Above - Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek, below Olana v Moosbach-Zuzelek, Billy's niece
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Zuchtschau Judge: Agnès de France - President of the French Dachshund Club
Presenters (in alphabetical order)
Andy Bensing – Dog trainer, DTK/NATC hunting judge, and President of the United Blood Trackers.
John Jeanneney – Author of Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer, DTK/NATC hunting judge and founding member of the NATC, Deer Search and United Blood Trackers.
Lisa Kennell - Canine Enforcement Officer, Procurement Officer, Instructor and Course Developer for the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, expert on scent detection and tracking.
Seminar topics will include hunting, canine scent work, blood tracking, obedience, gun steadiness and water retrieval.
Training and testing will be offered for blood tracking, obedience, gun steadiness and water retrieval.
A Zuchtschau (conformation show), where dachshunds can receive written critiques from an FCI judge, will be held on Sunday.
May 28-29, (Thursday all-day & Friday AM)
Blood tracking covering the following topics:
• Blood Tracking as a Handler/Dog Team, PowerPoint, John Jeanneney (Techniques of tracking, handling the leash, reading your dog.)
• Laying a Blood Line, Andy Bensing (practice in the woods.)
• Working with Young Puppies, Powerpoint, John Jeanneney
• Intermediate training, 5-8 months, Andy Bensing
• Adolescence, John Jeanneney
• Work Available Dogs on Demo Lines, Andy Bensing and John Jeanneney
• Working with Hunters, PowerPoint, Andy Bensing with John Jeanneney
• Prospects for tracking wounded deer in New Jersey in 2009-10, Rich Wolven
May 29, (Friday PM)-
Scent work, “Understanding and utilizing the dog's olfactory system”, Lisa Kennell
May 30, (Saturday)-
AM: Official DTK/NATC blood tracking tests.
Training and practice for BHP-1 and 2 (German companion dog tests that combine some aspects of the AKC’s obedience and CGC tests)
PM: training & practice for BHP-3 and water retrieval test
May 31, (Sunday)
AM: Official DTK/NATC Zuchtschau (conformation evaluation) by Mme Agnes de France, a DTK conformation & hunting judge and Dachshund breeder
Followed by BHP-1 and 3 tests, water retrieval test, and gunsteadiness test
In addition, there will be evening presentations by Mme de France on hunting in France and on conformation from the FCI point of view. These presentations will most likely be held on Thurs and/or Friday night.
For the registration form e-mail Carrie Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration fee per day* -
$40.00 dog and handler team ($30.00 for NATC members)
$25.00 additional dog
$30.00 attendance w/o dog ($20.00 for NATC members)
Registration fee all four days* -
$100.00 dog and handler team ($75.00 for NATC members)
$25.00 additional dog
$75.00 attendance w/o dog ($50.00 for NATC members)
Test and Show fees*:
DTK/NATC 1000 meter Schweiss & Fährtenschuh (blood tracking) test fee is $60.00. Dogs/handlers must meet certain preconditions**. NATC 500 meter test without judges at $30.00 may be offered depending on the number of dogs entered in the 1000 meter tests.
Zuchtschau advance entries: First adult dog $20.00, puppies $15.00, each additional dog/same owner $15.00. Gate entries (day of event): $25.00
Gun steadiness, water test and companion dog test (BHP-1 and BHP-3 will be offered) advance entry is $5.00, $10.00, and $10.00 (for each part), respectively. Gate Entries are $10.00, $20.00 and $20.00, respectively.
* Advance Entry / Closing Date: May 21, 2009 – Register early as space for certain activities may be limited. Registrations will be accepted on the day of the workshop but for anyone training a dog, registration on the day of the workshop or postmarked after the closing date will be charged an additional $25.00.
** Handlers who have already obtained a JGHV/DTK/NATC blood tracking title on one of their dogs may enter other dogs in that test. For novice handlers who have not put a title on a dog, the following are ways to demonstrate that you and your dog have reached a basic level of proficiency: 1) passing an NATC 500 meter test, 2) having a certification for your dog from another acceptable organization such as the United Blood Trackers (UBT) or Deer Search Inc (DSI), and 3) arranging individually for an NATC judge to observe and attest to your dog’s preparedness.
Location: The seminar and show will be held at Winnebago Scout Reservation, 102 Timberbrook Rd., Rockaway, NJ. Camp phone number is (973) 983-9075
From Rt. 80 east, take exit 37 (Hibernia/Rockaway). At end of ramp there is a traffic light. Make a left onto Rt. 513, Green Pond Rd. Go 6.5 miles on Green Pond Rd. to Timberbrook Rd. Make a right onto Timberbrook Rd. and go 1.3 miles to camp entrance.
From Rt. 23, take the Green Pond Rd. exit. Take Green Pond Rd. (Rt. 513) 5.1 miles to Timberbrook Rd. Make a left onto Timberbrook Rd. and go 1.3 miles to the camp entrance.
Best Western, (973) 625-1200 or 1281
Rt. 80 and Green Pond Rd. Rockaway, NJ (a.k.a. intersection of Hibernia Rd. and Rt. 80)
Dogs allowed; $25 per dog per night.
One king bed per room, with pull-out couch, $79
Hampton Inn, Morris Ave, Denville (just off Rt. 80 exit ramp)
No dogs in room except service dogs.
Room prices vary according to day of the week and whether the customer has AAA or AARP:
May 27 Wed. AAA $151.05 + tax, AARP 143.10 + tax, Regular rate $159.00 + tax
May 28 Thurs. AAA $122.55 + tax, AARP $116.10 + tax, Regular rate $129.00 + tax
May 29/30 Fri/Sat AAA $75.05, AARP $71.10 + tax, Regular rate $79.00 + tax
For those that don’t mind more rustic conditions, space can be reserved in one of the camp bunkhouses (bring your own sleeping bag or bedding). Cost to stay in the bunkhouses is $25 a night or $70 to stay for the entire seminar. There is RV parking but no hook-ups. Cost for RVs is $15 a night or $50 to stay for the entire seminar.
Meals: Meals will be available on site at $5 for breakfast and $7 for lunch.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Of the seven entries only two dogs placed in the competition, which allows one hour for finishing the track. First place (Prize II, score 82) went to Tabitha Von Munterkeit (Wirehaired Dachshund), owned by Dale Clifford. The second place (Prize III, score 74) went to a German Shorthair Pointer Rio owned by Ron Hausfelder. Congratulations Tabitha and Rio!
Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek handled by John Jeanneney was clocked out, but he was allowed to finish the certification track (certification does not pose the time limit) and got Prize II and score of 75.
From the left: Andy Bensing (Judge), John Jeanneney with Billy, Bill Siegrist (Judge).
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Dan’s tracking partner is Vars, a Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound; the two had worked together for several deer seasons in Georgia before spending the 2005 season in the big buck country of Illinois. Dan worked there under contract for a big outfitter who leased the hunting rights on thousands of acres. At this time the use of tracking dogs to find lost deer for clients was still quite new. Dan Kendall begins:
“Because of the amount of deer up there in Illinois and the fact that I was also working as a guide, we decided that Vars and I would be called in after the other guides had checked to see if they could find the deer on their own. In all we went on 21 searches and found six of the deer. It was bowhunting only so we wound up with quite a few non-lethal hits. We would determine this only after long tracking jobs. We also had a problem with property line disputes, and had to call off some of our searches because of this.
At first things were tough because there are so many deer up there that it was common to have 50 to 75 deer cross the path of the wounded deer after the shot. Vars and I had worked quite a bit in areas with lots of deer, but we had never encountered anything like this. It was tough, in the case of gut shots and the less than perfect hits, to make the decision to wait and give the animal time to lie up and die. It seems that most shots were taken late in the afternoon, and therefore we would wait until morning to track the animal. I would say the average age of the tracks was 16 to 18 hours, and there would have been literally 50 to 100 deer that had passed through the area overnight. That was a lot of information and distraction for a young dog like Vars to figure out, but he did well. We both learned a lot.
Because we were able to drive relatively close to most of the starting points, at first I would just hook his tracking leash and collar on to him at the truck. I realized very quickly that this was a mistake. He would start tracking from the time that we got out of the truck and by the time we got to the actual hit site he would already have crossed at least 20 fresh tracks.
I then started hooking a short leash on to his regular collar and made up a tracking fanny pack with his long tracking leash and collar and my GPS, compass, water, knife and stuff to properly tag the deer if we found it. I was carrying my camera too but got superstitious about this after we didn't find any, so I quit taking it. Hooking him to the short leash and walking him into the hit site made a huge difference.
When we got there I would tie him to a small tree and go to the hit site with the hunter and guide to get a general idea of the hit and the direction the deer had traveled after the hit. In bowhunting the travel route of the deer after the hit is the most important piece of information you can have because they usually don't start dropping blood to the ground for 50 to 75 yards. For some reason most of these deer ran off with the arrow sticking out of them so you didn't even have that to analyze.
Another problem was that late October and November is the time when whitetail deer are breeding in that part of the country so every time a buck was shot there would be other bucks and does with him, and they would all scatter in different directions. I would say that 90% of the time I would have to work several lines before we would get onto the right one. I would have the hunter get back into the tree stand and watch as Vars and I worked a line so that he could tell us if he was headed in the same direction the injured deer had run after the hit. If for some reason (and it happened a lot) the hunter had no clue as to the direction the deer ran after the shot, I would have to work a line, and if I didn't find blood or some other signs of a hit after 75 yards, I would take Vars back to the hit site and start again. On some tracks I would re-start him five or six times before we would finally get on the right track. Boy would I get excited when we found blood and confirmed that we had the right track.
I was frustrated at first. I just didn't know how we were going to be able to work in an area where there was so many deer, but somehow Vars did it. I'm amazed at his ability. The problem was that most of these deer were either gut shot or hit in such a way that they would not die quickly. They needed time to lie up and die, but this meant that you had to cope with all the deer tracks that would be in the area. Coyotes were a real problem too.
It was a tough situation that an experienced tracker can appreciate. At first I think the owner of the place thought we would find every deer that was shot, but of course this was not the case. I feel successful if I can carry the line farther than whomever it was who started the tracking job before me. In most cases I was able to determine that the deer would live or had gone beyond property lines that made us stop.
At one point I had gone nine jobs without finding the deer. Man was I frustrated. Then I hit a streak and found three in a row, two in one night. Here's that story.
A guide had informed me at lunch that one of his hunters had gut shot a deer at nine am in the morning. I told him that we would wait until dark and then go look for it. At three o'clock the same afternoon the same guide informed me that his other hunter had shot a deer and told him "I'm afraid I hit it a little far back".
Now we had two deer shot "a little far back". Vars and I had been on a tracking job that morning where we had actually jumped a doe and watched as she bounded off out of her bed and jumped a fence onto property that we didn't have permission to track on. We had followed a bloodless track for approx. 200 yards when we jumped her. The only confirmation of a hit was the few drops of blood we found in her bed. I was confident that this deer would live.
We had 22 bowhunters in camp for this hunt, and I was praying no one else would hit one "a little far back" that evening. As it turned out the weather really went bad and we were dealing with light rain and winds of approximately 20 mph by dark. I questioned my decision to let these deer lay. But that's the nature of tracking for a large operation. The owner wants you to find the deer as soon as possible, but you know through experience that to start too early is a huge mistake. Although I was guiding, I was mainly hired as a tracker and the decision of when to start was my decision, and I always erred on the side of more time. "Time is a good thing" became my motto, but in the back of my mind I was saying to myself, "Although time is a good thing now Vars and I will have to deal with the fresh scent of dozens of other deer crossing the track of the wounded deer".
Let me add that this is a trophy bowhunting area (perhaps the finest in the world) for whitetail bucks and these are hunts of a lifetime for most of the hunters in camp You have the added pressure of finding this deer of a lifetime for them.
Anyway, lets get back to the two "a little far back" deer we needed to track that night. I decided to track the one shot in the morning first, and we went to the site. The guide had slipped into the area at around two pm just to see what he could find and to look for the arrow. He had found the arrow, and much to my dismay had brought it back to camp with him. I had already given the guides instructions to leave the arrow where they found it. I guess in his excitement he forgot. The arrow was covered with long white hair and looked like it had been dipped in a clear liquid. A gut shot for sure. He also reported that the only sign of a hit, other than the arrow, was a few hairs on the ground. From his conversation with the hunter he had a good idea of the route the deer had taken when he left the area, so we had that to go on.
When we got to the area, with Vars on the short leash, I tied him to a tree nearby and inspected the area with the guide. With nothing more to go on than a general direction the deer had gone, I told the guide we would just have to see what Vars could do. I put the long leash on Vars. The first scent line he took was up a main trail in a direction opposite the travel route of the wounded deer. As soon as I realized this was a fresh track in the wrong direction I shortened the leash and headed back to start him over. The hunter had described that the deer had taken a few leaps forward and then whirled and followed his back trail until he went out of sight approximately 50 yards from the stand. On the second try Vars hit this track and made the quick change of direction so I felt confident he was on the right track. I've learned that Vars tracks in a different matter on an old track than he does on a fresh one; he moves much more slowly with an almost sneaking along demeanor, and that's what he was doing. At about the 50 yard mark Vars made a 90 degree turn and headed into a thicket. He went right through the top of a fallen tree. I knew this was the sign of a mortally wounded deer.
It took me two or three minutes to negotiate our way through the area. The guide asked if I thought the deer had gone through such a thick spot, and I just said "you've got to believe". This deer headed for the thickest, nastiest ravine you can imagine. I was literally crawling at one point to get through. Vars was out of sight at the end of the 30 foot tracking leash, and I was just following the rope. This went on for about 50 or 60 yards and then the line went slack. I knew he was standing at the deer. I literally crawled up the rope to Vars and found him standing on a beautiful Illinois ten pointer that would easily score 150, Pope and Young.
I carry two-way radios and had issued one to the guide at the start. I had told him to stay back while I worked out the track in this thick cover. Man was he excited when I radioed the "Vars found the deer" signal. Man was I happy. The guide was familiar with the area and now knew exactly where the deer was, so we left that deer to go look for the one shot at three pm. Here's that story.
The weather was really turning nasty now, and it was raining steadily with the wind blowing at 20 mph and gusting higher. The temperature was near 40. I think Vars thought his work was done for the night as he slept en route to our next attempt, but he jumped up and got excited when the truck came to a stop; I got out my fanny pack and put my headlight back on.
Again we went through the routine of hooking him on the short leash and walking him to the hit site. I tied him to a tree and again went with the guide to where the deer had been standing when the hunter shot. This buck had run off with the arrow. He had also been with another buck and three does when the arrow was released, but we had a good description from the hunter of the route the deer had taken. Again, there was no sign of a hit at the site, and again Vars started tracking an unwounded deer. We actually tracked three of the unwounded deer before Vars hit on the wounded one and we went in the general direction the hunter described that the deer had taken. Man, deer do some crazy stuff when they get shot with an arrow, and this one didn't disappoint us. He apparently jumped across a dry creek (actually an erosion ditch) at a spot where the banks were vertical and approximately five feet high. It was only about six feet across at the crossing point, and I know that a buck in fairly good condition this early in the his escape run could easily jump across.
Well, Vars and I weren't as agile, and we wound up in the bottom of the ditch checking every crossing where you would have thought the deer might have crossed. This is where teamwork comes in. I decided to take him onto the high side just to see if he could pick up the track. At the exact spot opposite where we had tracked to the ditch he hit the trail again and off we went. He was in that "sneaking" mode so I felt good about this line. At approximately 75 yards into the track I saw a dried drop of blood on a log that crossed the trail. It hadn't rained hard enough yet to wash the sign away.
I then found blood about every 20 yards or so along the line that Vars was working. This deer had taken a path through fairly open timber, which I was thankful for, after the last track. I knew he was "locked on" this buck. We followed the line another 100 yards or so when we came to a picked corn field. Experience had already taught me that sparse blood in a corn field is nearly impossible to see so I had to "believe". Vars was definitely "locked on" this deer. We had gone about 200 yards out into the field when the guide stated that we were going to run out of property if the deer made it out of the field. We had come a long way, and I was concerned that this deer was going to get away when Vars started tracking in a zig-zag pattern and my hopes picked up. This is usually a good sign. I was shining my headlight across the field when I saw his antler sticking up. I can't express my emotions! Let's just say I was emotional about the whole thing. After going deerless over the last eight tracks we had just found two in the same night! Man was that exciting. I was really proud of Vars. I hate to put into human terms the relationship that a tracker has with his dog, but it's the only thing I can relate it to. It's like watching your child perform at a recital, play or sporting event. You just want them to do good and Vars had just "done good".
Var's status around camp was elevated to a new level that night, and I must have looked like a "proud Dad" when the other hunters were asking the two hunters and the guide if that was the "tracking dog" that had found the two deer and they would reply "yep that's ol Vars", and then they would all want to give him a pat on the head and make a friend out of him. They understood that they might need his help at some point.”
John's note: As you can see “blood tracking” with a dog involves much more than following a line of blood drops. Vars demonstrates this. Handler Dan knows how to look for sign, “read” his dog and guide him when needed. This partnership of handler and dog accomplishes more than either could achieve on their own.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Below is the picture of Joeri vom Nonnenschlag working the same rabbit.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
"Here is some very good news concerning Theo. His conformation was approved (for breeding) without any problems. He also passed the gun shyness test without any problem. The voicing test on hare was a complete success and he was given a Prize I.
On the blood tracking test he was given a score of 65. On the blood track we jumped roe deer and crossed the trail of wild boars. In addition, roe deer had bedded on the cold track. As you can well imagine, Theo had to work very hard to get to the end of that track. Anyway, I’m very, very pleased with Theo."
The woodchuck lost a tooth in the encounter with Auggie
Monday, April 13, 2009
Just an update on Ziggy. I put about a 1/2 mile trail down Thursday at 3 pm and put her on it Sat at 9 am after 2-3 inches of snow. She didn't go perfectly, but only missed one 90 degree for a couple of minutes. She then crossed several overnight elk tracks in the snow and tried following. I corrected her and got her on line again. This happened twice. She then came acros 3 more sets of overnight elk tracks and checked each one and came back to follow the laid down line. I take her on a laid down track every 1-2 weeks and she solves them much quicker than I can lay them out. She is doing great as far as I can tell and is really a character. A couple of the photos didn't turn out too good, but she has an elk leg that I leave at the end of the trail and she carries it back to the truck very proud.
The below picture shows Ziggy at 13 weeks when she was still with us.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
This great picture shows a five-month-old Rudi with his owner John Odom from Louisiana. Rudi comes from Mike Yerger's breeding of his Hanna to our Billy. I got a very nice letter from John who writes:
"Rudi weighs about 16 lbs now and is still growing. He hasn't voiced on the bunnies yet, but his nose is very good. I made a rabbit hunt the first weekend in February and brought home some skins to drag in the yard. We experimented with blind drags with Rudi and he was right on track. I did that several times before deciding to give him a shot at the real thing. He made two hunts, the last two Saturdays in February. We were hunting with beagles and Rudi ran with them some, but not too much. He primarily hunted on his own, but was not hesitant to move on out and not just stay near me. Rudi was presented to me on Christmas Eve. Gale had already given me a drahthaar pup the week before, so Rudi had a "big brother" from the start. I've never seen two dogs play harder. We were really fortunate in that regard, because until Jaeger (the drahthaar) went off to the trainer's two weeks ago, Rudi had an automatic workout partner every day.
Rudi is very heavily muscled on his front legs and shoulders. His coat is much, MUCH tighter than our first wirehairs (from German stock we had brought from Germany) and I'm hopeful that his beard will continue to grow in and he'll get a little "bushier". From what I can see from the photos of Billy on your website, Rudi's coat is almost exactly like Billy's -- very tight and short on his body. Rudi has one other wirehair at the house to get along with (Rommel -- 14 years old). Rommel sort of tolerates Rudi, but things are reasonably OK on that front. Old dog - new dog, but that's working itself out. What a pup!!!"
We received the above picture from Steve Kremp who has two female teckels. The one on the left, Ruby, is just five months old and she comes from Gail Berger's breeding od her Pepper to our Billy. The one to the right is four and a half year old Dita (Danica von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who is Billy's younger sister.
The two pictures are of Ruby's brother, "Duggie", who is owned by Mary Lorah from Ohio. Mary wrote three weeks ago: "I have had him out on 3 trails short straight and saturated in deer blood at first we did just the blood he was all over the place. I then on the next two put small pieces of deer meat along the line with the blood. This worked great showing him to follow the sent for rewards. Today as you had suggested we took him to the woods and I laid a trail dragging a piece of liver along side the woods for about 45 yards then cut to the left thru the woods for another 15 yards. I let the trail age for 10 to 15 minutes before bringing him to it. He would go up the trail, then back tracked then back up and back tracked again, I let him work it out it took just moments for him to go the right way. He followed the trail as if he was being led down it, when he got to the turn he overshot it by about 5 feet but came back looking for it, circling the turn, he picked back up on it quickly went thru the woods and got his prize of liver at the end. My husband had not seen him work any of the other tracks, and boy was he excited when he saw what he could do at this young age already!!"
Friday, April 10, 2009
The first litter, our "P" litter (puppies' names will be starting with the letter "P") was born on March 30, 2009. The sire of the litter is "Théo" Du Théo de la Meute à Cheops bred by Patrick Mestadier, France, and owned by Alain Ridel, Canada.
We have written about Theo on this blog before. This is Theo's first litter.
The dam of P-puppies is FC Keena v Moosbach-Zuzelek.
Keena is four years old, and she came from the first breeding of Gilda to Billy. She was bred once before, and two years ago she produced a very nice litter of seven puppies. This was our M litter, sired by Susanne Hamilton’s Buster, and the pups were: Matthias aka Petey (Sally Marchmont, VT), Melodie aka Greta (Susie and Jody Gardner, OH), Mirabell (Robert Rubie, MI), Mikki (Warren Strickland, AL), Max (Robin Ernst, SC), Magnum aka Doc (Joe Walters, IN) and Moose (Kyle Stiffler, MI). These dogs are almost two years old now, and have already proved themselves to be talented trackers.
Pregnant Keena one day before whelping (March 29, 2009)
"P" pups are two days old in this picture - three females and four males
The second litter, 4 females and 4 males, was born on April 4, 2009, and it is our "Q" litter (puppies names will start with the letter "Q"). This is actually a repeat breeding that Keena came from - a sire is our FC Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek and the dam is FC Gilda v Moosbach-Zuzelek. This combination, Billy/Gilda has been bred twice before. The first litter produced 4 pups: Keena, Karma (NY), Karlee (MI) and Kip (MI). The second litter, a year ago, produced 6 pups – Eddie (VA), Eiffel (called Ely, MI)), Elsa (SD), Emmy (Chloe WI), Eika (called Ziggy, NM), Effi (NY). They are very good blood tracking dogs. This breeding has produced pretty large, strong dogs with excellent tracking desire.Gilda with her eight five-day-old puppies
We are not sure yet, but we might have a couple of male puppies available (only serious working homes are considered). Before you contact us read http://www.born-to-track.com/buying-puppy.htm
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
A standard dachshund bred for hunting is a natural for tracking wounded deer. What may come as a surprise to some is that the standard wires that we use to track deer also track bear. They seem to make the transition to tracking wounded bears without any problem. In areas where the anti-hunters have succeeded in closing down bear hunting with hounds it may still be possible to track a wounded bear with a leashed dog. This is the case in New York State.
Those of us in Deer Search have tracked a number of bears with our wirehaired dachshunds. Even those dachshunds that have never tracked anything but wounded deer start off willingly on a wounded bear line. I have to admit that the dogs give us some funny looks at the beginning. They seem to sense that a bear is something big and nasty even if they have never seen one. They show some caution at first. When they warm to the task, they forget about being worried. When the bear is jumped alive, they are raring to go on the hot line.
Bears often leave a poor blood trail for the eye tracker. The fat of the bear tends to close the arrow or bullet wound, and the heavy coat absorbs much of the blood. In the more difficult cases much of the blood that the unassisted hunter sees will be smeared on saplings and branches rather than dripped on the ground.
Bears can be hard to track by eye, but they are easy for a dog because the body and pad scent of the bear is overwhelmingly strong. I was called upon to track a bear that had been wounded with a 30-06 rifle 48 hours earlier. When I saw the evidence, I strongly suspected a grazing high leg or shoulder hit that had not broken bone. We tracked over a half mile of visible blood trail and through a deadfall area where the hunter had stopped tracking. My dachshund Sabina was able to continue on with little difficulty for over three miles of typical Catskill mountain terrain forested with hardwoods and hemlocks. A few, widely scattered smears of blood on saplings indicated that we were on the right track. The bear just kept going. We never caught up to him. The probabilities are very high that this bear survived.
I hope to see a bear killed cleanly, but when a bear is wounded I do love to track them. I was in the middle of a beaver swamp last fall, trying to track a wounded buck, when a good call came in on my cell phone. It was a bear call, shot with a bow a little far back.
I track wounded deer at night most of the time, but I draw the line on bears after dark. Since it was already late afternoon, and the call was more than a hundred miles away, the hunter and I agreed to meet in the morning. When I began tracking the line was 28 hours old. The hunter, Anthony Lamonaca, had done an amazing job of tracking that bear up the Mombacus Mountain in the Catskills on the faintest drops and smears of blood, but finally after about a half mile, he had run out of line. The bear had gone up through a blow down area where a tornado had passed through. It was up and down through deadfalls with lots of thick mountain laurel to crawl through. We had to track again over most of the half mile before we could get to the point of loss because it was in the middle of a mess that looked like a war zone. By the way, as New York Law requires I was using a tracking leash, thirty feet of stiff mountain climbing rope. It never got hung up.
Even though the blood had completely stopped there was no shortage of scent and Sabina kept going. We had no way of knowing if the bear was dead or alive. Probably we went only another 200 yards, but it seemed liked a long way in that dense cover. Sabina was tracking along a slight trace of a path, still going up, when I saw her raise her head. She pulled off at right angles into the wind with her head high. We went about 50 yards through the thickest laurel I had ever seen and these was the bear. Dead. Dead was fine with me. In the first excitement he looked as big as a Volkswagen, much later on the scale he was a dressed 318 pounds, which is still a big bear. Sabina jumped right in and grabbed some fur, but once she realized the bear was dead she did not care for the smell much.
Sabina was content to watch as we gutted the bear and started to drag him down the mountain. When she finds a deer we have to tie her up to keep her away from the work that has to be done. We never would have moved that bear up a mountain, and as it was it took the rest of the day to get him down the mountain and out to a four wheeler. Even though he was not fat he was like a 300-pound sack of jelly. His head was big and heavy ( 20 3/8” P & Y) and we had to lift it over every log or deadfall we encountered.
In the right situation a small tracking dog can be ideal for recovering a bear, and yet most of us in Deer Search who have been tracking wounded bear have found less than 20 percent of the bears we track. We find a much higher percentage of deer. The reason appears to be that a mortally wounded bear usually does not travel as far as a comparably wounded deer before it beds down. Therefore the mortally wounded bear is more often found by the hunters themselves. Even if there is no blood trail, a thorough area search has a good chance of turning up that bear unless the cover is exceptionally dense. In cases where bear are shot with a bow over bait at close range the string tracker can also be very useful and can preclude the need for a dog. Most of the "difficult" bears that a tracking dog is called upon to track, when all else has failed, will not be mortally wounded bears. It is the handler’s task to find out just what happened. If we track a bear and determine that it is strong and traveling well the next day, we believe that we have accomplished something. The bear is not wasted and we have the satisfaction of knowing he will be there for next year.