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Monday, May 28, 2012

Patience on the track

June 1, 2012
Update with pics:
Teddy wrote - The only photo I have of Lisa is attached. I've also sent a body shot of Lisa's dam, Tar. Lisa has the same body shape but with more hair. I'll try to get a better photo of Lisa when I get back from the western Pa. field trials.
Bane weighs eight pounds, Lisa weighs seven.




Teddy Moritz shared this story with us a week ago or so. Thank you Teddy!

Thought I'd write up this tracking event the dogs had today. I was patient and let the two dogs work at their own pace. I could have pushed them, called them in or gone on but I was curious as to what they were tracking:

I ran three miniature longhaired dachshunds at a beagle club grounds today. The weather was sunny, warm and windy. The grounds has many small sections of very thick cover, interspersed with mowed paths. I had Fitz, who is eight, with me, as well as Bane, who is 4 and Lisa, who is 14 months. Fitz and Bane are experienced hunters and well know how to track a rabbit. Lisa is all eagerness and tends to run over the scent line, but she has a good nose and will correct herself, even if it takes a few minutes. Today I saw a great deal of persistence as well as patience on her part.

Lisa found a fresh scent going into a very thick bit of briars, tall grass, vines, etc. She was very intent about the smell and jumped right in. Bane soon followed. Fitz took a sniff and stayed with me, which I found quite odd as she is by far the best rabbit tracker of the three. Fitz actually sat in the shade with me rather than joining the other two. I wondered if she didn't feel well. Lisa opened once or twice, Bane never did, then all was quiet. I waited as I usually do, letting the dogs work out the line. Lisa yipped once but then was quiet. I waited and waited, as did Fitz. The two dogs didn't come back and there was no barking, which I found odd. I walked around the square and saw the two of them working very diligently and very slowly, over a piece of ground that is mowed blackberry canes. The dogs seemed to have trouble with the line but Lisa kept moving ahead. Bane would join her, go back and check himself, then come up again. Lisa worked her way into another briar patch where there were locust trees. She came out about twenty feet further and seemed to hit a hot line. Her body language became animated and she seemed to have a good scent. Oddly, her tail wasn't wagging like most scent hounds' tails do when they are hot on a rabbit scent. Bane confirmed her line. Fitz joined for a few feet, then came back to me. I was beginning to worry the little dog was ill.

Lisa took the line across another path and into a brush pile in the woods. She worked ever so slowly, which, again, isn't like her. Bane and even Fitz checked the brush pile and the surrounding area but it was Lisa who took it back across a path and into a small copse of trees. I couldn't understand why it was taking them so long to get up on a rabbit. I thought perhaps it as a young rabbit with little smell, but we'd come several hundred yards, in a circle, and that seemed too great a distance for an immature rabbit. We were going in a circle, so I still presumed the dogs were working out a rabbit track. The brush is thick and high and rank so I wondered if the vegetation was hiding the smell. Most of the time I couldn't see Lisa or Bane because the cover is so high. I heard Lisa yip again and thought she'd found her rabbit. She came out of the trees and headed into another thickly vegetated square. She and Bane ever so slowly worked the line from there through a stand of milkweed and other weeds. They seemed to weave around a good bit, not quite being able to move the line. In my mind they acted as if they were working a feeding track, such as coon hounds do at night when a coon wanders all over the woods looking for food. And not only were they sniffing the ground, they occasionally scented up a plant stem as if their quarry's scent was higher up. Odd.

I've never seen the dogs work this thoroughly and diligently. It was as if the scent was spotty and not in a direct line like a fleeing rabbit would make. Again I waited and watched rather than calling the dogs to a different spot. They seemed intent but not hasty. Their nose work was great to watch. Bane threads his way here and there, making sure he has the line before he moves up. He often checks himself. Lisa, in her youthful enthusiasm, bustles around and jumps in the air now and then hoping to see her quarry. She works and re-works the line, but with more haste than Bane. By now about fifteen to twenty minutes had passed and I was really curious as to what they were tracking. Fitz still stayed with me, appearing uninterested. How could that be?

The two younger dogs soon worked their way to one more patch of weeds, this one with a multi-trunk cherry tree in the middle of it. Fitz and I stayed on a mowed path and watched and listened. I began thinking the dogs would never bump this rabbit, or whatever it was, despite their hard work. As I stood there, enjoying the scenery on a beautiful day, I happened to look up into the cherry tree. And there sat a groundhog, about twenty feet off the ground, settled in a crotch of branches. Pretty soon Bane and Lisa arrived at the tree. I could see them tracking around the base of the tree, where there was less cover. Lisa stood on her back legs and put her front feet on the tree. Bane did the same. So that was what they had been tracking! I would bet it was a feeding trail after all. The groundhog was probably foraging around the different small patches of brush, trees, etc. and was unaware of the dogs on his track. They hadn't opened and the brush is high so the rodent couldn't hear or see them coming. But when he did feel threatened somehow, he took the quickest route to safety, up a tree. Groundhogs easily climb trees and will use them to escape ground predators if no hole is available.

Fitz has worked groundhogs over the years but they are too large and aggressive for her. She only weighs six pounds and her head is too small to do any damage to a groundhog, but a groundhog can hurt her plenty if she closes with it. I don't encourage her to work them, and call her off if she finds one in a hole. Apparently today she agreed and let her kennel mates do the work. However, when I shot the groundhog out of the tree, Fitz was right there with Lisa and Bane, tugging at it.

I really enjoyed being able to watch those two hounds work out the complicated line of the feeding groundhog. They stuck with it, figured it out, and got their game.

Source of the picture:


Stan said...

Teddy--Another great story of your many adventures!

Lindsjö taxar said...

Great and interesting reading....

Texas hunting said...

Please share some pictures of Lisa & Bane.