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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bob and Thor's team work results in the successful recovery of heart-shot buck.

By Robert Yax (owner of Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek), Deer Search of Finger Lakes

Sunday  10/12/14,  I returned home at about 9 PM after taking three unsuccessful  tracks, which included  two one-lung hits that we tracked a long way,  and a very minor brisket hit.   I called into the Deer Search hotline and heard a call that came in at 5 PM from Hunter, Brian in Scottsville.  I called him back at 10 PM  and found that he had hit a Mature Buck at 7:30 that morning.  The shot was from a tree stand at a shallow angle with a fixed broad head.  The Buck was slightly quartering towards him and he hit the Deer’s  left side. He thought the hit was about mid-way up the body and  “back a little”.  The shot was a complete pass thru and he said the arrow was covered with dark blood.  

After the shot, the buck took off running and went out of sight around a swamp.   After a short time, Brian carefully got down and examined the hit site.  At that point he decided to back out and wait a while before tracking.   After a 2 ½ hour wait, he and a friend got on the easy to follow blood trail.  They found the blood covered arrow a short distance up the trail and soon after they jumped the Buck from its bed, about 75 yards from the hit site.  The buck ran off,  but seemed to be struggling a little.  Brian then decided to back out again.  At 2 PM he and his friend got back on the blood trail and took it about 300 yards beyond the first bed before running out of blood sign in the middle of a large open block of tall pines.  At this point they searched the pines for another 75 yards  in the direction the Buck was headed.  At the far (west) end of the pines they stopped  and decided not to go into the thick brush beyond.   Brian then decided to call Deer Search  (two good decisions!)

After hearing the story from Brian,  it seemed that a liver hit was very likely, especially since he had mentioned dark blood and that the buck had bedded so quickly.  It was especially promising because Brian and his friend had not reached the end of the blood trail till 7 hours after the hit.  If it was a liver hit,  it was very likely that the Buck would have been dead in its second bed at that point,  and it was not likely that they had pushed it any further.   Hopefully,  we would find the Buck in the thick stuff, not too far from the end of the blood trail in the pines.  I agreed to meet Brian at 8:00 on Monday morning.

We started the search on Monday morning just about 24 hours after the hit.  It was warm (60 deg) and dry – not ideal tracking conditions.  The arrow Brian showed me was covered with darkish dried blood but contained no stomach matter – it certainly could have been a liver shot.   After a hike back to the woods we started on the trail, just beyond the first bed.  Thor was on it easily and quickly followed the  known 300 yard trail (with a little dried blood sign) to the point of last blood that Brian had marked the previous day in the tall open pines.   From there Thor continued tracking,  with no blood sign, the 100 yards or so until we hit the thick brush at the west end of the pines.  Brian and his friend had searched to this point, but had not gone into this thick area the previous day, so I was really hopeful that we would find the dead Buck in this area.  

After a little searching along the edge, Thor took  an obvious deer trail into the thick stuff.  After only about 25 yards, Thor took a quick left and headed to a nearby pond.  He jumped in and did a little 4 foot diameter swim and then got back on dry land.  (Thor seems to like to take advantage of water holes and streams whenever he gets a chance while tracking, especially on warm days).  Once out of the pond, he headed back to the thick area he came from.  After only a few seconds of searching he stopped and looked back up at me as if to say  “so what do you want me to do here”?   -- I was like “what the hell “!     I tried to get him back on the track, but he obviously didn’t think there was any reason  for us to be there.  Then it hit me!   From the last blood sign,  we had continued straight back to the thick area at the west end of the Pines.  This is the same path the hunters had gone the previous day – probably with blood on their boots!  Thor had taken this same path, but once he got into the thick stuff,  there was no more blood scent – the hunters hadn’t gone in there.

I quickly brought Thor back into the pines heading back to the last blood sign.  Along the way, he veered to the south and we were soon heading into the thick brush along that side of the pines.  It wasn’t long before he put his head up, air scenting something ahead of us.  A minute later we crossed a coyote den, where he stopped for a second to stick his head down a hole.  After I pulled him out, he was quickly back on the job.  After about 100 yards in the thick stuff we popped out into a horse pasture.  Now what?  I thought,  but was quickly surprised to see the white belly of dead deer laying in the corner of the pasture about 40 yards ahead of Thor – we got him! ---- Not!    The dead deer was a recently dead button buck – not a nice Mature Buck.  Not sure what killed it,   as we couldn’t  find a hole or mark on it.  Possibly a car hit deer that ran off?    

Now we had to forget this distraction and get back to our deer.  I again headed Thor back to the last known blood sign in the middle of the block of pines.  Once there,  I decided that because the hunters had mucked up the pines while searching the previous day with bloody boots,  I would take Thor along the outside edge of the pine block and hope he could catch the Buck’s  clean trail heading out.  Starting at the last blood sign, we headed 90 degrees off the Buck’s known trail and came to the north edge of the pines.  We then started searching along the edge, just inside of the pines.  After only about 50 yards along the edge,   Thor turned and started tracking into the grassy field to the north.   He definitely seemed to be on the trail with his nose tight to the ground as he tracked the first 75 yards into the field.  At that point he began circling wildly while hopping up and down  thru the grass.  I  knew the dead buck had to be close and then saw it about 25 yards ahead in the grass.  

Thor got to it first and had a few moments of “chew time”  before we began examining it.    From the entrance wound location,  (low and just behind the left front leg) it was obvious that it wasn't a liver hit.  It seemed as though it should have hit the heart.  A short time later we confirmed that it actually did put a two inch slice in the outside of the heart as well as hit one lung.   This is the third heart shot deer we’ve recovered in the past few years.  All of them bedded quickly,  within 100 yards  but then got up when pushed a few hours later.  We even kicked one up out of its second bed  25 hours after the hit before finding it dead four later.  There’s no telling how long Brian’s  Buck lived, but probably for quite a while since the deer was still good 25 hrs after the hit.  He definitely made the right decision by not randomly searching the thick stuff the previous day. 

Thor and I also confirmed that we definitely need to work as a team to successfully overcome the complications and distractions that go along with tracking wounded deer. 

This recovery demonstrates that many times neither the dog nor handler would be successful without the help of the other.  Bob says that by far  this was the most interesting of his four recoveries so far.
This picture shows Thor with a buck recovered in Monroe County on October 4.

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