This came as a Facebook message from Cliff Shrader, a UBT member from Baton Rouge, LA. This is Cliff's first tracking season with his longhaired dachshund puppy Tasha, whom he imported from Denmark.What an adventure it was. Thank you for sharing it with us Cliff!
Friday evening I received a text from one of my buddies asking if I want to make a track. One of his daughters had shot her first deer and there wasn't any trail. In fact, they had conflicting opinions on which way the deer ran after the shot. There were three deer feeding when Samantha shot and they split up after the shot. Her dad Red checked out the site and found some belly hair and a small amount of gut at the hit site. After we talked, Red and his son Matt backed out of the area where they had been searching for blood and waited for Tasha to arrive. It took about and hour and a half for us to get there.
The woods are thick piney woods with dense undergrowth. When I say dense I mean an abundance of briars and thorns that had never seen mankind before. There was a light mist in the air and the temperature was in the low 70s. Less than fifty yards from the hit site, we found blood drops. Red also found some additional gut as he trailed behind us. Tasha was tracking pretty good but she was having to work going through these woods. I was having to work even harder...a fat guy with a headlamp and backpack doesn't glide through briars and thorns easily. Along the way we would hit some blood and then it would stop. We may go 50 to 100 yards before we located blood again. The blood suggested that we had a muscle hit as it was always drops falling straight down. There never was a bed site although we found a couple of spots where the deer stood but never laid down. We never heard the deer jump during the track. Our track went for 1.37 miles and then we hit a particularly thick spot. I had to go to hands and knees at least a dozen times but here I had to go to elbows and knees. As I was clearing the briars I looked ahead and saw Tasha nose to nose with the doe, still very much alive. I yelled at Tasha and pulled back on her lead. After I got her away from the deer, the deer bounded up and away. I saw some gut hanging from a low hit as the deer ran. I was pretty exhausted and so was Tasha. We had tracked for about 2 hours and 33 minutes in rough country. We decided to back out and attempt to pick up the track in the morning. As far as I was concerned, this was a successful track even though we didn't have venison.
Tasha and I arrived Saturday morning. Samantha and Red had biscuits and sausage cooked up so we ate a nice breakfast before we ventured into the woods. We went to the last blood that I had marked on the GPS and started tracking. The track was 17 hours old at this point. Tasha picked up the trail right away even though we saw no blood. After about 60 yards we found a single drop of blood at least letting me know that she was on the same deer. Tasha took us directly to the steep bank of a swift moving bayou. I knew that the deer had jumped into the bayou here but I didn't see a thing. When I got into a spot where I could look down the 15 foot embankment, I spotted the deer dead in the water and hung up on something. This was an outstanding track for Tasha and I learned several things from it.
The recovery was particularly precarious. Red had to go back to his house and bring back the tractor where we could pull the deer from the bayou. With the dense undergrowth and downed trees, the tractor got stuck as Red was crossing some logs. This meant another trip back to his house to get the chainsaw. After he sawed himself out of this jam, he quickly found himself in another jam that required chain sawing a big pine tree out of the way. He finally arrived at the bayou and the recovery was made. The deer had only traveled a little over a hundred yards from where we jumped her. Tasha never voiced until Red was driving out with the deer on the tractor. She started raising cane! The cool bayou water had chilled the deer down just like a cooler and the meat was perfect.
This was one of my favorite tracks so far. Tasha is only 6 1/2 months old and she makes this tracking stuff look easy. What a great feeling to be part of someone's first deer! Congrats to Samantha, Red and Tasha. Thanks for letting me be part of it.