I got my start in tracking in the fall of 1998. I was 15 back then and my father brought home a soon to be rabbit tracking machine. The minute the beagle pup hit the ground I was glued to his side. Following careful instruction from my father, I molded the pup into a finely tuned tracker. From the moment my dog circled its first rabbit I was hooked on hounds. We went on to develop some of the top beagles in the state of Wisconsin. Along with beagling, I was slowly becoming a hunting fanatic. Many long nights spent tracking wounded game, only to come up empty and disappointed, encouraged me to find a solution to this ethical issue. In the summer of 2009 I began working with a slow tracking beagle on blood tracks, and slowly the hound impressed me with his ability to finish tracks successfully.
To say I was green in blood tracking training would be an understatement. Laying deer blood lines was as far as I went with the hound. I knew none of the information I know now on the art of using dogs to recover wounded game. I laid a few 100 yard lines using an astronomical amount of blood and of course the dog followed the ridiculously overdone blood trail to the end where he rejoiced over a non fleshed deer hide. The amount of scent that was placed along my first artificial lines must have been overwhelming to the hound. I have to chuckle at the way I started this past time that slowly became an obsession.
Throughout the fall of 2010 I took 13 tracks and recovered 1 deer. I learned a lot on those 13 tracks; however, I had barely scratched the surface of the finer points of wounded game recovery. Over the next 2 years I learned basically through trial and error and from John Jeanneney's book. I researched through literature and by prying at any tracker that would talk to me. I continue to learn each day and take in all information. I am a firm believer that adapting and molding training methods is crucial to producing successful dogs.
My example of change is my decision to change breeds to become a more efficient tracker. After experiencing numerous setbacks with beagles and water barriers, I made the decision to switch to bloodhounds. I purchased Boomer, my prized bloodhound, in the early spring of 2012. He had come from law enforcement bloodlines and his tracking skills revealed themselves early. Boomer’s skills were far superior to those of the beagles I had worked with in the past. He was completing 400 yard tracks before 4 months of age, and I was impressed and eager to get him on some live tracks. In Boomer’s first hunting season we took over 60 tracks and recovered just over 40% of the deer. Boomer will turn one year of age this next month. He is my most valued possession and an excellent worker.
I have recently added a female to our tracking team. Her name is Riley and she is 3 months old. She will be slowly worked into the equation this next fall, but so far she shows incredible tracking prowess. I have also taken on the task of training a hound for a client in western Wisconsin. I lucked out on this dog because the pup is a natural. The training has been a huge success. I am excited about the upcoming tracking season and eager to see what we are capable of achieving. You can follow Bloodhound Deer Tracking Services on Facebook click here.
|Riley and Boomer|