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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Tough Buck by Bob Yax

Elli is recovering well, but it will be a while before she heals completely. Due to her surgery and my bad cold, I am running behind. If you sent us an e-mail recently, we will respond as soon as we can. This is the busiest time of the year for us, and your patience is appreciated.

As you know Bob Yax's Gusto was killed recently when he got loose and was run over by a truck. Bob shared with me a couple of stories that he wrote up this year on more interesting recoveries. Thank you Bob!

One Tough Buck

by Bob Yax

Hunter (Eric) called into the Deer Search hot line late morning on Sat 10/29.  He had hit a big Buck Friday evening at 6:00 from a tree stand.  He was using RAGE broad heads and had a complete pass thru.  He said the arrow had solid dark blood on it, but no food particles.   He described the hit as a broad side hit, about halfway between the front and back legs and about halfway up, top to bottom.  It sounded like a possible liver hit.  After hitting the deer, Eric and his hunting partner Todd, backed out immediately and planned to come back on Saturday morning to track – (exactly the right thing to do for a liver / gut hit).  On Saturday morning,  Eric and Todd followed a decent  150 – 200 yard blood trail until the blood stopped.   After that they did a visual search for awhile in the direction of travel.  They then backed out again and called Deer Search.     

After Gusto and I arrived at 1:00 Saturday, we inspected the arrow and found that it was covered with a thick layer of dark blood.   It also contained some small food particles and some white hair (it looked like a liver & stomach hit with the exit wound  low on the deer).  On an anatomy chart, Eric indicated a hit more than mid way up the deer from top to bottom and slightly further back than a liver would be located – I worried that the hit may have been to the intestines & stomach only – that may have explained why they hadn’t  found the deer in its 1st bed after the overnight  13hr wait.   We put Gusto on the blood trail at the hit site and he was off.    He breezed through the first 200 yards where there was an easy to follow blood trail.  Once the blood ended, he continued on through the open hardwoods heading downhill at quick pace – he definitely was on the trail.  After a hundred yards or so in the open hardwoods we hit a row of Posted signs.

At that point we hit the brakes and Eric made some calls to find out who owned the land and if we could get permission to continue tracking.  Gusto wasn’t at all pleased with this sudden stop.  He tugged at the leash and barked continuously.  I’m sure he thought “ hey ! - what’s the deal – he’s getting away”.   Well, after waiting about 5 minutes we got the permission we were hoping for.  I let up on the leash and Gusto was off again heading down hill through the open woods.  We ended up going about 100 yards into the posted land and soon after found ourselves coming back out of the posted area.  By now we were at the bottom of the wooded hillside walking just inside the woods on a straight / level path towards a large field.   All along so far, Gusto seemed to be hot on the trail, very confident of where he was going.  Once we broke out of the woods, we had a large / thick goldenrod field in front of us.    Probably 300 yards long and 150 yards continuing down the hill.  Gusto jumped into the field and started downhill.  The goldenrod was about 4 ft high and very thick.  Gus had a hard time getting through it at ground level especially with the 25 ft leash trailing behind him.  He continued to make his way downhill through the goldenrod by burrowing under it or jumping over it.  He often put his nose high in the air, trying to air scent the trail / deer.  This is always a great sign that something “interesting” is ahead.   Several times during the 15 minute trip though the field I thought “he just wants to get to the woods on the other side”.  We finally did make it through the field and he headed straight into the brushy wooded area that continued downhill ahead of us.

After 5 yards into the new area, now on my hands and knees, I said to myself “now we’ve got the rosebushes – we always end up in rosebushes!”   This hillside was thick with blown down trees interspersed with rosebushes and brush.  Gus was still hot on the trail and I was amazed at how long he had been so hot on this trail – probably a half mile so far.    Now that we were about 10 yards into the thick stuff, Gus turned and started heading parallel to the bottom edge of the goldenrod field.  I was just trying to keep up with him – he can go under and through the blow downs and bushes while I have to go around and over them.   Not long after I thought “this would be a great place for a deer to bed down”  the sound of a breaking branch caught my attention.  I looked up ahead to see a tall rack with the backside of a deer under it taking 2 jumps before disappearing in the brush.    The Buck got up only 30 yards ahead of us and was gone just about the time I started bringing up my side by side 20 ga.  Something in the way he ran said he was hurting.  Meanwhile Gusto was barking and running after him.  Luckily I had a good grip on the leash.  Eric, who was up above me, along the edge of the field heard the commotion but didn’t see the deer.   After  going about 25yds past where the Buck had jumped up,  I stopped Gusto, who was barking wildly, and said to Eric, “now we’ve got  a decision to make –  keep going after him, or to back out till later”. 

It had been 20 hours since the hit and the deer was still able to get up and run, but he still let us get within 30 yards of him.   At this point I was thinking it had to be a gut or intestine hit and the deer could possibly survive another 12 hours, especially if it was intestine only.  I told Eric our best chance to recover this deer was to back out till Sunday morning and to avoid pushing him any further away.  He totally agreed, but wasn’t looking forward to another sleepless night.  At that point we marked the trail where we had stopped with some orange tape and I pulled the still barking Gusto off the trail.  We also put some tape along the edge of the woods before entering the big  goldenrod field.   Luckily we found a 4 wheeler trail to easily get back up through the thick field.  Immediately after we started heading back up the long hill to the truck, Gusto was out of his “tracking mode” and was just casually walking back with us.  It amazed me how he could suddenly turn off the excitement of the past hour and I was wondering what was going on in that head of his – did he somehow know that we weren’t finished with this deer yet ?   Once back at the truck  (2:30 PM) we arranged to meet again on Sunday morning at 9:00 – 39 hours after the hit.  He should definitely be dead by then, but how far away would he be ? And how well would Gusto pick up the trail again ?

On Sunday morning it was 29 F and clear.  I met Eric in Cohocton, and Gus and I drove in his truck with him back to the Avoca farm and then the mile through farm fields back to his stand location.  There, we met up with his hunting partner  Todd and his 15yr old son Zack.  It was a beautiful, crisp, calm and sunny morning as we headed back down the hill through the open hardwoods and then onto the 4 wheeler trail through the goldenrod field.  Along the way, I pointed  out to Eric and Todd how casual Gus was as he headed down to where we ended on Saturday.    He wasn’t yet in “tracking mode”.  The previous day Eric had asked me “how do you know when he’s really on the trail and when he’s not” .  Gusto was about to demonstrate the difference.  

When we got near the point we marked the previous day,  I put Gusto on the trail about 20 yards back from where we ended on Saturday.  I prayed that he would regain his previous enthusiasm for this deer.  I wasn’t disappointed.  He immediately got hot on the trail again and blew by our last piece of flagging tape.  After about 25 more yards in the thick brush he came out into the open  goldenrod field again for  a short time and then headed back down the hillside into the thick stuff.  It was hard keeping up, and at one point after letting go of the leash, I found myself running to catch up.   Gusto was getting close and he wasn’t waiting for me.   Then something caught my foot and the next thing I know,  I’m sliding face first on the ground reaching for the end of the leash.   To my surprise,  I caught the end of the leash and didn’t hurt myself.  Gusto was not happy with the brakes being put on, and once I picked myself up,  we were back in pursuit. 

At this point Gus was pulling, jumping and air scenting with his nose high in the air.  We were now in a patch of 4ft high goldenrod within the brushy woods. Just ahead I saw a small flattened clearing in the goldenrod.  When we got closer, I peeked into it and saw a half a rack poking up from the ground.  I stopped Gusto about 10 ft from the clearing and yelled up to Eric, Todd and Zack  who were 30 yards uphill - “So how big did you say this buck was  ? “  - Eric said “about 140” – I said “well you better get down here and score it “.     After a short confused pause, Eric came running down the hill in a flash.  The high fives and celebration ensued.   All toll, we had traveled only about  150 yds from where we had jumped the buck the previous day.  He must have been hurting pretty badly to only travel this short distance after being jumped.   The Buck sported a very high 8pt rack that we estimated at  130 – 135 inches.  The arrow entered about halfway back on the deer and about 8 inches up from the bottom.  It looked like it could have been a liver hit, but I didn’t think that was possible since he was still alive and running 20+ hours after the hit.  When Eric gutted it, however,  I was shocked to see the clean pattern of a Rage broad head right through an inch thick section of the liver  - Amazing!!! -  You learn something new on every track.

This was one tough Buck ! -  that led us on a memorable adventure.            

Bob Yax, Eric Zastawrny & Gusto  - Sunday 10/30/2011


Monday, November 28, 2011

Update on Elli. Calendars by Jolanta.

So far the news about Elli has been good. She made it through the surgery! Apparently the whole thing was more complicated than they anticipated. Elli turned blue at the beginning of surgery, but when they repositioned her she got better. The hernia was big and tricky to repair. She is staying at the vets overnight. She is doing OK, but I don't think she is out of the woods yet. I would like to thank everybody who e-mailed or called with concern about her your support means so much to both of us!

For the last two weeks I have been working on a new project, and finally it is completed. When I signed up for Facebook I started to post my pictures there as picture sharing is extremely easily done on FB. Here on the blog I can only post a small sample. I got a really good feedback from my friends, and they encouraged me to publish some of the pictures in the form of calendars.

I came up with two calendars, which are going to be printed and sold through cafepress. The first is on wirehaired dachshunds.

To see images from this calendar click here. To order it from cafepress (it is $20.99 plus shipment), click here.

The second calendar shows the beauty of nature in the Helderberg Hills, NY  (this is where we live). This is a cover:

To see images from this calendar go here. To order the calendar click here.

If you order them, let me know what you think. I have never done anything like this before, and hope that people enjoy my photography and that the quality of printing is good.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beware of fraud!

I have come across this discussion on Georgia Outdoor News. Since our blog is involved as a source of stolen images, I thought that a public warning is justified. Read carefully.

A big thank you to NGaHunter for recognizing images!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pat McCaffrey and Zeus, a blood tracking team from Columbus, Ohio

This picture comes from a very nice article on Pat McCaffrey and his wirehaired dachshund Zeus published by the Colmbus Dispatch. To access the article click here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Elli in trouble

Good thoughts and prayers are needed for Elli, a ten and a half year old matriarch of our dachshund pack. At the end of January she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and she was put on medication. She has done really well on the meds and has had a very good quality of life. She is slowing down, no doubt about it, but she still runs rabbits almost every day, and is always ready for more.

About three months she got a small inguinal hernia, which last night got much larger and now needs a surgical correction. But because of her heart condition Elli has only 50% chance of surviving surgery. Today she was checked by our vet Kevin Baldwin, and he was impressed with Elli's attitude. Clearly the heart medications have been working. The heart still sounds awful but her lungs are clear, and she feels good. She walked into to the examination room wagging her tail.

Kevin tried to reduce hernia by pushing the "stuff" back but did not succeed. Elli is going to have a surgery on Monday morning, but if she gets worse in the next two days, he is going to do the surgery on the weekend (bless his heart!). Right now she acts normal, eats, her temp is normal, so I just hope that things stay this way until Monday.

Below are some pictures of Elli taken this (Friday) morning.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to All of You!

Classic Deer Behavior from a Classic Poor Shot Selection

by Andy Bensing
November 13, 2011

Here is the story of a track I had that encompassed many valuable lessons about blood tracking with a dog and hunting whitetail deer in general.  When the call came in the hunter reported having arrowed a mature buck from 20 feet up and at the close distance of only 5 to 8 yards.  When I got to the hit sit the distance was actually even worse.  It was only 4 yards at best.  To make matters even worse than that, the buck was facing directly towards the hunter when he shot.  In that configuration, there is absolutely no chance of double lunging the animal and only an extremely very low chance of hitting the heart.  This is a shot that never should be taken with a bow.  The hunter did not see the arrow hit the deer but he reported a bright red blood soaked arrow with short gray or white hairs on it. 

At the shot, the deer barely reacted and walked away 10 yards and stood wobbling for 20 seconds then walked another 15 yards away and lay down behind a tree in some brush.  The deer laid there, with no window for a second shot, for 45 minutes with its mouth wide open panting.  After 45 minutes the hunter reported the deer staggered to his feet and wobbled away out of sight without offering another shot opportunity.  The deer left a solid 2 inch wide strip of bright red blood from a few yards past the hit site to the place it laid for 45 minutes.  After it got up from the 45 minute bed there was not a single drop of blood found by the hunter or my dog the next day over the course of the whole track as seen below.

After hearing the hunter's account of the deer's behavior after the shot, I assumed he had hit back farther than he had aimed and gut-shot the deer.  When I got to the hit sight I quickly discovered that the deer had been single lunged, not gut shot.  There were 2 oak leaves in the 45 minute bed filled with coagulated blood still showing the typical hundreds of bird shot sized bubbles often seen in blood gurgling out of a deer from a lung shot.  From that point forward there was not a drop of blood found.

In retrospect, what likely happened was the razor sharp arrow cleanly slipped between the ribs and pierced one lung without touching any bone and the deer barely knew anything happened other than a sudden shortness of breath and sick feeling.  He walked over, laid down to rest, the lung collapsed and therefore stopped bleeding as Mother Nature had planned.  Mature bucks are masters of conserving energy.  They rarely panic.  That's how they get to be mature bucks.  Once the bleeding stops and the deer has been lucky enough to not go into shock (as a result of not panicking and running off all crazed and losing too much blood too fast) now all you have is a tired anemic deer with one lung.  No different than a person who just came out of surgery after having one of his two lungs removed.

When I started my dog Eibe on the 24 hour old track she had a bit of difficulty getting going.  I am guessing that with all the massive blood the first 30 yards the area was flooded with scent and she had a hard time figuring out what the deer himself smelled like.  We knew what direction the deer had walked out of the bed but I let Eibe take 4 or 5 trial runs in several directions for 30 or 40 meters each until she finally locked into the deer's individual scent.  There was no blood to be seen and she started poking her nose down into the fluffy oak leaves and checking hoof prints in the soft underlying ground.  Once locked into the correct buck we tracked bloodlessly for 1000 meters through open forest and field and up a steep hill to a briar and laurel thicket.  The trail went about 100 meters into the thicket on the top of the hill and then began to hook back. 

At that point I said to the hunter that I believed we were about to find a dead deer or jump him still alive. This deer had shown typical wounded deer behavior.  He had rested till he got his wits about himself and then headed efficiently back to a safe bedding area to hold up.  Deer will often make a button hook, as indicated on the map above, before bedding down.  This allows them to watch their back trail and see predators coming and slip away before the predator is right up on them.  And that is exactly what this buck did.  After hooking back 100 meters and laying on the edge of a bench 70 meters off to the side of his back trail, this buck saw/heard us coming and slipped away before we saw him.  Eibe got stuck for about 5 minutes at his bed in the button hook I assume because of the abundance of scent there from being there all night.  Once she got that worked out she shot off like a rocket and I suspected then we were on the buck's hot trail but could not be sure as there was no sign except for the classic pattern the track had been taking. 

After 500 meters on the hot trail with no confirming sign I was starting to worry that maybe we were not on the correct deer's trail.  Most of the hot trail showed no hoof prints or sign at all except I had seen some small fresh tracks that went with some very small, warm to the touch droppings.  Not a good sign as these could not possibly have been from our buck.  The small prints eventually disappeared and the trail then began to curve around to begin to make a circle and large prints from a running deer appeared on the line.  I believe the buck initially just walked away from his button hook bed but we eventually got closer and he began to run and therefore started making easily visible tracks. 

I still wasn't absolutely sure Eibe was on the correct deer but when I saw the path of the deer on my GPS circling back to his original trail from the day before my confidence level began to rise.  What are the odds that some other random other deer would take this course?  Not very high in my estimation.  I told the hunter that if the deer we were following continued to loop back towards the button hook bed then we could be pretty darn sure it was the buck we were after.  Deer, just like rabbits and other prey animals make circles back over their previous course of escape to confuse their pursuers. 

Well this buck did not use that strategy but used another strategy that I have seen before.  When he got to the place I expected him to circle back to the button hook, he instead ran right through an overgrown field filled with deer paths everywhere but took the exact course through the field that he had gone the day before but in the opposite direction for 250 meters.  Clearly no coincidence.  If I had had any doubts, they were gone.  This was the correct buck that had been shot the day before through one lung.  The other thing I was pretty sure of was that he was too strong to catch up to with a tracking dog on a leash.  I forgot to mention the other strong, evasive maneuver he used that worked pretty well for him. 

I am sitting here typing this out with my arm in a sling because at one point when he started the 250 meter retrace in the field, it appeared he purposely avoided an easy crossing of a 7 foot deep by 4 foot wide ravine and jumped across the ravine at an awkward spot.  Well, his pursuer, me, fell into that ravine when a log he used as a bridge broke!  But I am pretty tough too so I handed the leash to the hunter for awhile and hobbled along till I got my wind and could take the reins again.  The buck continued back right past the original hit sight and eventually got on the back trail of the trail he had followed before he was shot.  At this point I considered all the following information I knew about the deer:

1.    One lung hit that collapsed and stopped bleeding.
2.    Hole out bottom of chest but not really that much blood likely lost.
3.    Was willing to go up a very steep hill within one or two hours of being shot the day before.
4.    Never let us get close enough to see or hear him even in some very open hardwoods after chasing him
1½ miles after the button hook bed.
5.    Appeared to be able to run through the forest at will without struggling 24 hours after the shot.
6.    Made a very large 500m circle and had enough wits about him to throw in a 250 meter back track.
7.    Tried to kill his pursuers (and almost did) by setting up a booby trap at the ravine :-)

I decided to give up the trail.  As long as this deer can fight off any ensuing infection, this deer has a good chance to recover from his wounds.  I hope my shoulder heels as quickly!

Just another day in Remi's life

Justin sent a picture of Remi with this caption: "Just another day at the office - 3 cow elk, 3 men and one Dog all stuffed in the Polaris Ranger."

I have been actually asked by some of you how Remi is doing. He is doing really well, but Justin has been very busy with guiding as he is short of staff. He has not done as much tracking this year, but I am sure that we will hear more about Remi when the hunting season is over. Justin will be adding another wirehaired dachshund to his tracking team in 2012.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sad news about Deer Search's dachshund Gusto

Yesterday we received a very sad e-mail from Bob Yax, a member of Deer Search of the Finger Lakes. Bob reported that his tracking dachshund Gusto von Moosbach-Zuzelek got loose and was run over by a truck. Gusto was a son of FC Asko von der Drachenburg and FC Sabina von Moosbach-Zuzelek, and a brother to our Gilda. He was born on March 27, 2002, and initially was sold to a couple from Massachusetts. When about three years ago they had to move to an apartment, they wanted to place Gusto in a new home, and this is how Bob and Gusto were brought together.

Bob wrote about his tracking partner:

Gusto had always had a very “feisty” personality. He was not afraid of anything. He’s been known to attack vacuum cleaners, weed trimmers (while running!) and the tires on moving vehicles – that’s what happened on Friday.

This tracking season was another successful one for Gusto. In 24 sorties this year, Gusto had 6 fine recoveries (see photos attached). He went into every call with the excitement of a pup and could maintain it for many hours in difficult tracking conditions. We had a few weekends where he handled 5 calls with enthusiasm - although after that he spent a lot of time passed out on the couch!

These past 2 years, we had really matured as a tracking team. I had finally learned to correctly read his behavior in most cases. There were still a few instances where I mistakenly decided to trust the hunter rather that what Gusto was showing me. Eventually, Gusto would show me how I was wrong and together we were constantly improving. I was looking forward to a few more good tracking years with him. Gusto’s personality, was always a source of entertainment for our family – he was an interesting / funny little guy.

With a very heavy heart we are saying good-bye to this talented dog.  Our deep sympathy goes to Bob who suffered a great loss. Rest in Peace Gusto!

First weekend of gun season was very busy for blood trackers from the Hilltowns.

I have not posted yet all the pics and reports I have in my Inbox, and I apologize for that. This is such a busy time for us, and I really would like to squeeze this post in before I start catching up.
The weekend of November 19-20 was the first weekend of gun season in the Southern Zone of NY. We got a lot of calls, especially on Sunday. The weather has been nice, and a lot of hunters were in the field.

This year Dan Hardin from Greenville is helping us with tracking. You might remember that Dan was the hunter that Tommy found a buck for in the Fox Creek last year. Dan took a DEC exam last August. Now he is a licensed tracker, but he does not have his own dog. Every weekend he takes our Keena out tracking, and yesterday they recovered their first deer together. How exciting! A big thank you to dan for tracking with Keena and for really nice pictures!

Keena with a 6 pointer she found while handled by Dan.

Dan Harding is holding Keena - finally a successful recovery!

Keena on her way back from the recovery is enjoying a ride in the passenger's seat
John took two calls with Joeri on Sunday and they receovered both deer.

This buck was gut shot and recovered 18 hours after the shot. The trail was around 200 yards, in Berne, NY.
Sunday afternoon - John and Joeri found this nice buck in Esperance, NY. The buck was liver-shot, the trail was 5 hours old.
We also failed to report Joeri's previous recovery on November 16:

On November 16 John and Joeri recovered a liver/stomach shot buck that traveled a long way. Joeri cold tracked for almost two miles, then jumped the deer. In the end the deer had to be put down (Knox, NY).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Craig Dougherty's article on blood trailing dogs in Outdoor Life

The video shows Radar (Quentin v Moosbach-Zuzelek), a Joeri/Keena son owned by Craig Dougherty of NorthCountry Whitetails.

I have not seen Radar in person since he left us as a young puppy so this video is a nice treat. He is a talented, good looking wire.  To read Craig's article on blood trailing dogs on OutdoorLife website click here.

Thank you Craig for such a complimentary article and for promoting the use blood tracking dogs in ethical hunting.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Foggy morning

Kevin Armstrong's Karma recovers a wounded bear

Exciting news from Kevin Armstrong from Naples, NY:
This Steuben bear was paunch shot late in the day on Thursday. It snowed several inches overnight completely covering the sparse blood trail. The bear went into a dense pine thicket where it took several beds. Apparently it died as we approached on Friday morning. It was still warm with no rigor mortis. This was Karma's first bear recovery.

Another nice buck recovered by Quella

Few days ago we received this nice report from David Bell from Ohio. Quella is a 2010 daughter of Joeri and Keena, and it looks like she is an accomplished tracker at a young age.
This buck was gut shot, but the hunter told me he had shot the buck behind the leg. After arriving at the hit site I quickly saw evidence that the shot wasn't as good as he had thought from examining the blood. After driving for an hour I decided along with the hunter to set the dog down since I wasn't going to come back out due to my busy schedule. When I set Quella down, she quickly found the back trail that the deer made. The hunter told me that the last blood was found a few feet in a back yard and briefly stopped, but I didn't question Quella's nose when she started to pull to the right with great determination. After going 50 yards or so I found some blood, which confirmed my suspicions. I let the hunter know that I found blood and he made his way quickly to me leaving the spot that he was so sure that the deer had gone through. 
I traveled across this 10-acre wood lot to another back yard where Quella paused for a second and lifted her head. This scared me for a second, because I didn't see any blood on the way over here and I thought she was frustrated or something, because she never lifts up her head. But as soon as the thought crossed my mind that we weren't on the deer track, my dog made a quick lunge for the rump of a bedded buck. From there we decided to pursue the jumped buck, so the hunter could do the ethical thing, which is put the buck down so he didn't have to suffer. The hunter manged to get a following up shot after we got into shooting distance, but the deer managed to cover lots of ground. Alltogether the track was a little over a mile to his final resting spot in a creek under a bridge. A man walking over the bridge saw the deer and notified the police, who came out and gave us a hand dragging the buck up the steep creek bank with a spare leash that I keep in my pack. The hunter happens to be my boss at work and I told him that he was very lucky that I took his call, because I wasn't taking any calls until I got a chance to hunt some for myself. After all it was the peak of the rut and I wanted to get out and get after one of those big bucks for myself. 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Karl's first rabbit

Just a quick note. We got our first rabbit Saturday. Had no tracking calls so I took Karl to the park by my house. I was dressed in my brush gear and I really wanted to see if we could get some rabbits going. Karl and I were working the briars when a rabbit shot out and went into another thicket. Karl was working so I just watched. Soon Karl was on the track and went into the other thicket as well. He opened and I saw a rabbit shoot out across the stick trees with Karl a couple of seconds behind .I was listening to his voice when all of a sudden everything stopped. I thought he was working a check and I moved to get a better view. I saw Karl across the wood patch laying down. I thought the rabbit went in a hole .He wouldn't leave so I went to get him.I was very surprised when I saw Karl had caught the rabbit. I slipped the rabbit into my vest and took it home for dinner.
Darren Doran

Andy Bensing's opinion about touch screen GPS

 A short intro to Andy's post is in order. Andy's love for detailed records of his tracks is well documented on this blog. And it is very impressive. However, very few handlers are interested in maintaining this kind of data. For what Andy does, a touch screen GPS is not an option and he explains why. For many other trackers, it might be a good, inexpensive alternative.

by Andy Bensing

On another forum we were discussing using smart phones as a gps while blood tracking and the availability of gloves that will work with a smart phone screen.  The main problem with touch screen gps when tracking is the inability to very quickly and easily use the screen while tracking in the field.  If you just want to record your path, mark the infrequent waypoint along the way and look at it on the map as you track along, no problem with a touch screen, but if you want to mark a lot of waypoints for various reasons along the way and if you want to individually record each restart you do if you have to pick your dog up and restart, then a touch screen is very cumbersome, nearly useless in my opinion.  At least for me and I have tried it.  

I have a perfect example of a track I did last night in the rain in rough terrain with steep hills, nasty briars and a deep stream. Here are the maps that show how much I marked and all the different restarts.  It would have been impossible to mark all that easily with a touch screen. We got to a deep stream crossing and while making sure it was correct, I believe Eibe got on a second wounded deer and found blood and a piece of an arrow and it lead to a second place she wanted to cross.  We had to drive around to the other side and sort it out over there with several restarts as well on that side.  I mark each restart with a different color track and the dark blue is always where we were walking not tracking to make the restarts.  All that being said, when we realized we could not cross the deep stream, I whipped out my smart phone, brought up Google earth, and figured out the best way to get around to the other side.

Incidentally, we did not get this deer.  He was very lightly opened up across the belly (the hunter watched him for 15 minutes with binoculars with intestines hanging but very little blood coming out even where he initially stood 100 yards from the shot).  After almost 4 hours of tracking in the rain and wind and rough terrain and working 2 different blood lines and taking both slightly over 1 mile from the hit site we decided to give up.  This deer will surely die and may have been already dead (we were tracking 24 hours after the shot) but the hunter and I had had enough.  My dog Eibe on the other hand still was raring to go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dachshund field trials in Ohio - November 11-13, 2011

I am back from three days of field trials hosted on November 11-13 by the Buckeye Dachshund Club in Dundee, OH. Conditions were difficult due to the lack of rabbits so the trials were not as enjoyable as they were in the past. It was a hard labor trying to find rabbits in the dense patches of golden rod.

I took three dachshunds with me - Tommy, Billy and Paika. On Friday we competed at the Buckeye Dachshund Club Invitational trial. 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. If some dogs are not available, then lower ranking dogs are invited. The dogs 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.

Unfortunately, this year due to the lack of rabbits the format was changed and it was "a single loss and you are out" competition. Also there were only 17 competing dachshunds. Interestingly of the 17, ten were standard wirehairs (including Tommy and Paika), and many of them got eliminated in the first series. In the end Tommy placed third and received the Oscar Award. The winner of the competition was John Merriman's Carmen, and the second place went to Stan Knoll's Oslo (both of these dogs were one-time-winners of the Invitational in the previous years).

Final results: L means a loss, W means a win, and B means that a dog (because of the uneven number of participants) was not running in a given series and was a bye-dog. So for example Tommy had three wins, one loss and was a bye dog once.
John Merriman with Carmen, Winner of the 8th Buckeye Dachshund Club Invitational Trial, and judges: Bob Paige, Ashley Innis Dumas, Patsy Leonberger and Gail Paige.

Stan Knoll with Oslo, Reserve Winner, and Ann Deister from the Buckeye Dachshund Club.
Jolanta Jeanneney accepting the Oscar Award (3rd place) for Tommy

On Saturday and Sunday the AKC trials were moved to Briar Patch Beagle Club in Newcomerstown as there were more rabbits there. The running grounds consisted mainly of small, thick patches of golden rod and a big block of really dense briars.

Briars!!! I guess we know what was the inspiration for the name of the club.

Small blocks of thick golden rod.
I took quite a few pictures and I will post them to my smugmug site in the next few days. Today I have a lot of catching up to do, so will just post a picture of Paika who was the Absolute Winner of the trial on November 13. She was also NBQ on Saturday, while Billy was 2nd in his stake.

Congratulations to all the winners of their stakes!

FC Paika v Moosbach-Zuzelek SW was first in the FCB class and was the Absolute Winner of the Buckeye Dachshund Club trial on November 13, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pictures of recent deer recovered by blood tracking dachshunds

I am just about to leave for field trials in Ohio, and I will be gone for five days.I am leaving you with the link to John's excellent article posted on the North American Teckel Club blog The Alternative to the Wiener Dog.

Also below are pictures of deer recovered by blood tracking dachshunds. Their handlers are very dedicated to tracking, and help hunters who need their services. I know that few days ago Susanne went on four calls! Congratulations and a big thank you for such a dedication.

Susanne Hamilton from Maine and her teckel  Buster found  this gut shot doe, 50 yards blood, then nothing for 300 yards through windy fields and apple orchards, saturated with deer.

Susanne and Buster found beautiful this 8 pointer, which was still alive ( leg/paunch hit).

Darren Doran's Karl followed a 300yd track past the point of loss and found this liver shot 8 pointer.

John Jeanneney and Joeri found the deer in Greenville, NY, few days ago.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spider, a blue heeler pup, is showing a great potential for blood tracking

What a nice e-mail from Scott Frye. Thank you Scott!

Some time back I bought your tracking book, as I was really interested in training one for my family. I purchased a blue heeler pup, and began to train him using your methods and guides. Spider is 11 months old now. He has found 5 deer for us this year. Truth told, the first three we really didn't need his help, but he needed the experience.  

Last night he completed his second night track, first one was several weeks ago, 300 yards on new ground, with very limited blood.  Last night's track was about 175, good blood for first 25 yards, then very limited for 100, then decent last 50. He is learning very quickly, made that track last night in about 20 minutes. He sure made the job a lot simpler.  

Thank you and Jolanta for your time and dedication to this sport, I would have really floundered without your book and wisdom given in it.  

I have found there is a lot I have to learn as a handler to make him better. Big difference in handling competitive field trial bird dogs and a tracking dog. I am learning from my mistakes, and really enjoy it.

 Hope your season continues to go well. My best to you and your bride.  

Just bought the Dead On! book. Looking forward to it as well.

Another successful track for Spider!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A new blood tracking team in the Capital Region, NY

We wrote about Eli Clement last summer when he was training his mini longhaired puppy Shyla. Eli passed a DEC exam for his tracking license, and this is his first tracking season. We got some good news from Eli!

His first find was a bobcat that he shot himself:

The 15lb Bobcat was shot at 25 yds and it ran 40' disappearing into very heavy wild rose. I knew the shot was good from the arrow. The blood trail was fairly good, but being color blind I was not able to follow it completely. So I got Shyla, our longhaired mini dachshund. She was not put off by the predator blood smell. She followed it along then into the heavy brush, taking almost all the clothes line into it. When she stopped pulling line I shone my light into the bush until I could see her. She was sitting and licking the ground. 3' above her head was the dead cat where it had climbed/perished into the huge rose bush. I was relieved she had not encountered a wounded cat!

Eli's second recovery was of his own doe:

The doe was shot at 4:15 pm. I thought my shot a little high. I got a fellow hunter to aid me in tracking. We found the arrow with blood on it. But no blood at the hit sight and none in the area. So I got Shyla. She found the first blood quickly on an over-turned leaf, 15' from the hit site. Then she tracked the general area clearly following the deer for 100 yds.

She seemingly lost the trail after this. She then crossed a road into a swamp. There she found the trailing quite easy, and even my color blind eye could pick out blood when ever Shyla stopped to sniff grass or leaves or brush. After 1/2 a mile she led me to the dead doe. Her first deer! She was all over it, tugging and happy as ever. A great start to her tracking season indeed. The arrow had passed through one lung and the liver.

And then another e-mail arrived with this wonderful picture:

Eli Clement is holding Shyla, a mini longhair.
Shyla has found another buck! The deer was shot at about 4:30pm. The hunter was unsure of the exact shot placement, but thought it has hit vitals from the blood on the arrow. So we gave the buck time. Four hours later I went out with Shyla. She was on the blood trail quickly; 400yds and we found the deer, in an opposite direction from where the hunter had though the animal had run. Chris the hunter was overjoyed, his first buck ever and first deer of the season.

Congratulations to Eli and Shyla!

The wind is an important factor in tracking

Michael Harrell from Georgia has shared an important lesson he learned recently. Michael, thank you for writing!
I did not expect to write to ya'll again so soon, but I am. This time, it is a learning experience for me, not my Lab, Pi. I am located in South Georgia and this is Pi's first year tracking and I was able to put her on her third and fourth track of the year yesterday.

Well, I have over 40 years of hunting experience. Most of that is deer hunting. So I have had a lot of hands on, on the job training of tracking deer. I have also worked with various gun dogs in the past so I know to trust your dog. But occasionally I still have flashes of stupidity.

This past Saturday I shot a doe. It was a good hit and should have been an easy track for my dog Pi, except for the dope on the rope. First, the set up.

I was hunting the same stand I shot a buck eight days earlier. There was fresh hog sign up and down the logging road where the blind was set up. There was also a fresh hog wallow about 50 yards from the blind, on the side of the road. In addition, there was a good bit of wind coming from the Northwest. It was a steady around 10 m.p.h., with gusts up to 20 m.p.h.

Around 8 a.m., a mature doe stepped out from the left into the road. She was not interested in the acorns on the ground, walked straight across the road to the right. The doe was about 75 yards down the road. Just a couple of minutes later, a yearling stepped out at the same spot, went into the road then turned and went back where it came from. Almost immediately, the yearling and another mature doe stepped out. Both began feeding on the acorns, gradually moving towards me. 

After a few minutes, I decided there was not a buck following them so I decided to take the mature doe. I waited until she was almost broadside at about 60 yards. I shot her with a 30-30 behind the shoulder. It was decent hit and the doe ran to the right side of the road, angling towards me. It hit the brush just before the hog wallow and ran into the planted pines. I lost sight of the doe but based on the direction she was running, I assumed the doe would continue to run to my right. Then, to my immediate right in some very thick brush, I heard it crashing through brush. I assumed it was the doe. By the way,  the doe would have been running with the wind if it continued with a gradual turn to the right.

I waited about 20 minutes, walked down to where the doe hit the woods and found some drops of blood. I went back to the camp and got my dog for what I thought would be a short, sweet track. Excellent training for her. Turns out it was excellent training for me.

Once we got back, Pi went straight to the area where I had shot the buck earlier. I called her back to the new hit site and she made some sniffs, then followed the trail into the brush. I found more spots of blood. Then the dog, instead of turning with the wind, stopped and turned into the wind. Pi stuck her nose in the wind, did some big zig zags, occasionally sniffing the ground and occasionally smelling the wind. It was “obvious” to me Pi had picked up some hog scent or the scent from the first doe. I followed her for a bit, looking for blood but did not find any.

Pi went behind an old blow down tree that was covered in vines. I was only about 15 feet from the blow down and called Pi back to the hit site. She started again and repeated her behavior, but veered a little further off from the first track but headed back to the blow down. Again, I called her back, but this time, I took her downwind of the spot I thought the doe fell. Pi went through this area and found deer poop, turkey poop, fresh armadillo rootings and such. But no blood.

By this time, I was really frustrated with her. So I took her back to the hit site and let Pi go again. Again, she turned into the wind. I followed her again, but took a different route than I did earlier. As I went across an old thinned pine lane, I saw blood. Then, more blood. At this time, it dawned on me. Pi was following the scent the whole time. Finally, I got to the old blow down and behind it was the doe. The deer had only gone maybe 20 yards total. But as soon as the doe hit the brush and I could no longer see her, the doe turned directly away from me and into the wind. What I heard can only be a guess, but it could have been the other doe I observed earlier. I don't know.

Pi's behavior in tracking had to be due to the wind. I believe she winded the doe in the gusting wind. She did not follow the ground blood trail because she did not have to. The wind was bringing the scent right to her. When I tried to follow her, I was not on the blood trail so that is why I could not find any blood. When I did look for blood from the hit site, I looked in the direction where I thought the deer had run and couldn't find any. I was making all kinds of assumptions on why the doe was not bleeding.

When I thought about this experience. I realized if the hunter had told me the story and I put the dog on the trail and the dog went in another direction, I would have followed the dog. I would not have trusted in the hunter's opinion.

Pi must think I was an idiot, pulling her off the doe twice. Trust your dog, even if it is young and inexperienced.

By the way, late that afternoon, I had the opportunity to put her on another blood trail. A small buck was shot. It was a good hit and we did not need the dog, but it was a good training trail. The wind had quit blowing by this time and Pi stuck her nose to the ground and followed the short blood trail right to the buck.
The next time the wind is blowing, I must realize she might not be following the exact trail but the scent being blown by the wind. Saturday was a good learning experience, for me!

Blood tracking teckels and the deer they have recovered

I apologize but I am running behind. This is a very busy time for blood trackers so submissions are coming in fast. Thank you, thank, thank you! You are a big part of the success and impact this blog has had. We will start with some teckels out of our breeding, but then ...there is so much more!

Let's start with Joe Walters from Indiana who wrote about Doc's (Buster/Keena son) third recovery on October 30:

Joe Walter's Doc
 Hunter shot this buck between the shoulder blades with a mechanical broadhead. Doc took the track to a plowed strip, where he had problems. Finally got about 100 yards north, and  it went through a tree line into a weed field. We found blood in the field and Doc took the track out and across a road where I determined he had lost the track and hunter said a doe was with the buck. We went back to last blood and Doc tracked right to the buck which was still alive. Before hunter could go back to his truck for his bow, the buck took off again. When hunter got back, we tracked it back to plowed area where Doc had problems again. He finally found where it went into weed field and found it again, and hunter put two more arrows into it. All total, it was about 400 yards of good track. Joe and Doc


Kevin Armstrong from  Bristol, New York shared his tracking news. His tracking dog Karma is a daughter of Billy and Gilda.
Kevin Armstrong and Karma

At last, a recovery! On the 11th try we recovered a deer. Eight of the 11 turned out to be unrecoverable muscle hit deer. One was a paunch hit that had obviously been chased by something. The dogs lost the trail completely when they dropped into a gully. It was like the deer just vanished off the planet. We were unable to reestablish the trail. One was an intestine hit deer that we followed an incredibly long way with at least six beds. I spent part of three days on this big buck and lost the trail after a cluster of bloody, hair filled beds from the second day. The track covered three sides of a mile long half mile wide rectangle. Even an extensive area search yielded nothing. Had I had John's number in my cell phone I would have called him from the field for advise. I'm still completely baffled.

This paunch shot buck did not leave a drop of visible blood. I was unable to take up the track until 23 hours after the hit. The hunter had bumped the buck off a bed in a dense thicket a couple hours after the hit. Karma alerted early on that the deer was in the thicket. I made her follow the trail anyway. She took us to a road, then doubled back into the thicket. With nothing to indicate we were on the right deer except an occasional large track I pulled her off and restarted her. This time she took the trail to the point where she had alerted the first time.

She looked at me, put her head to the ground and started off, I let her have her way and she took me directly to the dead deer. I had unknowingly pulled her off the first track 50 yards from reaching the deer. It was so thick we could not see the deer 50 yards ahead of us the first time around.


It was good to hear from Lynn and Ann Pierce from Louisiana, who track with Rosette, a daughter of Joeri and Gilda:

As you can see in the picture Rosette had her first track this year. It was youth weekend in Mississippi and my nephew gut shot a 120 pound doe which ran  into the woods several hundred yards with very little blood on the trail and it was mostly guts.

Once Rosette picked up the small amount of blood she led us right to the doe. It was a good test for her as the trail was mostly guts and hardly no blood.

Rosette is doing great down here and loving camp life.. the kids and all the hunters love her and she is really well behaved inside and outside.. y'all did a great job picking her out for us.

Hopefully more pictures to come.
Rosette is owned by Lynn and Ann Pierce.