It's Saturday morning and the phone hasn't rang yet....we'll just one time and that was from my son who forgot this was Saturday and I do not get up at 4 am on Saturday. I got up and made a wonderful cup of coffee (from by buddy Norman in Nicaragua), started some deer sausage frying (a gift from a hunter after tracking his dad's deer) and put some biscuits in the oven. As I sit here I have time to think about a few of the tracks that Tasha and I have made this year. I have been fortunate enough to get to track with three different trackers this year and I learn things all the time from them, their dogs and their stories.
Donnie called me the other morning and asked if I wanted to make a track with him. This track was for a friend of his son, Peyton. Although Peyton had killed deer before, he never harvested a buck. He shot a buck this morning, made what looked to be a good hit but the deer couldn't be recovered. Now in all fairness, if his dad Scott could not have gotten a tracker....or two in there, I am sure that he would have trampled the woods down looking for the deer. An interview about the shot and the deer's reaction was not formal because some tracks...like a child's first deer or first buck....you are going to make this track regardless of how good the potential for a recovery sounds.
Tasha and I met Donnie and his Blue Lacy Ruby. We took the short drive over to the hunting club. We talked to Scott and Peyton and headed out on the track by four wheelers. The place where we would be tracking is a large field over a hundred acres that is about 200 yards wide and very long. One side have thick grown up cutover and woods, and the other side is a tree lined dirt road with open woods and palmettos interlaced on the other side. The ground was pretty wet. The ditches and low spots held some shallow standing water. The shot was taken from a stand on the tree lined road side of the field on a buck that had crossed over from the cutover chasing a doe. This was the last buck leaving this field. The gun was a scoped single shot rifle shooting a 7mm 08 caliber 165 grain Barnes X bullet. The buck jumped and kicked when he was hit. Scott was watching through the binoculars as his son Peyton shot said he thought the deer was hit hard.
We were brought to the hit site. There was blood in the field as well as on the briars. There was blood crossing the road and into the woods behind us. This blood was a dark shaded red but had red blood mixed in it too. I found some white hair at the hit site and on briars. Scott said he definitely saw lung blood on the other side of the road and I said that this hair could possibly be from the exit but it is definitely white belly hair. Donnie started out with Ruby and she had no problem hooking up on the trail with ample blood on the ground although she didn't seem as intense as she usually gets on a track.
After a few minutes, I started Tasha into the track. We found a small piece of what appeared to be gut crossing a log. Tasha never really hooked up on the track like she should have. We would run about 100 yards until we ran out of blood and then she would backtrack. She kept trying to bring me back into the field. We asked Scott if the deer could have possibly crossed back into the field after he had shot. Scott said it was possible but they didn't see anything like that. They were busy high fiving and talking about the shot. After repeated attempts to get the girls to hook up and track, we started branching out a little at a time. There are so dang many deer in these woods and trails worn deep from heavy usage were everywhere. Ruby jumped one doe that was bedded up and also found a dead fawn in another area. We don't know what killed the fawn.
As we branched out, Donnie found a blood line that went back into the field about 75 yards closer to the stand. This was really confusing as it appeared that the deer had run into the woods, went closer to the stand and crossed back into the field. The blood stopped, started, stopped and started. I took Tasha to the other side of the field where she had been trying to bring me. There were two deer feeding the entire time we were in this field. I was very glad that Tasha never gave them a second look. She hunted hard but did not hook up. As I approached Donnie at the place where the deer had crossed back into the field he said....this is where the deer was shot at. We found blood and some good brown rib area hair at this site. I told Donnie to go on, we would hold back a minute or two because the girls compete if we run them together. He said - no, take Tasha on ahead because so far on this track he has pulled Ruby off of live deer, dead deer, live rabbits, guts, blood and lungs. Right now she doesn't know what I want her to do!
I put Tasha on the trail. She hooked up immediately. There was some lung as the deer crossed a ditch. The blood trail grew space and ended but Tasha never checked up. About 60 yards into the track a rabbit jumped and ran past Tasha about 20 yards away. I didn't think that she saw it and I was now afraid that she was trailing the bunny. She stopped where he jumped at, sniffed the ground and then went on with her track. I was relieved. I never had a rabbit problem before but that was huge temptation. She headed into some thick palmettos and about 50 yards later delivered me to a nice buck dead on the ground. He was shot just forward of center mass probably taking out one lung and busting up a bunch of other things inside. I called over to Peyton and said we had his deer. He ran all the way over there and asked where. He is over there a little ways. Peyton looked around until he saw him. With wonder and amazement he quietly said to himself.....Wowww! I love being able to see this. After the initial finding of what was going to be the one that got away, Peyton now had his buck. The swagger now sets in and we had a nice photo shoot.
When we got back to the camp, we had another photo shoot and talked to the other hunters. When we told them about our confusion with the track they smiled. There was a doe shot the evening before from that stand. She was shot at least twice and hit in the guts. She crossed the road and went into the woods where she was recovered and dragged back down the trail to the road. No wonder the dogs and trackers couldn't put the pieces together. This was a great track to be a part of. I thank Donnie Morales, Ruby, Scott, Peyton and Tasha for allowing me to be part of it.
|Happy Hounds and Happy Hunter|