We have some serious catching up to do here, but thankfully got a lot of stories and pictures to post. Let's start with the track submitted by Don Dickerson from Michigan. This is his first tracking season with Gunther, a seven month old son of Billy and Gilda.
I wanted to fill you in on a very long track that Gunther and I went on yesterday. I was so impressed with him I just have to tell you and John the story, and because he is the product of your kennel I want you and John to know what an awesome job he did.
I got a call from a good friend yesterday morning. He said he had hit a very nice buck with a bow in the morning at about 9:30 am. He said that he found part of his arrow at the hit site and good blood. He tracked the deer about 20 yards, made sure he had good blood and then backed out. His plan was to go home for 2 hours and then come back and track. I told him to please stay off the blood trail and if he did not find the buck within the first 200 yards to call me right away and I would bring Gunther out and track. Well, I got a call about 2 hours later, my friend had jumped the buck about 60 yards into the track. He backed away again and called me.
The conditions were dry, warm and breezy, so I told him we should wait a couple of more hours and then start tracking with Gunther. I met my friend at the site at about 2 pm. Gunther immediately picked up the trail and we tracked for about 200 yards before we again jumped the buck. There was good blood in places but not great blood. It was bright red, but no bubbles. The hunter was thinking he hit the deer high. Although we were pushing the deer, the decision was made to keep tracking because of the warm dry and breezy conditions and the fact there was not a lot of blood. We were also convinced the deer was not gut shoot, so the track was on. Gunther took us through several very large corn fields, a bean field, small swamps, woodlots, across a road and through and over just about every type of terrain possible. Together and with the help of other people to sight blood we were able to solve many stalled points where there was very little or no blood.
There were several times when I doubted Gunther was on the track, but I trusted him and his nose was confirmed over and over again by drops of blood on the trail. We tracked over 3 miles! It took almost four hours to cover. We finally came to some water, it was a very shallow pond/swamp, about 1 ft deep with a mucky bottom, there was no blood leading up to the water, only Gunther's nose. He looked at me and jumped into the very muddy slimy pond, he sat in the water looking at me as if to say "..are you coming or not?"
At this point I did not know if he was even on the track, jumping in the water seemed very unusual for him because to be honest he is not that crazy about getting wet. He doesn't like going out in the rain and when I had him in the pool this summer he worked very hard to dry himself off after getting out of the water. Although he doesn't seem to mind getting wet when he is tracking in wet grass. So, when he jumped in the muddy stagnant water I knew something was up, but I was finding it hard to believe he could track the buck through water.
Gunther seemed to know what he was doing....and I trusted him. Once I found a place I could cross without getting too wet he continued to lead me across the narrow pond/swamp to the other side. At this point he starting pulling hard on the lead again, there was still no visible blood and we were now in hard woods, heavy dry leaves covered the woods floor. About 80 yards or so into the woods I started to doubt he had tracked the buck through the open water, but at that very time I began to doubt him I looked down and saw good blood again! I yelled to the hunter and another friend that was with us that I had blood, they had gone in another direction not believing that Gunther had tracked the buck through the water. One of my friends was standing next to Gunther when he had jumped in the water, when this friend walked up and saw the blood he said something I will never forget "..regardless of how this turns out and even if we don't find the buck....he (Gunther) has made a believer out of me." We were all amazed that he actually tracked the buck through the open water, it made the hair stand up on my arms I was so proud of my dog. We continued on another 100 yards or so and jumped the buck a third time in very very heavy cover. After searching for another 90 minutes, finding the blood trail again and the buck going through some more water we lost the trail.
The entire track was over 3 miles, through every terrain you can imagine, including water and it took over 5 1/2 hours. Gunther never gave up. My little almost 7 month old tracker was exhausted and so were the rest of us. I am so darn proud of him as are all of my friends. We didn't find the buck, which was still going strong after 3 miles, but we had a memorable day of tracking, one that I won't ever forget."