Hope this message finds all well, and both of you enjoying Christmas. Wanted to send you a quick note on Vonnie. Things have been really slow for us. Had 2 calls for tracking, and both of them came while I was out of town with my work. However, we had the second live track for Vonnie this evening.
A good friend of mine, Mark Hoffman, was hunting with his daughter Gabby this evening, and knew I needed to give Vonnie more experience. Gabby shot an 8 point, and when Mark found blood, and where the deer left the food plot, he did exactly what I wish all hunters would do, he marked the blood, and left to come get me and Vonnie. Mark felt like the buck wasn't hit great, and wanted to wait a little while before taking Vonnie in, which was a good call on Mark's part.
When I put Vonnie down on the blood she immediately started following it through the brush and down a steep hill. I told Mark I wasn't sure she was still on it, while going down hill, but when we made it to the bottom, we found more blood. She turned and dropped off into a small creek bed with steep, bluff sides and went 20-30 yards, when we hit a log jam in the creek and Vonnie started try to weave her way through it. I followed, but felt confident she wasn't on it. Lucky for me though, after going through the pile of limbs that looked completely undisturbed, Vonnie stopped to sniff a leaf that had blood on it. The bluff banks on this creek were now 10-12 feet tall, and nearly impossible for me to climb, but Vonnie made a 90 degree turn and tried going up it. After two attempts, Vonnie came back down and went just a little further down the creek, where another drain came into it and started her way up. While we were doing this, Clay Weeks and Mark shined their lights up the hill from where Vonnie had tried going up the bluff, saw the deer stand up, and finished it off. Therefore, Vonnie has now earned my trust and I will follow her regardless of "what I think the deer did"... The track wasn't very long, but thanks to Mark and Gabby Hoffman, they provided an opportunity for me to gain confidence, and Vonnie to prove her ability.
I'm attaching a photo of Gabby Hoffman with her buck and Vonnie. Please feel free to post the above paragraph and photo on your various sites. It'll certainly help us get more tracking jobs, and make a little girl happy. Vonnie is much more methodical in her tracking than Waldo was during his first three years. She works the line slow and close, and hasn't blown a single turn on any of her 2 tracks she's been on. Everyone has commented on how well she minds, and how well she reacts to being around numerous people. I know it's still early to be making a call like this, but from what I've seen thus far, there's no doubt in my mind that she will probably be a better tracker than Waldo, and that's a strong statement, giving Waldo's accomplishments. I honestly had hoped she'd just be as good as Waldo, but I believe she just might show me that it's actually possible to be better than him. Many thanks to both of you for providing me with such an outstanding dog!
Mike Martien's contact info is list on the UBT Find-A-Tracker site at http://www.unitedbloodtrackers.org/tracker-profile/?user=222