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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tracking wounded elk with Ziggy in New Mexico

It was great to hear from Jim Baker, who has been tracking wounded elk in New Mexico. He is an owner of "Ziggy" (Elka von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who was born February 28, 2008. Ziggy is a daughter of Billy and Gilda.

In Jim's own words:
"I describe how she did this year as phenomenal. At first I did not trust her on some of the first couple of times we went out. She was just going so fast and then I remembered from your book. If in doubt, trust your dog, so I did. She was called 12-14 times. Several of them were never to be found, high back shots and the elk was down, then gone. She found 5 of 8 possible. Some of the others I determined that the elk would probably live for at least few days or forever. After 2-3 miles with no real blood, and they got back with other elk.

The last one she found was at least 3 miles and 24 hours after the initial wound. I first realized I could trust her when we had gone 2-3 miles and I pulled her from the track as the bull got with other elk. We were just walking down a road that coincidentally the elk apparently came back on. She started getting excited and I looked down and there was a drop of blood about twice as big as a pinhead. I couldn't believe it. So after that wherever she wanted to go I was running behind her as best I could.

Here are a few photos."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year is coming - wishes from Lenka Fairaislova

From Lenka Fairaislova (Kalokagathia kennel) from the Czech Republic

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two deer recovered by Doc in one day

A week ago Doc (Pushkin v Moosbach-Zuzelek) had a very good day. His owner Stanley Thrasher from Alabama wrote:"Doc and I had a very good Sat. I shot a 13 point buck and Doc was able to track it down. In the afternoon we received a call out. This time an 11 year old boy had shot down a seven point and they could not find the buck. Doc hit the trail about 6:30 pm and within 30 minutes he had the seven pointer located. That was two recoveries in one day." Pictures show the seven pointer recovered by Doc.

Congratulations Stanley and Doc!

Maggie's biggest buck

This picture came from Michael Polavin in Michigan with the caption: "This is the last deer Maggie tracked, last Saturday. Biggest buck she's recovered. "

Maggie is four years old, and her registered name is Danka von Moosbach-Zuzelek. She is a daughter of Alfi and Elli.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last day of tracking season

by John Jeanneney

Our hunting/tracking season in the Southern Zone of New York is over. I don’t know whether to cheer or cry. There was a flurry of activity on the last day of black powder season. Two calls came in last night, long after dark, when the temperature was 8 degrees. I elected to take them the next day because of the temperature…cold enough to kill scent…and old men too.

Well, of course it had to snow on the tracks overnight so there was nothing to confirm a dog’s work. Joeri seems to be learning how to work these situations.. Now he get his nose down in the track of the scent and works like a snow plow.

The first scent line was pretty easy because the deer was down in front with two broken forelegs. However, the hunters had been unable to follow it by eye earlier in the day because of the snow cover. Joeri had no difficulty over the 200 yards to the dead deer. Unfortunately, the coyotes had found it first and collected their 30% tax.

Hunter and Joeri with the deer damaged by coyotes.

We failed to find the deer on the second call about 30 miles away. It was colder now, 10 degrees, and there was more snow. This deer had been hit too far back the previous afternoon. The hunter had been able to track blood for only 50 yards on the hard crusted snow; then he lost it. The next morning he attended a Christmas party and afterwards, well fortified, he came back and searched some more in the deepening new layer of snow.

When Joeri and I got there we worked over what had been the blood trail to the hunter’s point of loss, and then, what! more blood,… a gut pile and a bloody swath under the snow where a deer had been dragged out a few days before. We cast back, started again….another blood trail and another gut pile and drag. Truly it was a great spot for hunting, but a mighty tough spot to start a scent line under the snow, in cold conditions. We were never able to find the right line.

Joeri and I started the drive home from that second call with mixed feelings. Somehow it seemed appropriate that we got slightly lost on the way home in the fog of snow. Our last day of the tracking season summed up a whole season of good and bad luck… 9 finds out of 35 valid sorties. But it was Joeri’s first season, and I kept that in mind. He had come a long way. Because we are both afflicted with the tracker’s disease, it seemed like fun and a challenge we couldn’t pass up.

Christmas cards from Europe

From good friends at "vom Nonnenschlag" kennel - Rosi and Anne Bauersachs. Rosi is a breeder of our Joeri.

From "Lottie" Charlotte Jacobsson from Sweeden and her teckels at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Nose Knows

John Philips' article on blood tracking published in Petersen's Bowhunting is available now online at

First deer for Digger

This nice e-mail came a couple of weeks ago from Susie Fitzsimmons. Her Digger was bred by Bob Hageman.
"Hello Jola and John,

I just wanted to let you know that my dog, Digger, found his first deer today. Unfortunately, due to some knee and leg problems I was unable to train Digger near as much as I wanted to. I guess it was enough, however, because this was his first opportunity to do a "real" tracking job and he did fabulous! I was surprised and happy at how aggressive he was about tracking and finding the deer. It was a fresh trail, so perhaps it was an easy job for him.

I'm not sure we would have found the deer without Digger's assistance, so we were certainly pleased, and very happy for the young man that was able to recover his deer.

Thanks for all your support and assistance, advice, etc. last year when I was getting Digger started. "

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas cards and pictures with teckels

These GREAT pictures were sent by Alexandra Daley-Clark, a professional photographer from Maine. Alex and her husband Denis have a young wirehaired dachshund Bogey and a border terrier Basil. Bogey was bred by Maribeth McEwan from New Hampshire and is being trained for blood tracking.

We received also the picture from Ruben González and Marisa Escobar from Spain, Kennel Los Madroños

Thank you, and Merry Christmas to All!

First real deer for Beau

The picture and message came from Chris Surtees who is training two pups now - Koa (for himself) and Beau (for his Dad). Koa is an eight and a half month old son of Gilda and Billy. Beau was bred by Jeff Springer and is out of his Tilly and our Billy.

"A buddy of mine called me to track a deer for him. He said it was good blood and a fairly long line so I decided to take both Koa and Beau out.

Koa saw his tracking collar and went crazy. I told my buddy to handle Beau and be prepared to pick him up until we reached the trail...boy was I wrong. After putting Beau's collar on I set him on the ground and he was off like a flash.

Fast forward to the trail. Koa reached the spot, started unlocking the direction and off he went. His track was steady and fast but accurate. He got to the spot where the deer stopped and appeared to have stumbled and ended up going in a couple different directions before heading out again. Koa spent a couple seconds there and was back on track. He tracked the deer another 75 yards and found him up near the railroad tracks.

Beau started a couple yards behind Koa and was on track quickly. He caught up to Koa where the deer had stumbled and from that point on was right on my heels. I thought he was following me but his nose was to the ground and several times passed my feet staying on track. Beau is very impressive and seems to have a great nose.

At the deer Koa and Beau both started in sniff and tug on the deer. Then Koa claimed the buck for himself and would not let Beau near it. After Koa took his licks at the buck I pulled him off and put Beau in for his turn. Beau showed no fear of the deer but kept an eye on Koa while he took his turn chewing and tugging.

Overall it was a great evening. Koa found his second deer and Beau was introduced to his first. Learned a lesson though...only one dog at a time. Next time I will run each separately on the trail."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Great tracking season for Sally and Petey from Vermont

Sally Marchmont and Petey (Matthias v Moosbach-Zuzelek) are a tracking team in Vermont, and we wrote about them before. Petey (Buster/Keena son) was born on March 19, 2007 so this was his second real tracking season (he was just seven months old in fall 2007). I could not be happier with Sally's report.

Hi Jolanta and John -

You will be happy to hear that Petey and I have had another successful tracking season. We took 20 calls and found 8. We had good tracking weather and hunters that were really good to work with. I had hoped to get more calls, but I did get some repeat customers which was nice to see.

During our training this summer, I managed to get Petey to slow down fairly well, but it was a completely different story once we started taking calls. He gets so excited and worked up, and I know he's less effective that way. I had hoped he would be a little slower this year, but it looks like it's going to take more time.

Over the first part of the season, I was beginning to think that I was picking him up too soon when I wasn't seeing blood, and it seemed as though when I picked him up and brought him back, it threw him off. He would seem to lose momentum and focus, almost as if he thought that I was telling him he'd gone the wrong way. So I decided to trust him more and let him go longer without seeing blood, with good results. One of the pictures attached is of a beautiful, 200-pound, 8-pointer we found for a lady who had shot him in the pouring rain. The rain had washed all the blood away so I had no choice but to trust Petey completely. He made short work of it, so it was a lesson well learned for me.

The best thing Petey did this year was during a track but had nothing to do with tracking. We had gone into a mass of pricker bushes after a deer when he slipped out of his harness. The prickers were so thick that I couldn't see the ground and it took a minute before I realized what had happened. I had no idea where he was but within 30 seconds of calling, he was at my feet.

Tom and Chris DiPietro were a big help again this year. Chris hurt her knee so couldn't track for most of the season (she's having surgery next week), but Tom and I took some calls together. Musket had another good year. He's in great shape and still going strong. We're having our table again at the big hunting show, and we're making plans to do a lot more advertising next year.

Petey continues to be strong and healthy, and an absolute pleasure to live with. Merry Christmas to you both and a happy and healthy New Year. Sally

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming... and it is great to see all the Christmas cards and pictures we have been getting. The above picture was sent to us by Chris Barr from Indiana and shows his eight and a half month old Gerti (Gwen von Moosbach-Zuzelek). Thanks Chris for sharing and Merry Christmas to you too!

By the way, my favorite Christmas album is How Like The Holly by Joel Mabus. If the popular commercial Christmas songs get on your nerves, try this beatiful, banjo-based alternative. We listened to Joel quite a few years ago at the Old Songs Festival in Altamont (just 15 minutes from us) and were mesmerized by his unpretentious music.

How Like The Holly
(by Joel Mabus ©1999 )

How like the holly in deep winter time
How like the star in the dark night shine
How like a path on the snow driven plain
How like the candle -- how like the flame
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.

How like the frost on the evergreen tree
How like the deer running wild, running free
How like Orion, arising so bold
How like the story bound to be told
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.

How like the holly in deep winter time
How like the star in the dark night shine
How like a path on the snow driven plain
How like the candle -- how like the flame
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.

Joel's official website is at

Darren's trip to Illinois and Karl's first real tracking experiences

The pictures show Karl, a young wirehaired dachshund owned by Darren Doran. This is the first tracking season for Karl who was bred by Laurel Whistance-Smith. He was born February 18, 2009, and he is out of FC Pagan von Lowenherz and our Billy. Darren wrote:

"I'm back home now and Karl really liked his trip to Illinois. We stayed in a house in Hannibal, MO and crossed the Mississippi every day to go to the farm to hunt.

He's really a good dog. The first track was a doe Bobby shot. He knew he killed the deer and it was only about 50yd long. Karl was on the deer in less than a minute. The next was a doe I shot. Again I knew the deer was dead. The track was about 4 hr old. The deer ran through a blow down and directly into the wind. Karl came out of the blow down and immediately air scented the deer and went right to it.

The third was the deer in the picture this doe was shot by Jim and went about 100 yd. The track was 4 hrs old. These tracks were really very easy for Karl and I ran him on these so he would start to realize what his job is and how he fits in to this. As far as that goes I think he's getting it.

The track of the buck that Jim shot I mentioned in the email was different. We went to the hit site and the deer had left the bed; Jim saw him lay down in the night before. The deer had crossed the north line on to private property and we had to get permission to enter. Our contact in IL went to the outfitters camp, but no one was there to give permission. While we were waiting Bob and Jim walked east along the north line and saw the deer dead in a weed patch about 50 yds from his first bed. We really couldn't finish the track with Karl. He became confused as to why we stopped on the track and were just hanging around. The fact that it was raining wasn't helping either. I do believe he had air scented the dead deer when we first started. He left the blood line and charged toward the dead deer and was doing everything he could to get though the fence and go in that direction. We got the deer back on our side and let Karl chew on him as a reward. "

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pictures of Tim Nichols and his Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound

We wrote about Tim Nichols and and his Bavarian Mountain Blood Hound Bruno in January - see that post here. Today we are presenting the first four pictures of the bear and deer he has recovered during this tracking season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lucy's first blood tracking season

I got a good and thorough update on Lucy (Patti v Moosbach-Zuzelek), a Theo/Keena daughter. She is eight and a half months old now. Her owner Dan Davis wrote:

Things seem to be going well with Lucy. She absolutely loves to hunt. When she sees the gear coming out she lays in front of the door waiting until its time to go. I had her out 12 times this fall on "deer calls." We had significant rain in October (20 out of 31 days) which made it tough to get out on training lines. On 7 of the calls either the hunter or I knew where the deer were. She found those 7 and two others that we didn't know where they were but only because no one had looked yet. Two others I honestly didn't think there was much chance for her to find the deer. Based on what the hunter told me I was not convinced either were mortal wounds. I took her anyway mainly for the practice, but also "just in case." She did not find either deer nor did she show us blood beyond where the hunter had found it on their own. I had the opportunity to get her out at night, some tracks took us across water (she loves being in the water), she got exposed to being around other people while tracking; I think it was a productive fall. I am convinced that I have much more to learn about this than she does.

At this point my biggest challenge appears to me to be getting her to slow down. She loves being in the woods and gets very excited. I spent some time trying to get her to slow down with limited success.

Her owner (me) ruined what would have been her best outing of the fall. I shot a mature buck with my bow at 7 a.m. It looked and sounded like a good hit to me, but I found a piece of bloody corn while I was tracking it so, fearing a gut shot, I pulled out for 5 hours. I brought Lucy along when I went back but left her in the truck for the time being. We lost blood after 300 yards, at 400 I found one spot where the deer had brushed against a corn stalk. We looked for a while then decided to give Lucy a try.

She did really well for the first 450 yards or so but then started to get easily distracted by moles, bugs etc. She eventually made a right turn and took me into another woods which happened to be the same woods we walked the edge of when we went to the truck to get her. After a short distance it looked to me like she was taking the same route we took so I thought she may be tracking us. I took her back to the last place we knew the deer had been to start over. She made a left turn.... We started over again, she went straight... We were seeing no indications where the deer might be and she was not as interested as she had been in the beginning so we decided to call it a day. We were walking through the same woods to the truck when Lucy started barking and pulling into the wind. I let her go for awhile while she was zig zagging but then she started circling which usually means she has lost the trail. It was getting late so I picked her up to carry her to the truck. About 75 yards later my brother found the deer. Making a short story long, Lucy was taking me to it both times.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An exciting recovery for Greg Accardo and his dachshunds

These two pictures show a buck recovered by Greg Accardo from Louisiana and his two wirehaired dachshunds. Greg can work his dogs off leash and uses Garmin Astro GPS to keep track of them. Congratulations Greg on this exciting recovery!

Blood Trailing Seminar in Rocksprings, Texas - February 27, 2010

Hurry up and sign up for Marlo Riley's workshop ASAP as the number of available reservations is very limited!

February 27,, 2010

10:00 am: Blood-trail class starts (Please arrive 30 minutes yearly to sign in, if you would like earlier arrival there will be breakfast available for purchase.)
12:30 pm: Lunch Break
1:45 pm – 4:30 pm: Finish up Blood-trail class

$75 for each handler and dog team running blood-trails for the day. $35 for each handler without dog.

Sign Up Contact: Marlo Riley 210-288-0553

Coming from Mountain Home – Head towards Rocksprings, TX on Hwy 41. Hwy 41 intersects with Hwy 83. Garvin Store is on the corner. Go pass intersection, staying on Hwy 41. The ranch gate is 5 miles past Hwy 83 and Hwy 41 on the left. Gate will be marked.

Here is a link to the pictures for the 2009 Seminar:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ginie v Moosbach-Zuzelek - a blood tracking puppy from Georgia

It was great to hear from Wayne Varnadore from Alma, Georgia. We have not heard him from him for a while because as it turned out in July he had a back surgery. Wayne has Ginie from the 2009 litter out of Gilda, sired by Billy.

Wayne wrote: "Ginie has found 5 deer so far for this deer season. On the first find it was an experience for the both of us. It was a gut shot deer with no blood that approx. traveled about 400 yards with about 6 or 7 90-degree turns. She never missed a turn; I didn't know where the deer was with no blood sign. The second deer was my son Tyler's deer with an approx. 200 yards for her to find the deer. She's found all 5 deer with no help. Just wanted to send you a few photos of Ginie with her deer. Also wanted to let you know Ginie has done about 4 overnight lines that I have done with my scent shoes and has done a good job for me. We will let you know if she finds any more deer this season."

Wayne, good to hear from you. We hope that your back heals really soon. Good luck hunting and tracking to all of you!

Monday, December 7, 2009

About our breeding program

I was asked some questions about our breeding program on the Michigan Sportsman Forum. I thought that I would post my answer here too and actually elaborate a bit.

We import wirehaired dachshunds from Europe so we keep a gene pool of working wires alive. It is a small gene pool, and new blood is needed on a regular basis. This is not easy to do.

Every time we import a puppy, we take a chance. We keep the pup and work with him/her. Three years ago we imported two pups from two breeders who breed hunting lines. We decided to place one puppy in a pet home only after four months of having her (because of her temperament tendencies). We kept the other one for a year and a half and placed him in a pet home too.

We don't select only for the blood tracking potential but for health, temperament, functional conformation, reproductive qualities. We select for other (not related to bloodtracking) working characteristics too. We don't use in our breeding the dogs who are not spurlaut even though this characteristic is not critical for blood tracking. Our dogs don't lack prey drive. Actually some owners would say that they have too much of it!

We don't breed narrow specialists but our aim is to breed dachshunds which CAN blood track. Not all dachshunds can. Here in the USA there are no other real hunting jobs for standard dachshunds - just blood tracking. In Europe the breed is used for a variety of hunting tasks. But American hunting tradition, game and regulations are different, and certain types of hunting performed with dachshunds in Europe are strictly illegal here.

Our youngest female now, eight-month-old Paika goes back six generations to the cross I made in 1991:

1. Fausto de la Grande Futaie (French import) was bred to Rivendells Ruby Tuesday (American show line). This produced Kuba (Zuzelek's Globetrotter) who was better than either parent.

FC & Can. Ch. Fausto de la Grande Futaie, JE (1990-2002)

2. Next generation was Branie vom Dornenfeld bred to Kuba, which produced Agata von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

3. Agata was bred to Asko von der Drachenburg, and this produced Elli von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

4. Elli was bred to Alfi von der Hardt-Hoehe, and produced Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

5. Billy was bred to Gilda von Moosbach-Zuzelek (Sabina and Asko's daughter) and this produced Keena von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

6. Keena was bred to a French import Du Théo de la Meute à Cheops and produced Paika von Moosbach-Zuzelek.

Dogs listed above, with the bold font were imported - two from France, three from Germany, in total four by us and one by a friend from Canada.

Asko (excellent producer of blood tracking and field trialing wires) is on both sides of Keena's pedigree so this in an example of line-breeding. But most of the time we use a breeding strategy called asortative mating. You can read about it We certainly know more about dogs that have produced than about the dogs we have imported, but this is the best that we can do. We don't live in Europe, and are not able to visit often but we have gone to Germany and France several times and talked to numerous breeders. We watched blood tracking tests and competitions. Every year we buy a DTK Zuchtbuch and study it.

In our experience the best cross we have ever made was Zalud Staccato by Gerte vom Dornenfeld, and we go back to this bloodline time after time.

Zalud Staccato

We have had experience with other very good producers of blood trackers but sometimes got unpleasant surprises, for example undescendant testicles etc.

Breeding is a process, and in every generation you have to evaluate, select and prioritize. For example, you may have to sacrifice conformation for spurlaut. We try not to double on weaknesses. We know that not all our puppies are going to be perfect blood trackers, and this is why we keep them here for longer and we don't sell them at 7 or 8 weeks. At that age we have no idea yet what we have.

With every litter we learn something new.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

This snow will most likely will end our blood tracking season

It has been snowing since noon, and to me it looks like we got 5-6 inches of far. It is supposed to stop snowing around midnight. Since temperatures are going to stay around the freezing point for the next week, and more snow is expected on Wednesday, most likely this is the end of our blood tracking season. Hunters will continue to hunt, but in many cases they will be able to track their own deer. Our regular firearm season will end on December 13, and then we will have a muzzleloading season until December 22. We hoped for some easy tracks for our young dogs but so far we have not had any.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Game Hunting with Dogs in Frontier Maryland and Pennsylvania

John Jeanneney © 1997, Full Cry

Speculation and debate about cur dogs and hounds of the American frontier has been going on for a long time. Sometimes new pieces of the complicated puzzle show up and add to our understanding of the big picture. Two autobiographies by hunters of the early 1800s describe dogs and how they were used on deer, elk and bear in the frontiers of western Maryland and north-central Pennsylvania. This style of hunting had little in common with modern bear hunting with hounds or with the hunting of deer with hounds as it continues in the south.

The man who tells us most is Meshach Browning (1781-1859) who was born on a small, poor farm in Frederick County, Maryland in the year that the American Revolution ended. Browning's father died shortly after his son's birth and by the time he was ten Meshach's mother took the boy over the mountains to western Maryland. Meshach stayed and hunted in this area for the rest of his life. Deer and bear were plentiful and mountain lions were still present.

Young Meshach spent several years on pioneer farms belonging to his uncle. Here he "hunted coons and wildcats and sold the fur which was in brisk demand." For this he used his dog Gunner, a jack of all trades dog who also hunted rabbits. Before he was 16 (B.25) he was on his own. By this time he also began to hunt deer accompanied by Gunner.

Browning hunted deer and bear with the dog in close, not ranging out. The dog was kept at a loose "heel", or if not so well-trained, was restrained by some sort of a cord. The hunter "still hunted" moving slowly through the timber looking for deer and watching his dog who would wind scent the deer and indicate its presence through body language but without barking. The dog acted as nose and ears for the hunter and could also follow the game after the shot. This hunting method is still used today in Scandinavia by moose hunters who use Norwegian Elkhounds and related breeds.

In reading Browning's narrative it is obvious that these needs to follow wounded deer were frequent. The flintlock rifles that were generally used on big game threw a .45 caliber ball. The quality of the powder available was also not the best. By modern standards the energy delivered would be considered marginal, and these flintlock hunters had difficulties if placement of the ball was not ideal. Under the circumstances putting a dog on the hot line of the wounded deer was a time-saver and often a game saver as well.

Meshach became best known as a bear hunter and at the end of his hunting career he estimated that he had killed 300 to 400 bears. It was an old bear hunter, Mr. John Caldwell of Wheeling, who introduced him to the use of dogs in bear hunting. Meshach obtained his first great bear dog, Watch, out of John Caldwell's stock. Watch was what Meshach wanted, a large, powerful dog up to the task of pulling down wounded deer and baying bears that would not tree.

Bears were more numerous and much less wary in those days than they are today. Sometimes Meshach hunted bears with his dog on their feeding grounds as he did deer. He would use a dog to locate denned bears, to roust them out, bay them and follow after the shot. He would also cold track bears on snow by sight, and after jumping them turn his dogs loose on the hot line.

Browning described his preferences for deer and bear dogs in some detail. From the start he wanted big dogs that were strong and fast like Watch. At the end of his career Meshach seemed to have a pretty clear idea of how to breed what would be useful to him. He worked with variations of the bulldog/greyhound cross. "Take a half-blooded pup," he advised, "a cross between the bulldog and the greyhound...." He did not stick to a rigid formula and "bulldog" and greyhound were generic terms for kinds of dogs less extreme in type than the breeds of today.

Clearly Meshach liked jaw power in his bloodlines. "I had lost my old hunting dog and had with me the slut from which I raised my good dogs...."When (the buck) found her so close, he turned to fight her off. Being partly of the bulldog breed, she seized him by the nose, and held on until she mashed his nose up to his eyes, and crushed both eyes entirely shut." Browning liked to work with variations of the bulldog greyhound cross, but he did not stick to a strict formula. "I have had some very fine dogs which were a cross between the bulldog, the greyhound, and the fox hound; but the only objection to them is that they are so noisy that you can never steal on the game, but keep it always on the look-out."

Meshach's preferred dog was fairly tight-mouthed and apparently more a windscenter than a specialist for old, cold ground scent.

"The extraordinary success which I had in bear-hunting requires some explanation which I will endeavor to give. I always kept two good dogs; one of which walked before me and the other behind. The one in front would wind the bear, and lead me up to him on that side on which he could not smell me, and I would come on him unexpectedly. If, by chance, he found us coming on him and ran, the dogs would overtake him before he would be out of sight. The moment I would see one run, I would send the dogs after him; and as I could run almost as fast as any bear could, when the fight began I was close up and a shot was certain death."

Sometimes we have to take a small grain of salt with Meshach's statements and realize that he was describing his ideal of dog work rather than what took place most of the time.

None of the adventures which he recounts in his book required much cold nose work by modern big game hound standards. Cold trailing ability would not have been very important in this style of hunting.

There is no basis for assuming that Meshach's dogs were ancestors of any modern cur breed although clearly they resembled curs much more than hounds. We have no sure way of knowing what they looked like. Engravings and etchings provided by Browning's editor Edward Stabler show dogs which have the outline of a rather rangy southern black mouth cur of the Ladner or Nolan strains. The plates from Meshach Browning's book do not prove how the dogs actually looked. Edward Stabler, the artist/editor who produced them, knew Meshach personally after his hunting days were over, but we can't be sure whether his illustrations in the book depict specific dogs or just showed generic big game dogs of the 1850's. An engraving identified as a "bear dog" looks like a modern pitbull.

What we do know is that Meshach's dogs acted like curs and were useful in the ways that a cur-dog is useful. They were used by Browning to wind game. They worked very close to him until a deer was encountered. There are hounds that will do this, but it is more typical of cur work. Browning's dogs also formed close associations with individuals and were more protective than is characteristic of hounds."I asked Mary if she would stay in the house by herself while I went out to shoot a deer for she had been a long time wishing for some fresh venison; and I told her that her brother wanted to go with me. She said yes, if I would leave Watch (her favorite dog), which would not suffer man or beast to touch her in a rough way; for, if I was playing with her, and she called Watch, he would jump at me, and would bite too, if I persisted."

We will never know if these dogs ever became part of the great gene pool from which modern curs derive. Meshach does describe what canine traits he found useful for his frontier hunting. These traits could be bred for when needed by combining certain types of dogs, as has been done with the deliberate greyhound collie crosses that produce "lurchers" for taking hares and rabbits in England.

Browning also took great pains to train his dogs to handle well:

"Take a half-blooded pup, a cross between the bull dog and the grey hound, FEED HIM WELL - FOR A STARVED PUPS WILL SURELY BE A THIEF, - and when he is able to follow you to the field, make him lie down at your feet and do not allow him to rise until he is told. When he gets a rod or two from you, either make him return, or wait till you come up with him, and then make him lie down again. In all cases where he does his duty caress him and he will soon learn to love his master; after which he will not be afraid and run away to avoid correction. Whip but lightly, until you have so trained the dog that you can depend on his obedience to your command to stop, or to return at your order. When you have taught him this, you may venture a little more severity, according to the offense; and when he is taken into the woods he must be first taught to trail his game; for if a deer is wounded he should trail it carefully, going but a step or two before his master, until the game is killed. When the master can see the deer which he has killed, he should let the pup go toward the carcass, and then call him back; then, advancing a little nearer, he should let him go to the deer a second time, and call him back again; then let the master accompany him to the deer and flatter him as much as possible. By this means, when he is sufficiently instructed, and is sent to catch a wounded deer, he will kill it, return to his master and guide him to the spot where it is lying. And he must never leave his master more than two or three steps, lest a deer bound off, and he run after it and be spoiled.

When in the woods, and your dog seems to desire to run after deer, pretend you see some, and take the gun in your hand as you would if you were creeping toward a deer; when if the dog misbehaves, you can chastise him. By treating a dog this way every time he becomes unruly, he may be entirely cured of his faults."

While Meshach Browning was thinning the deer and bear population in western Maryland another hunter Philip Tome (1782-1855) was hunting with his dogs along the same Appalachian ridges some 250 miles to the Northeast along the Pennsylvania-New York Boundary. By his own account, Tome's parents were of "German extraction." He was born a year after Meshach Browning near what is today Harrisburg and his family later migrated north up the west branch of the Susquehannah. Tome's methods of hunting big game with dogs were a little different from Browning's, but the techniques overlapped in some respects. In northern Pennsylvania Tome hunted deer and bear, but his specialty was elk which very uncommon down in Browning's country.

Tome credits John Mills, an old hunter who lived near his father for giving him his best instruction, although later Tome certainly expanded upon the art of his master. Before moving to Canada Mills sold his farm to Tome's father and then made another deal with the son. Meshach reported that he offered "to sell me his dog, and to teach me all he knew about hunting for fifteen dollars which I accepted. I had already hunted for several years, but his instructions were of greater value than all my previous experience."

Tome seemed to want a "houndier" dog than Browning:

"The best kind of dog for hunting deer is a large variety, half bloodhound, a quarter cur and the other quarter greyhound. I have had two dogs of this kind, for one of which I paid ten dollars and the other six. They were of more practical value than four small dogs would have been. When they were one in a chase on a deer they would not lose one in ten. So famous did they become for their prowess, that if any of the neighbors saw them running, they would exclaim, "there are Tome's dogs; the deer cannot be far off." The deer could never baffle them by any of their usual stratagems, and they often ran them down before they reached the water. Those wishing to hunt successfully should always procure at any cost, the largest and best dogs to be found."

The bloodhound genes in these cross-bred dogs should have produced strong aptitudes for working ground scent. When we compare Tome's hunting stories to those of Browning, we see that Tome places much less emphasis on wind scenting, and his runs on deer tend to be longer. Tome did not work his dogs in close as much as Meshach, but he definitely expected them to be obedient and handle well. "We owned three well-trained dogs. If we put them on a track they would not leave it for any other; they would come when called, and never go until we gave the word." They were hounds but they were very well-trained.

A posed, not very clear photograph of Tome which is in the collection of the Warren County Historical Society shows him with a rifle and dog. This dog seems to have more the features of a cur than a hound, but he may not have been typical of Tome's elk and deer dogs.

According to Tome:

"The most favorable time for hunting elk is in the month of August, when they herd together and the bucks are very fat. I have sometimes seen as many as sixty in one herd. At this season they utter a peculiar hollow roar, which can be heard at a great distance, and are constantly fighting with each other. The hunter approached them cautiously with dogs, and when near enough he let the dogs loose, and the elk, instead of running, would face the dogs. The hunter now crept nearer, and shot them, keeping himself concealed. They would gather around their fallen companions, making a great noise."

In the winter, snow cover made it practical to scout for elk tracks. He would follow these tracks for many miles before jumping the elk and releasing the dogs. In heavy snow the dogs had a good chance of running down and baying the elk.

It was Philip's father, Jacob Tome, who had created a sensation in January of 1800 by using dogs and ropes to capture a large bull elk and bring it out of the woods alive. In his own career Philip repeated the feat a number of times.

Tome hunted deer with dogs in a number of different ways. Especially in the fall when the deer were fat he cast his dogs like hounds; hunters were posted along the steams to ambush the deer as they picked their way along through the water and rocks in an effort to lose the dogs.

Tome also jacked deer at night from a canoe or at natural or man-made salt licks. Close to salt licks he would build a "scaffold" (this sounds like the German Hochsitz); when the deer came he would lower a burning torch to give himself shooting light. "I generally had a companion and a dog, and one of us remained at a distance with the dog, while the other watched from the scaffold. In the morning, if any were wounded, we set the dog on the track, if we could not track it by blood without difficulty."

Both Meshach Browning and Philip Tome hunted primarily for the market. Meshach estimated that he killed, in total, 1800 to 2000 deer. Philip Tome, as well as his brother, about whom we get little detail, took a lot of game. "My brother killed from twenty-five to thirty-five elk and twenty to twenty-five bears each year. I did not kill as many.... During one season, my brother killed of bears, elk and deer nearly two hundred.. The greatest number that I killed, in any one season, of the same kind of animals was about one hundred and thirty." Bear meat was the most valuable of all. "If we saw a bear track when we were in pursuit of elk, we would always leave the elk and follow the bear."

The methods of Browning and Tome would be illegal today in most of the country; there is also a real question of whether their methods would be as effective. Black bears were certainly much less wary in the early 1800's. Elk, in the habit of standing up to wolves, did not fare well when responding in the same way to dogs and hunters with rifles. There may well be some over-simplification or exaggeration in some of the accounts, but we do know that wild animals responded very differently before they came to know of humans with firearms.

Black bears then also tended to be more aggressive than the ones which survive in the East today; they were a real threat to livestock, especially free-ranging hogs. Browning saw the bear as a respected adversary, but he fought them no holds barred. Describing a rough bear fight, he wrote:

"When I saw him laid out at my feet, and thought how manfully he had fought in his own defence, and also how unfairly he had been taken, without the least notice at the onset, it destroyed all pleasure of the fight. But then it occurred to me that, if he had escaped at this time, he would perhaps have killed a dozen hogs for some of my friends; and that if he had received the least notice of the attack, he could not have been taken by all the dogs in the neighborhood."

Both Browning and Tome hunted deer as if they were harvesting apples for the market. They picked everything in sight, always confident that there would be more for the following year. They were hard men living in hard times, but they did not hunt for the love of killing. Tome wrote:

"I never want only killed an animal, when I could gain nothing by its destruction. From October to May their skins are good, and at this season I always killed all I could. With a true hunter it is not the destruction of life which affords the pleasures of the chase; it is the excitement attendant upon the very uncertainty of it which induces men even to leave luxurious homes and expose themselves to the hardships and perils of the wilderness."

For these two frontier hunters dogs were as much a part of big game hunting as their flintlock rifles. Dogs and men had much in common. They were equally driven and equally tough. They lived up to one another.


Browning, Meshach, Forty-Four Years of the Life of a Hunter Being Reminiscences of Meshach Browning, a Maryland Hunter, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1859. Reprint. Oakland, MD: Appalachian Background Inc., 1982.

Tome, Philip, Pioneer Life or, Thirty Years a Hunter, Harrisburg, PA: Aurand Press, 1854. Reprint. Salem, NH: Ayer Company Publishers, 1989.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Misconceptions about us and our dachshunds

This post is going to be more personal than any other as today was a really bad day. First a friend called with the news that an outfitter from the Midwest has two of our dogs, he does not like them and wants to get rid off them. Well, we never sold a dog (or two dogs) to any outfitter in this particular state (it is illegal to blood track there). So these dachshunds can’t be out of our breeding (=bred by us). Also in our contract we have “If the buyer at any time chooses to resell or transfer custody of this dog to a third party, the buyer must first notify seller before any resale or transfer to a third party takes place. At this time the seller shall have the first option to repurchase the dog (at the price not higher that the original purchase price) before sale or transfer to a third party.” We repurchased our dogs before. For example, Emma was repurchased for the sales price when her first owner was going through a nasty divorce and had to find a new home for her.

I have encountered this thinking before. If it is a wirehaired dachshund used for tracking, it must be from John and Jolanta. How not true! There are other breeders in this country, and close to 12-15 litters of wirehaired dachshunds out of European blood lines were bred this year. Some litters were sired by our males, but some were not. If there is a “von Moosbach-Zuzelek” dog in a pup’s pedigree a generation or two back, this pup is not “out of our breeding”. Only dogs purchased directly from us are “out of our breeding”.

Anyway, I feel really bad about the two dachshunds mentioned by our friend but I don’t know who bred them.

Next I stumbled upon a hunting forum, where a person we know from online contacts and phone conversations (never met him in person) was giving advice about buying a dachshund for blood tracking. He has a great little dachshund, and we have always been supportive of his work and promoted his accomplishments. He has never owned or worked with dachshunds out of our breeding or bloodlines. Well, it was a shock to find out that “our dogs are overrated and not worth the money we ask people to pay”. Apparently we are very good at marketing, breed dogs for living, and the dogs are not that good. This is not all that was written there, and after I had read the whole thread I felt sick. Why do people have this need of making themselves feel better by putting others down?

In reality we are very selective about buyers. When you go to our website there are no hard sale tricks there, no flashy advertisement. We don’t even have “testimonials” as we want to attract buyers who have done their own research. Actually, we have an “obstacle course” for potential buyers, and we don’t make it easy for people to buy a puppy from us. Yes, we charge quite a bit of money for a puppy, we ask people to come here to pick up a puppy (we don’t ship), which might be very expensive, and we sell our puppies on the AKC limited registration. It is all spelled out very clearly on the website, but I doubt that it is “good marketing”.

Why don’t we sell our pups cheaper? We value our work and time we put into these puppies. We import dogs from Europe, and we don’t get any guarantees from European breeders. We evaluate the imported puppies thoroughly, and we use for breeding only the best individuals (usually 50% of what we import). The evaluation and strict selection are integral parts of our breeding program. We do not put together just any two dogs out of European breeding or sell pups at 7-8 weeks. This is not the way we choose to breed dogs. Most of the time we breed only two litters of pups a year, and we work with puppies until they are at least ten weeks old. Some pups stay here until they are 12-14 weeks old. We spent at least half a day with people who come to pick up pups (no extra fee). We provide as much support as people are willing to accept.

Of course, we have expenses. Our dogs are fed premium food – twice a day. In the morning they get raw diet from Omas Pride (our bill is $700 per two months just for that). In the afternoon they get premium dry kibble. We don’t skimp on veterinary care, and all our dogs undergo eye examination every other year. The dogs have fenced-in 12 acres where they get exercise.

It was hard to read how apparently we profit from dogs because we give so freely our time and work to clubs such as Deer Search and United Blood Trackers. John who has been retired for 9 years from his professional career as a college professor does not charge for his seminars (as most professional dog people do) and sometimes (!) he gets reimbursed for travel. He spends every day two hours on the phone giving trackers encouragement and advice…for free. We don't charge anything for tracking.

Then I did a google search and visited another hunting forum. I read somebody’s post there (of course nobody is using their real name) that John wrote his book “on Hofstra dime”. The truth is that he retired from Hofstra University 9 years ago, and his book was published in 2003!

I have no idea where people come up with stuff like this but certainly it was a day full of nasty discoveries.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Poppy's second deer; advice for new handlers

Derek Harris from Texas wrote that Poppy found her second deer on Saturday. "A hunter had made a shot too far back. We gave it a couple hours and then made a go at it. We went out with the hunters but she did not seem to be able to focus. It seemed like if she heard them talk or make any noise she would get distracted. I picked her up and took the hunters back to the lodge. Poppy and I came back alone and she was focused. After a little more than an hour we found the deer still alive in a draw. He was about 80 yards from us. We circled back around to get behind the deer. When we got about 30 yards from the deer I tied Poppy to a tree and got a little closer so I could make a good shot with the pistol. She is still very possessive of her treats at the end of blood lines and of deer. I am going to call Kevin Breaux this week for advice because I am having trouble with my lead in this terrain. Poppy has done well but I still don't have that much confidence in myself. Hopefully with more practice and experience that will change."

My response to Derek was: "Like with anything in life, you get better at things when you practice and get more experience. Poppy is just eight-months-old and you are a novice blood tracker. You both have a long way to go but you will be getting better and better.

A good idea to call Kevin. If you track in a very thick cover, you may need to use a longer lead – around 40 feet. It has to be stiff so it can snake on the ground without getting hung up."

Derek's e-mail brings up important points. First tracking experiences for novice trackers with inexperienced young dogs may be very frustrating and daunting. There is a steep learning curve involved for both, a dog and handler. Sometimes people who plan to get a tracking dog think that blood tracking is simple and easy, and that a tracking dog will take them straight to the dead deer. If they have never seen a tracking dog in action, why would they think differently? Then they learn that usually in the beginning things are more complicated than that. This is when having a good support system can really help.

It is a good idea to:
  • Re-read John's book; now with some experience you will get more out of it. What was abstract few months ago, now after some tracking will make more sense.
  • Join United Blood Trackers to network with other trackers in your area or online. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Read other trackers' posts and articles, you will learn from them.
  • If you live in New York, join Deer Search.
  • Attend blood tracking workshops and seminars as you will always learn something new.
  • Talk to a breeder of your dog. If this person is an experienced blood tracker, he/she will be able to advise you.
  • Have realistic expectations. Because even young tracking puppies can look so brilliant on difficult artificial tracks, it is tempting to expect them to do really well on natural lines. But there is so much more to real tracking.
  • Keep on socializing your dog. Tracking dogs have to work with hunters around and be at ease with strangers. They need to be exposed to a variety of situations.
  • Avoid situations in which your young dog might suffer traumatic experiences. Make sure that your pup is exposed to gun fire and she is OK with it before you take her on a real deer call where hunters will be shooting. Don't let your pup come into a close contact with a deer that it is still alive. Plan, anticipate, and patient.

Trust your dog? part 3

Joe Walters from Indiana wrote yesterday:

"Hunter thought he had hit too far back. After checking his arrow and hair, we determined he had made a good hit. Starting at the hit site Doc took it out of the woods and north along the edge of a bean field for a long ways and then back into the woods with blood starting to get sparse. He then opened and started north again opening a lot as we went to the north end of woods with no blood. I pulled him off and we went back to blood trail and farther west about 200 yds to dead buck. He had gotten on a live deer. A 3/4 mile track had turned into a 1 1/2 mile jaunt. I hope he doesn't start doing this as it was a wild goose chase."

This is a good example of what might happen when you track wounded deer. There will be tracks of live deer in the area, and a dog will be tempted to leave an old blood line, especially when it is a difficult line. It takes experience, maturity, focus and self-control on dog's part not to give in to the temptation. As John stated before: "Even dogs have their limitations; even a dog can make a mistake, and this is especially true for young dogs. Don’t blindly trust your dog for 100s of yards; keep looking for that speck of blood to confirm your trust. And read your dog."

Monday, November 30, 2009

A long and exciting track for Kevin Armstrong and Karma

Karma's #7 recovery this season was a long exciting track. The hunter swore that he had a chest hit. He followed bright blood 100 yards to a bed and jumped the deer. After jumping the deer he followed blood for another 100 yards then lost the trail.

When Chris Martinek and I arrived we found paunch hair and bright blood at the hit site. We got off to a poor start due to many other deer in the area, walking on the same trails as our wounded buck. Eventually we followed our deer the 200 yards the hunter had marked. Then we added another 50 yards of trail out to a paved road. We lost the trail at the road. After 1/2 hour of searching we began to suspect a back track. Sure enough, when we went back we found blood spatters going back on the trail. Karma soon found the turn and took me through suburban door yards and across driveways. The hunter confirmed that we had tracking permission as we went from one property to another.

The trail was confirmed by an occasional drop of blood. After 1/2 mile the deer was veering to the west, away from the homes. Karma soon found a second bed. The blood leaving this bed was much fresher than the blood leading to it, so I knew we had jumped the deer. Now Karma was locked on to this deer. I knew that nothing could break her concentration. Rather than back off I decided to try to run the deer down. Away we went through swamp and thicket for over a mile. From time to time the trail was confirmed by a drop of blood. From time to time I would find a drop of blood with the fingers pointing back at us, indicating that the deer was moving in front of us and watching his back trail. In another 1/2 mile we were going through water nearly to the tops of my 18 inch pac boots. I took this to be a last ditch effort of a desperate deer trying to lose the trackers.

I was right. As we came out of the swamp and up a bank covered in rose, wood vine, and thorns, there lay our buck. He was still alive but his head was drooping as in sleep. The deer was 10 yards from Karma when I spotted him. I gave the hunter my dog lead and pruners to hold as I moved in for a killing shot. At 5 yards I cocked the hammer of my .44 mag. Hearing this the buck leaped to his feet and fled. The laser was on his chest so I squeezed.

The lucky bullet severed his spine, knocking him down and allowing me to dispatch him as humanely as possible.

Breathless, the hunter and tracker watched in celebration as Karma claimed her buck. We walked exactly 1 mile from where we dragged the buck to the road and the where the truck was parked. So, if we straitened out the trail we had probably tracked the deer from 1.5 to 2 miles. Maybe more.

The once skeptical, now totally impressed hunter, gave Deer Search a very generous donation.

Sorry about the poor quality picture. I had forgotten my camera and have to be content with a cell phone pic.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great future ahead for Andy and Ruby, a very promising blood tracking team from southern Maryland

This is a first blood tracking season for Any Pederson from southern Maryland and his wirehaired dachshund Ruby. Ruby is a daughter of our Billy and Pepper Berger von Arno Yergz owned by Gail and Art Berger, and she was born December 13, 2008. Andy has been a volunteer tracker at the local Navy Base for the past 20 yrs. and getting Ruby has fulfilled his dream. The future looks bright for this promising team. Thank you Andy for sharing your experience with us!

12 Oct 09:
Ruby and her first encounter with the real thing. She was fun to watch; when she came up on the doe, she laid down about 5 feet away and pondered her options. She soon started licking up blood and chewing the ear - it was an effort to keep her off her trophy. It was not a difficult deer to track - Ruby covered the 120 yds in 4 minutes.


4 Nov 09:
Ruby convinced this hunter that she was right about where the buck ran off - no blood was evident at the hit, and the hunter opined that he heard the buck run off in another direction. The 250 yd track took Ruby less than 5 minutes to cover. The buck could have easily been lost.


21 Nov 09:
A very difficult track of ~175 yds that took about 10 minutes - very dense cover. There was very little blood in evidence after the first ~50 yds of the bow hit. Ruby lost the track a few times, but managed to pick it up to the end. The hunter credited Ruby with saving a potentially lost deer.


25 Nov 09:
This buck could have been sight-tracked, but my friend called me off my stand and waited for me to get Ruby. Just after the hunter told me he thought the buck went off to the right of our track, we came across his broken arrow. I did not see much blood - not a pass-thru and the hit was high. Ruby ran the ~150 yd track under 5 minutes. My friend commented: Awesome!

Blood tracking with a Jagdterrier

We received this e-mail and pictures from a fellow Deer Search member - Marc Niad, from Yorktown Heights, NY, who tracks with a Jagdterrier Dakota. Marc says:

"I am happy to report that two Westchester County, NY bow hunters were greatly elated and appreciative Deer Search and of my dog Dakota's ( German Jagdterrier) ceaseless efforts which helped find their bowshot deer.

The first picture is of a 7 pt. buck shot on 11/6/09. The track was initiated 6 hours after the shot. The wounded deer crossed two roads, then walked further down the second road and subsequently turned back into the woods. It finally ventured up a hill and expired where Dakota then found it. As you can imagine, the hunter was very appreciative.

The second picture is of a doe that was gut shot on 10/25/09. This time Dakota started the track 7 hours after the shot and found the deer within a short time. Again, the result was another grateful hunter who was rewarded with his deer."

Great job Marc and Dakota!