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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The second snow in October in the Capital Region, NY

This time we got lucky! The Saturday storm that paralyzed the Northeast and dumped more than 20 inches of heavy snow in some places was very kind to us. We got about eight inches of white stuff, and we did not lose our electricity. Since we live at a high elevation (above 1000 feet) our trees did not have as many leaves on them as trees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where power outages are widespread. We have not had any damage, and once again we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Today the temperature was in high 40s, and a lot of snow has melted already.

I was surprised how many hunters called this afternoon for tracking services. They were hunting last night despite the poor weather. As usually, John is out tracking...

Sunday morning around sunrise

Our puppy pen this morning.
Joeri and Bella playing together in the October snow.

Apples which we grow mainly for deer were covered in snow this morning.

This is the snow hanging off our barn roof. It will eventually come all the way down.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Von Moosbach-Zuzelek" blood tracking dachshunds are real working dogs

Well, I ended up not going to the dachshund field trials in New Jersey. Yesterday afternoon, completely packed, I was ready to go; crates were loaded in the car. And then I decided to check our weather forecast for the last time. It sounded so bad that I decided to stay home. We were supposed to get a foot of snow, and the snow storm was going to be wide spread. As it turned out it was a right decision not to go as the conditions in new Jersey have been absolutely miserable. At the field trial they managed to run only 12 dachshunds in open stake today, and they will try to finish today's trial tomorrow. The trial actually scheduled for tomorrow has been already cancelled.

Now I have a chance to catch up with posts that have been e-mailed to me in the last week or so. Kudos to all the handlers of "von Moosbach-Zuzelek" dachshunds, who work hard recovering deer for hunters.

David Bell from Ohio who tracks with 18-month-old Quella (Joeri/Keena) reported a recovery of a monster buck:

The monster buck recovered by David Bell and Quella
Quella found this nice buck on a cool night, with a rising barometer, in a wind swept field with lots of deer in it for distraction. We started off in a bad way, with me forgetting my tracking supplies in my car and me hitching a ride to the buck paradise in the back seat of the hunter's truck with just my tracking light and Quella in hand. I was so pumped up to get another call that I didn't even realize my pack was gone until I was there. 

The landowner gave me a big strap that I used as a make shift leash because going back wasn't an option, considering we could here coyotes off in the distance howling, which were ready to make a quick meal of this buck and destroy his cape, something a hunter doesn't want, if he is going to mount his deer. I wasn't sure how this was going to work out since the industrial grade strap was very heavy, but I knew that Quella was in great shape from her daily walks, so we proceeded on. We started out on first blood, with Quella making easy work of the line up to around ten feet from where the hunter lost blood (75 yards). 

Quella wanted to go after a hot line instead of sticking to the track, so I gently scolded her, by telling her no and started her over again. I had to do this 3 times with her wanting to go in the same direction, but I knew what she was up to, so I was persistent on correcting her, so she would stick to the right line. Finally Quella realized that I wasn't happy with her decision, so she took it upon herself to do what we came for, which is to track this man's trophy . From here, Quella locked in on the monster 8 pointer and took me across the huge cut bean field to a big woodlot and down a giant ravine where I've seen multiple rubs, scrapes and hoof prints. I knew this was the buck's bed room from all the sign and that he would bed down and expire in this safe core area that he called home. 

After we hit the bottom of the ravine Quella took me straight to the deer which was all together around a 300 yard track. I called the hunter's cell phone and told him that Quella found the buck down in the ravine. From there we loaded up the buck and off we went to my car, with the hunter letting me know how pleased he was in my dogs performance. He gave me a nice tip for tracking his wall hanger. I didn't have my camera on me at the time, since it was in my pack, but once I got to my car, I quickly got it out and had the hunter's buddy (the land owner) snap some pics of me, Quella and the proud hunter.

Joe Walters from Indiana whose tracking partner Doc is a four-year-old son of Buster and Keena wrote:

Doc and I went on a track on October 22and  I thought would be easy.
We started at last blood marked with toilet paper on limb. Doc started to the south and we got into a huge mass of blown down trees from the same storm that damaged my house. We went up, over and around through this mess and nothing. We finally circled around to the downwind side of blow down and Doc threw his head up and started tracking and opening. We tracked all the way back through this mess and ran the track right by the toilet paper marker with no blood. After the two mile track and no blood, we called it off. Two tired puppies.

Then two days later we received this e-mail:
This doe track was about 200 yards long.  We started at last blood and he went south along side of hedge row and then west through it and turned back north along side of bean field.  Doc went about 30 yards and turned around and headed back south past where the doe had come through and then made a 90 into beans for about 50 yds and then back north.  I thought, "Oh no, rabbit."  I was about to call him off when I raised my light and there she lay.

Trust your dog.  Dope on a rope.

Joe and Doc 

Doc (Magnum v Moosbach-Zuzelek) with the doe he recovered

It was a treat to receive e-mail from Ben Byington who tracks with Buford (Quint v on Moosbach-Zuzelek), Quella's brother. Ben lives in Sandusky, Ohio:

I wanted to send an updated picture of a recent blood track he did. He was able to track this doe after following a blood trail for 500 yards! He took the lead and didn't stop, right to the doe. We were very pleased with his performance and ability to track for such a long distance.

Buford and his doe.

The next report came from Chris Barr from Indiana, who tracks with Gerti, a daughter of Billy and Gilda:

Friday we took a track of a deer where the hunter said that the deer was quartering away. Upon release, he said that the deer turned further away from him and that his arrow had entered in front of the rear leg, and exited behind the shoulder of the same side of the deer. I’m not sure if you’ve ever encountered this. We did not find the arrow, believed to still be in the deer, and there was almost no blood. This was the first time that we’d tracked in a area that had been stirred up by turkeys. In fact, the hunter said he killed a turkey that morning. We advanced the blood a little, but not much. There was turkey sign everywhere, not sure if this made it difficult for Gerti or not, but we sure couldn’t do much for him.

The second came Saturday night. Liver shot buck took off through standing corn. Hunters tracked to a chisel plowed field and decided to back out. We arrived 4 hours later and Gerti took the line to the chisel plowed field w/o much problem. When we hit the field, she took off to the northwest. After she began searching I decided to take her back to known blood at the fence crossing at the edge of the corn. As we were crossing the field, Gerti yanked on the end of the rope like a bass on a jig. I didn’t see anything but decided to let her go with it for a while. After 100 or so yards going southeast I was just about to pull the plug on her when I found some blood in the bare dirt of the field. I called the hunters over and exited the field down a steep embankment into a nasty thicket. Gerti tracked across that with one correction to the buck that had bailed off a three foot bank and was under water except for one side of his antlers and his rump. The 15 year old boy couldn’t help but give me a hug. Gerti had some liver and was good to go too.

Before we could get back to the truck for some hero photos, I got a call from a landowner of a farm that I hunt. A hunter had shot a doe at 5 yards, quartering to. He thought he hit her high. I was not too encouraged, but we gave it a college try. Gerti did pretty well, but I believe that if the deer dies, it won’t be for some time. The track went for several hundred yards w/o a bed. We were on blood when we decided to end the track as there was nothing to indicate that the deer was slowing down.

A Big Thank You to all who give their dogs a chance to do what they were bred for - track.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October snow in the Helderbergs: the morning after

We will be back with blood tracking stories on Monday when I get back from field trials. I have so many stories and pictures, and just can't wait to post the. Thank you to all who send them in, and good luck everybody this weekend with your hunting and tracking.

This morning was the most beautiful morning I have ever witnessed. We probably got 5-6 inches of snow last night and our trees still have leaves, so what I saw around 7-8 AM was just pure magic. The pictures are posted in a chronological sequence,  the earliest were taken just after sunrise when the sun was very low. I took around 230 pictures, and probably at least 40% of them are really good. The puppy you see in the pictures is Summer, who accompanied me on the first part of my walk around the property.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

First snow in October - not fair!

Hard to believe that I will be going to field trials this weekend. We have at least 4 inches of the snow on the ground and it is still snowing. This is not fair!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tracking wounded bear in the Catskills with two dachshunds, Billy and Joeri

On October 24 John and I went on a bear call that was referred to us through Deer Search. A big bear was shot at 6 PM on October 23 in the Catskills, and according to the bowhunter the bear was liver-shot. We decided to take two dogs with us, Billy and Joeri.

We started to track at 1 PM next day, and this was the steepest and roughest terrain we have ever tracked in. I have just gone through six weeks of physical therapy for the lower back pain, and did not expect to track in such a rocky, ledgy, mountainous terrain (a lesson learned - we should have asked more questions when talked to the hunter on the phone).

We started to track with Billy, who showed us some dry dark blood on the ground and saplings. This part of the track is showed well on a short video, which I took while John was handling Billy.

We started to track with Billy

But after a while Billy took us down the hill and since we were not seeing any signs of the bear, we decided to give Billy some rest, put him back in the car and go back to the starting point with Joeri.

John and I took turns handling him, and Joeri was able to advance the trail further up the hill. We ran out of blood signs fairly quickly, but Joeri was pulling pretty hard while we were climbing the hill. There were so many caves and dens that a wounded bear could crawl into. At one point we encountered what must have been a bear bathroom as there we piles of bear poop all over the place. Some of it was very fresh. Joeri was animated and wanted to go into one cave.

Joeri climbing the rocky hill had a good workout...
... and so did the rest of us
Bears must be using this small area as a toilet.

Joeri was very animated around this den and wanted to crawl there. We were sure that bears were using this den, but had no evidence that "our bear" was there.

I know that dachshunds are not supposed to move like mountain goats but this track underscored the need for sound conformation in the working dachshunds. Joeri who has excellent ground clearance never had any problems with the terrain.
At one point we came across bear vomit full of corn.

We searched the area for 3.5 hours and did not locate the wounded bear that we were tracking. Bears are abundant there and this fact plus the really steep and rough terrain made the tracking difficult. For calls like this a close working dog such as Joeri  was certainly a good choice. He has never showed any hesitation in following the scent and his great conformation allowed him to track for a long time. Both John and I were tired but we knew that even though we did not find the bear we did everything we could.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A blood track to remember for Darren Doran and Karl from New Jersey

This is Darren Doren’s account of a tough call he took in New Jersey with  his wirehaired dachshund Karl. In New Jersey wounded deer tracking with a leashed dog is currently  legal only on a research permit basis. Daren is the leader of the group of handlers involved in the experiment, which will determine whether a more general legalization can be arranged. Daren has a long experience with dogs dating back to his Air Force service when he handled dogs that guarded combat planes.

Karl, his dachshund had found a few deer, but like some other dogs I have known, he could be a little rough and wild. Daren has the skill and perseverance  to  develop this dog that a lesser man would have given up on.

Darren’s story makes us realize that in a suburbanized state like New Jersey tracking can be tough in its own way. There are many small property owners, who are often anti-hunting and ready to refuse access to a handler and his tracking dog. And the cover can be just as thick as in northern alder swamps and southern privet. Here’s Darren’s story in his own words; it extends over two days.

Day One

 “A young hunter called Carmelo hit a big buck Saturday morning: a pass through that looked like a liver hit. Karl tracked it to an empty bed. I had Carmelo looking for sign as I tracked on through a briar patch. All of a sudden the boy yelled, There he goes.” We put him out of the briars.

 I went back to the bed and wanted to make sure it was the right deer. Carmelo assured me that it was. I started Karl where the deer had been seen and I saw blood. I was marking sign on the GPS when all of sudden I looked up and Karl had the buck by a hind quarter. The deer had laid down within 50 yards of us at the top of a weed field. The deer shook Karl off and ran across the field. This was the first time I saw the buck and believe me, it was big buck. We were now tracking hot and the deer was on its feet  and bleeding. 

 We went another 1.5 miles on the GPS and the deer crossed a property line; we needed permission to enter. This evening I'm hoping that Ron, Carmelo's dad, can get access. If so I'm going back.  Karl's work is really improving. I saw yesterday that I can start believing him more. We still have a rough patch at the start, but that's improving. Once he gets going he’s locked in. His tracking and his search pattern are improving as well. I'll let you know if I get back on the deer today.”

Day Two

“Ron spent Sunday morning going house to house to try to track down the property owner. As luck would have it he found him around 10:30 and permission to track was granted. As soon as Ron called I took off. It would take an hour and a half to get there, and I was anxious to get tracking.

We were going in by a different way today. We were going to follow an old railroad track that now served as public access to the Pequannock River, one of New Jersey’s trout streams. This public access split the private land to the east from the public to the west. I had the pick up spot marked on the GPS and getting to it from the right of way was easy. We got through the old wire fence and I got Karl hooked up and was preparing to start tracking.

 Karl can be a little difficult to start and today was no different. I hadn't been seeing much blood towards the end of the track last night so I started him further back on the track. He tracked off to the side of the flag and I didn't think he had it. I let him go awhile to let him settle down some, and then I restarted him. He was working too fast and having a hard time. I started to direct his searching in circles over the line, and he slowed down. At one point his actions changed. He tracked to and past the flag and then he had it. He tracked to an overgrown woods road and down towards the access road we had just walked in on. The fence was gone here and Karl went right across the access road and into this swampy brush between the right-of-way and the river.

We tracked to the river then down the bank. Karl circled back through the brush towards the access road and back across it into the private land. As we were going across the ditch  I saw a single drop of blood on a leaf. I called up Carmelo and asked him to look around for more. The fence here was not completely down and Karl was having trouble with it. I lifted him over it and he didn’t seem to have the line.

 Karl then went back to the old woods road and took me back across the access road towards the river. He took a slightly different line this time and ended up at the river bank. The river here was about knee deep in one of the more shallow spots. Karl whined a little and then jumped in. The current started taking him down stream, and I kept feeding out his tracking line. I was hoping he would get to the other side before I ran out of line. He did with about a yard to spare, but he was at a spot with a steep high-bank that he couldn’t climb.

Carmelo and his sister Megan were right behind me. All of a sudden Megan yelled out, “There he is!” and pointed to a log pile on the far bank. We could just make out his white belly and an antler sticking up. We jumped in the river and started wading across to the deer. Karl started up the shallows on the far side and met us at the deer. We had one heck of a celebration. I'll never forget the expression on Carmelo's face when he grabbed that deer. He's 13 and this was by far the biggest deer he's ever taken. We got the deer back across the river and back to the truck and Karl received a hero’s welcome.

I learned a lot about my dog this weekend, and I think we turned a corner with our tracking. I'm not sure what the blood on the leaf was from but Karl figured out that it wasn't from the buck. He went back to the woods road and restarted on his own, figured out the right track and found the deer. This is what I've been waiting for and for the second and final time in two days Karl got to bite that deer’s butt.”    


Sunday, October 23, 2011

I love older dogs: Asko at 12.5

Aat 12.5 Asko does not act like an "old man". But we noticed some changes on his abdomen skin so this week he will be going to a vet. Today he had a great time running rabbits in our field.

Asko in the front and his great-great-granddaughter Bella von Tierspur.
Two weeks ago Asko played in the pond retrieving apples from our pond.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wild turkeys come for a visit

We knew that wild turkey hens have been around as we caught nice videos of them on our trail camera. I counted 24 of them in our field this morning. What a nice sight!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Realities of blood tracking with dogs

Most of the time handlers of blood tracking dogs write about their successes when they find a wounded deer or bear that the hunter could not find on his own. After reading these success stories novice handlers might have unrealistic expectations and become discouraged when their own tracking attempts do not always end up with recovered game. There are many potential reasons why a tracking team fails to recover wounded game. The account below of 36 hours in a life of tracker John Jeanneney will present the reality of occasional failures.

This story starts at 1 PM on October 17 when John and Joeri started to track for Bill Cafariella of Charlton, NY. Bill shot a really nice buck at 6 PM on Sunday, October 16. He thought that he had a gut shot deer that probably had not gone too far. He tracked it for a while but then it started to rain. There was probably half an inch of rain overnight, and next morning all signs of blood were washed away.

On the approach to the hit site.
 John and Joeri started to track on Monday at 1 PM, and I went along to take pictures. Joeri with difficulty carried the line for 300 yards, and after that he no longer seemed to be positive. Around 3 PM I asked John whether he was ready to go home as I had to go to a post office to ship some books. His firm and very emphatic answer was “no”. I drove to a nearby post office, which was closed for an afternoon break, and when I got back to, 45 minutes later John was still in the woods searching. He searched the area until 5:30 PM, but Joeri never picked up the line again. We left disappointed feeling that the buck was lying dead nearby.

Bill and his eight friends resumed the search and found the deer next day, totally devoured by coyotes, in the brambles, probably 65 yards from where Joeri had lost the track. Coyotes left only the deer head intact. When we started to track we were under the impression that the deer was gut shot through the stomach as Bill found some corn on the ground. Actually the arrow had come down through the shoulder blade, passed through the chest cavity and exited out of the bottom of the stomach. The deer must have died very quickly, and coyotes must have destroyed it during the first night. We are not sure whether the abundant coyote scent in the area was a problem for Joeri.

Bill with the remains of his buck.

While John was working on Bill's buck, another call came in. This one was from Fernando Gonzales, for whom we tracked a bear two years ago. He needed John to track a bear for his friend. Fernando was sure that Andrew Torres’ bear was dead or mortally wounded as they found 15 feet of small intestine. Under normal circumstances John does not track bears at night. But knowing that the bear would be dead, he decided to go. So we drove back home where John got a quick meal, and after a short break he drove to Rensselaerville and took Billy with him.  John was taken to the point of loss rather than the hit site, and it was heavily tracked up. The cover was very thick with dead falls. Billy was unable to take a positive line out of the area so John decided to come back home and resume the search next morning. When John and Billy went back next morning they made a large 200 yard radius circle around point of loss and managed to pick up the line. They tracked 150 yards to the dead bear. The 200 pound bear was wounded low in the abdomen, and he would have not been found without Billy.

Andrew Torres (hunter), John and Billy (the tracking team) and the bear.

The same morning that John and Billy found the bear another hunter at the lodge, Ron Burris, had shot a large buck too far back. Material on the the arrow showed that it had passed through the stomach. Ron had waited a couple of hours, then jumped a deer from a bed, but here was not enough blood for him to track. John and Billy began to track this deer shortly after noon. They jumped the deer still strong and tracked it through rough cover for 2 miles. The deer remained strong so when he crossed the road John marked the line. With the intention of returning a few hours later John drove back home, luckily in time for dinner.

He did not get much rest as the phone rang again, and this time it was Dan Hardin, a licensed handler who does not have a tracking dog yet. Dan needed tracking services as he had wounded an eight pointer that evening. So it was agreed that John would take two dogs, Billy and Joeri, and with Dan's assistance he'd finish tracking Ron's deer first.

Around 8 PM that evening John and Dan resumed tracking. Billy started because he knew the line and the scent of the deer. Joeri who had rested more took over, and the handlers worked both dogs while getting occasional drops of blood to verify the line. They followed the buck for three more miles through rough wooded country, returning within a thousand yards of where the deer had been shot. To their amazement the deer had shown no sign of weakening after 13 hours and five miles of travel. It is very unusual that the stomach shot buck will be on his feet and moving strongly 13 hours later. But it happens. Finally the handlers picked up the dogs and headed for the road where they were picked up by another hunter from the lodge.

John and Dan then drove about 10 miles to Greenville, where Dan lives and where he had shot the deer. It was now shortly before midnight. John handled Joeri, who found the deer in 200 yards. The deer was shot in the back part of the ribcage and the arrow had passed through the liver. 

John was in his bed at 1:30 AM.

Joeri with Dan's deer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indiana handlers and hunters can't leave deer in the woods overnight because of the coyote situation

Joe Walters from Indiana wrote:

After three good tracks and no finds due to different circumstances, we finally scored.

This was a 26-hour-old track about a quarter mile long.  Hunter was looking for last blood and Doc found it first and came out of weeds and down along side of woods.  He made one short side check of about three feet into woods, then continued along edge of woods and then made an abrupt turn into woods for about 75 yards and there lay the doe.  No blood seen from last sighting in weeds.  As you can see the coyotes beat us to it.  I'm very happy with his performance this year.  The hunter said he had his doubts, but now is a believer. He told his buddy, "This dog is bad."

"Doc" (Magnum v Moosbach-Zuzelek, a Buster/Keena son) with the deer he found
Chris Barr who also tracks in Indiana wrote recently:

Gerti found her first deer for me that I’d shot over the weekend. I’ve taken her on some “set-ups” of mine, but until Saturday, I’d not needed her since bringing her home in ’09. I shot this doe behind the ribs and in the upper 1/3 of the deer. Our area is riddled with coyotes, so if you want the meat, leaving a deer over night is no longer an option. I returned 3 ½ hours after the shot. Gerti had a little trouble getting started, but the landowner found some blood about 60 yards from the hit in the corn so I just took her and started her there. She took the track, with very little blood, about 300 yards through a partially picked corn field to the edge of the woods where the deer was laying. It was very limp indicating that it had not been dead long. Also pictured for the first time is Oscar, Gerti’s side-kick.
The second pic shows a friend who’d shot this deer behind the ribs at 6:00 on Sunday night.  The track was only about 200 yards. At one point as we were crossing a creek, Gerti turned and raised her head and wanted to go up the creek. The hunter was sure that the deer had gone up the hill so I corrected Gerti and she tracked up over the hill, made a big circle back down to……you guessed it, THE CREEK, where the deer was laying. Unfortunately, the coyotes had done their work overnight.
I was very pleased with both tracks. We’ve had 7 tracks so far. I’m expecting to get really busy in the next 3 weeks.
Take care,
Chris, Gerti…..and Oscar.

Chris Barr is holding Gerti (Gwen von Moosbach-Zuzelek, a Billy/Gilda daughter)