The use of tracking dogs in the recovery of wounded game has grown and expanded enormously in the last decade. The United Blood Trackers is still gathering numbers of recoveries from its members for the 2015/16 season, but in the previous season UBT members recovered 718 deer, 11 bear, 7 moose and 2 coyotes.
One of the more active UBT trackers is our very good friend Susanne Hamilton from Maine. In fall 2015 she went on 73 tracks (while holding a full time job) and recovered 31 deer, 3 bears and 1 moose. Eight animals needed to be dispatched. Susanne tracks with Meggie and her sire Buster, who at 13.5 years made ten finds. Readers of this blog are very familiar with Buster, who is an amazing tracking dog. The video below shows Susanne and Meggie on a track of wounded moose. The track was 9-10 hours old and shows very well the spirit of tracking. You might notice that Meggie opens a lot on the track. Susanne said that the terrain was very rough and she moved slowly, too lowly for Meggie, who was getting impatient. There were also a lot of obstacles and Meggie swam at least 20 times. There were also times when Meggie tracked silently but the five minute footage chosen for the video does not reflect it.
Susanne, a top level dressage rider and trainer, is competitive by nature. Her passion for blood tracking is matched by very few handlers. Last fall she went on 6 tracks within 24 hours and recovered 4 of the 6 deer she tracked. This must be some kind of record! I don't think she slept in those 24 hours at all.