A great report from Andy:
Last Sunday Eibe and I were entered in a VSwP blood tracking trial sponsored by the North American Deutsch Kurzhaar Club in Stillman Valley IL. The VSwP is a 20 hour old, 1000 meter long test laid with 8 ozs. of blood. there are 3 turns, 2 wound beds and various "marking points" along the way. The marking points are either small pieces of lung, bone, or skin serving as sign to be indicated by the dog as it follows the trail. It is judged by 3 special JGHV blood tracking judges who can award a successful participant with either a Prize, I, II, or III (excellent, very good, good). When the tracks were laid on Saturday, the weather forecast made it look like scenting conditions would be quite good on Sunday for the test but as it turned out the scenting conditions were quite difficult by the morning of the test.
The first dog, Honey, a 9 year old female Kurzhaar bred, owned and handled by Jerry Kellogg, had been quite aggressively trained and prepared for the test over the last 3 months but unfortunately was unable to lock into the scent line and did not pass the test.
|Jerry Kellogg with Honey|
Eibe and I were the only other participant in the trial and we were the second team up. Under average conditions, 1000 meters takes Eibe and I anywhere from 35 minutes to 1 hour to complete. This test turned out to be quite difficult and it ended up taking us 2 hours and 36 minutes to complete! Eibe had to work and concentrate incredibly hard to string together the little pieces of the line as she searched them out and found them. Unfortunately along the way we got too far off on an incorrect line one time and the judges had to give us a "call back" . Unlike other testing venues that I have trialed under in the past, in this test the judges do not tell you WHERE you went wrong and left the correct line. At the call back they just tell you that you ARE wrong and you and your dog have to find your own way back to the correct line. My GPS experience came in quite handy for that. Eibe found and cleanly indicated both wound beds, and 3 of the 6 marking points along the way. She even found a "bonus" marking point accidently dropped by the judges the day before when they laid the line (a plastic bag of deer hair for use on the wound beds). At the end of the test the judges awarded Eibe and I with a Prize II, Very Good. The head judge commented that she was quite impressed by my dog's concentration and stamina on so long and difficult a test and that her performance was actually a Prize I performance but because of the one call back they had to award her a Prize II. I was very proud of my dog's performance and most particularly how well she did in ignoring the hot lines in the area. The grounds where this trial was held were just crawling with Deer and Turkey.
|Andy, Eibe and judges Leonard Chase, Bob Gerstner, Vanita Skinner (head judge).|
After the trial I drove 5 hours east and meet up with some blood tracking friends at a field trial in Addison MI and did some celebrating, well let me more truthfully say, A LOT of celebrating. (We enjoyed it very much Andy!)
|Celebrating with friends|
So that was Sunday, my last artificial tracking work for the year. Wednesday, the Maryland Archery season opened and I got my first call of the season to go out and help a guy find a gut shot deer Thursday morning. The deer had run out of sight within 15 yards and there was no visible blood even at the hit site. Eibe's slow and steady searching eventually worked it all out and after about 45 minutes we located the deer not too far away in a standing bean field. The hunter had searched the bean field the day before but with the beans being not very dry and about 3 1/2 feet high it was hard to see anything unless you stepped on it. Right before we found the deer I was tying a marking ribbon on a bean stalk where Eibe had indicated to me a piece of chewed muscle and while I was tying the ribbon I noticed she was pulling like heck on the leash. I figured we were pretty close assuming the chewed muscle was from a critter eating on the dead deer nearby but I was quite surprised when I started following her again and discovered she was standing 1 foot away from the dead deer when she was pulling. I was only 15 feet away from the deer and I could not see her or the deer when I looked that direction till I walked over to it.
|Andy, Eibe, and a happy hunter with the recovered 11 pointer in the bean field|
We tracked another deer on that same lease after that but it appeared to be a front leg hit that just passed through muscle without even hitting bone so we gave that trail up as unrecoverable. I am pretty sure that 10 pointer will recover. I got a phone call from another hunter only 30 minutes away while tracking the 1st deer so we took a 3rd call around 11:30 AM as well. This was another gut shot from the night before and I am pretty sure we would have found it but we had to call the trail off when the hunter's Boss called him and told him he was going to be fired if he did not come to work right away. There was a lot of private property in the area so I did not feel comfortable not having the hunter with me and I quit the trail. We had advanced the trail about 300 yards through a hot, dry, standing corn field and to be honest, I do not think Eibe had much left mentally or physically. She had about 5 hours of tracking under her belt by then and the sun was out and it was 85 degrees. The hunter had no idea when he would be done with work so I decided to drive the hour and a half home. I think if I would have rested Eibe a few hours till the temps went down we could have eventually found that one. At least we got the hunter a lot closer to the deer and he is going to look again in the morning.