Search This Blog

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blood tracking adventures of Ryan and Oskar (standard smooth dachshund) from Indiana

I saw Ryan's post about Oskar on one of the archery forums and asked for permission to post it here. He agreed and actually expanded it. Thank you Ryan! And congratulations to awesome Oskar!

In Ryan's words:

"Thanks for letting me brag on Oskar a bit - he has been all we hoped for and more. Getting into a tracking dog has been a work in progress for us - I think I bought John's book 4-5 years ago and have read through it at least 3 times. Our research into the right dog for us has taken the last couple of years, and we couldn't be more happy with the outcome.

Oskar is a standard smooth coat dachshund from Sian Kwa's July 2009 litter. We brought him home from North Carolina to Indiana at 8 weeks old (Sian had started the pups on short blood tracks at 6 weeks) and began our serious training with him right away. We used a combination of techniques from John's book and advice from Sian to direct his training. We were very pleasantly surprised with his progress (this is our first experience training a blood tracking dog), and he was soon working artificial lines up to 300 yards long with several 90 degree turns.

Oskar at 9 weeks

Oskar tracked his first deer at 12 weeks - a doe I harvested in the early Indiana archery season - and took to it like a champ.

Throughout the fall/winter he has tracked a total of 12 fatally wounded bowshot deer (with 12 recoveries), 6 of which were easy tracks - 30-70 yards long, 4 were moderate difficulty - 200-300 yards long, and 2 were difficult - 500 and 800 yards long. The last two deer would likely not have been found without the dog. Not bad for a 5 month old pup!

He also tracked one non-fatally hit deer (brisket shot) and was pulled from the track at 200 yards upon confirmation of the non-fatal injury. One unknown track was attempted for a gun hunter that did not know hit location and had 2 small spots of visible blood and only minimal knowledge of the flight path of the deer. This track was a non-starter.

Oskar's final track of the year was a real eye opener for me with 25 years of serious archery experience and participation in probably 80-100 blood trailing situations without a dog. I shot a good sized doe - hit looked good, maybe just a tad back, but a solid passthrough shot in the ribs with a big 160 grain Snuffer on a 7 yard broadside deer. Gave her a couple of hours to be sure, then went back with a two helpers and Oskar. Figured this would be a simple 75-100 yard track in the snow, then load her up and bring her home.

We started the track at approx 10 degrees F in several inches of snow and a very high deer traffic area about 3 h after the hit. Tracking went well with moderate blood for the first 75 yards, then got into a tall (3-5 ft) grass field and things became interesting. Two hours later we had found 6-8 wound beds with decreasing blood and covered around 450 yards of trail in the grass field before the dog took me across a county road. After the first approx 150 yards in the grass the blood was very spotty, even in the snow. After crossing the road I heard the deer jump and go off - keep in mind I had watched the (shaving sharp) Snuffer tipped arrow go through her ribs several hours before this.

Oskar started tracking hot at this point and we took her another 200 yards and came upon her bedded down 10 yards away, still alive. We are not allowed to carry a weapon when tracking with a dog so at this point things were at a dead end. After 20-30 min the doe jumped up and ran into the timber. Assessment of the wound bed showed only a couple of spots of blood and no visible blood on the flight path.

I decided to back out at that point, and my helpers convinced me that I had a non-fatal hit (shoulder or back) and that the deer would live. I was very pleased with Oskar's performance on this track considering that my previous working dog experience (beagles) has convinced me that scenting becomes problematic around 10 degrees F and below. He also maintained focus and drive for the entire track of several hours in these temperature and snow cover conditions.

That night I kept thinking about the situation and I was convinced that this deer was mortally wounded - I knew what I saw at the hit. I went back in the morning with Oskar and put him in the deer's last bed. There was an additional 1-1.5 inches of new snow, so there was no visible trail, but he tracked directly to the dead deer approx 75-100 yards further into the timber. The coyotes took one hind quarter, but I salvaged the rest of the deer and got closure for myself (and Oskar) on the track.

This is a virtually unbelievable situation to me - the deer was hit 3-4 inches forward of the diaphragm through the chest and there was a visible broadhead hole through the back lobe of both lungs. I can only attribute this deer living so long (around 5h) and travelling so far (approx 800 yards) to very bad luck in evidently not striking a major vessel/artery in the back of the lungs.

The top picture is the entry wound, and the bottom is the exit wound.

We are extremely pleased with Oskar and he is becoming a great tracker as well as a great pet and gets along well with our other dogs (rat terrier, beagle, and basset hound). The only caution I would give to prospective owners is that these dogs are definitely hunting dogs, not couch dogs, and someone expecting the stereotypical American dachshund might not be the best fit for one of these dynamos.

No comments: