Search This Blog

Monday, January 31, 2011

Blood tracking training in a parking lot

Eibe Goes Shopping at the Mall
by Andy Bensing

In anticipation of a blood tracking test we are taking in three weeks in North Carolina I needed to do some artificial line training with my dog, Eibe. We are taking a 20-hour-test on Saturday and a 40-hour-test the same weekend on Sunday. We have had a great fall and winter tracking for real having taken 47 calls this year but we have not done an artificial line since early September. As any reader of mine well knows I am a firm believer in targeted training and preparation for whatever I do with my dog, and taking a test without practicing for the 5 months beforehand is certainly not my style. The problem is that we are having an unusually snowy winter here in SE Pennsylvania and there is no clear ground to train on. Training on snow was not an option as I know my dog will just visually follow the tracks.

I was complaining about my problem at the diner while eating breakfast and one of my wise guy friends told me to go train at the airport and just be careful to not get hit by a plane. He was joking but it immediately gave me a brainstorm. I remembered back to a track this past fall in a suburban sub-division where my dog tracked a bleeding deer 200 meters down the center of a road and I thought "Hey....Why can't I train on asphalt? " So I went home and defrosted some blood and at 8PM that night when most of the traffic was gone from the back of a local shopping mall I laid a track with a squirt bottle just like I would in the woods. I had no intention of writing about this exercise or videotaping. The videotape idea just struck as I tracked along and I pulled out my iphone and shot away. A shaky, poor quality video resulted but I think you will enjoy it anyway. I plan to try to better perfect my self-videotaping of training exercises at a later date.

The training goal for the line was to work on encouraging my dog to search forward as much as she now searches back when she comes to a hard check. Last summer I overemphasized working back tracks in my artificial line training. As a result Eibe now really understands backtracks and nails them both in training and the real world but I found this past hunting season that she wastes a lot of time and energy focusing on the looking for a back track when the solution to the check may only be a short distance to the front. My plan was to use a directed search to encourage concentrically expanding circles at the check instead of her immediately searching for a backtrack. From last summer's training I really believe she now recognizes when the line doubles up from the deer doubling back and when she gets to the end of the line where the double back starts, she then just searches back to where the line is not doubled anymore and easily locates where it turned off. With that in mind my thoughts were that when she gets to a dead spot on a line where she has not smelled a double line as she approached it she should be able to learn to circle there instead of wasting time looking for a backtrack that is not there.

The real surprise about the parking lot exercise was that working in that environment allowed me to observe some things about my dog that I do not think I would have noticed nearly as well or at all in the normal field or forest. I am not going to tell you what those things are. You will have to watch the video if you want to find out.

Parking Lot Training from Andy Bensing on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don Teddy and Ely - a blood tracking team from Reese, Michigan

Ely's registered name is Eifel von Moosbach-Zuzelek, and he was born on February 28, 2008 so now he is almost three years old. He is out of FC Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek and FC Gilda v Moosbach-Zuzelek. We ran this particular breeding three times - in 2005 it produced our "K" litter, in 2008 "E" litter and in 2009 "G" litter.

When Don and his wife Sandy came here to pick up Ely, we knew that he was going to a great home.
This was the first e-mail from them:

Ely tolerated the trip to Michigan exceedingly well and has settled comfortably into our home, as well as into our hearts.  Our lab, Raven is very accepting of the little guy and seems to enjoy having a playmate.  On Mothers Day our home was filled with family members and Ely was the star.  He suffered from no lack of attention and was one tired little fellow by that evening.  The crate training is going well and so is the blood trailing.  It is amazing to watch the little guy work it out.  We couldn’t be happier with Ely.  He is bright, inquisitive, easy natured and a welcome addition to our family.  We are sure there will be many exciting stories involving Ely in the years to come.

As a puppy Ely bears uncanny resemblance to his sire Billy.

In June 2008 Sandy wrote:
Ely has taken over our household, as well as, our hearts.  He and Raven get along wonderfully.  They play hard and when Raven has had enough she just sits down on the little guy until he gets the message.  Every morning is a wrestling match with much snarling and growling.  Ely has figured out that he can boss me around and regularly puts me in my place.  Seriously, though, he is coming along great.  The blood tracking training seems to be going well (I leave that up to Don)……the house training not quite as well, but we have been down this road before and know that it will straighten out in time.  The little guy has made several trips to our camp in the u.p. and does great.  Exploring, chasing rabbits and hitting the lake along with playing with the children that drop by keeps him very occupied and a very tired puppy at the end of the day.  He has become the darling of the little league field (our grandson plays) and everyone is curious about the breed. Everyone recognizes a dachshund, but not the wirehaired.  I am so impressed with the tenacity of this dog.  He fears nothing.

Pictures from the 2008 tracking season:

In summer 2009 we got a note:
Things have been going well. Ely is in great shape and ready to go back to work this fall. Our bear season opens Sept. 10 and we have already had several people ask if they can call us if needed. There was an article written about Ely in the Michigan Bow Hunters magazine this summer, the writer found out about Ely last summer when he was a pup in training and followed up with me last spring to see how he did. Needless to say Ely is now well know throughout the organization and has been a big hit at all of the archery events we have attended this summer. It should bring us some additional work that we are looking forward to.

After the 2009 tracking season:

The picture with a doe was shot while we were tracking for a non-ambulatory hunt at the federal refuge near home, that experience was very rewarding. If I remember correctly there was 40 wheel chair bound hunters and Ely was in on 10 tracking jobs for them, we found all but 1, some were pretty easy.

He weights 22 lbs. now and is full of it, if you know what I mean. He is definitely the boss around our house and yard and is a big hit everywhere he goes.

December 2010:
Ely and I went out on 27 tracks this year, he found 19 of those. We worked 21 tracks at the Shiawassee National Refuge this year while they conducted a non-ambulatory hunt for handicapped hunters over a 4 day period and recovered 15 deer, most of those tracks were fairly easy but it was good work for him. Because of my work schedule this year I had to turn down quite a few calls.

I have not seen Ely since he left our home as a young puppy. Hopefully Don, a UBT member, will be able to bring him to the Michigan Deer and Turkey Expo, which is taking place on Feb 18-20 in Lansing, and John will be able to see him. Thank you Don and Sandy for taking a great care of Ely and giving him many opportunities to work.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is getting really cold

Elli says that tonight we are expecting -16F (-27C), so far the lowest temperature this winter.
Joeri playing in the snow on one of the warmer days.

Support legalization of blood tracking in Pennsylvania!

As a member of Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania I got this message from Andy Bensing, who is a leader of this organization.

We are gearing up for what hopefully will be a successful drive to finally get Blood Tracking legalized here in PA this year. To that end I have started a new thread on There is a poll on that thread and it would be great if you could log on and vote. The poll is going well but the greater the number of people that vote the better. Please go to click here.  If you are not already a member of it only takes a minute to register. In addition to voting, try to leave a brief comment on the thread to bring the topic back up to the top of the Forum so it gets good exposure. I will be going to Harrisburg shortly to begin lobbying the new legislature and I would like to take the results of this poll with me and have it show that a lot of hunters are supportive so again, please log on and vote.

It has been a really long battle to make tracking wounded deer with leashed dogs legal in PA. On June 29th, 2010 Pennsylvania Game Commissioners officially supported House Bill 2526 that would amend the Game and Wildlife Code (Title 34) to legalize the use of leashed blood tracking dogs to recover lawfully harvested or lawfully wounded white-tailed deer. Let's make it happen!

Related post:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A good learning experience for a young mini dachshund Garmin

Teddy Moritz from New Jersey has described her hawking with dachshunds in one of her older articles:

I hawk rabbits with a Harris Hawk and miniature longhair dachshunds. I hawk small woodlots and waste fields behind industrial parks, housing developments, etc. I need a small flushing dog with a good nose, lots of line sense yet enough obedience to be called up to a fresh line, and the ability to go to ground. Without the dachshunds the hawking would be much less successful and the number of slips or opportunities for the hawk would be much diminished. The hawk is an opportunist and will use the dachshunds to provide those chances at rabbits. The hawk will follow the dachshunds from tree to tree as they search the briars for rabbits. When the rabbit flees from the dogs the hawk goes after it. If the rabbit goes into a hole, the dachshunds run it out again. We are an inter-species team. Rabbits are abundant, easy to find but not always easy to catch. There are days we catch one out of six rabbits and there are days we catch every rabbit we put up. If I were to hawk without a dachshund I would have to do a lot more brush beating myself. I would not see as many of the flights as I do now and my hawk would have to constantly chase fresh rabbits, rather than staying on one rabbit and making it count, with the help of the dachshunds.

I hawk where there are no gun hunters so I am not taking game from other hunters. I am licensed both by the Federal and State government to own and use the hawk. The team either brings a rabbit to bag or the rabbit escapes cleanly; there are no cripples left in the field. The rabbits are used for hawk, dog and people food. And even if I take a number of rabbits out of one small area, the remaining population will now reproduce to fill that void.

Today Teddy wrote about an outing with her dogs, and I found her pack's dynamics very interesting:

Had a good day's hawking today. There was a crust on the snow so the dogs and rabbits could run instead of flounder. We saw three rabbits and got three rabbits. Two for the hawk, one for the dogs.

The photos are of Garmin, a Navarre pup I got from Connie LaRosa out in Long Island. Garmin is six months old. Today she got to learn about dead rabbits in holes. My smallest dachshund, Fitz, is happy to slay rabbits who don't bolt, but it is beneath her dignity to pull them out. If Navarre can reach the rabbit he'll pull it, but he's a good bit bigger in the chest and can't always get to the rabbit. When Fitz came out of the hole with fur in her mouth I knew she'd had her way with the rabbit. Navarre tried but couldn't get past some roots. I asked Garmin to go in but she was hesitant because both Navarre and Fitz are dominant over her. She would look in the hole, then come out and wriggle in Navarre's face and lick his mouth. I held Fitz and she just glared at Garmin, which was enough to keep Garmin away from the hole.

However, by clamping my hand over Fitz's face, Garmin eventually slid down into the hole. She could certainly smell the rabbit although it was a good six feet away from her in the tunnel. She disappeared a few times, then came out and went back in. Then she began barking, which is not unusual for a pup when it first encounters an animal in a hole. After a bit she got up her courage and disappeared completely into the den. I waited and held the other two back. After a few moments she backed out, pulling the dead rabbit with her. Good learning experience for her, and game in the bag.

Good girl Garmin!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Remi on a Scent Shoe Track in Utah

Sometimes an exceptionally-gifted puppy and an inspired natural handler come together. This video is a good illustration of that combination. You will see that in this partnership Remi listens to his handler and Justin, the handler, “reads” his dog.

For most eight-month-old puppies this exercise would be too much to ask. Normally it takes an older dog to deal with the distractions of snow, freezing creeks and fresh deer tracks. Don’t force this on your own puppy. Wait until you are sure that he is ready.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dachshunds as versatile hunting dogs

Not too often you can find articles where dachshunds are presented as versatile hunting dogs so it was nice to see an article in Garner News about Sian Kwa and her teckels. You can search this blog for previous posts about Sian, and to access the article Dachshunds Make Good Hunting Dogs click here.

Sian Kwa (left) and Sherry Ruggieri (right) at the 2008 workshop in North Carolina.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dining Out in the Woods. Canine/Hunter Cooperation.

By John Jeanneney, Full Cry, February 2011

No, this article is not about what you think. The canines I’m writing about are coyotes, not dogs, and the humans are the unwilling cooperators. The coyotes have been the winners in this game because we humans haven’t been as quick as coyotes to learn that changing circumstances require changing tactics. As hunters we should be cooperating with our tracking dogs instead of cooperating with and feeding the coyotes.

Sixty-one years ago, when beginning to deer hunt, I learned from the old timers that the best way to deal with a deer that you had shot and couldn’t find was to wait until the next morning to track him down. This would give the deer time to “stiffen up” so he wouldn’t run away easily if he were still alive. Rigor mortis (stiffness after death) got confused in this theory with the very different physical condition of a live deer.

What amazes me is that many of today’s hunters are so loyal to tradition that they go on repeating that same old myth. They say, “I hit a big buck yesterday afternoon just before dark, so I left him till morning. Now I can’t find him. No blood after 100 yards. I need your dog.” A few hours later we’re standing midst a grey ring of pulled deer hair, gazing at what’s left of a deer carcass. “How could the coyotes eat so much in one night? Oh, well! At least I have the horns.”
When I started tracking wounded deer in New York State 35 years ago, coyotes were a rarity. They began to be a problem for hunters only in the late 80s. Wildlife biologists tell us that the coyote migration into my own New York State and New England came in over the Great Lakes from the upper Midwest. This trek probably took place over several generations, and DNA analysis shows that considerable cross breeding with Canadian grey wolves took place. The result was a strain of northeastern coyotes somewhat larger than their western ancestors, but highly adaptable to their new habitat. The newcomers relied less on rabbits and mice than their forbears while deer played a larger role in their diet; fawns were easy pickings in the spring, while young or weakened adult deer could be taken in deep snow time.
But from the coyote’s point of view, or nose, the real feast time comes during deer season. For the immigrant coyotes it has been wonderful to discover that hunters leave more than gut piles. The hunters kindly leave whole deer in the woods overnight, and don’t try to interfere with coyote festivities until the next day.
The new generations of “super coyotes” do more than stumble occasionally into a wounded or dead deer lying in the woods. Now, when they cross the scent line of a wounded deer they know how to follow it with all the skill of a good tracking dog. Today I find that more than half of the deer left over night are damaged or devoured by morning. This depends on the area, and the incidence of damage is highest in semi-suburban areas where there has been no trapping or predator hunting.
My tracking friends in the Midwest report that even their “pure blood” coyotes are doing more damage than usual. We need some serious statistical studies on the activities of coyotes during deer season to make more hunters, especially bowhunters, realize that we have to improve our tactics for finding wounded deer that need to be tracked.
When tracking at night we hear the coyotes singing close around us. Perhaps, as they see our lights and figure out what we are searching for. Frequently when we track in the morning we find tufts of deer hair that have been yanked out by harassing coyotes. They do not always succeed in pulling down their prey.
We have tracked up to a lost deer at night, just as coyotes were breaking in. They retreated, but they were not happy. As the deer was dragged out of the woods, they followed just out of sight yapping their discontent.
This season we had two experiences with daytime coyote competition. One buck, a ten pointer, had been bowshot at 8 AM. He had left a blood trail that the hunters were able to follow for about 200 yards. Then they area searched but could not find the deer. We were called in at about 2 PM and were able to find the deer in about 30 minutes from the hit site. The deer had gone only about 200 yards farther beyond the point of loss, but it had changed direction and gone down a steep drop off. Already the coyotes had been at work, starting on the rear end. Fortunately 95% of the deer was still intact. The arrow had passed through a lobe of the liver and the stomach.
The daytime doe was found lying in a brook, and the coyotes had started on a front shoulder rather than the loins and hind quarters. I’m sure that they will be smarter next time.
Daytime venison damage from coyotes is still unusual, and in daylight the time-honored tactic of waiting through the morning and afternoon on shots behind the diaphragm is still valid. Deer can usually be tracked in late afternoon and into the night even if coyotes are numerous. A good eye-tracker can accomplish amazing things, and he does not have to rely solely upon blood traces. The big problem is that blood tracking takes time, and the coyotes do not wait, especially after dark. No longer can we rely on the old tradition of “tracking him up tomorrow morning.” It is even very risky to track slowly by flashlight for “as long as it takes”, which may mean until 2 AM. If a deer can’t be found during daylight or very early in the evening, the hunter may find that he has cooperated with the coyotes despite his best intentions.
Fortunately the use of tracking dogs is the new development in much of the country that may save us from an unwilling role in coyote-human cooperation. Tracking wounded deer has always been legal in certain parts of the South and in most of Texas, but now the practice is expanding. In much of the North the use of leashed tracking dogs has already been legalized or is in process.
It is being recognized that the tracking dog’s nose, like that of the coyote, works incomparably faster than the human tracker’s eye. Guided by a good dog a hunter has a much better chance of getting to his game before the coyotes. Hunters are amazed to see my dog begin from the hit site and in ten minutes follow a trail for a distance that has taken them hours of eye-tracking. And the dog continues with equal ease beyond their point of loss.
In the bowhunting tradition up North, eye-tracking has been considered to be an essential part of hunting. Turning this task over to a specialist with a dog when the blood sign dwindles away has seemed for some to diminish the whole experience of hunting. But now our frequent experience of tracking up to a grey ring of deer hair and bones picked clean is leading quite a few deer hunting traditionalists to reconsider their old ideas. Sometimes to preserve the best of our heritage, we have to change with the times. 

In Ohio Dave Bell and Rex Marshall were called in too late to save the venison.

In New York  Pete Martin and Lisa found this buck after the coyotes had done their work.
 Related posts:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dachshund Mashup

In the last few weeks we have received quite a few e-mails with pics so today we will try to show them here. Enjoy!

Wyatt Bell with Quella.
David Bell from Ohio wrote: The pics I sent you are of my son Wyatt and his best friend Quella. Wyatt is going to be a future blood tracker and he has already went out with me to lay artificial blood trails.  I let Wyatt feed her everyday in the mornings so he can build a bond with her, and I feed her in the evenings. As you can see in the pictures, she loves to sit in comfort with the family and is in very good shape. I pay careful attention not to let her get over weight. I am very proud of her drive and tracking desire. She still is a little scared of water, but I think she will come around. She gets in the water by herself now, but she doesn't go in the deep water.  She is very fast and athletic, but seems to slow down and focus hard on the track.

Quella von Moosbach-Zuzelek is a daughter of Joeri and Keena. She is almost eight months old.


This picture came from Germany from Rosi and Anne Bauersachs, and it shows Joeri's family - from left Jette (Joeri's sister), Ilena (Joeri's mom), Florie (grandma), Alissa and Darja. 

Around Christmas time Germany received an unusual high volume of snow. The picture shows Ilena and Darja.


Chris Barr from Indiana wrote: Gerti is doing great. We’ve begun our winter of walking in the woods and trying to kick up a rabbit for her to run. She had a beautiful run on Sunday but ran it under an old collapsed barn. Had it not been for that, she’d have brought it right to me and I was going to pop it for her. I’d like to take her to a rabbit trial or two this spring.

This fall we ended up with 21 tracks with 8 finds. I would have had about 25 tracks but turned a few down as they were described as high back shots and we’d already been out and Gerti was wiped out. The average age of the track of the deer we recovered was only about 5 hours. The older tracks caused her some problems as she’d still rather follow a hot track or maybe a critter of some sort. We’ll continue to focus on that in her training this spring and summer.

In her first two seasons we’ve taken 35 tracks and recovered 11 deer. I’m pleased overall. Her name is getting around. I made up fliers to put in the local outdoor shops but never put them out as I was getting all the work I wanted with working full time, juggling two teenagers, and trying to hunt myself.

Gerti is such a good girl and loves everyone. I never have to worry about her nipping anyone for any reason. She’s pretty tough on ‘ol Oscar though who remains blissfully unaware. As opposed as I was to getting him, I’m now glad we did because he’s a wonderful companion for Gerti. I laughed at the pictures of Bernie because Gerti likes to express herself with her teeth also. She and Oscar have some pretty good matches. I have to give it to Oscar because he’s a tough little guy and stands up for himself pretty well. Gerti’s the Queen Bee though and regularly puts him in his place.

Oscar (black and tan) and Gerti (wild boar daughter of Billy and Gilda)


This is Sherry Ruggieri's new puppy Mieka, who is out of Joeri and Melodie v Moosbach-Zuzelek. Mieka was bred by Susie Gardner from Ohio.

This picture was sent by Willette Brown from Maine. The pup trying to climb over the pen is Waldo (Quantum von Moosbach-Zuzelek).


 The above picture shows Joe Walters and Ray Holohan with Rosco at the booth that they had at  Outward Bound - Adventure Sports Show in Kankakee, IL a week ago. Ray wrote: As far as the show, we had a really great time. It was a great success, we educated a lot of people on blood tracking deer with a dog.  The show was an outdoor show that appealed to all kinds of people. People that like to camp, fish, hunt, barbecue, cycling, boating, chainsaw wood carving, you name it, it was there. So we had a wide variety of people come by the booth. I had Rosco there for 5 hours, he was an absolute angel, people loved him and he got more attention and pets than you can imagine. Most people never heard of tracking wounded deer with dogs. Hunters and nonhunters thought it was a great idea and most couldn't believe that we would do it for gas money. People were really baffled by some of our equipment, especially the tracking shoes that still had the hoofs on them.


This picture was sent by Jeff Springer: Cash & Tilly are great friends plus their personalities are so good with people and especially kids. If Tilly comes into heat this spring I was thinking of breeding her one last time. All the pups have been proven trackers of deer & bears. (Cash is a daughter of Billy and Tilly.)


Do you remember Remi from Utah, the pup who worked so hard finding wounded elk, moose and deer? This is another side of Remi (smile).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Second major snow storm of the season

We are snowed in again, but it is not too cold and the falling snow presents many photo opportunities. I am not complaining! Actually, dogs are having a ball playing in the snow, and I feel invigorated by being able to go out and snap some new pictures.

This morning - a view from the dog yard

In these conditions going to the bathroom might have to be done on the run

Billy does not mind the snowy weather.

Paika in the snow.

Bernie - is he trying to catch snow flakes?
I have a question for those who read the blog regularly. I am thinking about having another website or blog just for my pictures. Photography has been slowly playing larger and larger role in my life. Would you miss my pictures not related to blood tracking if I started to post them somewhere else? Would you click on a link to see them somewhere else? Or should I just leave things the way they are. Please respond through comments (I think you have to preview your comment first before you can post it) or e-mail me at Thank you - stay warm everybody!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eight-week-old bloodhound puppy on her first blood track

Andy Bensing sent us a link to this video showing an eight-week-old bloodhound on her first track. It is well done, and the pup (Moonshine Grace's Benelli aka "Nelli") is incredibly cute.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mario Montana and Cheyenne are an experienced blood tracking team

Mario Montana does his blood tracking in the areas of Sidney, Masonville, and Oneonta, NY. His tracking partner is a 5.5-year-old wirehaired dachshund Cheyenne (Lea von Moosbach-Zuzelek), whose parents are FC Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek and FC Gela von Rauhenstein. Mario is a member of Deer Search and United Blood Trackers. This year he took seven calls, which ended with six recoveries.

Mario's nephew with deer, bear and Cheyenne

Mario Montana with Cheyenne and his own bear

Mario with Cheyenne and his own deer.
Congrats to Mario on his own hunting and nice recoveries for others!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Marc Niad and his Jagdterrier Dakota - a successful blood tracking team from NY

Marc Niad, who is a member of Deer Search and United Blood Trackers, had a terrific blood tracking season. He and his Jagdterrier Dakota found 10 deer, and some of the recoveries are pictured below. He went on 26 calls; 9 calls involved bow-shot deer from Westchester County.

The German Jagdterrier is a very versatile terrier, which was developed with tracking ability in mind, and Dakota is proving it. Congratulations to Marc and Dakota on their successful tracking season!