We were greeted by Chuck (hunter) and his friend Don. It was a beautiful day - sunny, warm with the temperature in the low 60s.
This time I decided to use our GPS and brought along a camera as well. The cover was incredibly thick with shrubs and wild grapevine, difficult to penetrate, and we put dogs on the last blood that hunters could find the night before. It was a difficult start and dogs made two small loops without finding more blood. Joeri was searching very well, and I decided to re-start him. This time he veered a bit to the right where we found "new" blood! I asked Don who was behind me to mark it with orange biodegradable tape. Joeri started to pull strongly, and I knew that now he was locked on the deer. John and I decided that I and Joeri should proceed in the lead. We tracked at a steady pace for almost two hours. We knew that we were tracking the right deer as occasional drops of blood confirmed the trail. This was not a liver hit deer. The blood was bright red, and we also found quite a few smears on a waist-high grass. This deer never bedded and was not getting any weaker. Finally after 1.6 miles (according to the GPS) Don and I decided to terminate the track.
Joeri did an incredible job on this 15 hour old trail. He checked himself two or three times but basically he was on the blood line for its entire length. He is very easy to handle as he does not pull too strongly. He is also easy to read when he loses the trail and frantically wants to recover it. He also proved to be very responsive. There were times that we had to crawl on our knees and elbows, and at one time I dropped the leash. Joeri was moving ahead, but when I called him, he stopped and waited for me to catch up.
It was a difficult decision to terminate the track because Joeri was still tracking the deer and we were seeing occasional droplets. He really wanted to continue, and when I stopped him he whined with frustration. I tried to reassure him that he did a great job but we tracked "enough". Little we knew what was waiting ahead.
The pictures show blood droplets on the leaves when we terminated the track.
Anyway, Joeri and I had a great time tracking, and hunters were very appreciative of what we have done. Their deer either is going to live or it ended up shot by another hunter. We will never know for sure.