Ray Holohan, a United Blood Trackers member from Illinois, shared with us his recent experience. Here it is in his own words:
I thought I would drop you a line to share this peculiar training track I experienced this last weekend.
Saturday about 3:00 pm I decided to lay a short training track in my home timber for my new pup Ruffle "Ruff", early the next morning . The track was 15 hrs. old and about 1/8 of a mile. We started down the trail, all was well, she was doing a good job when I looked up ahead and spotted what looked like a dead deer right on the blood trail. As I got closer it became quite clear that's what it was.
I thought to my self how should I handle this. I decided to let her find it and congratulate her with all the praise I usually do. To my surprise she walked up to the deer sniffed it. then sniffed her way around it and continued down the blood trail and found the hide and reward at the end.
At first I took this reaction as a negative but the more I thought about it, I think she knew that it wasn't the thing she was looking for, thus ignoring it and moved on. What do you think about this? After finding the hide I went and got my camera phone, took her back and let her back trail to the deer.
She seemed a little frighten, of the deer this time so I took a stick and got some of its blood from a damaged antler and let her lick and smell it, and she became quite comfortable with it. I wanted to make this a positive experience. The deer at first looked like a limb had fallen on it, it was wedged underneath it, but after a closer look I think it may had been struck by a car, probably on the highway about a 1/2 mile away and got that far before it died. I got a recovery tag from the DNR and was able to recover the blood and hoofs. Has anything like this ever happened to you or John?
Well, I thought that Ray handled the whole situations really well. Obviously he has a very smart and talented puppy, which was staying on a right track and knew that the deer did not "belong" there. She was intimidated by the deer, but that's completely normal for a young pup.
Something similar happened quite a few years ago when John and I tracked a deer with two dogs, Alec and Sabina. John wrote about it in his book Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer.
"Staying on the right line, no matter what, is usually the most difficult skill that a tracking dog must learn. My old Sabina demonstrated how reliable an experienced dog can become:
My wife and I tracked a buck together. On the phone it sounded like an easy one so we took one of our young wire males, Alec, who had training but no natural experience. My wife handled Alec and I handled Sabina behind as a backup in case the young dog had trouble. Alec did a pretty good job, trailed out past the hunter's point of loss and went on for another quarter mile without help.
Then came misfortune. Young Alec tracked right into a fresh gut pile, still warm. Alec thought the guts were better than nothing and he munched a bit. The hunters and the handlers were down-hearted for sure. They had called us and we had driven a long way; now it was all for nothing. Someone else had finished off their deer and dragged him out.
Then I thought of something. There had been some grains of corn in the track on the way to the gut pile. They had leaked out of the deer. It was funny that there was no corn in the gut pile that we were
standing over. I took Sabina back on the trail about
50 yards and let her work the line; she tracked right past the gut pile, never
looking at it. All concentration, she worked another 50 yards into some thick
bush and there he was, the original buck, corn, guts and