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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Six-month-old dachshund Thor gets to track and recover a real wounded deer

The picture of Thor and Bob's son Nate was taken on October 6, when Thor turned six month old.

We have written about Theo owned by Darren Doran from New Jersey. Now it is time to report on his brother Thor who is owned by Bob Yax from Deer Search of the Finger Lakes. This is Bob's report. I like his analysis of the whole pretty difficult situation.

As is pretty typical, the story around this one was kind of convoluted.  Two  hunters had hit this doe on Friday evening just before a long heavy rain over Friday night and Saturday AM.  The 1st Hunter, Bob, thought he had a gut shot.  It was a pass through, and he described what sounded like stomach matter on the arrow.  After he hit the doe, it ran off with two other deer.   Several minutes later, it ended up right under his hunting partner Tony, who was  150 yards away.  Tony didn’t know the deer had already been hit.  Tony then proceeded to hit the same deer, in what he thought was the high lung area.  His was also a pass through, and on the phone he described only dark blood on the arrow shaft.  After the 2nd hit, the hunters waited a short time and then began to track.   At the 2nd hit, the three deer took off across an open alfalfa field for about 100 yards until they hit and crossed a thick hedgerow.  At that point the deer were out of sight.  Before dark set in on Friday night, the hunters tracked a decent blood trail to and through the hedgerow.  On the far side of the hedgerow, the hunters found and marked the last blood sign.  Before it got dark, they did a visual search of the large grassy field beyond the hedgerow – they had no luck finding the deer.  It then started raining, they backed out and made a call to Deer Search – Finger Lakes Chapter.  After talking to Bob on Friday night I arranged to meet with him late on Saturday morning -  hopefully after the rain had stopped.

On Saturday morning at 11:00 (17 hours after the hit) I met with Bob and Tony.  Associate handler Jacen Dallas and my son Nate were also with us.  During the interview with the hunters we found that hunter #1 didn’t have his arrow with him and hunter #2 had cleaned off his arrow because it smelled too much!!!  Luckily, hunter #2 didn’t clean off his fletching.  While examining the fletching,  I was able to identify some stomach contents so it seemed that the high lung shot may have exited through the stomach – hopefully hitting the liver on its way.

We decided to start this trail at the 2nd hit site.  Luckily even after the rain, we were able to find a little blood at the 2nd hit site to get Thor started.  It was the only blood we would see.    We then proceeded across the alfalfa field  in the general direction the 2nd hunter described.  During this first 100 yard section, Thor wandered back and forth over a 10 ft wide path, but still in the right direction towards the hedgerow.   I thought this was pretty OK, since both hunters and the three deer had all taken this general path across the field the night before.  Thor also has a tendency, early on a trail, to wander a little. 

After the early excitement wears off,  he then begins to stick closer to the line.  On the trail, we got to the hedgerow in a minute or two.   At that point Thor found a narrow trail through the hedgerow and took us through it.  Directly in front of us, we found the last blood marker that the hunter had left the previous evening.  On the other side of the hedgerow was the large open grassy field the hunters had searched the previous evening. 

When Thor hit the last blood marker he took an immediate left right along the edge of the field towards an area of thick brush.  Now, Thor had his nose on the ground and was pulling hard in a straight line towards the brush.  It made sense to me that the deer would head towards the thick stuff after clearing the hedgerow.   Just about the time I thought “ now he’s really on it “, someone behind me yelled “there it is”!   

There, 50 yards away to my right, in the middle of the grassy field, I could easily see the dead deer.   Now, in hindsight I wish that I would have ignored the deer and continued on the trail with Thor, hoping that he would lead me back around to the deer,  but instead, we all headed directly towards the downed deer.  As evidenced by the two through holes in the deer,  is was the doe we were after.  Both hunters said that the  deer was not there the previous evening when they searched the field, so it made sense that the deer may have gone into the thick brush and then later came out into the field and died. 

I was really interested to see Thor’s reaction when he got to the 1st real deer he has seen.  After a moment’s hesitation when he first saw it, he began pulling on its hair.  I let him do it for a minute then pulled him off.  He didn’t show any real aggression initially around the deer, but then at one point during the picture taking, he did bare his teeth for a second at Jacen who was behind him.  During the autopsy of the deer we figured out that the first hunter had only a low intestine only shot, while the 2nd hunter's shot hit 1 lung, liver and stomach.  All-in-all it was a good initial experience for Thor.  I just wish I had stayed on the trail to see if he would have ended up at the deer. Sometimes, it’s hard to teach an old handler new tricks !

We’ve been on 1 other sortie since this one.  It was a gut hit that we went on only 10 hours after the hit (didn’t know it was a gut hit till we got on site).  Thor took a good line for about 400 yards until we got onto private land where we could not continue.  At the end, we also jumped about 10 deer, which he started barking at once he saw them running.


MTWaggin said...

So interesting to read about these....makes me want to get back to tracking! I ADORE that first picture though!

Lindsjö taxar said...

Good job, why does it take so long to begin tracking? We start pretty immediately...