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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mickey's last deer

Tim Nichols' beagle Mickey was one of the great tracking dogs of the North East. He died a year ago on March 24 at the age of 12 ½. Mickey found more deer in his career than any other dog in Deer Search. This was in part due to the fact that Tim his handler had drive and stamina to match his hound’s. For eight successive years the pair took more calls and found more deer than any other tracking team in Deer Search. They were licensed to track on both sides of the New York/Vermont border, rough country with plenty of mountains and beaver swamps.

Their grand total of deer finds was 160. In addition Mickey found three bears and even found two lost dogs. He would track whatever Tim requested.

Here is Tim’s account of Mickey’s last deer call in November of 2007. As you can see from the photo taken at the end, Mickey had nothing left but heart and the desire to do his job. This story says a lot about both Mickey and Tim.

The End is Near

It was Thanksgiving day of Vermont’s 2007 deer season and very wet outside. It had been a mixture of rain and snow and just a raw day. At around noontime the phone rang, and to my surprise it was a hunter from near my home calling for help to locate a buck that his girlfriend had hit. Both of them had shot at it but he knew that his shots were off the mark as the buck was hitting high gear going across the field. However, the deer had buckled when the girlfriend took the first shot.

So I loaded the old beagle Mickey into his crate, not knowing that his time was dwindling away faster than his old body made me realize. We headed up the road about two miles to search for this wounded buck. When I got there, the boyfriend came out of the house to inform me of what had happened. After filling out the tracking report we headed out his back door and up a very steep ridge to get to the last blood he had found. After a 15 minute walk we finally arrived at the scene. I snapped the lead into Mickey's harness and we were off, now at a much slower pace then in his younger years. But we still had a steady pace and within 15 minutes Mickey started to bark which meant we were 20 to 30 minutes behind the deer.

As we were moving from ridge to ridge we hear a shot ring out up ahead of us. I stopped to listen, but there were no follow up shots. So we continued to track and within a few minutes we approached a very shaken hunter just standing in the woods looking puzzled. As I got to him I asked him if had shot. His reply was "I think so!". I thought for a second and asked him again and this time he confessed that he had buck fever and missed. He then asked if he could join us. I told him, “Sure, come along and watch. It’s going to be a long day.”

So we proceeded along and within 10 minutes a shot rang out, then another, and another. We stopped and waited for a few minutes and then went on tracking. When we hear another shot, I didn't want to continue, but we did. As we tracked through some pines I looked ahead to see a party of about five hunters all looking at the ground. As I approached I could see a buck laying there with a few holes in him. As I got to the hunters, I recognized my next door neighbor standing over the buck smiling. He yelled that, “It took a few shots but we got him.” I then said to him ," Who is going to claim this prize?" He replied " The guy who called you to track for him drew first blood, so its his deer.".

After a few minutes of discussion about what had taken place, all the hunters left, and I was left with a deer, a dog, my back pack and very little idea where I was. So I gutted the deer and started to drag it in the direction I came from.

Thank God, one of the hunters had called my wife to go get the girl who had originally shot the deer and meet up with me to help get it out of the woods. Everything finished up well, the girl was happy, and I made it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Mickey and his last deer


Albert A Rasch said...

I raise my glass to him!

Here's to Mickey!

May we all go, doing what we love, to the very end!!!

Fondest regards,
Albert A Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
The Rasch Reviews: Tactical
Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit
Southeast Regional OBS Coordinator

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring story, every hunter needs a companion like Mickey. R.I.P.