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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.


Lindsjö taxar said...

What a story and nice pictures, very exciting! You´re doing a fantastic job.

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Thanks Majron. We did our best...

Pam B. said...

When they are on lead do they open? Do they open at all when they are on colder scent? If he was off lead would he be opening?

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Pam, our dogs don't open on a cold line but they open on hot scent. By the NY State law we can track them only on the leash and when they are close to the deer or bear they track and the scent line is fresh, they open. It is actually very useful, especially when you track a bear. It is good to know that you are close to a live wounded bear!