|Jenny Willis with Dubya (Strut von Moosbach-Zuzelek, Sky's littermate)|
Jolanta, I hope this message finds you and yours well. It is amazing how fast the time flies, it is hard for me to believe we are approaching the third month of 2013 already.
2012 presented some unexpected challenges for our tracking training. We were generally able to get 2 tracks per week with Dubya the early part of the year until the heat hit us. It is generally warm here during the summer months and not uncommon to see highs in the 90s with humidity above 90% to match in July and August. This year was unusually hot. We coped with this by training earlier and earlier in the morning, sometimes beginning at or before daylight. Eventually the temps even early in the morning were in the 80s and we began to wonder if we should continue the training as it seemed to get less fun for Dubya. Needless to say we were thankful for your post about training in hot weather and made us feel better about taking a break during the heat wave. We spent as many of the hot days as possible in the water, which Dubya has decided he really likes.
Dubya and I got our first call during youth firearm season. It was a 7 year old boy who shot his first deer and wasn't able to find it. Our interview revealed the track would be 24 hours old by the time we were on it and had been tromped on by every person the hunter and his family know. The scenting condition was very dry, we weren't very optimistic but really wanted to give it a try. We arrived on site and learned the shot had been about 50 yards through some very thick stuff. The deer took 30 minutes to move 60 yards where it bedded down, eventually got up and "crawled" over the hill. It was at this point the hunters Dad went after the deer expecting to find it over the hill. Feeling less confident at this point we decided to begin the track at the bed site. Dubya wondered around the bed for a couple minutes then began working in the direction the hunter said the deer travelled. Dubya seemed to have the track for about 250 yards and then he just turned around never seemed to find it again. We tried to restart a couple times but that didn't yield any better results. We only found blood about ten yards from the bed and then nothing.
I enclosed a couple pictures of a bow kill of mine that Dubya tracked through a bean field. It was the first time we had tracked through beans and was interesting to see him navigate through. It was not an old track and he completed it with little difficulty.
Dubya also got some work at deer camp this past year. One of the tracks I thought was particularly notable. The shot was taken right at dark and not marked well. It was about 2 hours later we came back to the hit site and couldn't find any blood. We walked around the hit site looking for some sign when Dubya looked like he'd found the track, which I was able to confirm with a small spot of blood. He continued down the line for about 100 yards and just as I was feeling really good about it he turned around 180 degrees and headed back the way we came. At this point I was wondering what was going on but I decided to keep going because his body language was telling me he was still on the correct line. After walking 50 yards back the way we came he shot off to the right and continued on, another 50 yards and my light hit a white belly. I have never been on a track like that before and was really impressed with the way Dubya handled it. I really enjoy watching him sort these tracks out. He continues to remind me I am the one doing the learning.