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Friday, January 16, 2009

Chuck and Moose help Michigan hunters find wounded deer

Moose (Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek) is just a year and a half old but he is already an accomplished tracker owned and skillfully handled by Chuck Collier from Hillman, Michigan. He is out of Buster (FC Clown vom Talsdeich) and our Emma (FC Asta von Moosbach-Zuzelek).

This is a short article by Yvonne Swager from Hunter's Pocket Guide published by Montmorency County Tribune, 2008-2009 edition. What follows is the update on Moose's tracking in 2008 submitted by Chuck.

What Moose the dachshund lacks in size, he makes up for in talent. Dachshunds are a popular breed used for tracking deer, and the Hillman dog, owned by Chuck Collier, is a shining example of why the small dogs are preferred for such large tasks.

Moose was just a few months old when he was called in to find a buck for Adam Osmun, Grand Blanc, who hunts with Collier in Presque Isle County. Osmun knew his friend had a blood tracking dog and, when he couldn't find a seven point buck last fall, he gave the pup a chance to show his stuff.

Osmun said he and some fellow hunters were surprised by the size of the dog and were somewhat doubtful the dog would succeed in finding the deer. "We were skeptical," he said.

The dog tracked the deer for about 50 yards before discovering his first find. Osmun was so impressed, he called Moose in to find a second and more difficult case. He said he had little hope of finding the doe he had shot in the gut with his bow. "With a gut shot with a bow, a deer can go a long way," Osmun said. "And, it started to rain two seconds after I shot it." He said a small drop of blood was found every 10-15 feet for about 30 yards, then the trail ended. The dog was once again called in to do the job.

"Moose was just running down the trail. He would stop and look back at us," Osmun said. The dog led the men in a large circle. He said they were beginning to think the pup had lost the trail, but they followed him anyway. "Moose walked us up to six feet short of the deer in a bush," he said. "We ended up finding it in the opposite direction in which it ran. We would have never found that deer. It would have been a horrible waste."

The pup tracked the doe 600 yards in the rain. After repeated finds, Osmun said he and his fellow hunters gained a new respect for the tiny dog. "We stopped picking on Moose," he said.

Born Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek, the pup comes from a line of German wirehaired dachshunds bred for tracking. His mom is a tracker, and, though females are regarded as better trackers, his father took first place in a competition of 142 dogs in Georgia.

Collier said Moose has found nine of 28 deer, which is a good record for any tracking dog. At a recent United Blood Trackers (UBT) Trackfest in Pennsylvania, Collier said the dog obtained scores average for an adult and superior for a puppy.

He doesn't charge for his dog's services, and said he hopes to keep the effort voluntary, taking donations for food and gas. He said he decided to have a blood tracking dog because it fit well with his hobbies. "I love deer hunting, and I love dogs," Collier said. "This is the perfect mix."

The dogs are initially trained to follow deer livers dragged across the terrain. According to Collier, dachshunds are ideal because they can move in and out of thickets, are low to the ground and close to the smell, can track by air or ground and are easy to transport.

"Any dog has the capability, but some are better at it than others," he said. There is room for six dogs in Montmorency County alone, according to Collier. "I was getting three calls a day," he said. "I started to screen calls according to the probability of the find."

Collier is a state trooper and said he could have trained Moose to track anything, including human scents. However, he said he prefers to keep his activities with his dog separate from work. "My goal is to keep in the realm of hunting, because I do it for relaxation," he said.

This is Chuck's report on tracking in 2008:

This first picture was a doe that was gut shot and went approximately 200 yards with minimal blood with gaps. The trail was only about four hours old and he found her in about two minutes.

The second picture is of a find about 15 hours old. Obviously the coyotes beat us there (this was the second time this year the coyotes beat us). Moose tracked this one about 300 yards with two sharp turns. There was virtually no blood. The first hundred yards was in a large food plot and there was intense fresh deer scent to overcome. Once Moose figured out the field he finished smoothly in the woods. In our area during the first bow season it is hard to leave a deer overnight because of coyote activity. During gun season I believe there are enough carcasses and gut piles you can wait till morning.

The third picture was a track about eight hours old and the track was about 350 yards. It was a gut shot mature doe. There was no visible blood and there was about an inch of light fresh snow in tracks and heavy fresh deer activity. Moose took me on a couple wrong fresh tracks but after about a hundred yards he found a snow covered wound bed with some light stomach material. I then encouraged him as he was now on the correct deer. He continued in thick cover and across a two track. We lost the trail at the two track for a few minutes but I kept resetting him and finally he was on again and was bouncing with excitement. The deer then did two sharp turns and hooked back where we found her. There was no way we would have looked where we found her without the Mooseman. That was Moose and my 50th real deer/bear track and 16th find.

The fourth picture is a little three pointer the was mistaken for a doe by the hunter. He hit way forward in the chest cavity. The hunters tracked about 150 yards and Moose and I tracked the next morning about another 250 yards with some sharp turns. The only blood I would see was occasionally in Mooses tracks as there was a little less than an inch of fresh snow. Moose got off the track near a turn at the edge of spruce and a cedar swamp. He led me to some raccoons in an overturned cedar. I corrected him sharply verbally once, then walked him back to the turn. He got on again and smoked through to the deer. It is fun to move fast but I tried to keep some tension on the lead to make him slow down. Moose and I had a recovery party as usual at the find.

This last picture was not a "real" find as I shot this buck during late muzzleloader season. I had a good hit on the buck and he only ran about 50 yards. What was special about this was I had Moose back in the vehicle and I was able to enjoy a beautiful hunt with him by going back and getting him and letting him run the uncontaminated trail to the deer. I loved watching him bound through the snow. He got to the buck and as far as he was concerned "we" both hunted the deer. Beautiful training track with deer party at the find site. There is no better way to instill the prey drive in the dog or handler.

There are more picts of Moose but these were some of the fun ones. The first shows Moose in charge in a pickup ready for action.

This second one was Moose on the back of a flatbed truck. I love his colors and his musclebound studly body!

I'm very happy with getting Moose from you and John. He is really a large part of our family for being a little dog.

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