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.