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Monday, October 15, 2012

Easy natural lines are the best tool for training a young tracking dog: Cliff Shrader and his longhaired dachshund Tasha

Cliff Shrader is a new United Blood Trackers member, and he is has been working with a young standard longhaired dachshund Tasha. Tasha was born on May 27, 2012, in Denmark. He has been updating me about Tasha's training, and I asked him to write about how he got involved in blood tracking, dachshunds and how he went about importing a puppy from Europe. Thank you Cliff!

I was born and raised in South Louisiana. We were a family of duck and deer hunters, and we did our hunting in a swamp called the Atchafalaya Basin (this is the same area where Swamp People is filmed).  We used Walker hounds to run deer and we used Labrador retrievers for duck hunting. If someone had told me that I would grow up to own and love Dachshunds, I would have laughed at them.

I ended up with two dachshunds, Boudreaux and Thibodeaux. They were just pets until I brought home a deer to clean. When I showed the deer to my hounds, they went crazy. Their prey drive was very high, and they didn't want to let me have my deer back. This is when I first thought about Dachshunds as tracking dogs. In the south, people would laugh at you if you said anything about dachshunds being fieldworthy.

 My idea of actually training dachshunds laid dormant for quite a few years. Two years ago, I needed a tracking dog several times to trail wounded deer but there were none around. I pride myself on my tracking abilities but even after long and hard tracks, I lost two deer. Last year I started doing research on tracking dogs. John and you Jolanta had several things that I read and a friend of mine loaned me his book...Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer.

I contacted Patt Nance after visiting her website. Timing was very good because Patt and Tina Knoll  were just considering breeding Owl to Tina's dog Babe. I was lucky enough to be able to attend an AKC tracking trial that Laura and Tina Knoll were bringing three of the girls to. After that I was hooked. I waited several months for the mating of Babe and Owl to happen. Finally, all the stars were aligned and the mating took place. Unfortunately, it didn't result in a pregnancy. Patt Nance and I spoke several times and she told me of two litters in Europe. It was during this time that my favorite dog Thibodeaux passed away.

Patt Nance contacted several of her friends and they helped me find The Right Dog, not just a dog. I was very fortunate that Lise-Lotte Schultz at Tranevang Kennels in Denmark had a puppy left. Diane Webb of Doxifun and her husband checked out this litter of puppies when they were around four weeks old. She liked what she saw. When it was time, Marie Gadolin administered the Volhard puppy test. Tasha scored mostly 2 and 3s which indicated that she would be a good dog for an experienced trainer. Patt Nance had been studying the possibility of getting a puppy from this litter for herself. She loved the bloodline and Lise-Lotte provided information on all the hounds in that line.

When Patt bought a puppy (Taya) from the litter she was very impressed with her. From everything that I knew, Taya's sister Tasha was the right dog for me. Tasha was shipped from Copenhagen to Chicago on a direct flight. I was nervous as I waited in the rain at the airport. When they brought Tasha out and I saw her peering through the crate, I fell in love.

I have enjoyed getting to know Tasha. Training has been a bonding experience for us. John Jeanneny's book has been my bible. Your blogs and YouTube videos have helped tremendously. I started Tasha out on very short tracks......tracks that she couldn't fail. It only took a few of these and she started to realize what her job was. Tasha started really well in tracking but these were only training tracks, practice home tracks. When we headed to Illinois for the season opening week long bow hunting trip I was very hopeful but still unsure of how Tasha would perform in the field.

On Monday it rained almost all day. Monday afternoon, my friend sent me a text that he had shot and killed a 9 point. He had already located the deer but would I like for him to leave it where Tasha could track it. I headed over there as soon as my hunt was over. The deer was shot in a field with a crossbow about 25 yards away.  The arrow struck the deer pretty far back through the guts. The deer ran 40 yards in chest high grass and laid down. After an hour, he approached the deer. The buck stood up and he shot it again. We decided to start the track where he had made the initial shot. Tasha was able to find guts on the vegetation and she found his arrow, something that he had not been able to do. Tasha fumbled around on this track having  problems getting a good read on it. I picked her up and placed her where he had made the second shot. This time she took off bouncing through the tall grass. She ran her track straight to the buck. When she ran upon the buck laying dead in the tall grass it scared her half to death. It took a couple of minutes with me kneeling beside the deer to get her over the initial shock. After this she was fine with it.

Tasha's next track, her first true track was over five hundred yards on another gut shot deer. Most of this track was without any blood. I have never been so impressed with a puppy.

I left Illinois Sunday morning heading home. One hour into the trip, I got a page from my hunting buddy Jerry. Jerry told me that two does were shot and one hit was questionable. I turned around and
headed back. We decided to put Tasha on the questionable shot first. The shot was made at 28 yards with a vortex broad head. The arrow struck the shoulder blade and very little if any penetration was achieved.

We started out on the track and Tasha showed us blood. The blood was bight red and was up on vegetation as well as the ground. The trail was steady and led to a wound bed about 75 yards away. The blood stopped but Tasha never slowed down. We proceeded to track another 100 yards with no blood but Tasha was pulling hard. We came upon something that I never encountered while tracking before...the property line. This neighbor would not allow any tracking upon his land. It was also understood that trespassers will be arrested.

We took Tasha to last blood and she tracked the identical track again. She was on this deer but we had to pull her off the track. I do not think that this deer was mortally wounded but I really wanted the chance to complete this track.

The next track we brought Tasha on was a deer shot at less than 20 yards with a 2 inch cut Grim Reaper head. This track was extremely easy to follow. You could see a wide heavy blood trail for
quite a way. Tasha ran this track as fast as I could go and there was the deer as expected 80 yards away. This may be the easiest track that she will ever get! It is amazing that this deer could travel that far after a shot like that. It was nice to end our week long hunting trip with an easy track like this.

During the week in Illinois Tasha ran six tracks making five recoveries. Tasha was fortunate to have a group of hunters that lent a helping hand in her training. They called us on nearly every shot, both good and bad, even though two of the deer could have been recovered without a dog. The lines were all pretty fresh. The averaged about two hours old with the longest being about 4 hours old.

This is the best on the job training I could every hope for.
Cliff with Tasha

1 comment:

Lindsjö taxar said...

Interesting reading. Marie Gadolin is swedish and she is a judge on dachshunds. She is very good judge.
I trained my pups with recovering roes on the roehunting in August. They dragged the roe and my pups tracked it,.