Hi Jolanta !
I thought you and John would enjoy this update on Gusto. As you remember we adopted Gusto about 3 years ago from a couple in Boston. They had hoped to use him for tracking, but the Massachusetts laws did not allow it, so Gusto did not have many opportunities to show his stuff for his first 6 years. Well, for our first two tracking seasons with Deer Search, we did not have any success in recovering deer for hunters. We went on a total of 14 calls, with 0 recoveries. In some cases we were able to kick up the wounded deer the next day to at least show the hunter that their hit was not likely fatal. As Kevin Armstrong recently discussed, I think we suffered from a lack of quality hits – all of those 14 hits were shoulder or likely one lung hits. In any case, this string of “failures” certainly didn’t do much for my confidence in Gusto.
This past tracking season brought new hope and better luck when it came to call quality. Our 2nd call this year was one that sounded like it might have been a liver hit – a lot more hopeful. However, once Gusto got beyond the initial short visible blood trail, it seemed like we were in line for another un-recovered deer. We covered about 500 yards including several back tracks over the first 45 minutes without any visible signs that we were actually still on the deer. Then, when I had just about given up hope, Gusto stopped to lick a leaf, when I picked up the leaf – Blood!!! I was surprised and elated. Over the next half hour Gusto showed me one more bloody leaf and a bed with a little blood. Finally, after another 300 yds with no visible sign, there it was – an 8pt laying in the open hardwoods. We confirmed that the hit was a liver to gut shot. Gusto had his first recovery after 3 seasons.
From this point on, Gusto had a new purpose – he lived to track. Any sign that I was getting ready for a new sortie and Gusto was jumping on the car door trying to get in and go. When we returned home from a tracking mission, there was no getting him OUT of the car! Gusto’s always had a little Jekyll & Hyde personality and he definitely displayed it (and his teeth !) when I attempted to get him out of the car. I had to resort to leaving him in the car with the door open so he could come out when he wanted. Most times he would be scratching at the door of the house around 11:00 at night. Twice, I found him still in the car the next morning! He didn’t want to stop tracking!!
Our terrifically fun and successful season ended with 7 nice recoveries in 17 sorties. All our recoveries involved either a liver or a gut hit. One came 74 hours after the hit and another ended when Gusto finally convinced me, on his 3rd attempt, to head through 2 feet of water into a swamp. On an Island in the swamp we found a 9pt still alive with a gut shot after 24 hours – I wish I had gotten pictures of him doing the doggy paddle out to that island!
There’s still life in this old (9yr) dog and me too!
Can’t wait till tracking season 2011,
Happy New Year,
Pictures showing Gusto with the deer that he helped recover
I could not be happier that Gusto rediscovered his purpose in life. But you should not tolerate his behavior when he stays in the truck as he pleases and shows you his teeth! Let's talk about it on the phone.