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!
John and Billy recovered this buck in 2007.
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?