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Monday, October 25, 2010

Remi, a blood tracking wunderkind

Remi (Remy von Moosbach-Zuzelek, a Joeri/Gilda son) is just a puppy, and today he is turning five months old. We wrote about Remi on this blog before as he has making a name for himself at the R & K Hunting Company in Utah. We asked Justin Richins, his owner and handler, for more details, and few days ago we received this nice, thorough report from Justin Whitear, a guide at R & K. A big thank you to both Justins!

On September 29, 2010 we had a client who shot and wounded a bull elk. The elk was semi quartering towards us when the client took the shot. The shot went through the front shoulder and exited the same shoulder near the back of the shoulder, missing all vitals. The bull was able to cover a great distance of ground making our recovery impossible. As soon as the shot was made the bull elk spun around and headed into the same thick trees that he had just walked out of.

As we approached the clearing where the shot was made, we soon found a few drops of blood where the bull had ran into the trees. After following the blood for about 200 yards we could tell the animal had not been shot very well and we would need some assistance from Justin Richins. I made a call to Ken Duncan to pick Justin and Remi up at the bottom of the mountain. Within an hour and a half Justin and Remi had arrived and we soon watched this little puppy make a believer out of all us. As soon as they arrived I took Justin to where the shot had been made and that’s where Justin started his dog Remi.

At first Remi was very hyper and jumped around going back and forth from the blood trail to a possible rabbit or mouse track and then back to the blood trail. (Justin Richins comment to this statement was: Remi was just checking out all the wrong paths they tracked down with the blood/scent on there shoes at the hit site.) After 5 minutes of running around all of the sudden Remi ‘s disposition changed and he became very focused on the blood trail. At first we all watched this little puppy just kind of trot along and almost playing around like most puppies do and then something triggered Remi, maybe it was the taste of that blood, or the strong smell of fresh elk still on the ground, something turned this little puppy into a highly respectable dog that has the entire elk camp talking about Remi.

Remi’s nose never left the ground after the 50 yards or so of getting his wiggles out. Remi followed the blood track down a narrow path that was less than a foot wide, leading to a steep hill covered with thick oak trees. 35 yards from where the bull had been shot there was a large pool of blood about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide and then it slowed down to nearly one drop every 30 yards. Then at the 200 yard mark where we had stopped tracking and called Justin we could not locate any blood or which small game trail the bull had taken.

Remi was going at a pretty fast pace as he went over the hill and in fact missed the track and went about 20 feet down another game trail before turning around. He back tracked himself and then turned down a new trail. Watching this from above I had thought this is where the tracking would end. In my mind he had already missed the trail once and was now headed for a creek at the bottom of this large gully. After Remi crossed the creek he stayed at a pretty fast trot right up the other side of the creek and into some more thick trees. As we made our way into the trees I was very doubtful that Remi was even on the right trail.

At this point we were all in agreement that the bull had not been hit very well because of the distance we had traveled and the effort that would have been required to go up such a steep hill. As we continued going up through the trees we found a dot of blood and this was very exciting because we had gone close to a quarter mile without any blood sign. As we went further up the hill we came across a pretty good amount of blood where the bull had maybe laid down, not necessarily because he had been shot but it was getting late in the morning and most of the elk had bedded for the day.

As Remi made his way to the top of the ridge he worked his way out into an open meadow and started to head for the middle of it. Justin did not think that Remi was still on the trail so he took Remi back into the trees where the bull had laid down and started him over. Once again Remi worked his way up the hill and out into the opening towards the middle of large meadow. This time Justin let Remi go and we just followed. Justin and I were both thinking we had come to the end of our trail until we came to the other side of the meadow and found a small drop of blood leading into some more trees.

Justin and I were completely amazed that Remi was able to follow the same track through an open meadow that was 600 yards wide with a warm breeze and sun on the entire meadow Remi had still kept on the trail. As Remi made his way up the next bunch of trees he worked his way up until he came to a dirt road. Once Remi hit the road he kept doing half circles up the road and then back down to where the trail came out of the trees and into the road. After 3 or 4 times of going up the road and then turning back to where the trail came out of the trees Remi crossed the dirt road and followed a small game trail that lead into a giant basin that was covered with oak trees. The basin has to be close to 1 mile in length and ¾ of a mile wide.

As Remi worked closer to the big basin we came into a clearing where there were 10 to 15 beef cattle grazing. It only took a little bit of movement from the cows and Remi was on their tail barking and chasing them towards the basin. By now it was around 12:30 p.m. and we were exhausted and so was Remi. The good news was Remi had showed us where the bull had gone giving a game plan for the night hunt.

That night about 4:00 p.m. Kody Whitear and myself started into the basin looking for the bull. At the top of the basin we had a few spotters looking down towards us to make sure the bull didn’t slip out. About 45 min into our hike Bob Wixom, one of our guides, called and said he had spotted the wounded bull. We were able to make a stock on the bull and harvest the animal.

The recovery of this wounded bull would have never happened without Remi. From where we had shot the bull to where Remi last tracked the bull was close to 2 miles. Any good ethical hunter would have given up as soon as the elk had crossed the creek and its wound had stopped bleeding. I am so impressed with Justin’s dog I asked Justin to let me know when I would be able to get a dog like his. These dogs are incredible trackers and will save R&K many animals that would have suffered and died on the mountain and gone to waste without a dog to track them down.

Justin Richins with Remi at our place. Justin flew all the way from Utah to pick the pup up. Remi went to his new home on August 9, when he was 11 weeks old.
Not all puppies are as precocious as Remi. A breeder would like to see good blood tracking potential in young puppies. But every dog develops at his own pace and some late bloomers turned out to be terrific blood trackers and hunters.  We are very proud of Remi. He is in excellent hands and has a lot of opportunities to work. It is so satisfying to see that outfitters are starting to appreciate blood tracking dogs!

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