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Friday, June 28, 2013

Hit Site Evaluation Seminars for Deer Hunters

By John Jeanneney and Andy Bensing

The Hit Site Evaluation Seminar is a new idea for the United States.  The goal of the Seminar is to educate hunters to better interpret sign at the point of impact and along the ensuing wounded deer trail. It’s important as an effective means of showing hunters how to interpret and deal with deer that have been shot outside of the quick kill target zone. Traditional hunter training programs don’t dwell on this subject, but in the real world deer do move just as the shot is taken. And bullets and arrows have been known to deviate from their intended course.

The center piece of the hit site seminar is a hanging road-killed deer. The idea originally came  to North America from France, and John Jeanneney first witnessed it in Quebec, Canada, where two of his French friends led a seminar on finding wounded deer. In June of 2013 Andy Bensing and John tried out an expanded version of this hit site evaluation at the annual United Blood Trackers Trackfest  at Arena, Wisconsin and then two weeks later at a North American Teckel Club event in Pennsylvania to which non-member deer hunters were invited. In both states the reception was enthusiastic. The seminar was certainly a departure from the usual presentation on the subject, and the practical applications of the new information were easy to understand.. Those who attended actively participated in the evaluations, and of course this is the best way to learn.

In both seminars a road-killed deer in good condition was used. Acquiring a road-killed deer is not difficult, but local game laws regulations should be consulted, and it must be kept in a suitable cooler or freezer before the event. The deer was  hooked up, in a standing position, suspended by a rope stretched between two trees. A plastic sheet was hung up about five yards behind the deer and extended forward  under the suspended deer. Its purpose was to catch hair, flesh and bone fragments  blown out of the deer by strategically placed  shots. Shots were taken with  bow and arrow, shotgun slugs and high caliber rifle bullets.

The hanging deer carcass was the centerpiece of the seminar.
After each shot the instructor and hunters together inspected the hit site and the hanging plastic sheet behind it to evaluate the results. The first thing that most of us have learned from the hit site evaluation is that we hunters miss a great deal if we inspect only the ground right where the deer was standing.

After the shots we found “sign” on the plastic sheet well behind the deer that  probably would have been missed by most hunters in a real deer hunting situation. It seems likely that many American hunters are not inspecting a broad enough area behind the hit sites as they look for the sign that will tell them where they have hit the deer and how they should deal with the situation.

One of the many things  hunters learn at the hit site is that flat sections of bone usually come from the legs; they are not “pieces of rib” as is often reported. They learn the difference in the amount of hair that comes from a grazing hit as compared to a solid, more straight-on shot. The physical results of high back shots can be shown and the identification of types of hair can reveal where the animal was hit.

Additionally bowhunters learn how the sloping surfaces of the rib cage can deflect broadheads so  that there is no effective penetration into the chest cavity and vital organs. They also  realize that the real kill zone is considerably smaller than what is presented  on 3-D Tournament targets.

The bowhunter demonstrates the risks of a head-on shot
The shot analysis outdoors on the hanging deer was even more effective because it was preceded by an indoor PowerPoint  presentation priming the attendees’ consciousness for what they were about to see outside.  Photos were shown revealing such “unexpected” information as the location of part of the stomach and liver within the rib cage. Other anatomical photos, showed the  kidneys lying quite far forward, just back of the ribs.  The indoor segment also discussed recovery strategies for deer wounded in different ways and under different environmental circumstances such as bad weather and predator competition.

The PowerPoint introduction to the seminar
The hit site program is effective because it is simple, graphic and deals with a real deer. It was so realistic in Pennsylvania that a young turkey vulture landed to check things out during  the introductory PowerPoint session.

Andy demonstrates shot placement
 The hit site evaluation seminar concluded with a “Walk in the Woods”.   Nine stations were set up to simulate wounded deer sign both at a hit site and along the trail. Seminar participants were asked to identify and interpret wounded deer sign such as splayed hoof prints, blood smears, bone fragments, and arrows covered with different types of body fluids and tissue.

The Hit Site Evaluation Seminars have great potential as an interesting half day event. No doubt the seminars would improve hunter effectiveness in recovering the deer that they shoot. For more information about the seminar contact Andy Bensing,
 Hunters who attended the seminar sponsored by the NATC.

Many thanks to the NATC, Kirk Vaughan and Joe Kopcok for the pictures!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First day of summer brought a gorgeous weather

Summer has arrived "officially"! This spring because of our busy schedule and poor weather I did not take too many nature pictures so last morning I decided to go out with my camera no matter what. Our fields are beautiful now with the abundance of wild flowers. I hope to go out more often in the upcoming weeks. I was very pleased with some shots and might actually print the photographs and hang them in our house. A word of explanation is needed though for people who are not involved in photography. These days taking a picture is just a first step in creating an artistic image. Through digital editing you might end up with the image that does not resemble an original picture that much. Some call it cheating. But photographers have always manipulated images through the use of filters and various darkroom techniques. Now digital processing takes it to a completely different level. So the below pictures were enhanced, especially colors and texture, but nothing was added to them or erased. I like the outcome and hope so do you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy 14th Birthday Asko!

Fourteen years ago FC Asko von der Drachenburg, V, SfK, VpoSp, Laut Jager was born in Germany and he was bred by Steffen Matthai. We picked him up in Germany when he was 3 months old. Of all the dogs we have imported in the last 15 years Asko made the biggest impact on our breeding program. Now at 14 he is still very much a playful puppy, now with some gray hair. Happy Birthday dear Asko!

Last day of spring

It was a beautiful day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Blood tracking dogs become legal in Ontario

Residents of Ontario, Canada have a reason to celebrate as tracking dogs became legal there. Thanks to Joe Kopcok for the news:

Hi John. I met you in Wisconsin. My Name is Joe Kopcok  and I have Slovensky Kopov dogs. Just wanted to let you know that Ontario has legalized the use of tracking dogs. I called Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to see what was going on with this legislation. I spoke to Mark Ryckman and he had told me that the OFAH Big Game Advisory Committee and the Wildlife Policy Section of the Ministry of Natural Resources had a meeting on May 31. The OFHA was advised that there was an amendment to the Environmental Bill of Rights with regards to use tracking dogs for big game retrieval. This is wonderful news. Dogs must be licensed, and all normal rules are to be followed (hunter orange valid big game licence etc.)

More info at


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Von Moosbach-Zuzelek dachshunds at the NATC Zuchtschau

I have only few minutes to write this post so I know that we will probably have several more posts about North American Teckel Club events, which took place on June 13-16 in Reading, PA. This one is about Sunday Zuchtschau, which was judged by a Wolfgang Trumpfheller, a conformation and hunting judge from Germany. "Von Moosbach-Zuzelek" dachshunds were represented by two 14-month-old litter mates Theo and Tuesday.

The two pictures below show Theo who is owned by Darren Doran from New Jersey. We have written about Darren and Theo several times already. At this early age he is already an accomplished dog. Few weeks ago he passed a Deer Search 20-hour blood tracking test with Prize I performance. On Saturday he passed a gun-shyness test and Water Test. And on Sunday he received "Excellent" rating at the Zuchtschau. Judge Trumpfheller gave him quite a few compliments. Congratulations Darren, we are so grateful for everything you have done with Theo.

I showed Tuesday, and I did not handle her too well. Her gait in the pretty high grass was not that great. In spite of this she also received "Excellent" rating. In my opinion her weakness is in her somewhat roached topline, so I was surprised to read on her evaluation form the judge's comment "straight topline". The picture below shows Tuesday when she was in the ring with other "excellent" wires at the end of the show. She is the second dog on the left.

A big thank you to Patt Nance for taking pictures of Tuesday at the Zuchtschau!
Jolanta (me) handling Tuesday in the show ring.

For those unfamiliar with the FCI system of dogs shows and evaluations, this is a certificate I received for Tuesday at the end of show.

The evaluation form shows her weight 7.9 kg (17.4 lbs) and chest circumference 39 cm (14.4 inches). It also shows other traits that a judge evaluates.
Since Tuesday and Theo's brother Sky was "Excellent" and Best in Zuchtschau last year, it looks so far like the breeding of Paika (FC Paika v Moosbach-Zuzelek SW) to Moose (FC Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek) produced some really nice looking dogs for the field.

To be continued....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Urgent! A young Bavarian at a Georgia shelter needs to be rescued NOW!

This came through Facebook and I am reposting it. To me it looks like a young Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound. The message next to the picture says:

Sweet Mona's time is up tomorrow!! Help! We had someone interested but we haven't heard back from them so we are so worried about this sweet girl. She's young, well mannered, gets along w all dogs, very gentle. She's available and urgent at Jones County Animal Control in Gray, Ga. 478-986-1427 - 395 Eatonton Highway. M-F 9-1; sat 9-12. Serious inquiries can email us at We can arrange transport anywhere.

UPDATE: It looks like Mona's owners found her :-)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Trackfest through the eyes of a new UBT member

Many thanks to Willette for this great report from Trackfest.  
By Willette Brown

As I waited for my turn to run my UBT II test track, I reflected on the last few days… The three of us had driven with five dogs from Maine and New Hampshire, a twenty plus hour drive. My friends,  Joanne and Susanne, are experienced trackers with all the stories to prove it.  I am a neophyte with a handful of tracks, (a few "finds" I might add), and lots of mixed emotions. I complain about my ankle, I worry about bears,  I'm not really fond of blood or you know, the other stuff, and having been a Bambi lover in my early youth, I struggle a bit to find the unequivocal "go ahead".  I guess my prey drive is a bit on the weak side.  But I have this totally awesome dog, and when I watch her work my pride is bigger than all of my misgivings or fears and all I want is to understand her more deeply and help her become the best she can be.

So... I loaded up my gear and chimed in a story or two as the miles fell behind us.

The testing morning was cool and sunny, the fields were heavy with dew (good scenting), and the view from the hill was spectacular. Green fields rolled away to deep woods for 360 degrees. The first dog was down and working beautifully.  He was slowly and deliberately crossing the field and approaching the second check.  The hay gently swayed as he moved and all I could see was the white tip of his tail above the timothy.  My confidence wavered. Would I find the two beds? Would I see the blood spots after 20 hours overnight? Would we make at least two checks?   Would I even be able to read her, or for that matter, believe her? "Trust your dog" I keep repeating to myself, we have learned that over and over all weekend.

For two days we have shared more information than I think I can possibly absorb about training and tracking.  I am awed by the collective experience that I am in the company of.  John Jeanneney, who is a walking encyclopedia, would probably pop up first if I were to google "tracking wounded deer".  He is so generous with his knowledge and has so much depth of experience that I find myself hoping new questions will pop in my head so I can get as much out of him as possible.  I am certain that there is no question he can't answer.  Andy Bensing, a tornado of a person,  is intuitive and confident. He  truly "knows" how to  read dogs and train their handlers. This is a gift that he has maximized in every way.  He tries to stuff as much information as he can into our heads as the weekend unfolds.  I  briefly worried that he may use that e-collar on me if I'm not careful, but as it turned out, Andy was a steady, supportive guide for me and my dogs.

Other speakers were equally informative. Larry Gohlke, whose stories of how to jump on a deer made us laugh (and mentally weigh ourselves), demonstrated a wealth of knowledge and experience hunting, tracking, and training.  He is the "go to" guy for anyone looking for encouragement and an extra pair of hands. Alan Wade led the talk for tracking equipment. Lights, GPS, and other essential tools for trackers to use… it is also worth mentioning that he did a demonstration with a spear (a spear, who knew?) that would be coveted by a Masai warrior. And, channeling Martha Stewart, Cheri Faust showed us how to process, store, and use blood for training.  I was relieved to learn that she kept a special blender just for that…I suspect that the handouts, the schedule, the food, and the speakers were all organized by her as well. No detail was missing.

Each day was well balanced with lots of hands on work.  We practiced pacing 100 yards,  then laying 300 yard lines, and then after a couple of hours ( and a good lunch) we put our dogs down on the lines.  My young dog needed a lot of encouragement to stay focused on the line. I think he was looking for rabbits at first,  but Alan, our instructor, patiently helped him find his way around the track.  My older, more experienced dog went the next day and Andy picked an exercise for her to help her focus on the task at hand.  I have never felt her pull on the end of the line with such confidence and certainty.  And a big thank you to Chris who sat in the brush and waited for her to find him and a particularly stinky lure.  We learned our weaknesses (many) and our strengths (a few) and we learned what to do to make our partnership better. It was obvious that the trainers had all shared what they observed from the first day and worked to make the second day really productive.

My friend, Susanne Hamilton, was also judging and teaching. She has endless energy for sharing her time and knowledge about tracking, and she has a "No Deer Left Behind" policy that makes many hunters here in Maine tip their hats in admiration.   She was either roaring off in a Gator to teach,  laying lines, or most importantly, posing for pictures with her legendary tracking dog, Buster.  (Truth: Buster was a bit bored with all the paparazzi and genealogical connections.  He simply wanted to get out there and track SOMETHING). Chuck Collier, also a judge/trainer, and Susanne took a bunch of pics of their dogs together.  Chuck's dog, Moose, is a famous tracker himself, and a son of Buster.  I think they were comparing conquests… or at least their owners were.

 Now it was day three, testing day. I watched Kirk, "Hound on a Rope" Vaughan, working his dog, and I knew that he was a handler whose heart beat straight down the rope and into his dog.  I felt humble and awed, and not a little out of my league. I listened as Cheri gave Kirk a wonderful recap of his test.  It was clear to me that she had truly observed their working relationship and was able to offer a constructive, thoughtful critique.  His pride in his dog was evident. And his smile was as wide as the field we stood in when she said he passed with flying colors.

After a truck ride to a remote field, it was time to run my dog, Quilla.  I brought her up to the start, listening carefully as my judge described the point of loss.  As I put her down and directed her to "find it," there was barely a split second before she leaned into the leash and began to work. No time for me to be insecure.  "At YOUR pace", Andy's words, were in my head. She took me forward, past the last flag and on to the unmarked track. "Look for confirmation," I thought, and there it was!  I noted it to the judges following me and kept going.  I glued my eyes to the line that Quilla was working. She yipped quietly every so often and I knew ( I knew!) to look more carefully there because she was telling me "there's a spot!"  Down the road we went and eventually after some looping at the first check (including her climbing up a bank that I was pretty certain no one would have laid a line on) we went down into the field.  Then the first bed appeared, YAY!

My confidence began to grow. More blood, here and there, then the second bed emerged in the tall grass. Wow, what a thrill!  What an awesome dog!  My heart rate increased as I realized that she was dead on, still certain, and still moving with that perfect pull on the line.  Before I knew it, we had arrived at the end, and I was surprised to feel a bit disappointed...finished already? I leaned over and lavished praise on Quilla. When we got back to the truck, Andy said, " If that test had been in Germany your dog would have gotten a 100. It was a picture perfect track."  Now it was my turn to grin from ear to ear.

After the testing was finished we sat down to a late lunch and I asked Kirk, who had driven 17 hours from North Carolina to be at Trackfest,  what he thought about his experience.  He said, " I feel like I have a whole new family!"

I couldn't have put it better myself.

This picture of Quilla was taken at a field trial a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Joeri's first trip to the pond this summer

Most of our regular readers remember Joeri's problems with his back. Now six and a half months after his second incident his movement is still deficient. He is very mobile, that's for sure, and pain-free. But his topline looks sometimes like his back is broken, and his right hind leg does not have a normal range of movement. We carry him up and down the stairs. I don't think he will be tracking again because with as many dogs as we have it is not necessary for him to do it. We would not want to risk another relapse. However, he is a very happy dog, with a great attitude, and today he really enjoyed his first trip to the pond. He loves to retrieve from the water, and I think we are going to have a lot of fun together this summer.

It feels like summer is here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Trackfest 2013 was a good opportunity to learn from old timers, network with other handlers and test your blood trailing dog

I am sure that we will have a more formal report from Trackfest 2013 held by the United Blood Trackers in Arena, Wisconsin on June 1-3. John was there on Saturday and Sunday. From the feedback that participants have left on Facebook it sounds like it was a very successful event. I am sorry that I had to miss it!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The bond of natural love: Mielikki and her puppies

Mielikki and her puppies are doing really well. She is a terrific mother, and her puppies are thriving. For updates on Mielikki's puppies go to our puppy journal at