her dogs, and Owl has titles in both human tracking and blood tracking.

FC Alpine Owl von Dorndorf TD BHP-3 SchwhKF was all business during the blood tracking exercise.

Good boy Owl! Here he is chewing on a deer hide at the end of track.

All in all, quite a few dogs have done well and handlers enjoyed this new type of blood tracking training. We navigated through trails by using GPS, and this certainly reduced labor involved in laying tracks and marking trees. A big thank you to the NATC by providing this training opportunity!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

German wirehaired dachshunds: family of Joeri vom Nonnenschlag

We received a very nice picture from Rosi and Anne Bauersachs, breeders of our Joeri. What a good looking family! Jola, Justus and Jette are Joeri's littermates.

We'll be back online with more pictures and stories on Monday.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Dachshund is NOT a Beagle

This article was written by John several years ago and was published in Full Cry. It is long but worth reading!

The dachshund is not a beagle, but the fact that some people are breeding brown and white spotted dachshunds will confuse the issue for sure. I am counting on the natural smarts of my fellow houndsmen to see the light and know the truth. A dachshund is not a beagle. Believe it or not past confusions have created problems which hurt dachshunds, of course, much more than they hurt beagles. Even when it was recognized that they were entirely different dogs to the eye, it was easy to miss the point that the brain wiring was quite different as well. This brain wiring, the way the neurons of the brain develop and are linked together, is in good part a matter of breed genetics. This is as much a part of breed characteristics as the superficial things which show judges look at.
The dachshund originated in Germany as a forester’s dog; dogs were selected who worked well, one on one, with their masters. Dachshunds don’t pack well, compared to beagles because they were never developed to be a pack hound. However, hunting dachshunds as a group may well be the most biddable of the scent hounds. If for your special purposes you are looking for a small hound that handles like a good cur, the dachshund may be the hound for you.
The purposes for which the dachshund was developed are very different from those of a beagle. In part the dachshund was a dog to be used for underground work on foxes and badgers. “Dachshund” actually means badger dog in German, but these dogs were used much more on fox. In Germany and in the rest of Europe foxes were always much more plentiful and a much bigger nuisance than badgers. Also a good dog can usually drive a fox from the den to the gun. A badger is an even tougher on the defense. He goes very deep and will seldom bolt. A dog small enough to get down to a badger is not is strong enough to kill him. Usually the hunting party assisting the dog has to dig down to the quarry. This is old fashioned hard work that is not very popular these days.

The dachshund in Germany was also seen as an above ground dog that handled well and could be used to flush game, especially the small European roe deer, out of heavy cover of young growth forest. As a jump dog the dachshund was expected to give tongue on a fresh scent line and warn the hunters posted around the gridiron pattern of forest roads that game was on the way.

It was also discovered that the dachshund, bred to be the biddable hound and attuned to the needs of his handler, was very useful for finding wounded big game which left little or no blood trail. The good ones could learn to work the right deer even if it meant picking out the body and foot print scent of the individual deer. The dachshund was bred to be versatile dog, although individuals tended to excel in one or two categories, and less often in all three.

Really small dachshunds, from nine pounds down to less than seven were developed later from the standard sized dogs. There were some out crosses to other very small breeds but mainly it was accomplished by breeding down from smaller and smaller dachshunds that had the necessary type and abilities. It was not an easy task. The smallest ones were called Kaninchenteckels, rabbit dachshunds, could actually go down a rabbit hole. The European rabbit which is entirely different from our cottontail was very prolific to the point of being a nuisance even though it was good to eat. It did not run well for a dog preferring to dive immediately into holes that it dug for itself. If you wanted to kill rabbits one of the best ways was to use a Kaninchenteckel that could follow the rabbit underground and push him out.

The small dachshunds could do all the work of the standard dachshund, although they lacked the body mass and the power to cope with cold conditions and really rough terrain for long periods of time. Their small size empowered them for certain tasks and presented certain limitations for others. For some hunters it was very desirable to have a dog small enough to ride in a hunting coat capable of flushing the small roe deer from cover, or tracking a wounded one for a few hundred meters. They enjoyed working with the world’s smallest hunting dog.

None of this dachshund work in Germany has much to do with the tasks that a beagle is asked to do in the United States and Canada. When dachshunds were brought to America most of them became show dogs or family pets. Even for those who wanted to keep the dachshund as a hunting dog, their underground purposes were soon forgotten. Teddy Moritz, who writes the first part of this column, is the person who had the most to do with reinventing the dachshund for underground work in America.

Teddy Moritz's longaired minis are well suited for den work and falconry. Photo by Teddy Moritz.

As for the standard dachshund the first disastrous move was the attempt to make him over as a beagle. For example the AKC developed field trials which are modeled after the AKC beagle brace trial rules. I personally bear part of the blame for this.

Taking a dachshund to an AKC field trial really designed for beagles is a little like taking a springer spaniel to a retriever trial. The spaniel, bred as a flushing dog, can retrieve, but not as well as a Lab. In a brace trial on rabbits the better dachshunds can do it, but not on the same level as the real rabbit specialists. The dachshund is a versatile hound, but rabbit work under brace trial rules is not the best act in his repertoire. When we get calls from beaglers asking about dachshund puppies, we ask a lot of questions about what they are looking for. A good many callers are really looking for a beagle that will please them more than what they have at the moment. If the man doesn’t realize that he would be getting into a completely different kind of dog, he is going to be disappointed. There are things that a good working dachshund can do as well or better than a field bred beagle; he had better be interested in one of these or there is no real point in getting a dachshund.
Personally I think that the most important work in this country for the standard sized dachshund (about 20 pounds) is tracking wounded big game. They are easy to handle, they learn fast and most of them can come to understand that the only deer to be tracked is a wounded one. That same tracking dachshund can bring rabbits around to the gun, handle in close to flush pheasants. He can tree coons. But don’t expect he will compete with a breed specialist in all these specialties. The standard dachshund is for the hunter who puts a high priority on finding wounded big game and in addition needs a useful dog for the other tasks. And of course it must be added that a working dachshund has to have decent leg length and ground clearance if he is going to have the necessary agility and stamina. You are not always going to find this in dachshunds bred to please American show judges.

Our tracking dog Billy is a good example of the dachshund with good ground clearance and proper proportions.

If you want to add underground work to the job description of the versatile standard dachshund, then you have to think in terms of a smaller dog. How small depends on the underground work that you have in mind. The standard dachshund of 20 pounds can be a useful dog in Germany on fox because the foxes over there are heavier and cobbier in their bone structure. North American red foxes run a lot smaller and can get into much tighter spots than their European counterparts which are of the same species. As a rule our gray foxes live in rock dens that are ledgy and even tougher and tighter to work than those of the reds. Ground hogs, the housing contractors for so much other wildlife, make dens that are too small for the standard dachshund to work consistently.

Over the years I have taken foxes with small standard dachshunds. I had a small standard dachshund bitch which bayed two foxes from a den and found a wounded deer, all in four hours. But this is the exception that proves the rule. Don’t count on it happening for you. Gerte, the 18 pound German bitch shown in the picture was lucky. She was really too big to get up to most foxes in Northeastern dens.

Gerte with two foxes and a deer - all taken in one day.

If you are a falconer, or if you want to get rabbits out of their dens in order to give your bigger hounds a run, then you should consider the really small miniature dachshunds which the Germans call Kaninchenteckels. These run from eight pounds down to six and a half. They would not be your first choice for heavy-duty blood tracking, but they can certainly do it in a pinch.
I hope that nothing I have said here will be taken as anti-beagle. I own a good gun dog beagle and I have been active in beagle clubs for many years. Beagles are great hound breed; and there is certainly some overlap in dachshund and beagle work. For example I know of several beagles with established reputations for tracking wounded deer. The individual characteristics of the dog are usually more important than its breed. This is certainly the case when it comes to dachshunds and beagles. Select the breed and the individual most likely to fit your personal needs.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Horses and Dogs: Move over Jack Russells…Dachshunds are taking over

I had never attended a horse show until I met Susanne Hamilton, who is a top level dressage rider and trainer. We became good friends. Susanne lives in Maine and I visited her there when I attended several workshops in photography at Rockport. I could see first hand the wonderful bond Susanne had with Buster, a dachshund she imported from Germany. I suspect that Buster was supposed to be “just” Susanne’s pet and companion, but once Susanne realized what a talented and versatile hunter Buster was she caught a bug of blood tracking and field trialling herself. Now every fall she tracks wounded deer with Buster in Maine on a regular basis.

I don’t get to see Susanne very often, but once a year I attend a dressage show in Saugerties, NY, which is only an hour drive from my place. I don’t know how she does it, but every time I see her ride, she wins. This time, it was no exception.

Susanne's victory lap. Her stallion Donauwalzer won the second champion level stake.

Buster is well known in the dressage circle as Susanne takes him everywhere; they are truly inseparable. And the way I see it, he has made quite an impact on horse people -- every year I see more and more dachshunds at the horse show grounds. So…move over Jack Russells…dachshunds are taking over. We have pictures to prove it!

Buster with his son Nimble in the pen inside the stable (2007).

Susanne with Buster and Katrina with Nimble (2007)

A scooter provides a quick transportation for Susanne and Buster at the show grounds.

No wonder everybody knows Buster there. He has his own goggles!

Tina Hinckley (on the right) owns Ike, who is a longaired miniature dachshund bred by Teddy Moritz. Tina is a dressage rider as well.

Another rising star - Quilla von Velbert - is owned by Willette Brown from Maine. Willette is a rider and trainer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I am looking for a trained blood tracking dog"

We get this kind of inquiries quite often:
I am looking for a deer tracking dog. I do not have the time to train a dog so I am looking for one that is already trained. I have checked your web site and it looks like I am to late for this year unless you know of someone that has a older dog they would like to sell. We have two dogs now a miniature beagle in the house and a Lab outside, both good dogs but I can not find the time to train them. I have been wanting to get a tracking dog for sometime now just have not had the money or time to get on the Internet and search for one. We are dog lovers and deer hunters my wife, son and I. I have lost a couple of deer in the past only to find them after the meat had spoiled and the coyotes have filled their bellies. Any help in finding a trained pup or older dog would be very appreciated."

This is how John answered this question:

"My advice to you would be to wait until you have more time to work with a dog. Buying a tracking dog is not like buying an ATV. You have to train and work with the dog enough yourself to be able to “read” it as it works. You have to develop a working partnership with the dog. It is not at all like the retriever trial system of command/obey.

When you are tracking a wounded deer you have to take the dog’s advice even though the hunter may have told you the deer went the other way. You have to exercise and work with the dog throughout the year. It can’t be left in the kennel or on the sofa watching TV when there is no deer season. My advice would be to find someone in your area who has the time to develop a good puppy. Maybe you could give him some financial support with the understanding that he would help you out when you need to find a deer."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Training tip #2


Hallo John,
Can you please assist me in the following question, what is the reason when tracking wounded deer, while dog is on an leash, I am not underestimating your knowledge. I just want to know, because in the areas where I hunt a leash will complicate things, very busy and many trees. I use Jack Russel for this purpose. If my dog is on an leash it is unable to stop the wounded animal...but when it is not on leash it is capable of stopping the wounded animal and barking to let me know I must hurry up to the position of the wounded animal. Thanks for reading my letter. What are your suggestion to this matter of mine, because I am afraid my dog get killed by the wounded animal. Sorry for my poor English writing.

Enjoy your day
B. d. K., Kuruman, South Africa

In much of the United States the legal requirement is that the tracking dog remain on a leash at all times. In certain southern states of the USA and in Europe it is not legally required that the dog be worked on a leash.

Generally, all but thoroughly experienced dogs work better at the beginning on an old, cold line, if they are kept on the long tracking leash. It is easier to make sure that the dog is tracking the right animal, and it permits the handler to read the blood sign and determine how the animal is wounded. If the animal is still alive and takes off from the wound bed, then, in the European case, the dog is released from the leash to run down and bay the animal. This works well, but generally you need more than a single dog of Jack Russell size to bay a large animal.

The methods used in tracking are dependant on regulations and circumstances of your country. Releasing a dog puts him at risk of being hit by a car if roads are numerous. When properties are smaller than 1000s of hectares, there is a risk that the dog will get onto another property and be shot by the angry property owner or hunter. In the United States a small dog like a Russell is in danger of being killed by coyotes. I had a very good Russell killed by coyotes one night when I was raccoon hunting. My wirehaired dachshunds are never off lead at night.

If I lived in South Africa, I would probably modify the tracking methods I use in New York State of the USA.

John Jeanneney

Can you see a dachshund in the picture?

Can you see a dachshund in this picture?
It is Elli running rabbits at the New Scotland Beagle club. Long days, gorgeous weather, plentiful bunnies, leaves starting to change color - all this makes for the best time to be in the field with your dachshund. In the picture below you can spot Bernie running a rabbit (at the end of green tunnel).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dachshund field trials in Batavia, NY

Last weekend we drove to Batavia, NY, to attend our first field trial of the fall season. Spending a weekend at the Niagara River Beagle Club is always a great fun as beaglers there are simply wonderful. They are the most hospitable bunch; they cook and beat brush... regardless the weather. They are good friends.

For people who are not familiar with the trials some background info is needed. Field trial for dachshunds are run on rabbit, and dogs are run in braces. According to the AKC rules:
(1) The Dachshund is an all-’round hunting dog bred to find game, to pursue it in an energetic and decisive manner, to follow it to ground when necessary and to deal with it with courage and determination.
(2) Dachshund field trials are designed and conducted for the purpose of selecting those Dachshunds that display sound quality and ability to the best advantage.
(3) To perform as desired, the Dachshund must be endowed with a keen nose, a sound body, and an intelligent mind, and must have an intense enthusiasm for hunting.

The full text of rules can be downloaded from the AKC website at A good source of information about trials and video clips is a website of the Dallas Fort-Worth Dachshund Club at Also John and I have written a number of articles about dachshund field trials, and they are available at

Going back to the last weekend - it was great to see our friends after a summer break. Saturday was very wet, and I had no chance to take any pictures in the field, except for just few shots inside the clubhouse. A Saturday evening is always a good opportunity to socialize puppies, and the picture below shows our Tommy being handled by Janice Koslow and Sandy Horskin. Actually both pups, Tommy and Joeri, really enjoyed meeting new people.

On Saturday field champions were run in a combined stake (36 entries) and our Elli placed 3rd. Her son Auggie owned and handled by Sherry Ruggieri placed 4th.

On Sunday conditions were much more difficult as it was very warm and humid; it felt like being inside a sauna. A field champion stake was split into field champion dogs and bitches. Sherry Ruggieri's Csak was 4th, Auggie NBQ. Sherry's Dixie (Anja von Moosbach-Zuzelek) placed 2nd and Laurel Whistance-Smith's Lily was 3rd. The below picture shows Sherry with Dixie and Laurel with Lily braced together.

Sherry Ruggieri with Dixie and Laurel Whistance-Smith with Lily.

The Absolute Winner of the trial was Michael Pitisci's Brooke. Congratulations!

Judge Sandy Horskin is watching Brooke working the rabbit scent.

Sixty-three pictures taken on Sunday afternoon are posted here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ely's first two finds

We got this message with pictures from Don Teddy from Michigan. Ely is a 7.5 month-old pup from Billy and Gilda's litter.

I just wanted to drop a line to let you know how well Ely is doing. Last week bear season opened in Michigan and Ely was called into track 3 bears. The first was a fairly simple track that could probably have been handled by sight and he did a very good job with one short check during his tracking. The second was more difficult, the bear was shot during a steady rain and the hunter was not able to find any blood. Ely lost this track after a while and checked back to the original beginning and started over, he took the correct line the second time and found the bear a completely different area than what the hunter told me it ran in. We never did see any blood. On the third track the hunter was not certain if he hit the bear (he was hunting with a muzzle loader), Ely seemed to be tracking the bear for approximately 200 yards but lost the track, he checked several times trying to pick it up again but I finally picked him up. We never found any evidence of a hit. Ely is doing a great job, he sure impressed everyone so far.

Ely's first find

Ely's second find

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to start a blood tracking puppy

If you are getting into using a dog to track wounded big game for the first time, you will find that this is a good time to begin training. A pup, born in early spring, will be capable of doing some useful work this fall if he gets good training now.

Starting with pups, especially young ones, pays off. It’s not all a matter of genetics. If you work with a pup while his brain is still developing, that little brain will develop more capacity in the parts that are used in early work. This sounds like a fairy tale, but there has been a lot of serious and expensive fMRI research done on humans, and on rats that reveals how much using the brain at ”critical stages” stimulates development. If you want more information on this go to:

With very young puppies of six or seven weeks, 25 foot drags with a small piece of deer liver, are a good start. Wait 15 minutes and then let the pup find that liver and have a good chew. After a couple of more weeks begin using a dribbled track of deer blood on the lawn. You can use pieces of deer liver or heart at the end. I like to add a handkerchief–sized scrap of raw deer hide as well for the pups to grab and shake. Wait until the blood dries before working the line.

An eight-week-old wirehaired dachshund puppy Elsa is working the scent line leading to a reward at the end.

Elsa is working the deer liver drag.

Elsa is enjoying a deer liver at the end of the track.

At ten weeks introduce a 20-foot-length of plastic clothesline as a tracking leash. This is light and friction-free. Pups don’t seem to notice it, but if they have lapses of attention, you have some control. Work up from 25 to 100 yards, adding right angle turns to that the pup has to work a check.

Don’t be afraid to work a pup on line two to four hours old and gradually space the blood drops or dabs out to three feet. Your pup has plenty of nose to smell a spot of blood that is right there giving off scent. The limiting factor for the young pup is brain power to process the information that his nose brings in to him. Help your pup develop this.

You can’t be doing your training exercises over and over again on the front lawn. Puppy has a nose and a memory to remind him of what you did a week ago. At around 14 weeks it is time to move out to the woods; here open hard woods are best. For one thing you get away from wind that spreads out and blurs the scent line at his early stage of development. It’s also easier to mark the line on trees at your eye level so that the pup doesn’t see them.

There’s no cookbook recipe and schedule appropriate for all puppies all of the time. The secret is to keep the line just difficult enough so that the pup has some challenge as he succeeds. If you make things too easy the pup will get bored. In most cases you will accomplish more with well-planned sessions twice a week than with drills every day. Go with the flow of weather and temperature. A line laid in the evening ages little before the cool of the following morning.

Text by John Jeanneney; pictures by Jolanta Jeanneney

Monday, September 8, 2008

Deer trackers go on missions of mercy

A week ago the Daily Gazette based in Schenectady, NY, ran the below article by Jim McGuire in their Sunday edition. The picture taken by the Gazette's photographer Ana Zangroniz reminded us how badly our barn needs to be painted!

Some explanation is needed as there seems to be some confusion about field trials in the article. Field trials have nothing to do with blood tracking training or blood tracking tests (the AKC has a good explanation of dachshund field trials on their website). Anyway, we'd like to thank the Daily Gazette for promoting the use of blood tracking dogs!

Photographer: Ana Zangroniz
Jolanta Jeanneney and her husband John play with two of their wire-haired dachshunds, Billy and Elli at their Berne home August 26. The Jeanneneys specialize in training dogs for tracking wounded deer and bears.

BERNE — John Jeanneney refers to the state’s band of leashed-dog trackers as “the agency of last resort.”

It’s a hunter thing. Others might not understand or may even recoil when Jeanneney explains: “We work when there is little or no blood.”

But what Jeanneney and the more than 150 state-licensed trackers do is actually humane. When hunters wound deer or bear and cannot find them, they can turn to the volunteer trackers who stand ready to drive considerable distances to begin a search.

The trackers and their trained dogs are usually successful. Since Jeanneney began pioneering the service in the mid-1970s as a permitted trial program watched over by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, he and his German wirehaired dachshunds have found 232 deer and three bear. Once on Long Island, he tracked a deer for nine miles.

He still has vivid memories of the time he and his dog came upon an aggressive buck that attacked them and injured the dog. It’s rare, he said, but sometimes “a deer will charge a dog.”

Since New York adopted legislation in 1986 and subsequent regulations in 1989 authorizing and licensing leashed-dog trackers, the program has been adopted by 16 other states. This month DEC gave its latest licensing exam to prospective recruits.

Jeanneney, the author of “Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer,” and the late Donald Hickman are regarded as the co-founders of the trackers’ association, Deer Search Inc., which started in 1978 and today offers 24-hour dispatch service.

Jeanneney, at 73, rates himself as “still going strong.” Each season, he estimates, he travels an average of 1,200 miles responding to calls for a tracker.

A tracker holding a state guide’s license may charge for this service, but Jeanneney said the majority of trackers are volunteers. He said hunters may make a donation to Deer Search, but it is not required. Deer Search reimburses trackers for their mileage.

DEC spokeswoman Lori O’Connell said the state leashed-dog tracking exam tests the tracker and not the dog. There are no field trials, she said, but part of the exam focuses on dog training.

There are rules and regulations governing the service, but no strict standards for tracking, O’Connell said.

One requirement that must be followed, she said, is notifying the local conservation officer before tracking begins.


Jeanneney said trackers in New York, but not all the states, may carry a gun for protection and may work at night. Most trackers are not even notified until evening after hunters have given up finding their prey.

It is important to start immediately, Jeanneny said, because “chances are very good the coyotes will have it by morning … when they pick up the line of a wounded deer they know what to do with it.”

Darkness does not deter Jeanneney. “I’d rather work at night; the scenting conditions are better,” he said.

Jeanneney may prefer dachshunds, but he said he is open-minded about a tracker’s choice of dog. Others use beagles, bloodhounds, labs, basset hounds, golden retrievers, smooth dachshunds, drahthaars, dachbrackes and a number of additional breeds.

A good nose is necessary, but the training is key.

Jeanneney said he starts his dogs while only months old following the scent of a deer-liver drag. That technique gives way to more advanced training using tracking shoes that leave the scent of the deer’s interdigital gland, located at the top of the hooves.

It is that scent that all tracking dogs must follow on the job. Trainers use blood, but only sparingly, Jeanneney said.

Trainers make the field trials challenging by putting down cross tracks.

“A good tracking dog has to tune out the hot lines of healthy deer,” Jeanneney said.

Hunters and others seeking the services of Deer Search may contact DEC, a conservation officer or go to the Deer Search Web site.

Training tip #1


Hello John

I would be very grateful if you could read through this email and give me some advice on getting my 4 month old Labrador to stick to a trail. This is not my first dog, I have bought him to replace my 11 yr old Labrador. My old Lab really taught himself on finding wounded deer, but I would like to put a lot of effort into this pup to find them really hard deer my old Lab would fail on.

I bought the pup at 8 weeks old from deerstalking line that goes back generations. Most of this line of dogs have picked up tracking by themselves as there are still not that many people laying blood trails and putting the time and effort into it.

About the pup

Does try to be top dog with the older dogs by hanging off their ears and hanging off their necks. Doesn't seem to be scared of new things or loud noises. Easily upset if you raise your voice to him. Likes to search for small biscuits in long grass and doesn't give in easily.


Since I have been training the weather as been mostly sunny spells,rain showers and wind. I never lay more than 1 trail per week. Started with liver drags on grass, which he followed but in a S shaped weave he never seemed to go in a line.Bits of liver were left at the end of the trail.

I then purchased a set of sent shoes.Roe deer feet were used as I thought this might encourage him to hold the line better,it didn't. Then I used a Red Stag feet.

He gets very excited when I get the tracking lead and collar out,and shakes the deer skin at the end of the trail and carries it around very excitedly.


He just will not stick to the track and is now starting to lift his head to look for the skin. I need to almost lead him all the way along the track encouraging him to keep his nose down.

I feel that he is now relying on me to show him the track. The tracks are no more than 100 yds long and have been laid on grass,stubble and in woodland. There have been no distractions such as cattle or live stock.

When he weaves along a track it looks as tough he is keen and on the track but he is the wrong side of it if there is a cross wind.Then sometimes he just heads off in the wrong direction but with his nose down.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Not all four month-old pups are not tracking well at that early age, and of course there are some that never develop good tracking skills. There are always some pups without good tracking aptitude, despite the fact that they have an impressive pedigree of trackers behind them. I have produced some of these myself.

Here are some things that you can try:

Work your pup on older blood trails, six or twelve hours. He has the nose to handle this. The problem is his still-immature brain that must process the information his nose brings in. Often, bored, uninterested dogs that do sloppy tracking work will do better when they are challenged by a more difficult line. I suggest this to people, and time after time they call back to say that the short, but more difficult line really improved their dog’s performance.

Another thing that often works is “baiting” the line. I like to put a piece of cheese or a scrap of meat, such as a hotdog chunk, in an old, pre-digital era film canister. Small prescription medicine vials will also work. The container keeps the ants, flies and vermin off the bait. I put blood on these little canisters and place them along the line, especially after turns. When your pup “finds” one, you congratulate him and open it for him to that he can have the treat. This helps instill the idea of dog /handler cooperation. Once he gets the idea of what it is all about, he will realize that he has to stay on the line to gets the rewards.

You can use the same method with scent shoes, but generally I do not work with scent shoes until a pup is confidently working lines at least 400 meters long.

Your dog seems to be very responsive, which is characteristic of Labs and a very good sign that he will try to please you. Give him lots of praise when he is on the line. If he gets off, I like to ask the pup, “Is that right?” with a strong questioning tone in my voice. Usually he will turn, give me a funny look and come back to the line.

I hope this helps. Please get back to me and let me know about how he progresses.

John Jeanneney

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What I learned after school

© John Jeanneney, July 2008

For most of the natural world spring is the time of renewed energy and growth after the long winter lay-off. This is not the case for hunters. Fall is the time when everything comes together after a summer of preparation. My problem, during my working years, was that I could not take time off in the fall when it mattered most. I was a teacher; unfortunately, this meant that hunting and tracking with my dogs conflicted with my job. Teachers can’t take vacations during deer season. Like a coon hunter, I learned to get by without much sleep.

During the day when I wasn’t in the classroom, I would deer hunt, often sleeping in my stand, eyes closed with only my ears turned on. Some brain mechanism would sort through the woodland sounds, tuning out the intermittent leaf rustling of squirrels, but putting me on alert at the steadier cadence of a walking deer.

In the evening, well after dark and after the wounded deer call requests had come in, I would start tracking. The increased humidity of the night made scenting better for my tracking dog Clary. The adrenaline factor was a good substitute for sleep.

It was a good setup except for one thing. I worked in the suburbs of Long Island, one hundred miles from where I chose to live in upstate New York. Gas was cheap in those days, but the lost time hurt. Later on, books on tape alternated with Blue Grass music helped to fill the long hours of driving.

Sometimes I taught evening classes, and it was after one of these had just ended that a deer call was relayed to my office. I had my Clary and my equipment with me, and I soon was on my way through still-heavy suburban traffic, headed for my destination and the wounded deer eighty miles north. I was still quite new to the tracking game, and I had no one to give me advice. I was pretty excited because for me finding a deer for someone else was as important to me as shooting one for myself. Come to think of it, this is still true some 30 years later.

I met the hunter at the gates of a big estate where he had been given permission to hunt. He was an Old World Italian with a heavy accent, and he was quite agitated. He knew exactly the direction that the big doe had headed after the slug hit her, but there was no blood. Clary and I were his last desperate hope.

I buckled the tracking collar and leash on Clary at the hit site and started her off toward the north as the hunter urged me to do. Clary would have none of it. She wanted to go in the other direction. I had driven all this way, and now she wouldn’t cooperate. I insisted; Clary insisted. After the third try, I gave up and let her do her own thing. Very sure of herself, Clary went about 150 yards through thick cover, and there was the deer. Trust your dog!

Dogs aren’t always right, but they are much more likely to be right than excited humans. Some dogs will just shut down when overruled by a human with his pitifully weak nose. Clary was a good and patient teacher who didn’t give up on her inexperienced and unbelieving handler. Her patience inspired me then in the woods and later in the classroom.

There was great joy as we gutted out the deer. My pleasure in the hunter’s happiness erased my own feelings of incompetence. What closed the deal was the old hunter’s reaction as he pulled forth the liver. He held it and admired it. Then he sank his teeth into that warm, raw liver without benefit of tomato sauce.


Friday, September 5, 2008


We have spent the last three days in the company of Alain and Marjolaine Ridel from Quebec, Canada, who visted us here at Berne, NY. They brought with them Theo, their seven-month-old teckel imported from France. Theo's registered name is Du Théo de la Meute à Cheops.

We did some blood tracking training and retrieving from water with Theo, who proved to be a very promising pup. And Alain impressed us very much as a dog handler. Theo really excelled at blood tracking, on a difficult 24-hour-old line. He is a very exuberant youngster with a huge personality. We enjoyed working with him and certainly enjoyed Alain and Marjolaine's visit.

The beginning of track

Theo was all business and his nose was glued to the ground.

A biodegradable orange tape hanging from the branch indicates that Theo is on the line.

At the end of the blood line Theo enjoyed tugging and pulling on a deer hide. This was a job very well done!

This dog has a very nice, functional conformation.

Theo proved to be a natural retriever and he loves the water.

Theo's enthusiasm for water is hard to match!

For more pictures taken during Alain and Marjolaine's visit go here