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Friday, January 30, 2009

Charlette Curtis and Jenna from Deer Search - part 2

I asked Charlette Curtis to tell me how she got involved in tracking. Her bio is followed by a report from one of the calls she took in 2008. Thank you Charlette!

I grew up in Central NY near Suny Morrisville College. The environment in this area in the seventies held many small farms that were still being worked by families. The area was abound with many different species of animals and this still holds true today. I cannot even remember when I started enjoying hunting and tracking, but I can say that my brother Raymond Curtis was my mentor.

To start, Ray had twin boys that were my age. We were his helpers so to say. We carried all the carcasses out of the woods while checking his trap lines, and I will always cherish those moments. It would be nothing to take out over 10 to 12 animals a day. I will never forget the day Dean, one of the Twins, found a worm on himself from one of the animals, and he freaked out because it was so big. It was so funny, and we laughed for days.

Trapping was in high demand in this era and pelts brought very good money. Ray had no problem getting people from the city to buy the carcasses for $5.00 each. Of course, the health department would have had a cow over the whole ordeal. All I can say is, “NOTHING” had gone to waste.

In 2000 my brother was killed in the line of duty as a correctional officer. It was the most devastating day of my life. In his memory I became a Hunter Education Instructor in Western NY. I also joined different organizations along the way - NRA, SCOPE, local hunting clubs, Women in the Outdoors, and the local Wildlife Federation in Wyoming County along with Deer Search. I did all this to help further my knowledge not only of the environment, but of conservation as a whole.

Three years ago, a fellow Hunter Education Instructor introduced me to tracking wounded big game. I had no knowledge of tracking or how to train a dog. The first year I only watched and learned not only from the handlers but the dogs as well. I was asking myself, “What did the dog miss while tracking, what would have made it better”. I took common knowledge of what a coyote would do if it was tracking, and used the interdigital scent of the deer along with other scents to simulate a normal wounded deer and the patterns it may produce within 500 yards.

There are some patterns that I have come to understand while tracking a wounded deer. First, depending on the age of the buck they react differently. Such as a yearling buck normally will get out of the area and take the path of least resistance before bedding down and often they bed down quickly. A doe will often produce the same pattern. But, remember she may have fawns. A mother’s instinct takes over to protect her young so they may travel much further.

A buck that is two and a half years old or older will bed down quicker, within 100 to 200 yards from the hit site. Within the first 100 yards this deer will often check the area by stopping, listening for any danger and waiting to see if anything is in pursuit. The mature buck does not put any more effort that it has to before it disappears. It does not go far, and it watches. This changes everything. It is close and it will hear and see the hunter's movement (such as the slightest sound when a hunter sits down or calls a friend). “Hunters beware”. I have seen this pattern often. And the biggest mistake that many bowhunters make is that they start to track the buck within the first hour to an hour and a half. My golden rule is to wait over three hours before leaving your stand or looking for any blood. “Be patient”. If you shoot a buck in the late afternoon you can still wait after dark before searching for it as long as you’re following DEC rules.

Charlette with her miniature dachshund Jenna, the buck they recovered and Andy Addes (hunter).

Hunter’s Name: Andy Addesa
Location: Curriers/ Java, New York
Deer type: 7 point

Summary: My phone conversation with the hunter started out with many doubts in my mind. He had only one spot of blood the size of a dime, ten to twenty feet from the hit site. And he attempted to track it, but did not have much to go on. He thought, that he may have hit it in the gut, but was unsure. I was a little skeptical of trying but I knew that Jenna would do her best. I set a time to meet with the hunter the very next morning. It had only been four hours since the hunter gave up. I wanted to give the deer some time in case it was still alive.

When I arrived at the hit sight, I was even more skeptical due to the range the hunter stated that he had taken for the shot. I told the hunter to get in the tree and guide me and Jenna in the direction were he believed the deer had gone before it disappeared. I had his brother follow behind me, but just before we got out of sight; I waited for them all to catch up.

Jenna at that point started to pull and almost run to get to her destination. I let her work this way for over 1,500 yards. When we had gotten to the top of a ridge, I did not say anything but I thought that I could smell the deer. Jenna then slowed her pace and worked her way along the edge for about 60 to 75 yards. She then worked her way down to what appeared to be a damp hallow with some brush and crab apple trees that were growing along a small creek. At this time, Jenna appeared to be working harder to find her deer. She backtracked over and over along the trail. She acted almost like she had doubted herself. I then called off the sortie and informed the hunter that I would like to start over.

I asked hunter's brother to carry Jenna due to the distance that we all had traveled. I wanted to give Jenna a little break. After walking about 20 feet, to my surprise she started whining and wiggling really badly in his arms, so badly he almost dropped her twice. I could not believe she was acting this way. She had never done this before. The biggest surprise of the day was when we had stopped and I was tending to Jenna. The hunter spotted his deer 25-30 yards away. I should have believed in her. She then ran to her prize along with everyone else.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When you are a dog breeder...

When you are a dog breeder, sometimes you find yourself in distant places at the time that is not of your own choosing.

Keena came in heat, and since our plan was to breed her to Theo, a French teckel residing in Canada, John and Keena spent yesterday travelling to Mont-Carmel in Quebec. It took them at least 10 hours to get there. The breeding went smoothly, and it will be repeated tonight. In the meantime John spent some time with Theo snowshoeing in the woods.

Some may ask why to go into this trouble while at home we have 5 intact males. Two of them (Alfi and Asko) are Keena's grand-sires, one is her sire (Billy) and the other two (Joeri and Tommy) will have their chance in the future. The fact is that the gene pool of blood tracking dachshunds out of European bloodlines is very small, and every opportunity to expand it should be taken seriously. We are planning to keep a female puppy from this breeding for ourselves and if everything goes well, incorporate her in our breeding program. It does not mean that every imported dachshund should be used for breeding. The most important parts of the breeding process are evaluation and selection. Theo impressed us very much when we had a chance to work with him last summer. And he proved to be a talented natural tracker. Not all dachshunds are, even when they are out of hunting bloodlines. Some dachshunds that we imported failed as trackers and had to be placed as pets.

Theo is a responsive dog that handles well off-leash in the woods.

Many thanks to Alain and Marjolaine Ridel for making Theo available for breeding and for their hospitality!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blood Tracking in New Jersey

We received this story from Doran in New Jersey:
I'd like to share a story about tracking in NJ. As I got more serious about getting a tracking dog, I went on the United Blood Trackers web site. I went on the link to NJ to see what was going on in my state. I saw that a man named Rich Wolven was legally tracking in NJ under a research permit in 3 counties. I emailed Rich in an attempt to talk to him about his dog and his tracking experiences.

We never did get to talk in person until the evening of Dec 26 08. I was hunting in Sommerset county and hit a nice buck with the bow. The shot was right at quitting time and the woods I'm hunting in are not big; they are surrounded by houses and busy roads. I found blood after about 10yds but didn't find the arrow. There was a sift of snow, and the swamp the deer ran through was partially iced over. I could not determine where the hit was by the way the blood was on the snow and ice water in the swamp. I tracked about 220 yds and started to run out of woods. I didn't want to push the deer totally out of the woods I was hunting in. I marked the last blood with my flashlight and decided to come back in the morning. As I was leaving the woods, I thought about Rich. I gave him a call and as luck would have it, he was home. We made arrangements to meet in the morning and see if we could track the deer.

In the morning I filled out the paper work that the permit required and we began. It had gotten warmer over night and rained. Most of the snow and ice in the shallow swamp was gone. We started at the hit site, and Rich found the arrow. It was a pass through and the buck carried about 15 yds after the hit. The arrow had gut on it and by the amount of blood I had tracked last night, I knew the deer was dead. I hadn't flagged the entire blood trail, and the rain erased the most of the blood sign. The track in the snow had melted. Rich's dog is young and it was hard to tell if the dog was on the track without a flag line. I know these woods well, but I had some difficulty finding my flashlight. Things look different in the dark. I think Rich was starting to doubt me. I finally found the light and there was good blood sign there. Rich started the dog and the dog started to alert with her head high. Rich looked over and said "there's your deer". The 8 pt buck had gone about 40 yds past the light and died. We let the dog work and watched her find the deer. That was the morning of Dec 27 2008 my 49 th birthday.That was about the best present I could get. I got the buck and made two new friends that day. Rich took pictures.


BTW, if you wonder what kind of tracking dog Richard Wolven has, it is Basset Fauve De Bretagne. This breed is very popular in France, and this is where Richard got his Camilia. We got to see her last year at Trackfest 2008, and were very impressed.

For the record - NJDEP Permit Number 106 Effective September 13, 2008-February 21, 2009 This permit authorizes the use of tracking dogs to recover un-retrieved deer during the deer hunting seasons for the purpose of determining the efficacy of tracking dogs. Permitted Dog Handlers: Richard Wolven, John Hoinowski, Elle Hoinowski, John Gallagan, Andy Bensing. Only the above listed Permit holders are authorized to track deer in the state of New Jersey. Under this permit the above listed trackers are authorized to track lost deer in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris Counties only. Permit holders will legally track any lost deer, any season/weapon for any hunter. Please visit this website for contact information:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Roy Hindes III, his tracking dogs and trophy bucks

In Texas tracking wounded deer with dogs has different roots than in other parts of country. Most of the dogs that began to be used were all-purpose curdogs and cowdogs. The methods that were used to trail up cattle and hogs hiding in the mesquite or the canebreaks, could be applied to wounded deer as well. A cowdog could track and bay up a wounded buck with the same instincts and intelligence that made him a good cowdog. Catahoulas, black mouth curs and Lacy curs are involved in this kind of work today.

It was the Hindes family of Charlotte in South Texas who perfected the art of using cowdogs. Today Roy Hindes III and his son Cuatro work their famous “blue dogs” across the “Golden Triangle” of trophy buck country stretching from San Antonio down to the Mexican border. The big-racked bucks of Quality Deer Management on the South Texas ranches are highly valued, both in dollars and in respect and appreciation. Not many of these bucks are wasted as coyote feed. Roy's dogs are worked off leash.

John asked Roy in one of his e-mails: "I'm curious about one thing. In the attached photo I see that you are still using the electronic tracking collar. Why do you prefer this over the new Garmin GPS Astro for dogs, which has a more compact receiver and is much easier to use?"

Roy's reply was : "I also have a Garmin Astro GPS system. But the Garmin system only reaches about .7 of a mile. This is just not far enough. Losing contact with my dogs is a scary scenario, especially when you are 100 miles from home, and on strange country. If that’s all I used I would lose contact with my dogs every week. Many wounded deer run several miles when found by a tracking dog, and I must maintain contact with the dogs at all times.

We sometimes use the Garmin system. But we only use it along with the Quicktrack system for a backup. My tracking system must be 100% reliable. The Quicktrack system, which I have used for over 10 years, is less complicated, reaches 4 or 5 miles anytime, and has never failed me-not even once. "

This deer (above) was shot in the top of the back. Shep trailed him 3 or 4 hundred yards and bayed him by himself till Roy slipped up there and shot him. Roy says: "Top of the back shots are typically real hard to catch. If this deer had ever run from me or the dog I'm sure we wouldn't have caught him. Shep will be 2 years old in March."

Take a look at what one antler of a South Texas 12 point did to old Gus. He had five punctures down one side and a big hernia requiring two surgeries over a two week period. His vet bill for all of this has totaled over $1100. He is out of service as a wounded deer dog for the rest of the season, but he should recover fully. Using a leashed dog sometimes has it's advantages!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Charlette Curtis and her miniature dachshund - a great tracking team

Charlette Curtis is a member of Deer Search of Western New York. This was her second tracking season with her young longhaired miniature dachshund Jenna. This tracking team recovered seven deer, and Charlette documented her recoveries very well. She is going to share them with us so let's let Charlette tell her story in her won words. Her 2008 report will come in several installments.

A little history of Jenna and me.
To start, I had never trained a dog before in terms of doing anything other than your basic training. Jenna was given to me by my sister (Tina) and we had a magical first night together. I was informed by my sister that Jenna was very outgoing and the runt of the litter. Our first night started out kind slow, at first she would not leave her baby blanket that she used to cuddle with her mom and dad. With a little encouragement she was well on her way to becoming my best friend.

At the age of twelve weeks I started Jenna like most pups with only the blood dripped on the ground for short distances of twenty to thirty feet. When I placed the blood, I made sure that the wind and the lines were in different directions so that she would get an understanding that the scent lines were not always the same and to make sure the wind did not always carry the scent directly to her.

We trained often right from the start, and I increased the length of the lines along with changing the terrain so that it was never the same. Around eighteen weeks, I introduced the interdigital and periodically tarsal scents.

First of all, I do believe Jenna is the first within our organization that was trained with the interdigital scent of a deer. I mixed the three scents along the lines so that it would mock a deer that was bleeding while walking but not bleeding all the time.

I did not use the tarsal gland scent all the, time due to buck's and doe's glands not smelling the same. (What I learned is that the doe's scent must smell different and Jenny has to work little harder, when the doe has gone into a walking mode while wounded, plus Jenna has to pick out that particular deer that may have her fawns following her).

It is a wonderful feeling when your dog teaches you what is happening along a trail. Jenna has taught me that the trail tells a story of its own. 1 purchased the interdigital scent front a company that is located in Western NY by the name of Kishel's. It may be purchased separately or as a kit for a mock scrape that they put together.

Charlette Curtis’ Deer Search Recoveries 2008

Hunter's Name: Pete Batt
Location: Iroquois National Wildlife RAU-C, Alabama Swamp - NY Deer type: 12 point Non Typical

Summary: On the phone hunter informed me that he had a large buck wounded with dark red blood for a blood trail and that he had waited over night before tracking. Mike Faulkner, a new handler that was getting certified worked Jenna. It was a little comical at first due to very deep water, well over the knees. I was even told that I could stay behind if I chose not to get wet. I then laughed and stated, "I would not stay behind for the life of me". After swashing through the water we finally got to dry land only to pursue the deer's blood trail back in again. We could not work the dog due to the deep water so we carried her once again. The blood trail was very good and was easy to follow on the reeds that were in our path. Land was finally in site within 40 yards. It was a good thing that the hunter decided to wait over night. I do believe that had he pursued the deer within 6 to 8 hours it would have been gone from his hunting area.

There were numerous wound beds found, approximately six in all. They were in a 30 to 40 yard area and within 10 to 15 feet from one another. Jenna worked the area for a little while. This indicated that the deer had been in the location for a while before it left. She then started towards the reeds again, we all stated, "Oh God!! Here we go again". But, much to our surprise the deer was just inside the brush. When Jenna first found the deer she only smelled its hooves then looked up to search for me. When she spotted me about 20 feet away, she then wagged her tail, looked back at the deer and gave a little growl.

Pete Batt, proud hunter with handler Mike Faulkner

Jenna looking at the deer that she had just recovered

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tim Nicols and his Bavarian Mountain Hound help hunters in Vermont and NY

Tim Nichols who lives in Granville, NY, on the border with Vermont, has been a member of Deer Search for many years. He was instrumental in in the legalization of blood tracking dogs in Vermont in 1996 and back then he was presented with this Citation from Deer Search:

On January 24, 1996 the Governor of the State of Vermont signed into law a bill authorizing the licensed use of leashed tracking dogs to find wounded deer and bear. The indispensable man who made this happen was TIM NICHOLS.

Tim began with a scientific collector’s license and demonstrated what could be done in the field with a good dog by finding over ten deer and a bear. At the same time he made numerous presentations of the Deer Search idea to sportsmen’s groups and Vermont legislators. He did not get discouraged when a new Fish and Wildlife commissioner was unsympathetic to the idea of leashed tracking dogs and canceled his permit. Tim Nichols never gave up; thanks to his steady and patient persuasion the Deer Search Bill of Vermont was passed.

Deer Search congratulates TIM NICHOLS for his extraordinary accomplishment.

Roger Humeston Jr.
Deer Search President
February 24, 1996

Tim has turned out to be a blood tracking addict and for the last nine consectuive years has been a receipient of the Deer Search Schlechtingen Award for the most calls taken in the organization. These days Tim tracks with Bruno, a Bavarian Mountain Hound, which was imported from Poland. Bruno was just two years old on Christmas Day. These are the pictures of some of their finds in 2008.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A nice recovery for Will and Roscoe from Alabama

Hey guys,
I just want to thank you John for the advice you gave me and give you and Jolanta an update. We tracked the deer we spoke about and Roscoe just nailed it. It turned out the deer was hit towards the back of the ribcage quartering to, one lung/ liver/ paunchish. The trail was around 200 yards and we found the deer within 10 minutes. It was great! I want to thank you guys again for such a great pup. I've never had more fun and he's such a good all around dog to boot. I included a picture of Roscoe from this weekend as well, he's really growing up.

Roscoe, whose registered name is Frodo von Moosbach-Zuzelek, is out of Henri Anons and our Emma. He is owned by Will Sims from Alabama.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blood tracking with Drahthaars in Nebraska

This is a 2008 blood tracking report, which we received from Marty and Mikki Vlach, who track in Nebraska with two Drahthaars, Charlie and Roxy.

The 2008 tracking season has come to an end. Me and the dogs did 18 tracks recovering 12 deer. Charlie, 10 yr old drahthaar went on 6 tracks and recovered 5 deer. I found out later that the sixth deer was found in the river 3 miles downstream. Charlie took me to the water, we worked the banks ½ mile up and down river but came up with nothing. The buck stayed in the river.

Marty and Charlie

Roxy, Mikki’s young female draht, 19 months old at the start of the season, did 12 tracks, 2 of these were leg hits and determined that they were unfindable. I am not sure of 1 brisket hit, if this deer was findable or not. Wasn’t sure of the angle of entry. Another call was a high back hit and we did not recover that deer.

Above - Roxy's first track of the season (14 hr old)

Training session with Charlie and Roxy

One call that stands out – in October we had more rain than normal. A hunter calls around 11 am. He tells me that he had hit 2 bucks with a bow from the same tree about 2 minutes apart early that morning. I arrive at 12:15 pm. It’s been raining since the night before. He tells me that the first deer was quartering away and he hit it behind the elbow. The second deer he hit broadside in the hind quarter. First deer went north across a river channel and got on an island. Second deer went south and he could only visualize it for about 15 feet before it disappeared into thick cedars.

It is still raining heavily. I start Roxy. She takes the track to the river, crosses the 80 yd wide channel, knee deep. The hunter tells me that I need to be farther downstream. The dog goes up the bank pulling hard, stops, airscents, takes me 90 yds through the willows and there is the buck, dead. We go back to the start. The next starts in the nearly the same place. Roxy was confused and wanted to track the first deer. So I guided her south, in the direction the hunter said it went, no blood to assure me.

You know how it is with a young dog, it’s hard to have faith in them. She would put her nose down for a while, then airscent. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, then she starts pulling like a truck. I follow, she is on a flock of turkeys. Time to restart. She takes a different line, same thing, head up – head down, mostly air scenting. Then the light comes on – she puts her nose down. We weave throught the cedars 200 yds and there is the deer, hit in the hip – but dead. Not bad for a young dog on a track after 5 hrs in heavy rain, 20 mph wind.

Roxy's gut shot deer 18hr old track

I’d like to thank my wife, Mikki for starting this dog on bloodtracking at an early age. She has done most of the real work. Mikki’s not that fond of going out in the woods after dark, she fights the light and brush. You ought to hear her cuss!

Mikki trained Roxy for VJP and HZP and scored well. I’m proud of her. Drahthaars have a lot on their plate by the time they are 2 years old. Pointing, land and water searches and retrieves, fur and feather drags, rabbit tracks. And we go and throw blood tracking into the mix as well. I guess we can say that the pup won’t get bored doing the same thing over and over. I won’t say these dogs are for everyone. It’s nice to hunt duck until noon then upland hunt for a few hours then track in the evening if needed – all with the same dog. I have a lot to learn about reading Roxy on a track. She is different than Charlie.

Charlie is now 10 ½ and after 2 ACL tears he struggles in heavy cover. I save him for the tracks that I think will be really tough. He has the desire he needs to find the deer, but he suffers the next day – thank God for the arthritis meds that help him through it.

BTW – I will be breeding Roxy this spring. She will be bred to a male that is out of Charlie’s sister. I expect to have pups on the ground around June. I am taking reservations on pups and have 3 females spoken for but I have 1 more female and 4 males to reserve. I think these pups have the potential to be great all around drahthaars, with a good chance of being excellent trackers. Both Roxy and the stud dog, Blucher vom Mauntinhome, have calm, even temperaments. Blucher has not been used for tracking but he did pass his VGP (utility test) in which blood tracking is a requirement.

The breeding can be seen at It is the breeding at the bottom of the page. The page has not been updated to reflect this year's tracking record and all of the pictures of Roxy are from last season, before she was a year old.

Marty and Mikki Vlach

Footnote added by Mikki –
I think Marty will have more faith in Roxy when Charlie isn’t around as a backup. He is just being stubborn and forgets that it took he and Charlie a few seasons to build the bond that they now have when it comes to tracking.

Roxy is showing a lot of promise. She is young, and sometimes gets distracted. She has a way of pausing on track, lifting her head, and just staring, then she puts her nose down and proceeds. I try to tell Marty that she is collecting her thoughts, or maybe processing what she is smelling.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Emma's puppies have arrived

Yesterday, our Emma whelped a litter of four puppies - 2 females and 2 males. The pups range in weight from 9.2 to 11.4 oz and doing really well. They are all spoken for. The sire of this AKC litter is Joeri vom Nonnenschlag imported from Germany. You can read more about Emma's delivery here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dita's great recovery

I got this e-mail from Steve Kremp who owns Dita, a three-year-old daughter of Alfi and Elli.

Hi Jolanta,
I wanted to pass along a great success story for Dita. A friend of mine was in from Massachusetts to bowhunt the bountiful deer herd that we have in the suburbs. We put him in a stand at a retirement village that asked for help with their deer overpopulation problem. He shot five does in the last fifteen minutes of shooting light. Four were recovered quickly, but after almost two hours of searching, he and another friend were unable to make any progress on the fifth.

He thought he made a good hit, but it was high, and he was unsure about an exit. Dita and I returned with them at first light. With five different trails, Dita was quite excited, and followed one to a ditch where one of the others had dropped. My friend suspected that the unrecovered deer traveled beyond the ditch, and Dita showed great interest in that direction, beyond the last blood from the first deer. She led us, quite deliberately, down to a stream, and around a fence. Despite our belief that the deer would be found in the thicket along the stream bank, Dita checked hard to the left, and led me closer to the road, and the neighboring backyards. My friend continued to look in the thicket, but Dita led me straight to the doe, which expired less than ten yards from the road. We had covered close to three hundred yards, with no visible blood.

The foxes had gotten to it overnight, but my friend was ecstatic at having bagged five deer with a bow in one sitting, and was very impressed with the way Dita bee lined straight to the deer. Needless to say, I was extremely proud of Dita’s excellent work!

Wish I had a better camera, but here is a picture from my phone.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chuck and Moose help Michigan hunters find wounded deer

Moose (Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek) is just a year and a half old but he is already an accomplished tracker owned and skillfully handled by Chuck Collier from Hillman, Michigan. He is out of Buster (FC Clown vom Talsdeich) and our Emma (FC Asta von Moosbach-Zuzelek).

This is a short article by Yvonne Swager from Hunter's Pocket Guide published by Montmorency County Tribune, 2008-2009 edition. What follows is the update on Moose's tracking in 2008 submitted by Chuck.

What Moose the dachshund lacks in size, he makes up for in talent. Dachshunds are a popular breed used for tracking deer, and the Hillman dog, owned by Chuck Collier, is a shining example of why the small dogs are preferred for such large tasks.

Moose was just a few months old when he was called in to find a buck for Adam Osmun, Grand Blanc, who hunts with Collier in Presque Isle County. Osmun knew his friend had a blood tracking dog and, when he couldn't find a seven point buck last fall, he gave the pup a chance to show his stuff.

Osmun said he and some fellow hunters were surprised by the size of the dog and were somewhat doubtful the dog would succeed in finding the deer. "We were skeptical," he said.

The dog tracked the deer for about 50 yards before discovering his first find. Osmun was so impressed, he called Moose in to find a second and more difficult case. He said he had little hope of finding the doe he had shot in the gut with his bow. "With a gut shot with a bow, a deer can go a long way," Osmun said. "And, it started to rain two seconds after I shot it." He said a small drop of blood was found every 10-15 feet for about 30 yards, then the trail ended. The dog was once again called in to do the job.

"Moose was just running down the trail. He would stop and look back at us," Osmun said. The dog led the men in a large circle. He said they were beginning to think the pup had lost the trail, but they followed him anyway. "Moose walked us up to six feet short of the deer in a bush," he said. "We ended up finding it in the opposite direction in which it ran. We would have never found that deer. It would have been a horrible waste."

The pup tracked the doe 600 yards in the rain. After repeated finds, Osmun said he and his fellow hunters gained a new respect for the tiny dog. "We stopped picking on Moose," he said.

Born Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek, the pup comes from a line of German wirehaired dachshunds bred for tracking. His mom is a tracker, and, though females are regarded as better trackers, his father took first place in a competition of 142 dogs in Georgia.

Collier said Moose has found nine of 28 deer, which is a good record for any tracking dog. At a recent United Blood Trackers (UBT) Trackfest in Pennsylvania, Collier said the dog obtained scores average for an adult and superior for a puppy.

He doesn't charge for his dog's services, and said he hopes to keep the effort voluntary, taking donations for food and gas. He said he decided to have a blood tracking dog because it fit well with his hobbies. "I love deer hunting, and I love dogs," Collier said. "This is the perfect mix."

The dogs are initially trained to follow deer livers dragged across the terrain. According to Collier, dachshunds are ideal because they can move in and out of thickets, are low to the ground and close to the smell, can track by air or ground and are easy to transport.

"Any dog has the capability, but some are better at it than others," he said. There is room for six dogs in Montmorency County alone, according to Collier. "I was getting three calls a day," he said. "I started to screen calls according to the probability of the find."

Collier is a state trooper and said he could have trained Moose to track anything, including human scents. However, he said he prefers to keep his activities with his dog separate from work. "My goal is to keep in the realm of hunting, because I do it for relaxation," he said.

This is Chuck's report on tracking in 2008:

This first picture was a doe that was gut shot and went approximately 200 yards with minimal blood with gaps. The trail was only about four hours old and he found her in about two minutes.

The second picture is of a find about 15 hours old. Obviously the coyotes beat us there (this was the second time this year the coyotes beat us). Moose tracked this one about 300 yards with two sharp turns. There was virtually no blood. The first hundred yards was in a large food plot and there was intense fresh deer scent to overcome. Once Moose figured out the field he finished smoothly in the woods. In our area during the first bow season it is hard to leave a deer overnight because of coyote activity. During gun season I believe there are enough carcasses and gut piles you can wait till morning.

The third picture was a track about eight hours old and the track was about 350 yards. It was a gut shot mature doe. There was no visible blood and there was about an inch of light fresh snow in tracks and heavy fresh deer activity. Moose took me on a couple wrong fresh tracks but after about a hundred yards he found a snow covered wound bed with some light stomach material. I then encouraged him as he was now on the correct deer. He continued in thick cover and across a two track. We lost the trail at the two track for a few minutes but I kept resetting him and finally he was on again and was bouncing with excitement. The deer then did two sharp turns and hooked back where we found her. There was no way we would have looked where we found her without the Mooseman. That was Moose and my 50th real deer/bear track and 16th find.

The fourth picture is a little three pointer the was mistaken for a doe by the hunter. He hit way forward in the chest cavity. The hunters tracked about 150 yards and Moose and I tracked the next morning about another 250 yards with some sharp turns. The only blood I would see was occasionally in Mooses tracks as there was a little less than an inch of fresh snow. Moose got off the track near a turn at the edge of spruce and a cedar swamp. He led me to some raccoons in an overturned cedar. I corrected him sharply verbally once, then walked him back to the turn. He got on again and smoked through to the deer. It is fun to move fast but I tried to keep some tension on the lead to make him slow down. Moose and I had a recovery party as usual at the find.

This last picture was not a "real" find as I shot this buck during late muzzleloader season. I had a good hit on the buck and he only ran about 50 yards. What was special about this was I had Moose back in the vehicle and I was able to enjoy a beautiful hunt with him by going back and getting him and letting him run the uncontaminated trail to the deer. I loved watching him bound through the snow. He got to the buck and as far as he was concerned "we" both hunted the deer. Beautiful training track with deer party at the find site. There is no better way to instill the prey drive in the dog or handler.

There are more picts of Moose but these were some of the fun ones. The first shows Moose in charge in a pickup ready for action.

This second one was Moose on the back of a flatbed truck. I love his colors and his musclebound studly body!

I'm very happy with getting Moose from you and John. He is really a large part of our family for being a little dog.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Objections raised abut the legalization of blood tracking dogs

In the states where it is still illegal to use tracking dogs for the recovery of wounded big game, the following objections are used most often:

Complaint: The availability of dogs to find wounded deer will encourage hunters to take long and irresponsible shots.

Reply: No one ever argued that the use of retrievers would encourage duck and goose hunters to take long, “sky-busting” shots.

Complaint: The use of tracking dogs will terrorize deer and drive them out of the area.

Reply: The dogs work silently on a long leash and they are trained to track only the designated wounded deer. Guides and outfitters use tracking dogs successfully on their leases when they have much to lose if they spook deer out of the area.

Complaint: Dogs and deer hunting don’t mix. The use of tracking dogs violates our hunting traditions..

Reply: Tracking dogs are not used to hunt deer. They are brought in after the hunt to find wounded deer that would otherwise be lost.

Complaint: It is the responsibility of the hunter to find his own wounded deer, not rely on a dog and handler to do it for him.

Reply: Are you really saying that it is better to leave a wounded deer to suffer, die and be wasted, than to use a tracking dog when there is no blood sign to follow and eye tracking has failed?
Jolanta is going on a week long trip so we'll be back online on January 16.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hunting Dog Workshop Feb 20-22, 2009

Last year I attended excellent Hunting Dog Workshop "Fun Follows Function" organized by Sian Kwa and Donna Schafer. This year the workshop is back on February 20-22 in North Carolina.

Two German hunters have been invited to give presentations and demonstrations about hunting with Dachshunds in the country of origin of the breed and to provide hands-on training to both handlers and their dogs.

The first 2 days of the workshop will be held at a 300 acre farm in Oxford, North Carolina. The final day will be held in Henderson, North Carolina, at the same licenced fox preserve as last year.

Friday February 20, 2009: is centered around breeding and selecting for hunting, focused on and emphasizing Dachshunds as a hunting breed.

Saturday February 21, 2009: is entirely dedicated to the blood tracking training for recovering wounded game with dogs. The training is open to all hunting breeds.

Sunday February 22, 2009: covers the topic of hunting in fox and badger dens with earthdogs. Practice and test are open to earthdogs (Terriers and Dachshunds). A hunting license is required to enter dogs in the practice or test.

For more information go to
Enjoy the slide show from the workshop in 2008!

How a tracking dog helped recover a record book whitetail

Hunters Helping Hunters
A close friend and a new friend help track a record book whitetail

Photos and Story by Cameron McLain

I had made that shot a thousand times in my mind and had practiced the shot probably a thousand times more in my yard. I began to think that it was a shot I could make with my eyes closed, the monotony of practicing the 20-yard shot year after year began to play tricks on my mind. From time to time when I was feeling really arrogant, I secretly skipped this part of my practices. I’ll be the first to admit I let my guard down. I made the mistake that every bow hunter knows is detrimental to the mindset you must have when chasing anything with a stick and string… I began to think this shot was easy... the “easy shot” is what I called it. It would only take seconds for me to realize that I was totally wrong, and hours of waiting and searching for me to remember one simple truth… there is nothing easy in bowhunting.

Three years ago I took my first whitetail with a rifle. I was stalking a mule deer through canyons and ravines and just happened to spot a whitetail browsing about 50 yards away. It was an easy shot with a .270, I fired and he went three yards and dropped. He was a decent sized 8 point with a big body, so my wife and I got plenty of meat for the year. It was fun and we had meat, but I found that I was disappointed with the hunt. I kept wondering if there was more to it, or if it was simply point and shoot, then field dress and process. For some people rifle hunting is how they have chosen to do it, and hunting with a rifle is ethical and fair just as any legal hunting is. In fact, I will hopefully hunt a variety of big game with the “thunderstick” in the not so distant future. However, I have since found what I was longing for after taking that whitetail… the challenge of the bow hunt.

When I started shooting my first bow, I knew that it would take a lot of practice to build the confidence needed to attempt to take an animal with it. I was clearly not a natural at shooting a bow and arrow, and if my marksmanship with a rifle were any testament to my skillfulness in general, I knew I would probably have to put in a lot of practice before I ever climbed in a stand and tried to put meat in the freezer or antlers on the wall.

Every bow hunter wants a clean, ethical kill on any game he or she is hunting whether it is for the dinner table or for the trophy room. And so my practicing began, first at the bow shop and then to the range and at my house. Since I grew up hunting waterfowl and upland bird, I knew very little about bowhunting, and even less about hunting specific game like whitetail or mule deer. I started reading books, magazines, and websites and found that I was very intrigued with the mindset of this group of people known as “bow hunters”. It didn’t take long researching or shooting to realize that bowhunting is a whole new ballgame, and that bow hunters have a passion for the hunt and the game that is arguably unparalleled.

Apparently I needed more practice than I thought. Three years of practice and hunting without taking a shot will test your patience and resolve. I began to wonder if I would ever take a deer with a bow. It crossed my mind more than once to give it up and go back to gun hunting. I had passed on many bucks and does in the hopes that the herd would increase in population and the bucks I passed on would grow bigger antlers and bodies. I was intentionally being patient in hopes of getting a chance at a big trophy deer. After three years of hard work I would finally get that chance.

My close friend and hunting partner James and I decided the night before that we were going to get up earlier than usual and get in the stands long before daylight. My typical stand time is one hour before sunrise, but this particular morning we arrived almost two hours before legal shooting time. I had seen a big buck on the camera, and I wanted to be sure my scent and any noise were long gone by the time the sun came up. I could tell from the picture that the buck had at least ten points, and as you can imagine I was itching to get a shot at it.

Wind is a daily occurrence in West Texas, and as the sun rose and the wind started to pick up I was somewhat relieved. It is very difficult for me to not shift my weight in my stand from time to time, so the noise of the leaves in the breeze was a welcome distraction. Twenty minutes after sunrise, there were two bucks at my food plot. Both of them were shooters, but since I had seen a bigger one on the camera I decided to pass on them. We were still a few weeks away from the rut, so all was peaceful between the two deer. As more does and yearlings came in, the bucks were very busy between running the competition off and feeding. At one time, there were at least ten deer within seventy yards of my stand, and they never knew I was there. When there are that many deer around you, it is hard to decide if you are excited about a shot opportunity, or if you are less than excited because there are so many eyes and noses to pinpoint your location. Despite my wife’s playful sarcasm when I bought it, my Scent Lok suit was paying off!

I heard a deer running to my right, so I looked that direction and spotted another buck. I picked up my binoculars to get a better view, and counted 8 points on a fairly young buck. When I lowered my binoculars and turned to face forward again, there was the big deer that I had seen on my camera! He had approached from my left without a sound, and he was what the other deer had been looking at. He was probably the reason they moved off so nervously. He was standing in a shooting lane that I had cut in the tree limbs, right in the middle of a trail that leads to the food plot and camera.

As soon as I realized which deer was standing in front of me, I immediately looked down at my feet. I think I knew that if I stared at his rack I would get nervous, so I slowly picked up my hand to lock my release onto my string loop while I was concentrating on breathing and my shot sequence. As I picked up my bow to begin to draw, I noticed that the buck was about two yards closer to me than a fencepost I stuck in the ground at exactly twenty yards. I looked from below the deer and slowly moved my eyes up to where I wanted the arrow to connect. I knew better than to try to count points or to even look above the heart/lung area or I would start shaking!

The buck was quartering away, so I moved my aiming point back to where I thought the arrow would pass through the heart and hit the opposite shoulder. The bow surprised me as it fired, so I was confident that I had not rushed the shot or squeezed the release. I tried to concentrate on following through as I heard for the first time the arrow strike its target - a sound I will not forget. Instantly the deer was gone. He vanished as quickly and as quietly as he had come. As I quietly sat back down, I noticed two things. First, that my arrow was laying on the trail and it was tainted red, a sign that he was hit in the vitals. The second thing I noticed was that I was still not nervous. I have heard and seen many times the famous “buck fever”, so I made sure I was still connected to my safety harness and I patiently waited for my turn at the shakes.

For some reason or another, I never did get nervous or start to shake. I believe that it was due to the fact that I had waited for so long and had been over this scene in my mind so many times, that everything about it was familiar. I had merely done what I pictured myself doing thousands of times. I think more than anything I was relieved to have finally taken a deer, or any animal for that matter. All the work had paid off! Little did I know my day was just beginning, and before the end of it I would have questioned everything I knew and didn’t know about deer, my proficiency with a bow, and even my desire to hunt again!

I sent a text message to my buddy James telling him that I had a deer down, and he replied by saying he was leaving his stand and was on his way to help with the honorable duty of helping me field dress it and drag it back to the pickup. We were both in for a big surprise. Since I was very confident I put a decent shot on him, we only waited two hours before picking up the blood trail where my arrow had been laying. It was about 9:45 am when James arrived, and I had followed blood for about seventy yards. After twenty more yards, we couldn’t find any more blood! We crawled on our hands and knees until noon looking for blood, then we got on the four wheeler and started making gradually larger circles looking in the brush. There are some very large canyons and ravines in this area, so we also hiked up and down these looking for any sign of the deer. By 2:00 pm, we were beat and frustrated. We went back to the pickup to rest.

I couldn’t believe it… all this work! All this time practicing and waiting and passing on bucks! It was all for nothing! I was literally sick to my stomach. I had gone from very confident after the shot to doubting myself and my abilities with the bow and arrow. I talked myself into believing I shot too far back, that it was a terrible shot and we were never going to find the deer. I felt like I was going to be sick. It was a terrible feeling to lose not only a trophy deer and the meat that goes along with it, but on top of that my first bow kill! We started calling friends and game wardens, anyone we could think of that might have some pointers for us. We had tried everything. Well, almost everything.

I have some family in Alabama and Mississippi, and in a conversation about deer hunting several years ago the issue of tracking dogs was brought up. We discussed it for a few minutes, then went on with the usual deer language that only hunters know and share. I hadn’t thought of that conversation since then, but now it was fresh on my mind. I pulled out my cell phone and logged on to the internet to start searching. I tried several sites before I found some phone numbers for guys that own blood trailing dogs. The closest name and number was a guy who lives in Oklahoma, which is five hours away. I told James that I knew there was no way he would come that far, but it would be worth a shot to call him and see if he had any pointers for us about where to look or where the deer might have gone. I have never heard of a deer being beamed up in a space ship, but I was beginning to wonder whether or not that happens from time to time.

I called Carey Sutterfield in Yukon, Oklahoma, which is just outside Oklahoma City. Fortunately he answered, and I began to ask questions about behavioral traits of deer after they have been wounded. Believe me - it crossed my mind to ask him about the space ships! Carey was on his way to his deer lease for the weekend to hunt with his son, and as I told him more about what happened I began to realize the chances of finding this deer were very slim. I explained to him that this was a big deer (for me), and that I initially thought it was a good hit but I was beginning to doubt that it really was. For good measure and maybe for a little sympathy, I also threw into the conversation that it was in fact my first bow kill. I will never forget Carey’s next sentence. He immediately said “Well I’m turning around and I’m going to go pick up one of my dogs and I’ll be on my way to where you’re at.” He was volunteering to drive five hours to another state to walk around with a dog and find someone else’s deer! My first thought was “What’s the catch? How much does this cost?” When asked, Carey politely said that he doesn’t charge anything! He told me that he likes to work his dogs, and that he believes that it is just “hunters helping hunters”. He said that it is not fair to the animal to not be found, so he was willing to bring his dog to Texas to look for it! He also told us that we needed to stop searching and leave the area so that our scent wouldn’t contaminate any trail that may or may not be there.

James and I did exactly what Carey said to do. We left the area and went to grab lunch while we waited for Carey to make the five hour drive to our part of the state. He arrived just as the sun was setting, but informed us that this was a good thing because the scent of the blood would begin to rise from the soil as the temperature dropped, making it easier for him and “Otto”, his Wirehaired Dachshund, to find which direction the deer went. Otto immediately picked up the trail, but lost it after about 100 yards. Carey restarted him at the trail where my arrow was laying, and he was off again. As he approached the last spot where James and I had found blood, he turned at a right angle and picked up a trail. That’s why we lost it! We had continued in the initial direction, but the deer had turned into thick grass and gradually turned to go in the opposite direction. We hadn’t even considered looking in the direction that Otto was headed. Carey wanted us to follow him and Otto to look for blood and confirm that he was in fact on a trail, so that is what James and I did.

Otto lost the scent three times, but as the darkness settled in and the temperature dropped, the scent began to rise, and he was able to follow it further each time he picked it up. The deer had made its way into very steep and dangerous ravines, especially difficult to walk through at night with only a flashlight. At the bottom of one of these canyons, Otto lost the scent and was wandering sniffing the ground. By this time it was almost 8:30 pm, and all of us were exhausted. It wasn’t long before Otto hit the trail again, this time literally pulling the 50 foot lead rope tight in Carey’s hand. He was on to something! I was about a hundred yards behind Carey and Otto on my hands and knees trying to find a spot of blood to confirm we were on something, when I heard Carey yell through the darkness, “We found it!”. I wasn’t sure if he was pulling my leg or not, so I yelled back for him to repeat himself, and he said “Otto found the deer!”. I’m not sure how fast I covered that hundred yards, but considering me being out of shape and in very rough terrain in the pitch dark, I think I made it there in about two seconds!

James was also there in short time, and there was definitely no ground shrinkage on this deer! I was ecstatic, and I felt the exhaustion and soreness from the day-long search rush away with relief and gratitude. We took pictures and congratulated each other and Otto. It had been over twelve hours since I had fired the shot, but the waiting and worrying was gone. Otto had done the impossible!

Carey Sutterfield with his tracking dog Otto and Cameron's trophy buck

There are many predators in this area, and they had already begun to do their work on recycling the meat, so I was disappointed to find that the meat could not be used. Being the unselfish friend that he is, James field dressed the buck while I walked with Carey back to the vehicles. When I returned, we dragged the deer up the side of one of the steep ravines, which was a very difficult task, and thanks to James’ help we got it up without breaking any points off of the rack.

The next day we arrived at the taxidermist to have the buck measured and mounted. He quickly gross scored the 13 points to be 162”, and informed me that there would be some deduction, but that he thought it would still go into the Pope & Young Record Book. Paying the taxidermist that day was the happiest money I’ve spent in a long time!

Thanks to close friends like James and new friends like Carey and Otto, my passion for the sport of bowhunting is ever increasing. Despite what I told James in my frustration throughout that day, and said to myself under my breath, I wouldn’t trade time in the outdoors in fellowship with others for anything. I learned a lot about myself and my patience in the past few years, and a lot about the good men that surround me in this sport. Carey got a late start on his weekend of hunting with his son to trail a deer for somebody who he had never met that lived five hours away. I was reminded by what James and Carey and Otto did that there are people who do things because they want to be a blessing to other people, and they expect nothing in return.

Cameron and his friend James with the record book whitetail

Carey and I have been in touch since then, and he has told me a little about what he does. It is actually illegal to trail a wounded deer in Oklahoma, so Carey is trying to rally the troops in support of this cause. There are many deer that are lost in the thick woods of Oklahoma every year, and Carey has made it his mission that these hunters are given every opportunity to find the game that they have made an effort to pursue. So far this year he has found 5 of 11 tracks, but he has to travel out of the state to do it. That is five animals that were taken by legal hunters that would have never been found if it weren’t for Carey and his well trained dog Otto.

For those of us who believe in the fair chase, it stands to reason that fairness does not end at the shot, but that if a game animal deserves enough respect to be hunted legally, then they deserve enough respect to be found legally. It is a hunter’s responsibility to sharpen his skills to a point where an ethical, humane, and lethal shot can be taken. It is also our responsibility to use any means necessary to find an animal when a shot has been taken but the game does not immediately fall. To be honest, the deer that I took will probably be the biggest deer I ever take. I know what it means to me, and I also know how close I was to not finding it, and I truly regret that the hunters in Oklahoma do not have the same opportunity to pursue game in a fair, ethical manner, and they have undoubtedly wasted many trophy and meat deer because of it. I am blessed to live in a state where tracking is legal, otherwise I would be in the same position. If you know of anything you can do to help, please contact your legislative members, or get in touch with a tracker like Carey who can point you in the right direction! I owe the deepest gratitude to James, Carey, and Otto for their help. I would have never found the deer, and this story would have turned out much differently. I will never again take for granted that anything in bowhunting is easy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dachshund Field Trials Ranking for 2008

At the end of each year Dachshund Club of America calculates merit points for dachshunds who participated in field trials in a given year and publishes a list of top twenty field trial dachshunds. The list for top twenty field dachshunds in 2007 is at The tentative list for 2008 has been published, and here we would like to recognize the talented dachshunds that are either out of our breeding or are related to our bloodlines and have placed in the top twenty. Their owners and handlers must be recognized too for their love of the breed, dedication to their dogs and the sport of field trialing.

Congratulations to Judy Gallamore, Sherry and Phil Ruggieri, Laurel Whistance-Smith, Cheri Faust and Larry Gohlke.

#3 "Ana Maria" FC Hurricane Ana Maria v Czar SW JE owned by Judy Gallamore, Texas

Ana Maria really wants to go after the rabbit

#7 "Auggie" FC Augden von Moosbach-Zuzelek RN ME owned by Sherry Ruggieri, NJ

Tears of joy

# 8 "Lily" FC Diamant Lily von Lowenherz owned by Laurel-Whistance-Smith, Ontario, Canada

#9 "Danika" FC Danika vom Nordlicht TD JE owned by Cheri Faust, WI

#10 "Nix" FC Nix vom Nordlicht JE owned by Larry Gohlke

#13 "Lolly" FC Ulrika von Moosbach-Zuzelek SE owned by Larry Gohlke

Sherry Ruggieri with Auggie and Larry Gohlke with Lolly

#15 "Dixie" FC Anja von Moosbach-Zuzelek RN JE owned by Sherry Ruggieri and handled occasionally by Phil Ruggieri

Above: Sherry Ruggieri with Auggie and Phil Ruggieri with Dixie

Phil Ruggieri with Dixie and Lolly Gohlke with Lolly