Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First blood track of the season - tracking wounded bear with John and Billy

Yesterday John went with Billy to track a wounded bear so I asked him to write a short report about the experience. Often handlers write only about tracks that lead to recovered game, but sometimes dogs show their best work on tracks that don't end "successfully". This is what John wrote:

After enviously listening to the adventure stories of my friends, I finally got my first call on September 26. It was a wounded bear, 65 miles to the North where the bear season is already open. The big bear had gone down instantly at the rifle shot, which usually means a shot to, or close to, the spine. However, the bear got his act together, got his hind legs going and ran off. The hunter got in two more shots, but he was not sure that he had connected.

Billy and I needed a workout, even if the odds for success were small. And it was a good work out. The track descended into a big swamp, and we waded around verifying the 22 hour old line with very occasional drops or smears of blood. The hunter had painstaking trailed 300 yards and Billy took it for another 700 with many loops and turns. The bear never bedded. I picked Billy up on a line that still had tiny drops of blood on it.

I was proud of Billy, and of course Billy was proud of himself …and showed it, especially when we got back to the farmhouse. Billy has found many deer, but clearly he is best at tracking bears, and he loves to do it.


MTWaggin said...

So here's my novice question - do individual dogs sometimes track one type of wildlife better than another?

Anonymous said...

That's Gerti's papa!!

Chris and Gerti.

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

We have used dogs to track bears in past seasons wounded by clients. It never fails to amaze me how dedicated a good tracking dog is to finding a wounded bear. Wether pointing, tracking or retrieving I love watching a well trained dog do its thing!

Andy Bensing said...

Glad to hear John and Billy got an early call. Wow John, 65 miles! Next thing I know you will be competing for my North Jersey calls.

Lindsjö taxar said...

Great job!! We must have tracking dogs available when we hunt. Its a law here in Sweden

Teddy said...

What am I missing here, John? If there was still blood why did you call off the tracking? Surely the bear will be dead at the end of the track if the shot was as good as reported, and if the bear was still bleeding. Just curious.

John Jeanneney said...

MT Waggin,

Tracking dogs do have preferences and when it comes to bears they can have strong opinions. There are some good tracking dogs for wounded deer that flat out refuse to track the strong, nasty, dangerous scent of a bear. I have never had such a dog myself, but other handlers have told me about this. In Europe there are apparently some dogs that won’t track wild boars.


John Jeanneney said...

The bear went down instantly at the shot, and his rear end was temporarily paralyzed. He thrashed around and finally took off. Only a spinal shot or a shot close to the spine would produce that instant knockdown, and obviously the spine was not broken.

The bear then looped around in the swamp, but did not leave a bed with blood in it. Usually wounded bear don’t go as far as a deer hit in the same way, and they bed down sooner. Surprisingly bears are not as tough in this respect as an adult deer. This bear did not act like he was hard hit, and the very occasional blood drops were very small.

I finally took a verified line out of the swamp and Billy acted as if it were fairly fresh. He was wind scenting some but there was no indication of the bear, just a few tiny drops of fresh blood. This bear was alive 24 hours after being shot. The hunters, who were very experienced on bear, agreed with me that this bear did not have a mortal wound.