Search This Blog

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tracking mature bucks: Daren and Theo's amazing two intercrossed deer tracks

By Daren Doran

On Sunday I (Jolanta) had a chance to see Daren and Theo
when they dropped by at field trial grounds for a short visit.
On Saturday I got a call from a hunter who had hit a mature buck and needed help. His shot was slightly quartering to and he believed he hit one lung and hopefully the liver on the way out. While tracking, his deer entered another property and when he called for permission to track there he found out that the owners of that property were looking for a deer as well. That buck had been quartering away, and when the hunter shot, the deer took a step and the arrow hit it in the ham and entered forward never exiting. Both of these deer were shot Saturday morning.

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. The hunters believed that the blood trail of the two deer crossed. Hunter 1’s POL (Point of Loss) was about 50 yards from the blood trail of hunter 2. Hunter 2 had advanced their trail about 500 yards from that point to the beginning of a wide green briar choked hedge row between 2 large rye fields.

The call was about an hour and a half away, and I figured both calls had a good chance of recovery if what the hunter had told me was correct. It also gave me a chance to work Theo in a situation that I had never experienced before. If the blood trails did cross, how would he handle it? Could Theo figure it out and find the deer?

I got there about 2:30 and both groups of hunters were together. I started Theo at hunter 1’s hit site, which was on the edge of a green field. The deer had crossed the field and entered the woods about 80 yards away and this is where the hunter found his first blood. I let Theo smell the arrow and told him to “search” and “find the blood”. Theo worked a circle around the hit site that took a line towards the woods. Theo showed me blood and took the line through the woods across a road and into hunter 2’s property. He tracked to the POL and from there on it was all Theo. Hunter 2 said that he was tracking towards his line and at one point hunter 2 said Theo was on his blood line. At this point I couldn’t confirm the fact that the two deer didn’t take the same trail. We had not seen any more blood after hunter 1’s POL so I allowed Theo to continue. After a while it was apparent that Theo had left deer 1 and was now tracking deer 2. We came to the green briar hedge row at hunter 2’s POL and here it got hard for Theo. These guys and stomped all over looking for this deer, and I’m sure there was scent tracked all over in this area.

These hunters had no experience with a tracking dog and at the POL they continued to “help” by looking for more blood. I had asked them to stay with me or behind me, but pretty soon I was by myself. The logical place this deer went was into the briars in the hedge row.  I worked Theo in this area and at one point he tracked into the rye field on one side. I could see foot prints in the rye and it looked like Theo was tracking the hunters. I restarted him at the POL and he went into the briars. He was tracking but I couldn’t find any blood. I saw a deer cross the rye field about 300 yards away; I couldn’t see a rack and I didn’t really know where the deer came from. I assumed we had put out a doe while searching the hedge row. 

I re-started Theo a couple of times and he always took the same line through the briars and at one point he went hot and wanted to track into the rye field the way I had seen the deer go. I didn’t believe him and I pulled him off. I just didn’t think a hurt deer would cross a 500 yard open field. I had hunter 1 back with me by now.  I restarted Theo again and he tracked the same way and this time I saw some blood, then a bed and then a drop of blood at the edge of the rye field. I told hunter 1 about the deer I had seen and that we were going to follow the dog. Theo tracked across the rye field to a little wooded island and showed me a drop of blood. We went through the island, across another field and into the woods. Theo was showing me blood every so often and we had tracked to the edge of a small weedy standing corn field. All of a sudden Theo went hot. We were tracking along the corn and then turned into a swampy area of reeds and brush. I could see smears of blood on the reeds and visibility was limited. The next thing I know Theo is coming back at me and I see the buck get up. I sent hunter 1 around the brush to hopefully cut the deer off if he came out. Theo’s barking now, I’m holding him back and we’re right on the deer. Theo held up and then I saw the buck down in the high weeds. I called hunter 1 up and he finished the deer. We got on the phone and called hunter 2 and let him know where we were and that we had his deer.

We had deer 2 but needed to try to get deer 1. I told hunter 1 we were going back to our original start to restart Theo and see what we could do. The property owner was coming with us and after what they just witnessed there was no more second guessing me or the dog.

I started Theo and he took us right to hunter 1’s POL. I was watching the GPS to see what was going to happen. Theo was tracking the exact same line and went right over our first line and started tracking a different way. After messing up and pulling him off at the rye field, I was going wherever he took me. After a while I saw a drop of blood. I checked the GPS and we were on a new line. Theo had deer 1. We tracked to a large bed and Theo went hot. I didn’t see any blood but I knew Theo was right and went with him. After some time I started to mark blood. Theo was tracking hard at the end of the leash and we went right over deer 2’s line about 50 yards from the POL and into the second large rye field. Theo tracked across the field, across a road and into another woods. I was marking blood and I knew he was right. We went through the woods and tracked to a lake. Theo went into the water and was standing on a log looking across. I knew the deer went across. One thing I’ve learned about tracking mature bucks is once they know you’re after them they become very difficult to recover. They will use every bit of energy and smarts to put something between them and you that they think will stop you, roads, rivers, houses, horse corrals, lakes anything to stop you.

Theo went into the water
and was standing on a log looking across.
I marked the spot on the GPS and the hunters said we could go to the road and cross the lake at a bridge. We had enough daylight to try and it was about ¾ of a mile to get to the other side so off we went. When I got to about where I thought the deer crossed I started a controlled search with Theo and told him to “search and find the blood”. He knew what we were doing and immediately started searching the lake bank. Pretty soon he took a line away from the lake. I didn’t see any blood but at this point I wasn’t second guessing him. In about 100 yards he tracked to a large bed exactly like the one we found earlier and went hot. I told the hunter that we would go for a while and hopefully mark blood. We were losing daylight and I hadn’t seen any more blood and I told the hunter that we were done. I knew Theo was right, but this deer wasn’t dead and we weren’t going to catch it. They agreed and we headed back. We put on some miles today and I had some great dog work. Thankfully Theo over looked my handling mistakes at the rye field and we got the one deer. These hunters had never seen a tracking dog work before and both agreed that they would never found the deer we got or advanced the second one the way we did without a dog.

Darren Doran with Theo and Hunter 2's buck.


Teddy said...

Way to go Darren. Great accomplishment for a Jersey boy...and his dog!

Tim Antoine said...

Good experiance