Bob Yax from Deer Search of the Finger Lakes who is working with a 7.5 month old Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek wrote about his 8th recovery:
On Sunday (November 18) we had a chance to go on our first track of a gun hit deer. A young hunter (Austin) had called into the Deer Search FLC hotline at 10 AM for a buck he had hit 2 hours earlier. On the phone it sounded like a possible high lung / liver hit. Austin and his dad, Eric, had waited an hour before tracking it. They had a decent blood trail for the first 300yds until they jumped the buck from its first bed at around 9 AM. When the buck left this first bed, it immediately went onto a neighbors posted land. Before calling into our hotline, Austin and his Eric had gotten permission from the neighboring landowner to track it in the afternoon – not sooner. To me this sounded like a good situation, since the deer would be left for several hours to hopefully die in its 2nd bed. My son Nate and I arranged to meet the Hunter at 2:30 in the afternoon, 6.5 hrs after the hit. When we met, Eric who was with Austin in the tree stand when the hit took place, showed me the hit location on an anatomy chart. He indicated a spot about 6 inches down from the top of the deer and just about where the back of the lungs met the liver. It was a level, broadside shot with a 12ga shotgun. He also told me that the reason they had to wait before tracking on the posted land was that a group of hunters were going to put on a drive of the property first! Great! If the deer was still alive at that point, it would have been in the next county by the time we got there.
From Austin’s stand location, we found the blood trail in the brushy field and began to follow. Thor did a great job following it closely. I had him on a short leash and was thrilled to keep seeing the blood sign appear behind him as he tracked the 300yds to the 1st bed in about 10 minutes. From this point on we would have an undisturbed/unknown trail. After getting up from its bed, the buck had run across an open mowed field towards an area of many mowed trails with thick brushy patches in between. Through the open field, a blood trail was non-existent, but Thor did stop at several places to show us small patches of blood, where the deer must have stood for awhile. It looked like lung blood to me. Thor continued on the mowed pathways showing us the blood patches (about 2 inches in diameter) about every 50yds. At one point just beyond what would be the final blood patch, he started into one of the thick brushy areas, but after going in only a few feet he backed out and then began doing some circles in one of the wide mowed areas nearby. After a minute or so of circling, he headed off down the path along the edge of the thick stuff. He was again heading in the direction we had been heading before he paused to do his circles. As we proceeded, I didn’t find any more blood sign. The further we went with no blood sign, the more worried I became. Finally, about 100yds away from his circling area, we headed into an open hard woods – still no blood sign! After a short ways into the woods, Thor backtracked out of the woods and then stood looking confused.
At that point I knew we had to go back to the last patch of blood and see if we could find another good line away from it. Once back there, I asked Eric, Austin and his sister along with my son Nate to search for any blood sign coming away from the last blood patch. Meanwhile I took Thor back to the field where he had circled previously. This was only about 10yds from the last blood patch. After only a few seconds, Thor headed off in a totally new direction. It was nearly a back track from the last blood patch. Shortly after we headed in this new direction, Eric yelled “blood” heading off in the same direction Thor was already going – “now we’re back on it” I thought. At this point we were still on the mowed paths as we had been the entire way from the 1st bed about 200yds behind us. Now I was desperately looking for another sign of blood to verify that Thor was still on it. After about 75yds, I spotted a dime size blood clot in the grass – hooray!!!. After about another 50 yds with no blood, Thor finally turned off the mowed path and headed into the thick brush. After only a few feet, I was on my hands and knees trying to follow him through the brush. At that point I began seeing wide swaths of blood on the stalks near ground level. Then a few blood clots and then more blood on the bushes. Eric, following close behind me said, “how could that buck get his rack through this stuff”. With the blood on the stalks so close to the ground, the buck must have been crawling. Finally, after about 40yds on hands and knees, with more and more blood sign, I saw the dead buck lying about 10yds ahead – we got him !! - I let Thor go and get the first chance to chew on his 8th recovery. In the photo attached you can see that the entrance wound was actually low and forward in the chest – not close to the liver. It angled back only a little. It was a lethal lung shot that the deer was able to survive for over an hour and 600yds.
As with most tracks, I came away from this one with more valuable info on how to work with Thor as he and his tracking skills mature. In the past, as in this case, I know that he sometimes loses the real blood trail, maybe when the deer makes a drastic direction change or when hunters bloody boots complicate things. In this case it was fairly obvious where he may have gone wrong. It was the point where he suddenly stopped his confident tracking and began circling. It was also that place where we had spotted the last blood. To me, the value of Visible blood cannot be overstated. In many cases the rush to follow the dog where it leads can lead to nowhere. When in doubt, always go back to the last known blood and try to find more – maybe leading off in a totally new direction. Good things may result!