Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In Jim's own words:
"I describe how she did this year as phenomenal. At first I did not trust her on some of the first couple of times we went out. She was just going so fast and then I remembered from your book. If in doubt, trust your dog, so I did. She was called 12-14 times. Several of them were never to be found, high back shots and the elk was down, then gone. She found 5 of 8 possible. Some of the others I determined that the elk would probably live for at least few days or forever. After 2-3 miles with no real blood, and they got back with other elk.
The last one she found was at least 3 miles and 24 hours after the initial wound. I first realized I could trust her when we had gone 2-3 miles and I pulled her from the track as the bull got with other elk. We were just walking down a road that coincidentally the elk apparently came back on. She started getting excited and I looked down and there was a drop of blood about twice as big as a pinhead. I couldn't believe it. So after that wherever she wanted to go I was running behind her as best I could.
Here are a few photos."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Our hunting/tracking season in the Southern Zone of New York is over. I don’t know whether to cheer or cry. There was a flurry of activity on the last day of black powder season. Two calls came in last night, long after dark, when the temperature was 8 degrees. I elected to take them the next day because of the temperature…cold enough to kill scent…and old men too.
Well, of course it had to snow on the tracks overnight so there was nothing to confirm a dog’s work. Joeri seems to be learning how to work these situations.. Now he get his nose down in the track of the scent and works like a snow plow.
The first scent line was pretty easy because the deer was down in front with two broken forelegs. However, the hunters had been unable to follow it by eye earlier in the day because of the snow cover. Joeri had no difficulty over the 200 yards to the dead deer. Unfortunately, the coyotes had found it first and collected their 30% tax.
We failed to find the deer on the second call about 30 miles away. It was colder now, 10 degrees, and there was more snow. This deer had been hit too far back the previous afternoon. The hunter had been able to track blood for only 50 yards on the hard crusted snow; then he lost it. The next morning he attended a Christmas party and afterwards, well fortified, he came back and searched some more in the deepening new layer of snow.
When Joeri and I got there we worked over what had been the blood trail to the hunter’s point of loss, and then, what! more blood,… a gut pile and a bloody swath under the snow where a deer had been dragged out a few days before. We cast back, started again….another blood trail and another gut pile and drag. Truly it was a great spot for hunting, but a mighty tough spot to start a scent line under the snow, in cold conditions. We were never able to find the right line.
Joeri and I started the drive home from that second call with mixed feelings. Somehow it seemed appropriate that we got slightly lost on the way home in the fog of snow. Our last day of the tracking season summed up a whole season of good and bad luck… 9 finds out of 35 valid sorties. But it was Joeri’s first season, and I kept that in mind. He had come a long way. Because we are both afflicted with the tracker’s disease, it seemed like fun and a challenge we couldn’t pass up.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I just wanted to let you know that my dog, Digger, found his first deer today. Unfortunately, due to some knee and leg problems I was unable to train Digger near as much as I wanted to. I guess it was enough, however, because this was his first opportunity to do a "real" tracking job and he did fabulous! I was surprised and happy at how aggressive he was about tracking and finding the deer. It was a fresh trail, so perhaps it was an easy job for him.
I'm not sure we would have found the deer without Digger's assistance, so we were certainly pleased, and very happy for the young man that was able to recover his deer.
Thanks for all your support and assistance, advice, etc. last year when I was getting Digger started. "
Friday, December 18, 2009
We received also the picture from Ruben González and Marisa Escobar from Spain, Kennel Los Madroños http://www.teckels-losmadronos.com/
The picture and message came from Chris Surtees who is training two pups now - Koa (for himself) and Beau (for his Dad). Koa is an eight and a half month old son of Gilda and Billy. Beau was bred by Jeff Springer and is out of his Tilly and our Billy.
"A buddy of mine called me to track a deer for him. He said it was good blood and a fairly long line so I decided to take both Koa and Beau out.
Koa saw his tracking collar and went crazy. I told my buddy to handle Beau and be prepared to pick him up until we reached the trail...boy was I wrong. After putting Beau's collar on I set him on the ground and he was off like a flash.
Fast forward to the trail. Koa reached the spot, started unlocking the direction and off he went. His track was steady and fast but accurate. He got to the spot where the deer stopped and appeared to have stumbled and ended up going in a couple different directions before heading out again. Koa spent a couple seconds there and was back on track. He tracked the deer another 75 yards and found him up near the railroad tracks.
Beau started a couple yards behind Koa and was on track quickly. He caught up to Koa where the deer had stumbled and from that point on was right on my heels. I thought he was following me but his nose was to the ground and several times passed my feet staying on track. Beau is very impressive and seems to have a great nose.
At the deer Koa and Beau both started in sniff and tug on the deer. Then Koa claimed the buck for himself and would not let Beau near it. After Koa took his licks at the buck I pulled him off and put Beau in for his turn. Beau showed no fear of the deer but kept an eye on Koa while he took his turn chewing and tugging.
Overall it was a great evening. Koa found his second deer and Beau was introduced to his first. Learned a lesson though...only one dog at a time. Next time I will run each separately on the trail."
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Hi Jolanta and John -
You will be happy to hear that Petey and I have had another successful tracking season. We took 20 calls and found 8. We had good tracking weather and hunters that were really good to work with. I had hoped to get more calls, but I did get some repeat customers which was nice to see.
During our training this summer, I managed to get Petey to slow down fairly well, but it was a completely different story once we started taking calls. He gets so excited and worked up, and I know he's less effective that way. I had hoped he would be a little slower this year, but it looks like it's going to take more time.
Over the first part of the season, I was beginning to think that I was picking him up too soon when I wasn't seeing blood, and it seemed as though when I picked him up and brought him back, it threw him off. He would seem to lose momentum and focus, almost as if he thought that I was telling him he'd gone the wrong way. So I decided to trust him more and let him go longer without seeing blood, with good results. One of the pictures attached is of a beautiful, 200-pound, 8-pointer we found for a lady who had shot him in the pouring rain. The rain had washed all the blood away so I had no choice but to trust Petey completely. He made short work of it, so it was a lesson well learned for me.
The best thing Petey did this year was during a track but had nothing to do with tracking. We had gone into a mass of pricker bushes after a deer when he slipped out of his harness. The prickers were so thick that I couldn't see the ground and it took a minute before I realized what had happened. I had no idea where he was but within 30 seconds of calling, he was at my feet.
Tom and Chris DiPietro were a big help again this year. Chris hurt her knee so couldn't track for most of the season (she's having surgery next week), but Tom and I took some calls together. Musket had another good year. He's in great shape and still going strong. We're having our table again at the big hunting show, and we're making plans to do a lot more advertising next year.
Petey continues to be strong and healthy, and an absolute pleasure to live with. Merry Christmas to you both and a happy and healthy New Year. Sally
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
How Like The Holly
(by Joel Mabus ©1999 )
How like the holly in deep winter time
How like the star in the dark night shine
How like a path on the snow driven plain
How like the candle -- how like the flame
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.
How like the frost on the evergreen tree
How like the deer running wild, running free
How like Orion, arising so bold
How like the story bound to be told
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.
How like the holly in deep winter time
How like the star in the dark night shine
How like a path on the snow driven plain
How like the candle -- how like the flame
How like the winter that promises spring
How like the carol we sing.
The pictures show Karl, a young wirehaired dachshund owned by Darren Doran. This is the first tracking season for Karl who was bred by Laurel Whistance-Smith. He was born February 18, 2009, and he is out of FC Pagan von Lowenherz and our Billy. Darren wrote:
"I'm back home now and Karl really liked his trip to Illinois. We stayed in a house in Hannibal, MO and crossed the Mississippi every day to go to the farm to hunt.
He's really a good dog. The first track was a doe Bobby shot. He knew he killed the deer and it was only about 50yd long. Karl was on the deer in less than a minute. The next was a doe I shot. Again I knew the deer was dead. The track was about 4 hr old. The deer ran through a blow down and directly into the wind. Karl came out of the blow down and immediately air scented the deer and went right to it.
The third was the deer in the picture this doe was shot by Jim and went about 100 yd. The track was 4 hrs old. These tracks were really very easy for Karl and I ran him on these so he would start to realize what his job is and how he fits in to this. As far as that goes I think he's getting it.
The track of the buck that Jim shot I mentioned in the email was different. We went to the hit site and the deer had left the bed; Jim saw him lay down in the night before. The deer had crossed the north line on to private property and we had to get permission to enter. Our contact in IL went to the outfitters camp, but no one was there to give permission. While we were waiting Bob and Jim walked east along the north line and saw the deer dead in a weed patch about 50 yds from his first bed. We really couldn't finish the track with Karl. He became confused as to why we stopped on the track and were just hanging around. The fact that it was raining wasn't helping either. I do believe he had air scented the dead deer when we first started. He left the blood line and charged toward the dead deer and was doing everything he could to get though the fence and go in that direction. We got the deer back on our side and let Karl chew on him as a reward. "
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I got a good and thorough update on Lucy (Patti v Moosbach-Zuzelek), a Theo/Keena daughter. She is eight and a half months old now. Her owner Dan Davis wrote:
Things seem to be going well with Lucy. She absolutely loves to hunt. When she sees the gear coming out she lays in front of the door waiting until its time to go. I had her out 12 times this fall on "deer calls." We had significant rain in October (20 out of 31 days) which made it tough to get out on training lines. On 7 of the calls either the hunter or I knew where the deer were. She found those 7 and two others that we didn't know where they were but only because no one had looked yet. Two others I honestly didn't think there was much chance for her to find the deer. Based on what the hunter told me I was not convinced either were mortal wounds. I took her anyway mainly for the practice, but also "just in case." She did not find either deer nor did she show us blood beyond where the hunter had found it on their own. I had the opportunity to get her out at night, some tracks took us across water (she loves being in the water), she got exposed to being around other people while tracking; I think it was a productive fall. I am convinced that I have much more to learn about this than she does.
At this point my biggest challenge appears to me to be getting her to slow down. She loves being in the woods and gets very excited. I spent some time trying to get her to slow down with limited success.
Her owner (me) ruined what would have been her best outing of the fall. I shot a mature buck with my bow at 7 a.m. It looked and sounded like a good hit to me, but I found a piece of bloody corn while I was tracking it so, fearing a gut shot, I pulled out for 5 hours. I brought Lucy along when I went back but left her in the truck for the time being. We lost blood after 300 yards, at 400 I found one spot where the deer had brushed against a corn stalk. We looked for a while then decided to give Lucy a try.
She did really well for the first 450 yards or so but then started to get easily distracted by moles, bugs etc. She eventually made a right turn and took me into another woods which happened to be the same woods we walked the edge of when we went to the truck to get her. After a short distance it looked to me like she was taking the same route we took so I thought she may be tracking us. I took her back to the last place we knew the deer had been to start over. She made a left turn.... We started over again, she went straight... We were seeing no indications where the deer might be and she was not as interested as she had been in the beginning so we decided to call it a day. We were walking through the same woods to the truck when Lucy started barking and pulling into the wind. I let her go for awhile while she was zig zagging but then she started circling which usually means she has lost the trail. It was getting late so I picked her up to carry her to the truck. About 75 yards later my brother found the deer. Making a short story long, Lucy was taking me to it both times.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
February 27,, 2010
10:00 am: Blood-trail class starts (Please arrive 30 minutes yearly to sign in, if you would like earlier arrival there will be breakfast available for purchase.)
12:30 pm: Lunch Break
1:45 pm – 4:30 pm: Finish up Blood-trail class
$75 for each handler and dog team running blood-trails for the day. $35 for each handler without dog.
Sign Up Contact: Marlo Riley firstname.lastname@example.org 210-288-0553
Coming from Mountain Home – Head towards Rocksprings, TX on Hwy 41. Hwy 41 intersects with Hwy 83. Garvin Store is on the corner. Go pass intersection, staying on Hwy 41. The ranch gate is 5 miles past Hwy 83 and Hwy 41 on the left. Gate will be marked.
Here is a link to the pictures for the 2009 Seminar: http://bloodseminar2009.shutterfly.com/
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
It was great to hear from Wayne Varnadore from Alma, Georgia. We have not heard him from him for a while because as it turned out in July he had a back surgery. Wayne has Ginie from the 2009 litter out of Gilda, sired by Billy.
Wayne wrote: "Ginie has found 5 deer so far for this deer season. On the first find it was an experience for the both of us. It was a gut shot deer with no blood that approx. traveled about 400 yards with about 6 or 7 90-degree turns. She never missed a turn; I didn't know where the deer was with no blood sign. The second deer was my son Tyler's deer with an approx. 200 yards for her to find the deer. She's found all 5 deer with no help. Just wanted to send you a few photos of Ginie with her deer. Also wanted to let you know Ginie has done about 4 overnight lines that I have done with my scent shoes and has done a good job for me. We will let you know if she finds any more deer this season."
Monday, December 7, 2009
We import wirehaired dachshunds from Europe so we keep a gene pool of working wires alive. It is a small gene pool, and new blood is needed on a regular basis. This is not easy to do.
Every time we import a puppy, we take a chance. We keep the pup and work with him/her. Three years ago we imported two pups from two breeders who breed hunting lines. We decided to place one puppy in a pet home only after four months of having her (because of her temperament tendencies). We kept the other one for a year and a half and placed him in a pet home too.
We don't select only for the blood tracking potential but for health, temperament, functional conformation, reproductive qualities. We select for other (not related to bloodtracking) working characteristics too. We don't use in our breeding the dogs who are not spurlaut even though this characteristic is not critical for blood tracking. Our dogs don't lack prey drive. Actually some owners would say that they have too much of it!
We don't breed narrow specialists but our aim is to breed dachshunds which CAN blood track. Not all dachshunds can. Here in the USA there are no other real hunting jobs for standard dachshunds - just blood tracking. In Europe the breed is used for a variety of hunting tasks. But American hunting tradition, game and regulations are different, and certain types of hunting performed with dachshunds in Europe are strictly illegal here.
Our youngest female now, eight-month-old Paika goes back six generations to the cross I made in 1991:
1. Fausto de la Grande Futaie (French import) was bred to Rivendells Ruby Tuesday (American show line). This produced Kuba (Zuzelek's Globetrotter) who was better than either parent.
2. Next generation was Branie vom Dornenfeld bred to Kuba, which produced Agata von Moosbach-Zuzelek.
3. Agata was bred to Asko von der Drachenburg, and this produced Elli von Moosbach-Zuzelek.
4. Elli was bred to Alfi von der Hardt-Hoehe, and produced Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek.
5. Billy was bred to Gilda von Moosbach-Zuzelek (Sabina and Asko's daughter) and this produced Keena von Moosbach-Zuzelek.
6. Keena was bred to a French import Du Théo de la Meute à Cheops and produced Paika von Moosbach-Zuzelek.
Dogs listed above, with the bold font were imported - two from France, three from Germany, in total four by us and one by a friend from Canada.
Asko (excellent producer of blood tracking and field trialing wires) is on both sides of Keena's pedigree so this in an example of line-breeding. But most of the time we use a breeding strategy called asortative mating. You can read about it http://www.canine-genetics.com/breed.htm. We certainly know more about dogs that have produced than about the dogs we have imported, but this is the best that we can do. We don't live in Europe, and are not able to visit often but we have gone to Germany and France several times and talked to numerous breeders. We watched blood tracking tests and competitions. Every year we buy a DTK Zuchtbuch and study it.
In our experience the best cross we have ever made was Zalud Staccato by Gerte vom Dornenfeld, and we go back to this bloodline time after time.
We have had experience with other very good producers of blood trackers but sometimes got unpleasant surprises, for example undescendant testicles etc.
Breeding is a process, and in every generation you have to evaluate, select and prioritize. For example, you may have to sacrifice conformation for spurlaut. We try not to double on weaknesses. We know that not all our puppies are going to be perfect blood trackers, and this is why we keep them here for longer and we don't sell them at 7 or 8 weeks. At that age we have no idea yet what we have.
With every litter we learn something new.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Speculation and debate about cur dogs and hounds of the American frontier has been going on for a long time. Sometimes new pieces of the complicated puzzle show up and add to our understanding of the big picture. Two autobiographies by hunters of the early 1800s describe dogs and how they were used on deer, elk and bear in the frontiers of western Maryland and north-central Pennsylvania. This style of hunting had little in common with modern bear hunting with hounds or with the hunting of deer with hounds as it continues in the south.
The man who tells us most is Meshach Browning (1781-1859) who was born on a small, poor farm in Frederick County, Maryland in the year that the American Revolution ended. Browning's father died shortly after his son's birth and by the time he was ten Meshach's mother took the boy over the mountains to western Maryland. Meshach stayed and hunted in this area for the rest of his life. Deer and bear were plentiful and mountain lions were still present.
Young Meshach spent several years on pioneer farms belonging to his uncle. Here he "hunted coons and wildcats and sold the fur which was in brisk demand." For this he used his dog Gunner, a jack of all trades dog who also hunted rabbits. Before he was 16 (B.25) he was on his own. By this time he also began to hunt deer accompanied by Gunner.
Browning hunted deer and bear with the dog in close, not ranging out. The dog was kept at a loose "heel", or if not so well-trained, was restrained by some sort of a cord. The hunter "still hunted" moving slowly through the timber looking for deer and watching his dog who would wind scent the deer and indicate its presence through body language but without barking. The dog acted as nose and ears for the hunter and could also follow the game after the shot. This hunting method is still used today in Scandinavia by moose hunters who use Norwegian Elkhounds and related breeds.
In reading Browning's narrative it is obvious that these needs to follow wounded deer were frequent. The flintlock rifles that were generally used on big game threw a .45 caliber ball. The quality of the powder available was also not the best. By modern standards the energy delivered would be considered marginal, and these flintlock hunters had difficulties if placement of the ball was not ideal. Under the circumstances putting a dog on the hot line of the wounded deer was a time-saver and often a game saver as well.
Meshach became best known as a bear hunter and at the end of his hunting career he estimated that he had killed 300 to 400 bears. It was an old bear hunter, Mr. John Caldwell of Wheeling, who introduced him to the use of dogs in bear hunting. Meshach obtained his first great bear dog, Watch, out of John Caldwell's stock. Watch was what Meshach wanted, a large, powerful dog up to the task of pulling down wounded deer and baying bears that would not tree.
Bears were more numerous and much less wary in those days than they are today. Sometimes Meshach hunted bears with his dog on their feeding grounds as he did deer. He would use a dog to locate denned bears, to roust them out, bay them and follow after the shot. He would also cold track bears on snow by sight, and after jumping them turn his dogs loose on the hot line.
Browning described his preferences for deer and bear dogs in some detail. From the start he wanted big dogs that were strong and fast like Watch. At the end of his career Meshach seemed to have a pretty clear idea of how to breed what would be useful to him. He worked with variations of the bulldog/greyhound cross. "Take a half-blooded pup," he advised, "a cross between the bulldog and the greyhound...." He did not stick to a rigid formula and "bulldog" and greyhound were generic terms for kinds of dogs less extreme in type than the breeds of today.
Clearly Meshach liked jaw power in his bloodlines. "I had lost my old hunting dog and had with me the slut from which I raised my good dogs...."When (the buck) found her so close, he turned to fight her off. Being partly of the bulldog breed, she seized him by the nose, and held on until she mashed his nose up to his eyes, and crushed both eyes entirely shut." Browning liked to work with variations of the bulldog greyhound cross, but he did not stick to a strict formula. "I have had some very fine dogs which were a cross between the bulldog, the greyhound, and the fox hound; but the only objection to them is that they are so noisy that you can never steal on the game, but keep it always on the look-out."
Meshach's preferred dog was fairly tight-mouthed and apparently more a windscenter than a specialist for old, cold ground scent.
"The extraordinary success which I had in bear-hunting requires some explanation which I will endeavor to give. I always kept two good dogs; one of which walked before me and the other behind. The one in front would wind the bear, and lead me up to him on that side on which he could not smell me, and I would come on him unexpectedly. If, by chance, he found us coming on him and ran, the dogs would overtake him before he would be out of sight. The moment I would see one run, I would send the dogs after him; and as I could run almost as fast as any bear could, when the fight began I was close up and a shot was certain death."
Sometimes we have to take a small grain of salt with Meshach's statements and realize that he was describing his ideal of dog work rather than what took place most of the time.
There is no basis for assuming that Meshach's dogs were ancestors of any modern cur breed although clearly they resembled curs much more than hounds. We have no sure way of knowing what they looked like. Engravings and etchings provided by Browning's editor Edward Stabler show dogs which have the outline of a rather rangy southern black mouth cur of the Ladner or Nolan strains. The plates from Meshach Browning's book do not prove how the dogs actually looked. Edward Stabler, the artist/editor who produced them, knew Meshach personally after his hunting days were over, but we can't be sure whether his illustrations in the book depict specific dogs or just showed generic big game dogs of the 1850's. An engraving identified as a "bear dog" looks like a modern pitbull.
What we do know is that Meshach's dogs acted like curs and were useful in the ways that a cur-dog is useful. They were used by Browning to wind game. They worked very close to him until a deer was encountered. There are hounds that will do this, but it is more typical of cur work. Browning's dogs also formed close associations with individuals and were more protective than is characteristic of hounds."I asked Mary if she would stay in the house by herself while I went out to shoot a deer for she had been a long time wishing for some fresh venison; and I told her that her brother wanted to go with me. She said yes, if I would leave Watch (her favorite dog), which would not suffer man or beast to touch her in a rough way; for, if I was playing with her, and she called Watch, he would jump at me, and would bite too, if I persisted."
We will never know if these dogs ever became part of the great gene pool from which modern curs derive. Meshach does describe what canine traits he found useful for his frontier hunting. These traits could be bred for when needed by combining certain types of dogs, as has been done with the deliberate greyhound collie crosses that produce "lurchers" for taking hares and rabbits in England.
Browning also took great pains to train his dogs to handle well:
"Take a half-blooded pup, a cross between the bull dog and the grey hound, FEED HIM WELL - FOR A STARVED PUPS WILL SURELY BE A THIEF, - and when he is able to follow you to the field, make him lie down at your feet and do not allow him to rise until he is told. When he gets a rod or two from you, either make him return, or wait till you come up with him, and then make him lie down again. In all cases where he does his duty caress him and he will soon learn to love his master; after which he will not be afraid and run away to avoid correction. Whip but lightly, until you have so trained the dog that you can depend on his obedience to your command to stop, or to return at your order. When you have taught him this, you may venture a little more severity, according to the offense; and when he is taken into the woods he must be first taught to trail his game; for if a deer is wounded he should trail it carefully, going but a step or two before his master, until the game is killed. When the master can see the deer which he has killed, he should let the pup go toward the carcass, and then call him back; then, advancing a little nearer, he should let him go to the deer a second time, and call him back again; then let the master accompany him to the deer and flatter him as much as possible. By this means, when he is sufficiently instructed, and is sent to catch a wounded deer, he will kill it, return to his master and guide him to the spot where it is lying. And he must never leave his master more than two or three steps, lest a deer bound off, and he run after it and be spoiled.
While Meshach Browning was thinning the deer and bear population in western Maryland another hunter Philip Tome (1782-1855) was hunting with his dogs along the same Appalachian ridges some 250 miles to the Northeast along the Pennsylvania-New York Boundary. By his own account, Tome's parents were of "German extraction." He was born a year after Meshach Browning near what is today Harrisburg and his family later migrated north up the west branch of the Susquehannah. Tome's methods of hunting big game with dogs were a little different from Browning's, but the techniques overlapped in some respects. In northern Pennsylvania Tome hunted deer and bear, but his specialty was elk which very uncommon down in Browning's country.
Tome credits John Mills, an old hunter who lived near his father for giving him his best instruction, although later Tome certainly expanded upon the art of his master. Before moving to Canada Mills sold his farm to Tome's father and then made another deal with the son. Meshach reported that he offered "to sell me his dog, and to teach me all he knew about hunting for fifteen dollars which I accepted. I had already hunted for several years, but his instructions were of greater value than all my previous experience."
Tome seemed to want a "houndier" dog than Browning:
"The best kind of dog for hunting deer is a large variety, half bloodhound, a quarter cur and the other quarter greyhound. I have had two dogs of this kind, for one of which I paid ten dollars and the other six. They were of more practical value than four small dogs would have been. When they were one in a chase on a deer they would not lose one in ten. So famous did they become for their prowess, that if any of the neighbors saw them running, they would exclaim, "there are Tome's dogs; the deer cannot be far off." The deer could never baffle them by any of their usual stratagems, and they often ran them down before they reached the water. Those wishing to hunt successfully should always procure at any cost, the largest and best dogs to be found."
The bloodhound genes in these cross-bred dogs should have produced strong aptitudes for working ground scent. When we compare Tome's hunting stories to those of Browning, we see that Tome places much less emphasis on wind scenting, and his runs on deer tend to be longer. Tome did not work his dogs in close as much as Meshach, but he definitely expected them to be obedient and handle well. "We owned three well-trained dogs. If we put them on a track they would not leave it for any other; they would come when called, and never go until we gave the word." They were hounds but they were very well-trained.
In the winter, snow cover made it practical to scout for elk tracks. He would follow these tracks for many miles before jumping the elk and releasing the dogs. In heavy snow the dogs had a good chance of running down and baying the elk.
Tome also jacked deer at night from a canoe or at natural or man-made salt licks. Close to salt licks he would build a "scaffold" (this sounds like the German Hochsitz); when the deer came he would lower a burning torch to give himself shooting light. "I generally had a companion and a dog, and one of us remained at a distance with the dog, while the other watched from the scaffold. In the morning, if any were wounded, we set the dog on the track, if we could not track it by blood without difficulty."
Both Meshach Browning and Philip Tome hunted primarily for the market. Meshach estimated that he killed, in total, 1800 to 2000 deer. Philip Tome, as well as his brother, about whom we get little detail, took a lot of game. "My brother killed from twenty-five to thirty-five elk and twenty to twenty-five bears each year. I did not kill as many.... During one season, my brother killed of bears, elk and deer nearly two hundred.. The greatest number that I killed, in any one season, of the same kind of animals was about one hundred and thirty." Bear meat was the most valuable of all. "If we saw a bear track when we were in pursuit of elk, we would always leave the elk and follow the bear."
The methods of Browning and Tome would be illegal today in most of the country; there is also a real question of whether their methods would be as effective. Black bears were certainly much less wary in the early 1800's. Elk, in the habit of standing up to wolves, did not fare well when responding in the same way to dogs and hunters with rifles. There may well be some over-simplification or exaggeration in some of the accounts, but we do know that wild animals responded very differently before they came to know of humans with firearms.
Black bears then also tended to be more aggressive than the ones which survive in the East today; they were a real threat to livestock, especially free-ranging hogs. Browning saw the bear as a respected adversary, but he fought them no holds barred. Describing a rough bear fight, he wrote:
"When I saw him laid out at my feet, and thought how manfully he had fought in his own defence, and also how unfairly he had been taken, without the least notice at the onset, it destroyed all pleasure of the fight. But then it occurred to me that, if he had escaped at this time, he would perhaps have killed a dozen hogs for some of my friends; and that if he had received the least notice of the attack, he could not have been taken by all the dogs in the neighborhood."
Both Browning and Tome hunted deer as if they were harvesting apples for the market. They picked everything in sight, always confident that there would be more for the following year. They were hard men living in hard times, but they did not hunt for the love of killing. Tome wrote:
"I never want only killed an animal, when I could gain nothing by its destruction. From October to May their skins are good, and at this season I always killed all I could. With a true hunter it is not the destruction of life which affords the pleasures of the chase; it is the excitement attendant upon the very uncertainty of it which induces men even to leave luxurious homes and expose themselves to the hardships and perils of the wilderness."
For these two frontier hunters dogs were as much a part of big game hunting as their flintlock rifles. Dogs and men had much in common. They were equally driven and equally tough. They lived up to one another.
Browning, Meshach, Forty-Four Years of the Life of a Hunter Being Reminiscences of Meshach Browning, a Maryland Hunter, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1859. Reprint. Oakland, MD: Appalachian Background Inc., 1982.
Tome, Philip, Pioneer Life or, Thirty Years a Hunter, Harrisburg, PA: Aurand Press, 1854. Reprint. Salem, NH: Ayer Company Publishers, 1989.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I have encountered this thinking before. If it is a wirehaired dachshund used for tracking, it must be from John and Jolanta. How not true! There are other breeders in this country, and close to 12-15 litters of wirehaired dachshunds out of European blood lines were bred this year. Some litters were sired by our males, but some were not. If there is a “von Moosbach-Zuzelek” dog in a pup’s pedigree a generation or two back, this pup is not “out of our breeding”. Only dogs purchased directly from us are “out of our breeding”.
Anyway, I feel really bad about the two dachshunds mentioned by our friend but I don’t know who bred them.
Next I stumbled upon a hunting forum, where a person we know from online contacts and phone conversations (never met him in person) was giving advice about buying a dachshund for blood tracking. He has a great little dachshund, and we have always been supportive of his work and promoted his accomplishments. He has never owned or worked with dachshunds out of our breeding or bloodlines. Well, it was a shock to find out that “our dogs are overrated and not worth the money we ask people to pay”. Apparently we are very good at marketing, breed dogs for living, and the dogs are not that good. This is not all that was written there, and after I had read the whole thread I felt sick. Why do people have this need of making themselves feel better by putting others down?
In reality we are very selective about buyers. When you go to our website www.born-to-track.com there are no hard sale tricks there, no flashy advertisement. We don’t even have “testimonials” as we want to attract buyers who have done their own research. Actually, we have an “obstacle course” for potential buyers, and we don’t make it easy for people to buy a puppy from us. Yes, we charge quite a bit of money for a puppy, we ask people to come here to pick up a puppy (we don’t ship), which might be very expensive, and we sell our puppies on the AKC limited registration. It is all spelled out very clearly on the website, but I doubt that it is “good marketing”.
Why don’t we sell our pups cheaper? We value our work and time we put into these puppies. We import dogs from Europe, and we don’t get any guarantees from European breeders. We evaluate the imported puppies thoroughly, and we use for breeding only the best individuals (usually 50% of what we import). The evaluation and strict selection are integral parts of our breeding program. We do not put together just any two dogs out of European breeding or sell pups at 7-8 weeks. This is not the way we choose to breed dogs. Most of the time we breed only two litters of pups a year, and we work with puppies until they are at least ten weeks old. Some pups stay here until they are 12-14 weeks old. We spent at least half a day with people who come to pick up pups (no extra fee). We provide as much support as people are willing to accept.
Of course, we have expenses. Our dogs are fed premium food – twice a day. In the morning they get raw diet from Omas Pride (our bill is $700 per two months just for that). In the afternoon they get premium dry kibble. We don’t skimp on veterinary care, and all our dogs undergo eye examination every other year. The dogs have fenced-in 12 acres where they get exercise.
It was hard to read how apparently we profit from dogs because we give so freely our time and work to clubs such as Deer Search and United Blood Trackers. John who has been retired for 9 years from his professional career as a college professor does not charge for his seminars (as most professional dog people do) and sometimes (!) he gets reimbursed for travel. He spends every day two hours on the phone giving trackers encouragement and advice…for free. We don't charge anything for tracking.
Then I did a google search and visited another hunting forum. I read somebody’s post there (of course nobody is using their real name) that John wrote his book “on Hofstra dime”. The truth is that he retired from Hofstra University 9 years ago, and his book was published in 2003!
I have no idea where people come up with stuff like this but certainly it was a day full of nasty discoveries.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
My response to Derek was: "Like with anything in life, you get better at things when you practice and get more experience. Poppy is just eight-months-old and you are a novice blood tracker. You both have a long way to go but you will be getting better and better.
A good idea to call Kevin. If you track in a very thick cover, you may need to use a longer lead – around 40 feet. It has to be stiff so it can snake on the ground without getting hung up."
Derek's e-mail brings up important points. First tracking experiences for novice trackers with inexperienced young dogs may be very frustrating and daunting. There is a steep learning curve involved for both, a dog and handler. Sometimes people who plan to get a tracking dog think that blood tracking is simple and easy, and that a tracking dog will take them straight to the dead deer. If they have never seen a tracking dog in action, why would they think differently? Then they learn that usually in the beginning things are more complicated than that. This is when having a good support system can really help.
It is a good idea to:
- Re-read John's book; now with some experience you will get more out of it. What was abstract few months ago, now after some tracking will make more sense.
- Join United Blood Trackers to network with other trackers in your area or online. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Read other trackers' posts and articles, you will learn from them.
- If you live in New York, join Deer Search.
- Attend blood tracking workshops and seminars as you will always learn something new.
- Talk to a breeder of your dog. If this person is an experienced blood tracker, he/she will be able to advise you.
- Have realistic expectations. Because even young tracking puppies can look so brilliant on difficult artificial tracks, it is tempting to expect them to do really well on natural lines. But there is so much more to real tracking.
- Keep on socializing your dog. Tracking dogs have to work with hunters around and be at ease with strangers. They need to be exposed to a variety of situations.
- Avoid situations in which your young dog might suffer traumatic experiences. Make sure that your pup is exposed to gun fire and she is OK with it before you take her on a real deer call where hunters will be shooting. Don't let your pup come into a close contact with a deer that it is still alive. Plan, anticipate, and ...be patient.
"Hunter thought he had hit too far back. After checking his arrow and hair, we determined he had made a good hit. Starting at the hit site Doc took it out of the woods and north along the edge of a bean field for a long ways and then back into the woods with blood starting to get sparse. He then opened and started north again opening a lot as we went to the north end of woods with no blood. I pulled him off and we went back to blood trail and farther west about 200 yds to dead buck. He had gotten on a live deer. A 3/4 mile track had turned into a 1 1/2 mile jaunt. I hope he doesn't start doing this as it was a wild goose chase."
This is a good example of what might happen when you track wounded deer. There will be tracks of live deer in the area, and a dog will be tempted to leave an old blood line, especially when it is a difficult line. It takes experience, maturity, focus and self-control on dog's part not to give in to the temptation. As John stated before: "Even dogs have their limitations; even a dog can make a mistake, and this is especially true for young dogs. Don’t blindly trust your dog for 100s of yards; keep looking for that speck of blood to confirm your trust. And read your dog."