Search This Blog

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tracking news from Canada - Nouvelles Canadiennes de la Recherche

by John Jeanneney

The first Canadian Province to legalize leashed tracking dogs was British Columbia on their west coast. This occurred more than a quarter of a century ago. “B.C.” is an important province for big game hunting, but strangely the idea of tracking wounded deer,  elk, moose and bear never caught on there. Michael Schneider, a German who emigrated to B.C. and became a licensed guide, uses an Eastern European tracking dog Slovensky Kopov for tracking moose, but his successes have not inspired many to follow his course.

The French speaking Province of Quebec, on the eastern side of Canada, was the second province  to legalize, and here chiens de sang  (blood tracking dogs) caught on quickly in a big way. The reasons for the success of blood tracking in Quebec and the contrasting lack of interest in British Columbia are not easy to explain. The French speaking trackers in Quebec drew their tradition and inspiration from Europe, mainly France and Belgium, while in B.C. most guides saw blood tracking as a radical, foreign and unnecessary idea.

Chantal Bellemare with her wirehaired dachshund and their find. Chantal lives in Victoriaville, Quebec
In Quebec Simon Lemay, one of the major outfitters, maintains that you have to find a dead moose within six hours after its death if you are going to salvage the meat. The heavy coat, body mass, and internal body heart cause rapid spoilage. In British Columbia, which generally has warmer temperatures, there is little concern about this. Go figure! On certain things we hunters tend to think with our guts instead of our brains.

This moose was recovered by Denis Fortier with his teckel. Denis resides in Victoriaville, Quebec

A small group of hunters in Ontario, just west of Quebec, are pushing for legalization and it appears that they will succeed, No one knows what form the legalization will take since the Ministry of Natural Resources plays their cards close to the vest. I have worked with the trackers and provided them with background information, but they are now encountering doubts among hunters and wildlife officials, These are as negative as anything I encountered in New York State in 1975. If hunting practices are not tied into existing traditions, as was the case in Quebec, it takes a long time for things to change.

Nova Scotia, a small province on the Atlantic Coast, is the third province to legalize, and I will look forward to digging out the story of how this happened. In a former life I was a history professor; sometimes when I’m poorly focused on dogs and deer blood, the old urges come creeping back.

Returning to Quebec, the success that the trackers have had is really remarkable. Currently there are about 48 active trackers and many of them use European wirehaired dachshunds (Teckels). The small dogs have an advantage when tracking through thick back spruce, cutovers clogged with dead branches and in those awful alder swamps where all the alder shoots grow out at a 45 degree angle. They go under the trouble. Tracking on a long leash is mandated by law; in that wilderness country the trackers use about 18 meters of 4 mm polyethylene marine cordage. It works beautifully and doesn’t hang up in their type of thick stuff. I have tried it in our goldenrod fields, and here it is a nightmare.

Steve Durocher from Warwick, Quebec

This year the Quebec trackers found 103 whitetail deer, 86 moose and 6 bears. Their recovery rates ran about 40% which is a little better than what we do down here in the leashed tracking dogs states.  The trackers in Quebec are pretty consistent in maintaining this recovery rate from 2008  to 2011. These guys are good and tough to compete with. I haven’t come up yet with an excuse for why they do a bit better than we do, but I’m working on it.

Bows and crossbows are big in Quebec. About 73% of their calls are to track big game wounded by these two weapons.

Record keeping for tracking in Quebec is more tightly organized than in any of the American states. Alain Ridel does this on a voluntary basis for his tracking organization ACCSQ and for the Province of Quebec; it is a lot of work!

Gilles Deziel and his dachshund Whiskey

This moose was found by Bernard Demers and his dachshund

Stéphanie Marcoux from Warwick, Quebec

More pictures of big game recovered by trackers from Quebec can be viewed at


Lindsjö taxar said...

I´m glad that bow hunting is not allowed in Sweden. Seems that many deers/roes must be tracked. We hunt with rifles and the animal will go down without any suffer. Of course it can happen but we always have a tracking dog available. Slovensky Kopov is used a lot as a hunting dog for hogs in Sweden.

Brady said...

I mean no disrespect to you, but your your view on bowhunting is unfounded and is the view that almost all of the anti-hunters in our country take. These same groups would like just as much to take away gun hunting rights for the same reasons, citing the "inhumanity" that occurs to the animals. In fact, the animals we hunt aren't human, and all types of hunting leads ultimately to the death of the hunted. Each of us strive for that death to be as quick as possible, but no method can guarantee quick kills. In fact, many bow wounds are non-fatal and lead to full recoveries, whereas rifle wounds are more likely to lead to severe maiming when non-vital areas are hit. Studies on wounding and recovery rates with archery equipment have been conducted in the United States as well as many of the countries on the African continent. In almost all cases, archery equipment has been shown to be an effective and humane way of taking game. The reason that tracking is so much more important with bowhunting has to do with the nature of the way that the bow shot animal dies, namely, hemorrhage vs. a gun shot animal's death, which primarily occurs due to massive internal organ damage. Having witnessed numerous animals die from both methods, I will attest that bow shot animals often respond as if not even shot, walking off before laying down to drift off, even going back to feeding prior to getting weak kneed and dropping. I have never seen a gun shot deer behave in such a manner. All those that don't instantly fall over from spinal column trauma run frantically until all of there damaged organs lead to collapse. These trails are often shorter, but no less humane than a well placed arrow. Both methods have their place, in my opinion. No form of death is glorious, but hunting is something inherent in man, and I am for any type of hunting that manages the resource well and allows the freedom to exercise that in in-born gift.

Stan said...

Well-said, Brady!

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Thanks Brady for your thorough and thoughtful response.

What I would like to emphasize is that this blog is focused mainly on blood tracking dogs. Therefore, it might create the impression that a lot of deer or other big game get wounded as we do not write here about successful hunts when tracking dogs are no needed.

American hunting regulations are very different from European ones and usually here hunters do not own their own tracking dogs and do not have a quick and easy access to a handler with a tracking dogs. When there is just a handful of trackers covering large areas (John takes calls in 5 different counties), their dogs get to track often. As I said it creates the impression that hunters wound a lot of animals.

On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that hunters education has a long way to go in this country, and a better education would result in fewer crippling losses.