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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great tracking season for Steve, Ruby and Dita

Today's e-mail from Steve Kremp has brought an informative summary of his 2009 tracking season. Steve has two dachshunds - a four-year-old Dita (a daughter of Alfi and Elli) and one-year-old Ruby bred by Gail Berger. Ruby is Dita's niece, and this was her first tracking season.

Dita, Ruby and I had an enjoyable and productive season. Since it was Ruby's first year in the field, I chose to take her out on most of the calls, in order to get her as much experience as possible. This didn't sit too well with Dita, and after leaving with Ruby, my wife and daughter called several times to lay a guilt trip on me, by letting me hear Dita wailing at the door, in the background.

The first track of the year for Ruby was an easy one, but I think it played a key part in bridging the gap from her training sessions to the real thing.

She really nailed her next several tracks, including one liver hit doe that zig zagged through over a hundred yards of the densest, hands and knees, multiflora rose thicket that I've ever encountered. She found a trophy buck for my friend, who hit it high and back with his longbow, just as the rain started, as well as a nice buck that had been gut shot, for a teenager who swore up and down that the buck went the other way!

The highlight of the season for Ruby was a doe that I shot during the bow season in early November. She was shot just before dark, during the rut, while being harassed by two bucks. The shot looked good, and ran about 40 yards, but instead of hearing the telltale crash, all was quiet. My view was blocked by some beech brush, but I figured that she must have bedded there. Despite staying in the stand for over an hour after dark, to give her time, when I got down from the stand, she bolted, with the two bucks in hot pursuit.

The next morning Ruby and I took up the very sparse blood trail. By the time we covered 100 yards, blood was only visible about every thirty or forty yards. The deer went up the mountain, got to the top, then doubled back and headed down the same side. We found her about four hundred yards as the crow flies from where she was shot, but the actual distance traveled was quite a bit farther. Ruby was 10 months old at the time of this recovery, and it took approximately 15 to 20 minutes to find the deer. To say I was proud would be quite an understatement!

Dita also did well, but the deer that she found didn't have much left to them. One big buck was hit in the evening, and the hunters lost the blood trail about fifty yards down the line, when it entered a wheat field. The hunter was unable to return the next morning due to work, but I was familiar with the area, and his description led us to the point of loss. Dita picked up the trail on the other side of the field as it entered a dense thicket. About seventy five yards in, we came to a puzzling patch of what appeared to be neck, or upper body hair in a bed with a little blood. About twenty yards away, Dita found the buck, minus it's head! Apparently someone else must have stumbled across it earlier that day, took the head, and tried to hide the carcass. I marked the carcass, told the disappointed hunter where to find it, and he followed up on it that evening. He thought he knew who might have taken the head, but I never heard how it turned out. A careful camera angle hid the damage that the foxes did to another deer that Dita found in late December.

This time of the year, I always wish that I had taken more pictures, and kept better records, but the memories are priceless. To the best of my recollection, we went out on twelve tracks, and were able to find eleven of the deer. The one that we did not recover was shot during a drive, and ran across a large mowed field. We were unable to confirm where it re-entered the woods on the other side. All in all, it was a great season, and we look forward to next year.

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