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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blood tracking reports from Indiana and Maine


In Indiana Joe Walters blood tracks with Doc (Magnum v Moosbach-Zuzelek), who was born on March 19, 2007. Doc comes from our "M" litter - his parents are Buster and Keena.

Joe wrote:

Doc found this buck yesterday after a 2.4 mile track, which was 14 hours old. Buck was hit high and back with little external bleeding. It wasn't a very pretty tracking job but accomplished the mission. As we started track two deer crossed in front. Later a pheasant flushed and then three turkeys flushed right in front of Doc. I wrongly assumed he was tracking turkeys and pulled him off track for a restart at last blood sign. He tracked to fence and then turned right and proceeded about 175 yds. The hunters behind me yelled they had found blood going straight to fence and said there was water about 50 yds beyond. I wrongly pulled him off track again and crossed fence for a fruitless search on other side. I told hunter Doc wanted to continue down other side of fence and we proceeded over the 175 yds and after another 200 yds found buck. The gentleman in the picture is the owner of two sporting goods stores that I had dropped off fliers before the season. Good publicity.

Congratulations Joe - this sounds like a very demanding track with a lot of distractions. Great job!


Susanne Hamilton wrapped up her tracking season in Maine with two long difficult tracks, which both ended with recoveries. She is a dressage trainer, and now is on her way to Florida, where she spends her winter training horses. She told me that the last two successful tracks resulted in 3 marriage proposals! I am not surprised. It is not uncommon that hunters' wives and girlfriends don't support their men's passion for hunting and spending so much time in the woods. Male hunters must be surprised when they call Susanne for her tracking services first time. They see this beautiful blond who is ready to track regardless the weather and terrain conditions, carries a gun, has a great dog... and finds their deer.

Susanne tracks with Buster, who is now 6 years old and is in his prime. The November 24 trail was a very long one, and took 3.5 hours of fast tracking. The deer had a leg injury, and injuries like this call for immediate tracking and fast action. There were very long stretches where there was no visible blood on the ground at all. Few times Susanne wanted to verify whether Buster was on a right line and restarted him, but Buster always pulled in the right direction. This is Susanne's description of the second half of the track.

Buster had to work really hard at a spot in the pasture, where the deer had crossed, and where a truck with three barking Great Danes had just driven over it. Buster worked up and down the tire tracks, and eventually went bouncing back into the woods… now again almost 300 yards with absolutely no blood. I hoped that we would find something, and low and behold, as Buster took a right turn into the woods, Andy told me he had found a little bit of blood.

Buster then went yet another 200 yards with no blood, and crossed a paved road, went alongside the paved road, and went back into the woods. At this point, we started to find a little drop of blood about every 20–50 yards. We went through the woods, and then through a Christmas tree farm, went across the paved road, back into the woods, and at this point, the deer started to bleed stronger.

By the time we crossed the next Christmas tree farm the deer bled a lot. Andy, KC and I entered the woods. Big smears and patches, and even a piece of bone indicated that we where successfully pushing that deer. I had talked to Tracker Tom to ask his advice, and he encouraged me to really push this buck. He figured that if he bled now, and if we managed to bump him, that we’d likely eventually catch up with him.

Tracking through this woods was really easy going, when eventually things turned boggy. We entered Plymouth Bog, it was dark and mossy and frozen, except for the places that the ice was not strong enough, and we almost went through. It was the place where I figured we’d eventually get him. However, the bog was getting really difficult to go through, and really thick, but we saw places where the buck had fallen and slid on the ice. I thought I heard a crash, but wasn’t sure, but about five minutes later, we finally bumped the deer. We saw this large buck about 25 yards away leap away through the trees and bog. At this point I told Andy to go ahead and load his rifle.

About ten minutes later, looking only at my dog, trying to keep up and trying to keep the sticks out of my eyes, I see my dog latching on to a deer tail. Seeing that the buck was still alive, but down and slightly stuck with his antlers between two trees, I pulled Buster back, and gave Andy the go ahead to shoot.

It took us almost an hour and a half to get the deer out of the swamp, and on that way out, is where we found all the weak spots in the ice, and kept sinking through it getting really wet feet (in 25 degree weather). By that time, KC and Andy got sweaty from dragging, and I was freezing. Maynard caught up with us in the bog, and Scotty and Skip had the four wheeler and the truck waiting for us, as soon as we got out of the bog.

Buster was super tired, but still digging into that deer any time they took a break. They dragged about a 180 pound deer with my 20 pound dog hanging at the end of it.

Back at the cabin we took some pictures, gave Buster some heart, and warmed up by the wood stove, reliving this speedy 3 ½ hour track. Anyone who knows Buster (or has his kids) knows that he tracks at a pretty good clip… too fast for some people's taste. We covered an enormous distance, and reliving the track in the cozy cabin, made it a special event.

I found out that this cabin is a taboo to girls, and that I am now considered a life long “honorary dude”. We had some beer, some good laughs, and molasses cookies, and Buster was the “king”. What a GREAT day !!!!

The next day Susanne was tracking again - this was a 24 hour old trail. It took 2.5 hours of tracking to find this deer at the end:

Susanne with Buster - the last deer of the tracking season in Maine

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pictures from the field

The picture below shows a year and a half old Nevada v Moosbach-Zuzelek with the deer she found for Bill Smith's (her owner) neighbor. Nevada comes from the Buster/Emma litter.

Nevada found this deer eight hours after it had been shot; there was no blood to follow at all.

And this is a nice update on Nevada's half-brother, a 2008 pup - Frodo von Moosbach-Zuzelek aka Roscoe. Roscoe belongs to Will Sims from Alabama.

"I just wanted to give you a Roscoe update. We unfortunately had a really slow archery season here but things are picking up and Roscoe is doing great. My brother shot this deer opening day of gun season and we had a great 150 yard blood trail to run. After waiting 3 hours Roscoe took us straight to this deer with no problems at all. He missed a couple of turns but quickly got back on track, it was great. I've had several calls on questionably shot deer but we've been passing on those until he and I get more experience. I think this track has really helped him put things together. I hope to have him on at least one blood trail a week for the rest of the season which runs to January 31. It was my nephews first blood trail as well and we all had a great time with it. Roscoe is doing great otherwise and is just a great all around pup."

Roscoe's first real blood trail

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tracking with Bavarian Mountain Hounds in UK

We received a nice e-mail from Peter C. Garraway, who is a member of the Bavarian Mountain Hound Society of Great Britain and United Blood Trackers. He says:

"Dear John & Jolanta,
I thought I must let you know how I have enjoyed the 'blog' page on your website.

Some really interesting articles. Since we have started the Bavarian Mountain Hound Society of G.B. it has brought a lot of attention to tracking wounded beasts, and more & more people are wanting a dog for the job. How many of the new owners of prospective blood tracking hounds put in the time to train their k9 friend, time will tell. Most people wanting a dog want it for their own purposes, i.e to put the dog straight on the track or in very short time."

Peter submitted a picture of his two Bavarians, Mintaka and Wallace, with a Muntjac buck, shot by his friend L. Stennett. This track was a 14 hours old, buck was gut shot.

Muntjac deer is also callled barking deer because of its unusual vocalisation. The species was first introduced from China to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the early 20th century, and now it is quite common throughout UK. Bucks reach no more than 40 lbs. A good intro information on Muntjac deer can be accessed at The British Deer Society website at

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey, Turkey

Turkey, Turkey, we are not at war.
On this day truth comes to the fore.
We hunt the wildness that we love.
And for ALL thank God above.
by John Jeanneney, Nov. 27, 2008

The picture shows Lore Mahler's Yette vom Stoberstolz,
a very well trained dachshund, which was able to hold
a down-stay even while surrounded by wild turkeys.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Nose Factor in Tracking Wounded Deer

This article was written by John Jeanneney in 2003, and even though it is somewhat outdated it still contains some good stuff.

“Nose” is one of those four letter words, but it is a lot more complicated than most of them. “Nose” is so complicated because we use it to refer to things that are really based in the brain, not just on the end of the muzzle. How a dog responds to scent, and how he uses his nose is even more important than the sensitivity of the nose itself. All these factors are so closely related that it is pretty hard to pick them apart.

The nose factor in tracking dogs for wounded deer probably has a lot in common with nose in cougar and bear dogs. We are often dealing with old, cold lines in both cases. In wounded deer work it’s called “blood tracking”, but as I have pointed out before there is usually little or no blood. If you have visible blood to track by, why do you need a dog?

Line Sense

Useful dogs need a brain wired to process scent so they know what to do with it. They have to have “line sense”, an instinctive awareness that scent leads from “A” to “B”. You would not expect or need this in an English pointer, but a scent hound or cur, which is going to track game, better have line sense. And it does not always happen.

Years ago I worked for about a year with a well-bred Leopard Cur. As you know the Leopards have a reputation of being the coldest nosed of the cur breeds and the most suitable cur for lion and bear work under tough conditions. I am sure that this reputation is well deserved, but this particular bitch was an exception, and she taught me something. We could go out on a couple of inches of snow, and I would show her a coon track from the night before. She would respond and her tail would swing with excitement. She could smell it very well, but she would not move with it. She lacked line sense and despite a lot of work, she never learned that a scent led somewhere. I never tried to use her for tracking wounded deer. She did not seem retarded in any other way, and I was lucky to have a friend who needed a yard dog.

Molly (picture taken in 1996) lacked a line sense required for blood tracking.

There are some dogs that can follow the line, sort of, but they lack focus and they will not gear down, dig for the scent and walk it slowly when necessary. They are smelling around all over the place. This is more a matter of temperament than a lack of nose.

Some hounds with good noses drift a track. They always seem to know where the scent line is, but they are not on it every yard of the way. These dogs are going to find wounded deer, but they are not going to show you all of the sign, blood smears and so forth, that you need to make your determination about how the deer is hit, and whether it is going to survive.

A few years ago I was tracking with a man who had a German shorthaired pointer. The GSPs were developed in Germany as a versatile hunting dog, and some American versions of the original breed have retained this; Bill and Buckshot found a lot of deer together and that GSP got better and better at it. This time I was tracking behind Buckshot with Clary, who was a very good wirehaired dachshund. Buckshot, out in front, was drifting the line pretty fast, not always right on it, but certainly following the cold track of the wounded deer. However, Buckshot completely missed a wound bed that Clary showed us because she was working closer. That wound bed told us something that we had not been able to determine before because we had not been able to start at the hit site. Blood and saliva, outside the perimeter of the bed showed that we were dealing with a jaw shot. These deer are doomed to die, but they remain strong for days and death comes slowly. You don’t have any chance to put them down unless you can get them out in the open for a shot. In the dense scrub oak and pine barrens where we were tracking, there was no hope of that. Clary showed us the sign that spared us from a lot of fruitless tracking.

I have seen individual bird dogs that stayed close to the line and were excellent trackers. But most spaniels and the various continental pointers do have a natural tendency to quarter back and forth on the scent line. There are various ways to train them out of this, but it is not simple. For a bird hunter who needs to track a wounded deer now and then, dogs that quarter or weave back and forth on the line can still be useful.

For the handler who puts finding wounded deer at the top of his priorities, tracking will be easier with a dog that works closer to the line. Particularly in bowhunting, you encounter many superficially wounded animals that are going to recover. Many miles of wild goose chase can be avoided, if the hunter can read the occasional drips and smears of blood over the first half mile. The dog will show the handler where the sign is, and then the chances of catching up to the deer must be evaluated.

A Cold Nose

A dog that has line sense does not necessarily have a “cold nose”, the ability to smell a very old or faint track. Every handler appreciates a dog with a great nose provided that this nose is used well. Still, in wounded game tracking too much emphasis can be placed on a super cold nose to the point that it outweighs everything else. In most wounded deer tracking situations you don’t need all that nose. To save a deer from spoilage or the coyotes, you generally have to get on the line before it is 24 hours old.

This winter I had to put down my old Southern Black Mouth Cur, who came as a pup from Howard Carnathan. Cleo did not have a great nose for ground scent, but she taught me that great intelligence can be more important than great nose when it comes to finding wounded deer. Cleo, with her cowdog smarts, was not distracted by the hot lines of healthy deer, which is the biggest problem for most dogs. She was just fine on deer lines up to four hours old, and she was an excellent wind scenter. She was the wounded deer finder of choice on days when the wind was roaring, and there was no ground scent. She was my deep swamp dog. Cleo had a warm nose by hound standards, but she would have been an excellent dog for a southern deer lease where wounded deer are usually tracked within a few hours.

Cleo was John's loyal hunting companion. She excelled at squirrel hunting but she also recovered a number of wounded deer. She did not have a cold nose but she was very intelligent and learned quickly to stay on a right line.

Size of the Nose; Size of the Dog

In beagling you hear the term “big nose”. A dog with a “big nose” is a dog that can recognize the rabbit line and move it while other hounds in the pack don’t even know that it’s there. As used the term has nothing to do with the physical size of the dog and his nose. Early in my tracking career it still seem logical to me that a large dog, with a large nose would have better scenting ability than a small dog. Later experience, and the scientific articles that I have read, both indicate that there are many other factors, in addition to the size of the nose, which determine scenting power. This doesn’t mean that a Chihuahua and a Bloodhound are equal is scenting power, but it seems that the relationship between size of the dog and his nose power is not as close as I once thought.

From what I have seen in competition beagles and in tracking dogs, there is little or not much relationship between size of the dog and scenting ability. In field trials beagles are separated by sex and into two size categories: either 13 inches and under or 13 to 15 inches. The two sizes seldom run together in brace or in a pack, but when they do, the larger hounds have no special advantage when it comes to nose. A good beagle, 12 inches at the shoulder seems to have just as much nose power, as a 15 incher, who weighs nearly twice as much.

Steve Nappe of Westerlo, NY has a miniature wirehaired dachshund, Zin, who weighs only nine pounds. He found three wounded deer last fall under tough circumstances, but no one expected what Zin did this April (2003) in the Annual Deer Search Blood Tracking competition. He more than held his own; he won the competition and the runner-up was a 70 pound Deutsch Drahthaar, the original German version of the German wirehaired pointer. Zin was very well handled by Steve, who contributed to the win, but it was clear that Zin’s “miniature” nose was not a handicap, and that his “miniature” brain processed the scent data just fine.

Steve Nappe's Zin is a very accomplished blood tracker. He is a dapple wirehaired miniature dachshund.

In 1996 two researchers, Laurie Issel-Tarver and Jasper Rine at the University of California, Berkeley published their research on the genetic basis for scenting ability. They compared the DNA of ten scent hounds, including American foxhounds, bluetick coon hounds, bloodhounds, beagles, bassets and dachshunds with that of 10 sight hound and 6 companion/toy breeds. They found that the genes controlling the scent receptor cells in the nose were surprisingly similar for all 26 breeds. This implied that differences in scenting ability were based upon other factors.

Issel-Tarver and Rine also pointed out that the size of the scent reception area in the nose of some breeds was 16 times greater than in others but that the size of this area, the olfactory epithelium, was “not simply a function of body size”. They cautiously concluded that the size of this olfactory epithelium and the number of nerve ending to be found there might influence scenting power. They also offered some other complex genetic possibilities that had not yet been researched. Folks, it ain’t simple!

Without getting hung up on this heavy scientific research, there are certain things that we can conclude:

1. You do need line sense in a tracking dog, so don’t select a breed that has been bred exclusively to quarter back and forth and scent birds on the wind.

2. Nose is necessary, but you don’t need the coldest nose for practical deer tracking. In my opinion brains and the ability to recognize and stay on the right line is even more important.

3. The biggest dog is not necessarily the best for tracking work, and it will not always have the best nose. Work with the size of dog that you are comfortable with. A man who has worked Walkers and blueticks all his life may feel a little bit ridiculous with a 20 pound standard dachshund or Jagdterrier. A man who lives in the suburbs may not want a 75 pound Catahoula as a family dog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to Find Dog Handlers Who Provide Deer Tracking Services

You are a hunter and you shot a deer. But even though you did everything right, and you are sure that the deer is mortally wounded, you cannot find it. What do you do now? You should contact a handler with a tracking dog which is trained to track wounded deer. Of course, it is a very good idea to locate such service in your area before you go hunting so you know whom to call when the need arises.

If you live in New York state, calling Deer Search is your best option. This volunteer-based organization was formed in 1977, and currently it has three chapters. For tracking services call:

- the mid-Hudson Valley area call (845) 227-5099
- Western part of New York state (716) 648-4355
- Finger Lakes Region (585) 935-5220
In the Capital District the number is (518) 872-1779.

In New York state only trackers licensed by Department of Environmental Conservation can track wounded game with leashed dogs. If there is no Deer Search tracker in your area, call your local conservation officer as he might know of local tracking services. Not all licensed handlers are members of Deer Search.

This buck was recovered by Bill Siegrist and Jake (Drake v Moosbach-Zuzelek) in Pleasant Valley, NY on October 26. Bill Siegrist is a member of Deer Search.

If you hunt in other states, you should first learn whether tracking wounded big game with dogs is legal where you hunt. Don’t assume that if blood tracking is legal in New York state, it is also legal in neighboring states. Regulations are controlled by state, and vary a lot from one state to another. Now this activity, which many view as a very integral part of ethical hunting, has been legalized in 17 states where any use of dogs in deer hunting, including the recovery of wounded deer, was previously illegal. Yet, it is hard to believe but it is true that in states such as Iowa, Pennsylvania, Kansas and many others blood tracking is still illegal.

State regulations can be checked at the United Blood Trackers’ website at If you are looking for tracking services, the United Blood Trackers website can help you as well. Go to, click on your state, you will see a list of available trackers.

Robert Rubie from Michigan is a member of United Blood Trackers. His tracking dachshund Mirabell von Moosbach-Zuzelek is a year and a half old and it is her second tracking season.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Scent discrimination - what an experienced blood tracking dog can do

I have recently come across this descripton of a deer call John and I took together in 2000. It was a very educational experience how dogs can discriminate scent of individual deer.

John wrote:
On the phone it sounded like an easy track so we took one of our young wire males, Alec, who had training but no natural experience. Jolanta handled Alec and I handled Sabina as a backup in case the young dog had trouble. Alec did a pretty good job, trailed out past the hunter's point of loss and went on for another quarter mile without help.

Then came misfortune. Alec tracked right into a fresh gut pile, still warm. Alec thought the guts were better than nothing and he munched a bit. The hunters and the handlers were down hearted for sure. They had called us and we had driven a long way, and now it was all for nothing. Someone else had finished off the deer and dragged him out.

Then I thought of something. There had been some grains of corn in the track on the way to the gut pile. They had leaked out of the deer. It was funny that there was no corn in the gut pile that we were standing over. I took Sabina back on the trail about 50 yards and let her work the line; she tracked right past the gut pile, never looking at it. All concentration, she worked another 50 yards into some thick bush and there he was, the original buck, corn, guts and all.

This is what an experienced tracking dachshund can do.

Sabina with the deer she found when she tracked beyond the guts of another deer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Karma and Effi do it again!

Kevin Armstrong from the Finger Lakes Chapter of Deer Search wrote:

2008 no. 8 was an interesting trail! The deer was paunch shot at 4:30 PM on 11-18. The hunter watched the deer watched the deer hunch up and walk 30 yards and stand there with his head down until dark, about 5:15 PM. The hunter recognized the reaction as a paunch hit and backed out quietly until morning. In the morning 2 inches of fresh snow covered any trace of a trail. After 2 hours of searching the hunter called me for help. Ron Betts brought Effi and by 10:45 AM with their little hobbit feet coated with canola oil, Karma and Effi took up the track. Karma got sidetracked on another deer track for awhile but Effi go on the track right away and took it to a series of beds with blood in them. She followed the trail out of the beds for a couple of hundred yards but got a bit confused where the tracks crossed a logging road. By that time Karma was back and took up the tracks from the beds. She crossed the road and verified blood at the edge of Honeoye Creek. After a search she again found the tracks leading through the brush parallel with the creek, then to a series of beds, all with blood, down to the creek edge again. At the creek I scanned the opposite bank, then in both directions on my bank. Nothing. Glancing through the brush directly in front of me on my bank I noticed the tip of an antler. Then the whole image of a submerged deer came into view. The girls claimed their prize, 20 hours after the hit.

Ron Betts (left) and Kevinn Armstrong (right) with Karma (left) and Effi (right)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blood tracking in Wisconsin

Larry Gohlke from Neshkoro, WI, has been tracking wounded deer with his wirehaired dachshunds for many years. He is a Life Member of Deer Search and a co-founding member of United Blood Trackers. These days he is tracking with a young male out of his own breeding - FC Nix vom Nordlicht.

Larry Gohlke with Nix

In Wisconsin a tracker is not allowed to carry a weapon while tracking. Of course, some wounded deer are not dead when they are found, and they have to be finished off. We are not going to get into details how to go about it, but it is certain that sooner rather than later somebody is going to hurt.

This is Larry's latest adventure.

I tracked this buck for a hunter that only had permission to go further onto his neighbor's land if my dog was able to confirm that the blood trail had actually crossed the creek into the neighbor's hunting refuge. The buck had been shot in the morning and had walked to a town blacktopped road where it stopped and bled more than most road kills do!

The deer than walked onto the neighbor's land and down to a creek where it circled. The hunter and the landowner searched for any sign of where the buck left the circle until it was time for the landowner to go hunting. After hunting hours I was allowed to search. Nix was able to immediately continue the trail and make a large half circle back to the creek. The buck was bedded in the creek in some brush. I had the hunter hold my dog, his friend hold my light, and I walked in front of the buck so I could throw my rope around his antlers. (The brush was too thick behind the buck.) The buck got up, started walking up stream, and attempted to climb out on the opposite bank. I got the rope tangled in his antlers on the second toss. I was wearing the frog legs that you and John gave me and was standing in the stream. The buck turned and started walking RIGHT AT ME. I quickly put my body in REVERSE. Most of my body moved BUT my feet were stuck in the mud and not going anywhere. When my butt hit the water the buck stopped and I crawled out of the mud as fast as a could go.

Wouldn't it have been sweet justice if the buck had fallen on me, holding me under mud to drown? I got out and tied the buck down with a second rope before allowing the hunters to finish it off.

I can tell you that a buck's antlers apparent size increases exponentially when it is moving toward you and you are on your back. The difference is much greater than the ground shrinkage that hunters experience when the huge bucks they shoot are found to be much smaller when in their hands.

I didn't stick around for pictures. I let them drag the deer out and when home to put on some dry clothes and stop shaking! Larry

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coyotes, dachshunds and deer

Kevin Armstrong wrote:

"Karma will accept trailing credit for 2008 no. 7 but Effie Betts gets credit for the find! The evidence showed that this poor animal had been harassed by coyotes for hours. He covered a circle about a mile through the center before succumbing to his wounds and tormentors. 20 hours after the hit he was still warm when found."

Kevin Armstrong with Karma and Ron Betts with Effi

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is a good source of info on coyotes in NY:

These days coyotes are omnipresent and firmly established in New York State. Their numbers have been estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000. The eastern coyote is considerably larger than its southwestern cousin, and the largest individuals are as big as smaller timber wolves. Adults may range from 35-45 pounds and some large males may exceed 50 or 60 pounds in body weight.

Coyotes gradually extended their range eastward after wolves became extinct in the eastern U.S. and southern portions of Canada. Coyotes first appeared in the early 1900s in western Ontario, in the 1920s in New York and progressively later across New England until their appearance in New Brunswick in 1975. Recent studies using DNA analyses clearly show that hybridization with wolves has occurred, most probably in southern Canada where populations of wolves and coyotes adjoin each other.

John wrote the below article in 2001. Since then coyotes actually have become an even more serious problem. In the Northeast if a wounded deer is left in the woods overnight, very often in the morning the only thing that can be recovered is its carcass. The picture below was taken in October 2007. The deer was shot in the evening and this is what we found next morning:

© 2001 John Jeanneney

When large numbers of coyotes began to appear in New York State about 15 years ago, it really changed life for hunters and not for the better. The new, northeastern coyote was a bigger animal than the one found out west, and DNA studies suggest that there were some timber wolf genes in the background. Dachshunds, beagles and feists were at risk, particularly at night and even bigger dogs were ganged up upon. My days of using my blood tracking dachshunds for coon hunting soon ended, and this was one of the reasons that I purchased my black mouth cur. At the time I also had a little Jack Russell, and I took the chance of taking him out one night with the big cur dog in a place where I thought there were no coyotes. Coyotes did nail him when he ranged off about 150 yards. Little Banner gave one yelp, the coyotes gave a chattering, laughing bark and I never saw him again. All I found was some white terrier hair. It was hard to lose a game little den dog, but it would have been a disaster to lose a dachshund blood tracker with years of experience.

I am no lover of coyotes, which spoiled some of the good night-time fun that I had in the 60's and 70's. There are a lot of good ways to take revenge. Where it is legal try a .223 rifle and a fawn bleat call in June. You can also get satisfaction by depriving coyotes of undeserved venison feasts during the deer season.

In Grampa's youth a deer shot in late afternoon and not immediately found was left until morning. The coyote invaders changed all that. Nowadays you can't leave the wounded or dead deer out over night in many parts of the Northeast. Now it's a race to find the deer before the coyotes do. A good tracking dachshund, or a good tracker of another breed, will find that deer quickly in situations where the deer goes too far for an infra-red deer finder, and hours of eye tracking only take you to the end of the visible blood trail.

If a deer is shot just before evening we like to get on the line with a good dachshund within two or three hours. Ideally it would be better to wait longer in the case of a gut shot deer, but we are between a rock and a hard place. A) If we don't wait and we jump the deer while it is still too "green," then we may be in for a long ramble through the hills. B) If we wait, the trail may be shorter, but there may well be a fresh deer skeleton at the end. Scenario A has less risk and exercise is a good thing for almost everyone.

My adventures at the Wade hunting camp in Schoharie County, over two years, are a good example of how things work, or don't work, on wily coyote's new turf. In 2000 I got a phone call from the Wades during bow season. They had shot a nice buck and had tracked him a mile before losing him at dusk. I got there within another couple of hours and my dachshund had no trouble taking the line another half mile to the deer, or at least half of the deer. The hindquarters were already gone. This was the work of more than one or two coyotes.

This season (2001) I got another call from the Wades. A family friend staying with them had a similar problem. Mindful of what had happened the previous year, I dropped my own plans to bow hunt and hustled over well before dark. Seven hours earlier the buck had been hit low and too far back, and this time we wanted to beat the coyotes to their dinner. My dachshund Sabina took the line 300 yards beyond the hunter's point of loss to jump the deer still alive and strong. Well we had a ramble up hill, down hill for almost five miles. All blood sign soon ended but because of the nature of the wound there was plenty of scent. At 7:30 PM we had been close to the deer several times according to Sabina, but the buck began to walk in circles about 200 yards across. He went around twice on the same trail in a dense pine forest. In this situation when you are close behind the deer, there is a danger of losing him. Your dog is tracking through a tunnel of floating body scent. After a couple of loops the deer can break off to the side and fool the dog... at least for a while. We weren't catching up to the deer; coyotes or no we decided to break off and take up the trail the next morning.

About 12 hours later we were back on the trail. As we suspected the buck had tried to pull a fast one, breaking out of the circle on the third loop, traveling over the diameter of the circle and out across a large overgrown field. There was no blood but the line was still easy for the dog to follow. Actually it was easier because by this time there was a scent line instead of a scent cloud. At the far edge of the field the land pitched down through hardwoods for several 100 yards. The wind was flowing up the hill into our faces. First Sabina's head came up and she pulled straight down the hill; next I saw a light gray carpet of deer hair spread out under the trees and finally I saw the deer... or three quarters of the deer. The coyotes had beaten us again, but not quite as badly this time. The young hunter was delighted with the rack and the remaining venison. Antlers add a delicate flavor to venison soup.

The coyotes do not always do as well at the expense of deer hunters. Usually we find the deer first; more than once we have come upon the deer just as the coyotes were breaking in. They seem to like to first eat the "salad" in the paunch, so if your timing is just right you can still save everything of value. Deprived of "their" kill the coyotes bark and chatter back in the brush as we drag the deer out. I have noticed that dachshunds don't act scared in this situation, but you don't see them pulling to get at the coyotes either. The dachshund is not a fool.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This trophy buck was found... but not at the end of blood trail

Kevin Armstrong shared this story with us. Thank you Kevin!

As strange as it gets!

At first light in the morning on 11-1-08 Karma and I embarked on the trail of this big Ontario County buck. We had tracked (and recovered a deer) for this hunter before. We knew him to be a serious trophy hunter. He had the lethal arrow and a detailed story of the hit. All evidence indicated a classic paunch hit; 3 inches too far back, mid body. The hunter knew immediately that he had a paunch hit. He knew the blood trail would be sparse, so he quietly backed out of the woods and called Karma and I for help. He and I agreed that the deer should in no way be pushed. We agreed to take up the trail first thing in the morning.

As is the norm with paunch shots the blood trail stopped after 100 yards or so. After 200 yards we came upon a large empty bed and a small puddle of blood. From the bed Karma continued on with undiminished enthusiasm.

The trail wove on and on and on through beach woods, through a thick logged over area, down a deep gully then gradually back up out of the gully, across a harvested corn field, then through a thicket. After 2 hours of trailing and well over a mile we were at the door yard of a rural home on the "next road over" from where we began. We were 2/3 of the way through a circle of about 1.5 miles in diameter. Without permission from the land owner, and without the knowledge of who to even ask for permission we abandoned the trail.

As I stood there telling the hunter that "something has pushed this deer". We noticed a tractor and manure spreader leaving the field on the other side of the home owner's door yard.

The hunter explained that a neighbor regularly ran coon dogs through that woods at night. We were sure something like that must have happened.

To be on the safe side we started Karma on the trail at the very start again. "Maybe she missed a turn..." Little Karma took us exactly the same long, serpentine route all over again. For the second time we halted the trail at the same dooryard. Now we spent a couple more hours doing a fruitless area search.

In mid afternoon, physically and emotionally drained we agreed to call off the search. I knew the hunter would comb that woods for a week, or for as long as it took. He had hunted this particular deer too long and too hard to give up.

When I came in from a tracking call this afternoon there was a message on my tape from the hunter. He had found the deer!

As it turned out he had not only canvassed the woods for the last 10 days exhausting all of his vacation and personal time but he had also canvassed the neighborhood. Word got out that he was looking for the lost buck. It seems one of the neighbors knew where it was.

Do you remember the tractor and manure spreader we had seen? Well, it turns out the farm hand who was spreading manure on the field where we had stopped the trail had found the buck, freshly killed, and half eaten by coyotes, laying at the edge of the field and dooryard; 50 yards from where we had stopped! On his way back to the barn he loaded the remains of the buck in his spreader and took it home as a conversation piece.

Word had gotten back to the hunter where the buck was. The hunter called on the farm hand. The hand willingly surrendered the antlers to their rightful owner.

Now if anyone has a better tracking story than that this season I want to hear it!

Kevin & Karma

Saturday, November 15, 2008

GPS and blood tracking - Andy and Arno's recovery in Maryland

Andy Bensing is President of United Blood Trackers and Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of Deer Search.

In his home state of Pennsylvania tracking wounded game with dogs is illegal. You can read more about it here. But Andy is so dedicated to the idea of ethical hunting that even though he is not able track in PA he drives to do so in Maryland and New York. His name is also on a tracking permit in New Jersey.

Andy is a pioneer in applying GPS technology in blood tracking. This is a description and map of his last track in Maryland.

The hunter had shot this buck at 8 AM in the rain and only was able to track him 225m to the point of loss. We got on the line 7 hours later and Arno found a bloodless wound bed with a little hair in it about 70 meters from the pol and then took the line across a short mowed orchard 400 meters to the dead deer. The buck had not been dead for very long when we found him. He was still quite warm and had not begun to stiffen up.

Andy Bensing with Arno and the buck they recovered in Maryland.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bill and Jake from Deer Search recover a wounded bear

Bill Siegrist and his wirehaired dachshund Jake, a tracking team from the Founding Chapter of Deer Search, found this black bear, which weighed 363 lbs. field dressed. The bear was recovered in Forestburgh, Sullivan County, NY on November 11 at 2:15pm at the end of 22 hour old blood line. We are very proud of this team as Jake (registered name Drake v Moosbach-Zuzelek) is out of our breeding; he is a son of Alfi and Vamba, and he is seven and a half years old.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Auggie's pictures

As promised we show some pictures of Auggie (FC Augden von Moosbach-Zuzelek ME, RN, VC, BHP-G) owned by Sherry Ruggieri. A week ago he won for the second time the Buckeye Invitational Trial. A big thank you to Shawn Nies for the pictures.

Women with their wirehaired dachshunds at the Buckeye Invitational: Sherry Ruggieri with Auggie (center), Shawn Nies with Gypsy (left) and Laurel Whistance-Smith with Lily (right).

The Award ceremony: Ann Deister is presenting Sherry and Auggie with the plaque and huge rosette for winning the Invitational.

A score table shows results of eight series of braces. Auggie won his brace six times, lost one brace and one time he was a bye dog. Two losses mean elimination from the field trial.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trophy bucks recovered by wirehaired dachshunds in NY and Texas

Kudos to Kevin Armstrong, Ron Betts and Carey Sutterfield for helping fellow hunters in the recovery of these beautiful trophy bucks. Carey drove 215 miles to track a wounded deer in Texas (he lives in Oklahoma). Coincidentally, Karma and Effi are half-sisters to Otto (as they were all sired by our Billy).

Kevin Armstrong, a Deer Search members wrote:
Yesterday Karma and Effi teamed upon this paunch shot 15 point trophy in Enfield, NY. The deer was still alive 21 hours after the hit and had to be dispatched. He had taken a bed less than 200 yards from the hit sight but had been bumped from the bed after 3 hours. He was left alone over night. The trail was begun at 8:00 AM. It went on for more than a mile before we caught up to him at 10:00 AM. A wonderful trophy for the hunter, the trackers, and the dogs.

Kevin Armstrong with Karma and Ron Betts with Effi

Carey Sutterfield, a member of the United Blood Trackers, wrote:

Last Friday I received a phone call from Cameron Mclain near Mclean, Texas. He had found my number on
the UBT website. He said he had shot a nice buck at 8am with a bow. Quartering away shot he thought was a little far back. Arrow was a complete passthrough. He was sure that one lung had been hit and they had been looking all day. They had good blood for about 30 yards and then nothing. This was around 2:30pm and I was just getting back to Oklahoma City. It was 215 miles to where this deer was shot, but the hunter sounded like a good guy and also mentioned it was his first deer with a bow. I was also the closest person they could find. I decided to make the trip and try to help this guy out. I told them to back out of the area and wait for me.

Otto and myself arrived at around 6pm. It was just getting good and dark. The hunter had mentioned that it was rough terrain. Well, it was pretty much the Grand Canyon! I told the hunter to stay behind us and look for blood if Otto got on the trail. It took 3 restarts as the deer was initially shot under a feeder and there were some deer hanging around.

To the south there was open terrain and to the north there were canyons. Of course, Otto got hot on the trail straight into the canyons. I am talking 100 feet rock cliffs and dry creek beds at the bottom. Sometimes Otto's lead would be pointing straight up in front of me. I think he might have dragged me up a few of the canyons. After about 200 yards, I started seeing blood and the hunter was confirming it from behind me. Just a big splotch about an inch in diameter every 20 or 30 yards. We then hit a big dry sandy creek bed and Otto overshot into it. It took him a couple of minutes to work it out, but once he found the trail it was obvious he was hot again. We found the buck about 900 yards from where he was shot.

Not that awful far, but this terrain was amazing. The buck was also amazing. The hunter was very grateful and I felt really proud of Otto as I was kind've worried about the dry terrain and the cliffs. It was amazing this deer went that far with one lung and the liver. He went up and down some cliffs I would have never imagined a healthy deer attempting.

Carey with Otto and the buck they recovered in Texas.

Good boy Otto!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A nice 8 point buck for Jeff and Chloe

Jeff Stahl from Wautoma, WI, sent this e-mail:

I was fortunate enough on November 9, 2008 at 8:00 a.m., to shoot a very nice 8 pointer. I was quite sure I had a very good hit and the deer didn’t go far. I returned home to pick up Chloe to assist me with the track. We arrived at 11:00 a.m. to the location where I had shot the deer and found my arrow which had gone completely through the deer. The beginning of the blood trail was slim with not much blood for the first 50 yards, although Chloe was eager to follow the small amount of blood there was, I was able to track the deer only by its hoof tracks as it was running down a muddy road. The buck took a hard left and entered the woods and Chloe never missed a step. The blood trail became more evident as we got farther into the woods and approx. 100 yards into the woods was my nice 8 point. My arrow had passed through the heart and the deer was able to go 200 yards. Although this wasn’t a difficult track, it was well needed as she had three previous tracks that were very difficult and no recoveries. A great reward after three unsuccessful tracks, I could tell she was excited with her find, as she chewed half the hide off before I could get it out of the woods!

Also yesterday we got a call from Carl Kimbler who owns Elsa, Chloe's sister. The litter Elsa and Chloe come from was born on February 28, 2008 so these pups are just 8.5 month old. Last summer and early fall Carl was very concerned as Elsa had no interest in tracking artificial blood lines. It was hard to hear about her siblings' quick progress as they were already tracking old and long lines while she had no desire to follow the deer blood at all. Carl was just about ready to give up and return the pup. Our advice was to hold on to her through the hunting season and expose her to "real" deer and real blood trails. I am happy to report that this strategy made all the difference in the world. While Elsa was cautious with her first deer, she turned into a monster on her second one. She tracks well and by now has found three deer. They were not difficult trails but at her age they should not be. Her prey drive is awaken now and Carl is very pleased with the progress she is making.
Remember that every pup is different and there is no "one training formula that fits all". Puppies develop at different rates, and even when they come from the same litter they have different strengths and weaknesses. As an owner and handler you need to get to know your puppy, and then adjust your training techniques according to the pup's individual needs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A four-mile-long blood trail

We got this message and pictures yesterday.

We want to start off by personally thanking Deer Search, Bob Yax and Gusto!

My brother, Brian, hit a nice buck on Nov. 7th around 7am. We left the deer and started tracking it at 10am. After seeing the blood, we didn't think the deer would be far. After 700 yards of steady blood without the deer laying down, we had second thoughts. We called Deer Search and Bob Yax responded to our voicemail. On a Friday morning, Bob and Gusto arrived within an hour, and we were hot on the blood trail. Gusto took the lead and we were just trying to keep up. Gusto tracked this deer through open fields, hills and wet swamps over 2 miles that day and we had to quit at dark. We told Bob we would let him know the conclusion.

Later that night my brother and I blood trailed this deer another 500 yards until 4am. We left him again. We returned on the blood trail 6 hours later at 11am. At 4pm on Nov. 8th we found this deer at the end of the blood trail! The shot never caught a vital, but was high in the back, behind the shoulder to pierce a main artery, causing him to bleed out. All-in-all this deer left a blood trail of over 4 miles and was recovered 33 hours after the shot!

We wish Bob and Gusto could have been there to see the deer at the end of trail, but we couldn't have done it without them and without Deer Search.

Thank you Bob, for all of your effort and determination!!!

Brian & Larry Brown

John and I are Gusto's breeders - he is a son of Asko and Sabina, and a litter mate to our Gilda, and he is 6.5 years old. We sold Gusto to a very nice couple near Boston. His owner planned to work towards the legalization of tracking dogs in Massachusetts, but life took him in a different direction. Gusto did not get to track and he has grown frustrated. It seems that so many people do not understand that dogs bred for work need to work. Finally last year when the family had to move and Gusto became a major inconvenience, we were contacted as the couple was looking for a new home for him. With help from Deer Search, Gusto found a new, this time, working home quickly. Now Gusto can fulfill his potential and do what he was bred for - blood tracking. A happy ending indeed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tonguing on the Line

© John Jeanneney, December 2005

John wrote this article three years ago, and the dogs mentioned here, Bob and Mickey, have passed since then. Sabina is gone too.

The amount of voice, or lack of it, that a tracking dog uses on the scent line is a matter of personal taste. Sometimes, as in the case of Michigan, it can even be a matter of what is legal. Prick up your ears as I explore the range and variety of loud talk that we hear coming from tracking dogs. And let’s not forget that dogs speak to us with heads and tails as well as with their voices.

Let’s begin with “Bob”, the most vocal and one of the better dogs that I’ve see work an old, cold line. Bob belongs to Randy Vick, who lives in Pavo down in South Georgia close to the Florida line. Bob is a cross of Treeing Walker and Beagle, stands about 18 inches at the shoulder, and is truly a fine-looking hound. Randy handles Bob in the thick privet undergrowth on a 30 foot tracking leash that he got from a tracking nut up North. This works fine because Bob is a steady, patient hound who works as a team with his handler.

When I stayed with Randy for a couple of days in January ’05 we went out on a call five hours after the buck had been wounded. There was very little blood to be seen, but when Randy took him to the line near the hit site Bob claimed it immediately with a booming bawl. The shot had probably broken the big bone below the shoulder blade; these deer can often go a long way. We did not catch up to this one.

Randy Vick with Bob

Far to the north in Granville, New York, on the Vermont border, Tim Nichols tracks wounded whitetails and black bears with a registered beagle called Mickey. This is a 15 inch hound that opens, Tim says, when the line is less than 20 minutes old under good scenting conditions. This means that the Mickey is silent as he starts the line at the hit site, but if the deer is still alive and begins moving out from the wound bed, then Tim has a nice hound voice to let him know what is going on and how far ahead the deer is moving.

Tim Nichols with Mickey

Mickey is the star of Deer Search Inc., a New York State organization with some members in other states. Last year he led the organization with 27 finds out of 73 calls and in this season, just past, he found 19out of 52. Mickey is half out of hare hound, large pack breeding, and as you might expect he steps right along. Tim, who runs road races and snowshoe races in the off season, steps right along with him. They are a great team, but in his early years Mickey was more hound than many people would want to handle.

From my perspective Mickey was not as “user-friendly” as a wirehaired dachshund at the beginning. But once he learned what it meant to stay on the right line, he was awesome. He found a wounded bear in a big hole covered with leaves, after a pack of Plott hounds had searched the area to come up with nothing. When an old lady lost her senile Lhasa Apso that wandered off, Tim showed Mickey the dog’s bedding and he tracked a half mile and under an overpass to find her 16 hours later.

But any great tracking dog needs a great handler, and Tim is just that.

When I think about tracking from the standpoint of a handler, I would enjoy some hound music to accompany the work. This takes me back to my time as a youthful coonhunter. But dedicated deer hunters, especially bowhunters, often view it differently. When they are hunting they want the woods to be quiet with no barking dogs to make deer spooky. Periods of deer movement, at dawn and dusk are a particularly sensitive time. Night work presents less of a problem.

The State of Michigan actually has a line in their tracking regulations that reads: A dog the barks while tracking the deer shall not be used on public lands. Vocal hounds like Bob and Mickey would have their problems in Michigan.

You can expect most tracking dogs, such as Labs, the continental pointing breeds and dachshunds to be silent when tracking. Dachshunds will whine and bark when their noses tell them that the wounded deer has moved out right ahead of them. Even if the handler didn’t hear or see the deer, this is a signal that he better check for a wound bed and evaluate what he sees in it.

A dachshund will open on fresh healthy deer lines until he learns that a healthy deer is not of interest to his handler and tracking partner. The dog has to be smart enough and responsive enough to learn this and of course some never learn.

You may prefer a hound that voices on the line, but little is lost in communication if the dog works silently. If you are working the dog on a leash, body language tells you everything you need to know. The tempo of the tail wagging, the ears, the head carriage and the arch of the back all let you know what the dog is sensing. Reading the dog becomes intuitive, and you don’t even have to think about it consciously. You just know whether the dog is searching or has the line. You know when the dog is returning to the point of loss, and when it has picked the check and has things moving once more.

Our Sabina was rather tight-mouthed but she would open when the trail was hot. The picture was taken when John and I were tracking wounded bear in the Catskills. The cover was very thick and the blood trail sparse. All of sudden Sabina opened and we knew that we jumped the bear and it was moving ahead of us. The bear went through this swamp as on the other side we found a drop of blood. We found it very useful to know that the bear was really close.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Buckeye Invitational Trial Winner

FC Augden von Moosbach-Zuzelek "Auggie"
Second year in a row

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Sherry Ruggieri and her Auggie (FC Augden von Moosbach-Zuzelek) who today won the 5th Buckeye Dachshund Club Invitational Trial held in Dundee, Ohio. Auggie was also the Winner of the trial last year. It is an amazing achievement!

The format of this trial is different from a "regular" AKC trial. Twenty best field trial dachshunds from a previous year are invited to compete in this annual event. They are braced for the 1st and 2nd series. Each brace is judged by two judges who determine which dog loses and which one wins a given brace. After the 2nd series, dogs with two losses are eliminated from the further competition, and remaining dogs get braced again. This process goes on until in the end there is only one brace and the dog winning that brace gets the title of Winner of the Buckeye Dachshund Club Invitational Trial.

The four judges were: William Dyer, Mary Powell, Robert Schwalbe and Scott Woodall.

In 2006 Larry Gohlke's Lolly (FC Ulrika von Moosbach-Zuzelek) won the trial, and the first Invitational, in 2004, was won by Auggie's sire FC Alfi von der Hardt-Hoehe. Auggie's dam, FC Elli v Moosbach-Zuzelek was invited this year too as she was ranked number 3 in the country, but she had to stay home due to her severe false pregnancy and my bad cold.

We'll post pictures of Auggie and Sherry when they become available.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Little dogs with big noses

Kevin Armstrong's Karma and her sire Billy had a chance to use their noses in pursuit of wounded deer again.

Kevin writes: "It was 70F, sunny and dry today when my neighbor (and cousin) stopped by to tell me that at 7:00 AM he had hit a buck too far back. He only had about 50 yards of blood trail. Thinking he might have a liver hit Karma and I took up the 7.5 hour old trail in my tee shirt. The little 8 pointer made 6 hard turns on his 350 yard trail. The thick cover, hard turns, and scent from other deer in the area combined with the hot dry weather added difficulty to our tracking mission. On the third start Karma picked up a particularly sharp turn and raced the last 100 yards to her prize. Gooood girl Karma! This is Karma's 4th recovery so far this season."

In the last few days Billy and John recovered two more deer.

Above: This deer ‘s hind leg was broken, but Billy and his handler caught up with it in less than a mile. Lucky! The picture shows the hunter with his deer; Billy is tied to a tree.

The sixth recovery for John and Billy. This is a hard working team. Yesterday they were out tracking all day long. They could not catch up with the deer they tracked, and the conclusion was reached that the deer is going to be OK.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Versatile Tracking Dogs

© July 2007 John Jeanneney

There are a number of breeds, particularly the scent hound breeds, which were never specifically developed for tracking wounded game, but which produce individuals that can do an excellent job. Examples within this broad category include beagles, coon hounds and Labs.

There are other breeds bred specifically for tracking wounded big game. The best known breeds in this specialized group are German: the Hanoverian Bloodhound and the Bavarian Mountain Bloodhound. There are a few Bavarians doing very impressive in the USA right now, and there are a number of younger Bavarians in training.

However, this article deals with a third category of dogs, which are described in their official breed descriptions as “versatile” with blood tracking being one of their capabilities. Currently in North America it is easier to buy one of these so called versatile dogs as a tracking prospect, but there are both advantages and pitfalls in following this route.

First, you have a choice of many versatile pointing breeds of “Continental” origins; the best known of these are the Kurzhaar and the Drahthaar that have been Americanized here as the German Shorthaired Pointer and the German Wirehaired Pointer. Others are the Wachtelhund, which resembles a big, long-legged spaniel, the large and small Munsterlanders, also in the spaniel family, and then of course the Dachshund, especially the wirehaired coat variety, and the German Jagdterrier. This list is already confusingly complex, and there are many other breeds that might well be added to the list of dogs that are supposedly bred to do blood tracking as well as other things.

Versatility is a breed ideal, but in reality it is rare that a “versatile” dog excels in all of the categories of performance. It is even rarer for such versatile dogs to transmit all of these working abilities to their offspring in equal measure. For example in the versatile pointing breeds the majority of dogs tend to be too big-running, high-headed and birdy to be ideal blood trackers. It does not come easily for them to get their heads down to work an old, cold ground track. Generally close-working grouse and woodcock type dogs are more likely blood tracking candidates than big-running quail dogs.

Another example is the dachshund. As bred in Europe he is supposed to go underground to bay or drive out foxes and occasionally a badger. The same dog is supposed to work the old scent line of a wounded deer or boar. The underground work, on one hand, requires a great deal of fire and aggressiveness. The tracking work requires calm, steady patience. You can see that it is difficult to breed both qualities, at the highest level, into the same dog. Aggressiveness and patience support one another only up to a certain point; then one trait begins to block the other.

The ideal of versatility can be a trap for the purchaser of a tracking dog. Many breeders will assure him that their dogs can do anything in their breed’s official repertoire. “That’s what they were bred for.” This may be an expression of honest ignorance of the breeder’s part, since he often lacks serious experience with all the types of work that the dog is supposed to do. Of course it is possible to purchase a versatile breed puppy that fulfills all of your dreams when he matures; I have seen only a few such dogs in my lifetime. Most of the time, however, he will have superior gifts for just one or two types of work, and will be just “fairly good” for other things. Just “fairly good” in tracking ability, for example, may not be good enough if you are really serious about tracking.

When you are talking to a breeder of versatile dogs listen to everything he has to say, but listen most to what he has to say about how his own dogs work in the field. If the breeder does mostly bird work, or mostly underground work, and this is most important to him, then he has probably selected for these traits in the dogs he breeds.

If you are seeking to buy a “versatile” dog, chances are that it will be of German origin. The Germans have always been interested in the “do everything dog”. You will find that in the German versatile dog tradition working tests are taken very seriously. Consistently high hunting test scores mean as much as field trial wins in our own American tradition. To the Germans, and to other Europeans, the test scores validate the versatile qualities of the dog that earns them.

These test scores are certainly useful, but they can also mislead people, who seek to evaluate breeding stock on paper. Hunting test scores should be studied closely but with some healthy skepticism. Skilled training for the tests, and handling in these tests, can make a dog appear strong and well-rounded in all types of work. Actually the dog may not be all that good when it comes to doing the real thing in a natural hunting situation. This is particularly true when it comes to blood tracking tests.

There is no way that I would generalize about all blood tracking tests. Some are very realistically designed and rigorously judged. Unfortunately some tests are dumbed down to make the rank and file dog owner happy. Buyers beware! Test scores can be very useful, but they are not a solid gold guarantee that a dog, or his ancestors, have useful natural abilities for blood tracking. If you could see the dog’s actual work as he got these scores, you would be so much wiser.

Many versatile dog owners in Europe, and even some handlers here in the United States, make passing tests the most important part of their sport. On both sides of the Atlantic I have met dog owners proud of their dog’s blood tracking scores. Well, how many real wounded deer have you tracked?, I’ve asked. Oh, a couple over the years, they reply. I don’t have much time for that.
With many versatile dog owners, who take tests, these become an end in themselves. Testing becomes a social and competitive sport, and the link to actual hunting does not seem very important. Without reality checks on natural work, a dog trained to follow from one regularly laid blood drop to the next, may have a fine record of test scores yet never have what it takes for the real thing in terms of patience, initiative and intelligence.

I am not condemning the versatile category of dogs. I raise and train Dachshunds for tracking myself. Personally, I think that it is a good thing that in North America the hunting Dachshunds are segregating into two specialized types. If you purchase a standard sized, European-type Dachshund, bred for hunting, you pretty much know that the breeding emphasis in this country has been for tracking. The American red fox is much smaller than his European counterpart, and it can seldom be worked underground by a dog over 16 pounds. Most other American ground game is also small. The serious underground folks, like Teddy Moritz, use a mini dachshund.

The Drahthaars and Kurzhaars are the original versions of what became known as the German Wirehaired and Shorthaired Pointers that are registered by AKC or NAVHDA. In contrast to these American dog registries, extensions of German breed organizations like VDD and DKV have made a greater effort to maintain the entire working repertoire from Germany. However, the majority of American-based members have not shown a great deal of interest in going beyond the blood tracking tests to actually finding wounded deer. There are very important exceptions. For example Marty Vlach in Nebraska has an excellent tracking Drahthaar and takes a lot of deer calls. Forrest Moore in western Georgia is an all round judge who actually tracks many wounded deer. Forrest gets all over the country and he is probably the best source of advice on where to find a young Drahthaar tracking prospect.



As a whole Wachtelhund breeders in the Midwest write much more about upland bird hunting and duck retrieving than about blood tracking. The Wachtelhunds can be very good big game trackers, but ask the breeder lots of questions. Is he breeding dogs that he actually uses successfully to find wounded deer in situations with little or no blood?

Wachtelhund at the UBT Trackfest 2008

In Denmark some trackers use a strain of Wachtelhunds bred with a primary emphasis on finding wounded game. My Danish tracker friend assures that me they are very good. Of course these dogs also do other phases of the breed’s work, but the breeders select first for tracking ability.

If you are looking for a “versatile” tracking dog, search carefully to find the breeding emphasis you are looking for.

Tracking wounded bear with Lisa

Yesterday we reported about the bear that Pete Martin found with his wirehaired dachshund Lisa. Today we can show you some pictures. This male bear was recovered on October 24, and it weighed in at 227 lbs. The bear was found on West Point Military property, in the afternoon. The same day, in the morning, Lisa found a nice 4 point buck. The buck was found in the town of Cornwall for Tim McCarty. Both hunters are members of the West Point Fire Department.

Way to go Pete and Lisa!

Pete Martin with Lisa and the bear they found for Keith Thomas

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thanks from hunters for Deer Search tracking services

Yesterday we received a very nice note from Ken Clark:

Hello John,
My name is Ken Clark, I called you Sunday evening inquiry about someone to track a deer for me. You put me in contact with Mario Montana. He is a warm and friendly young man. He and his dog Cheyene came over Monday morning. And after a short tracking job we were able to recover my deer.

I want to thank you and your organization and especially Mario for taking his time to come over and help me recover my deer. I will send a picture of Mario and another of myself with deer.

I also will be sending you a donation for your fine organization.
Thank you again,
Ken Clark

Above - Mario Montana with the deer his wirehaired dachshund Cheyenne found for Ken Clark (pic below)

Cheyenne's registered name is Lea von Moosbach-Zuzelek and now she is 3.5 years old. Her sire is our Billy and her dam is FC Gela von Rauhenstein. Lea has done very well tracking for hunters in the area of Sidney, NY. Coincidentally, Lisa, Cheyenne's sister, was successful as well in helping another hunter who signed the Deer Search's guestbook:

Thanks to Pete Martin and his dog Lisa who recovered a bear I shot in archery season. I can't thank you all enough for what you do!!!!

Deer Search is a volunteer organization, and trackers do not charge for their services. They can accept donations which go to Deer Search's treasury. At the end of tracking season trackers are reimbursed for the mileage they traveled to assist hunters.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A busy season for two Deer Search handlers - Karma and Effi's two recoveries

Kevin Armstrong and Ron Betts are members of the Finger Lakes Chapter of Deer Search. They both are tracking with wirehaired dachshunds, Karma and Effi, who in fact are sisters. Karma is 3.5 years old now and Effi is just 8 months, and they are out of Billy and Gilda. These are their last two recoveries:

Kevin wrote: Karma's little sister Effi Betts joined her to recover this paunch shot doe. The deer traveled from 500 to 700 yards without taking a bed. This is #2 for the season for both Kevin & Karma (left) and Ron and Effi (right).

According to Kevin: Karma & Effi teamed up to make their 3ed recovery this season with this nice 9 pointer in Dundee, NY on Saturday night. The buck was hit in the hind quarter with an angle into the paunch. The trail was short and easy. Karma raced down the trail, swan a 15 yard wide creek and found the prize on the opposite bank. Effi is learning what her world is all about. She pursues her work with great enthusiasm. Good Girls!

The information about contacting Deer Search for tracking services in New York is listed here.