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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tracking wounded deer with Darren Doran and his wirehaired dachshund Theo

Darren Doran from New Jersey and his 2½ year old Theo (our Tuesday's brother) are an outstanding tracking team. In spite of his young age Theo has been working as if he were much older and experienced tracker. Darren thanks to his diligent training and superb handling is getting the best out of his dog. So far this year they have made 14 recoveries.

This one, from yesterday. illustrates very well how effective this team is.

By Darren Doran (owner of FC Theo von Moosbach-Zuzelek)

This track came from a friend. The deer was shot that evening and he swore it was a good hit. The deer was slightly quartering to and the hunter couldn’t find the arrow. He told me he had found bright red thin watery blood, but not a lot and was having a hard time in the red tinted maple leaves. I didn’t like what I was hearing but he was a friend and hunting close so I loaded up Theo and went. The worst that could happen was we would confirm a muscle hit and call it.

We got to the hit site and there were a half a dozen deer in the bait. I tied up Theo and asked the hunter to show me the blood. We went about 40 yards from the shot and he showed me red thin watery blood. I started Theo and he tracked right to it and then veered left. I wasn’t seeing any blood and I asked Theo if this was right. He stopped and I told him in a stern voice to “get back on the line and find the blood”. He went back and searched some and took a different line. I marked a few drops of blood and I knew Theo was right but it still didn’t look promising. After a good while the blood started to change and increase. It was dark red and when the deer stopped it showed signs of bleeding from both sides.

We tracked into some nasty swampy brush and dead-falls and Theo went hot. We put the deer out. By this time we had tracked into a skinny part of the woods and were between two housing developments. I wasn’t sure if I could get back here in the daylight so I elected to stay with the deer.
Theo was tracking at the end of the 50 ft. line and all I could see in the light was brush moving ahead.

Then all of a sudden the leash went slack. Normally this is a good thing and I thought he was on the deer. Well he had found the deer, but the buck was bedded and still alive. Here’s where I really like my dog's good sense. He knew the deer was alive and he didn’t go in on him. He held up and circled the deer quietly out of harm’s way. If he had taken a different approach, in the dark this could have ended badly. I got to Theo's collar quickly and moved him back. When the deer saw me he got up and ran. I told the hunter we’ll turn off the lights and wait. Theo had seen the deer take off and wanted to go after him in the worst way. I told him “quiet” and called him over. I sat down with Theo and we waited about a half hour. Theo was whimpering a little but not barking and he seemed to know what we were doing. I restarted Theo and held the line close so I could see what was in front of him and in about 50 yards we had the buck and this time he was finished.

The shot had entered at about the 5th rib from the back, ¾ up the chest and out through the gut. The initial blood was from the entrance wound and it took a while for the dark liver blood to show up. The deer was still carrying the arrow and had a good cut across his front leg on the opposite side of the shot. This must have been from the protruding broad head while he was running. Not much of a photo but it was the best I could do.

Recovery #11 took place on October 10. The track was 19 hrs old liver and gut shot. It was a nice mature buck. This track was a tough one and took over 2 hours. Theo never quit searching. There were a lot of distractions including live deer, rabbits and a mysterious second blood trail that I don't think was related to this deer and didn't seem to go anywhere. Theo only tracked this blood once and searched all the surrounding area. Then he went back to the point of loss (POL) on his own and restarted on the original tack. This track went in a complete opposite direction from where we found the deer. It’s quite possible that this was a back track from our deer but there just wasn’t enough blood to confirm it. 

On our last, and what was going to be our final restart he tracked into a pokeweed field that was mixed with goldenrod and briars. At one point he rose up as high as he could balancing himself on his hind legs and sniffed a bent over goldenrod head and I knew he had the deer. Theo tracked across the field into a green briar thicket where I found a bed with blood. The deer went down through the green briars and back into the pokeweed field and died about another 75 into the field. The hunter told me he would never have found the deer without us. Aside from the other blood track I didn’t find any blood after the POL until the bed in the briars.

This track was a great learning experience for us. I got to use techniques I train for and we really had to work as a team on this one. My patience was tested as well as Theo’s stamina and focus. In the end we were successful. The dog work and the hunters gratitude made me very proud and reaffirmed my reason for tracking.

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