Search This Blog

Monday, December 16, 2013

Four days after the shot, in deep snow, Thor finds the deer

By Bob Yax
Deer Search of Finger Lakes
owner of Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek, born April 6, 2012

With gun season being such a tracking bust due to all the snow, (we only took 3 calls) it was nice to get back on an Archery call this past weekend.  At least the hunter knew where he hit the deer!

We ended up with a  fun track (body search) and recovery yesterday in the deep snow.  Thor did a great job trudging through the snow that was over his head in some places    The hunter, Jon, had intestine hit a buck,  with a bow, last Wednesday evening.  He tracked it 100 yards that night, then backed out.  The next day he did a big area search for it, with no luck.   It snowed quite a bit since then and it had not been above 20F degrees, so there was hope that the deer might still be good.  We couldn’t arrange a good time to track until Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday we just basically did a casual walk through some areas that Jon had already searched and some areas he didn’t.  Thor would periodically start following pretty fresh deer tracks in the snow.  I’d pull him off after a short while so that he would focus more on the general air scenting that I wanted him to do.  About an hour into our search Thor picked up his nose and headed downhill towards a creek in fresh undisturbed snow – I thought “this is good”.   After about 40 yards, still air scenting,  he crossed the small creek and headed into thick brush.  Not long after, he stopped and buried his nose in the snow.  At that point I saw a spot of blood next to his head (it was the 1st blood we’d seen).  When I looked closer I saw a small tuft of deer hair.  At that point, I thought that Thor had just found some old part of a deer, (it was actually the butt end of the deer that a fox had started chewing on)  the hunter then yelled “there he is” and pointed to the half rack sticking out of the snow.  Holy crap! We found him!  He ended up about 400 yards from the hit site – maybe in his 2nd bed?

The hunter proceeded to gut the nice 9pt.  It wasn’t frozen solid but was very cold.  It had no unusual odor, so there’s a chance the meat may still be good – I’ll find out from the Hunter.

It was a good end to the season; I wish it wasn’t over!  Eleven recoveries just like last year. 

Thor with "his" very cold buck.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kansas and Pennsylvania are big deer hunting states where tracking dogs are still illegal

It is great to see some good articles being published in the states, where the use of blood tracking is still illegal.
  • To read "Tracking dogs can sometimes help recover deer", but not in Kansas by Michael Pearce, The Wichita Eagle click here
  • And in Pennsylvania the fight for legalization continues - read "Dogs could be useful in deer hunts" by clicking here

This picture shows Darren Doran's young dachshund Theo who recovered this deer in New Jersey yesterday. In New Jersey tracking is done on a special permit only. This was Theo's 16th recovery this season (out of 36 calls that Darren has taken).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Two confusing but successful blood tracks for Razen and Claudia

By Ray Holohan

Hi Jolanta,
I am sending you another photo of a hunter holding  Razen Kane over a nice buck that Claudia and her just recovered. The picture is a little gory and I apologize for that, but this is the best one we have. This story has a little twist to it and I thought I would see if anyone else has had a similar experience.

Claudia took the call from a hunter who had shot a buck while sitting on the ground behind a Ghost blind; this is a fold out blind that has a mirror exterior. He thought he had made a good shot with his slug gun. After a short time he went to look for blood. He found some after a short distance and proceeded to follow the trail. He finally lost the trail and couldn't come up with anymore blood or the deer. His buddy told him to give us a call and see if we could help him.

Claudia arrived at the place around 1:30 pm and took Razen to the first spot where he had found blood, somewhere close to the hit site. Razen took right off on the trail  but in a short distance wanted to break trail and head in another direction. The hunter told Claudia that the blood went the other direction so she made Razen follow the obvious trail, which she did. She ended up taking it further then the hunter had done but soon came to a dead end, so Claudia restarted Razen at first blood again.

Again Razen wanted to change direction but Claudia kept her on the trail the hunter had found, this time she took it farther and ended up finding a couple of wound beds with small amounts of blood. The trail seem to get better and better with more blood and Razen was getting pretty worked up about it. Razen took the trail to a major highway and wanted to cross it on to another property. Claudia told the hunter that he would have to get permission before she would do that. Well the hunter went to a nearby house and got the permission to keep tracking, so she let Razen keep going.

She took them to and through a small thicket then proceeded to enter a chisel plowed field. The blood was still there along with stomach  substance; the hunter was really getting excited and amazed at the job she was doing. Razen took the track another half mile across the field to a creek, where they jumped a big doe that had taken a hit in the rear. The hunter said that's not the deer, he had shot, his was a buck. At that moment the hunter's excitement turned to gloom, even though Claudia was feeling good about Razen tracking all that distance and finding a deer.

Claudia trying to ease the hunter's disappointment told him that she would take the dog back and restart her again at the beginning. After a long walk back Claudia let Razen do some snooping. She took a shortcut she came on a blood trail and in a short distance led to the buck he had shot. Claudia said the guy went nuts, hugging her about 5 or 6 times and carrying on like a little kid. Claudia was feeling pretty good too as she knew this ended  9 "no find dry spell" tracks for Razen. Not only did she find the buck but made a successful track on the doe too.

Do you think that the blood they started on was the buck's or the doe's? Will a dog switch blood trails? I'm thinking the blood trail of the doe was the blood she started on, but she wanted to go in that other direction at the start and Claudia took her the way that the hunter wanted to go. I know "believe your dog,"  Anyway this ended a long dry spell for her, she is a good tracker and never gives up but after a combination of  property line issues, bad scenting conditions, and non-lethal shots we were beginning to wonder.

Thanks, Ray and Claudia

Monday, December 9, 2013

New perspective on dog breeding part 1: puppies' conditioning in the womb

This article by Larry Mueller was published in Outdoor Life 15 years ago, in 1998. Since then the science of genetics and epigenetics have advanced tremendously but the conclusion has not changed that much. If you want to breed superdogs, you'd better start really, really early in a dog's life. The next installment will present a current perspective on the points raised in Larry's article.

Building The Superdog
Beginning Before Birth
The where, when, why and how of starting a superdog

Larry Mueller
Hunting Dogs Editor, Outdoor Life, 1998

     The new century for dogs is now. Modern science has poised the dog world for a fastforward of unprecedented proportions. In the past, superdogs were rare accidents of nature - naturals that made even first timers believe they were great trainers. And now we know how those accidents happen. We hold the simple secrets to building our own superdogs from scratch.
How early can we begin the conditioning which could lead to a superdog? Five months? Eight weeks? Ninety days? Would you believe… in the womb? It's true. We have scientific evidence that the fetus is not sealed in isolation. It lives in its mother's world.

Interestingly, before Mendel discovered genes, breeders were hunting pregnant bitches to produce superior pups. After Mendel's theory caught on, that practice was called an old wives' tale. Genetics allowed us to break breeding down to numbers and predict a few traits like coat color. So, we assumed that breeding is a crap shoot of many-sided gene dice. All traits, behavioral and physical alike, were thought to be locked m place at birth. It was a neatly packaged theory that shrank nature to fit our head size. To believe it, however, required ignoring all the loopholes and protecting our ignorance against obvious evidence to the contrary.
But this is for the future. For now, we're conditioning fetuses to become great hunting dogs: Proof that it's possible comes from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Marion Diamond, professor of anatomy, divided laboratory rats into two groups. In one rats were housed singly in boxes with just food and water. In the other, groups of rats lived together and enjoyed toys which were changed periodically - a mentally challenging environment.
At maturity, Marion Diamond sacrificed some of both groups and physically measured the cortex areas of their brains. The cortexes had actually grown thicker in the challenged rats. For the first time, it was proven that the anatomy of an animal brain could be changed by experience. Subsequent maze tests m other laboratories proved that rats with thicker cortexes were smarter and quicker to learn.
In a second study, Professor Diamond placed pregnant rats in both deprived and challenging environments. Again, the challenged rats had the thicker cortexes. But get this: So did their offspring! Somehow, the mother's experiences had improved their babies ability to learn.
Can this happen in dogs as well as rats? Of course. As Dr. Diamond points out, the number of neurons in a single column of cortical nerve cells is the same in rats, dogs and man. The number of dendrites (branchlike extensions) and the resulting complexity of circuitry is what creates some of the differences between species.
I asked Professor Diamond whether given the olfactory propensity of dogs and the fact that scent is tasted as well as smelled - there might be a biological connection telling the fetuses that their hunting mother is excited and what odor is responsible. Sound reasonable? "It does," she said, cautioning, however, that she believes everything is possible until proven otherwise.
How might the fetus be conditioned by the mother s experience? My own theory is that tasted odor, like medicine held under the tongue, quickly enters the bloodstream. At the same time, excitement releases adrenaline into the bloodstream. Brain chemicals such as seratonin fire into the gaps between the dendrites. A percentage of those chemicals are recycled to be used again by the brain. The remainder enters the bloodstream, which, in a pregnant bitch, also flows through the unborn's brain where it reproduces sensations much like the mother's.
Whether my theory is right or wrong (veterinary neurologist and Auburn University professor Larry Myers says I'm close, if not dead on) we're certain that challenging the pregnant bitch will enlarge the offspring's cortex. Training will be easier. And if my theory is right, the pups will likely have a strong preference for the scent that excites their mother. Deer chasing should be minimized.
I believe that the time to make the greatest impression on the fetus is the last 21 days of gestation. (Since this was published in Outdoor Life, NBC reported that Dr. David Min used ultrasound to track heartbeats and movements of human fetuses. They began responding to parents' voices and music at 26 weeks, verifying the third trimester as the time of greatest opportunity for influencing the unborn.)

Additional support for hunting the pregnant bitch comes from Missouri educator, Red Setter breeder and trainer, Bruce Ludwig. Except for heat-of-summer litters, Ludwig hunts his bitches until the last week. "I've definitely seen more pointing intensity in pups from hunted bitches, Bruce said. And as an educator I see a parallel in children. From all walks of life and degrees of intelligence, those mothers who are physically and mentally active during pregnancy bear children who react noticeably better to sight, sound, and touch. It's most apparent before learned responses form, but it carries over to superior grades later."
But will breeders hunt their pregnant bitches? Should we risk hunting ours? We've always pampered them. I can only answer with more questions. Have you ever known a coyote who took off two months from hunting to have her pups? Have you ever known a young coyote that wouldn't hunt? Not hunting the pregnant bitch may well be the first step in producing all those worthless dogs we see.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Leashed Blood Tracking Dogs in Pennsylvania – Update

By Andy Bensing

The Senate Game and Fisheries Committee met on Wednesday 12/4/2013 and HB451, the leashed blood tracking dog Bill, was on the agenda.  I was pretty excited when I heard the week before that the Chairman had decided to put the bill on the agenda.  I and other Deer Recovery of PA members have been working for over 13 years to gain legalization in PA.  We have gotten 3 bills out of the House of Representatives during that time and into the Senate Game and Fisheries committee.  Our current bill under consideration in the committee, HB451, was unanimously passed by the House last May.  Well my excitement turned into another letdown when once again the bill was tabled for purposes of further discussion/clarification.  The committee members’ general consensus was that they needed more clarification as to how the dogs would be used and how the program would operate in the field.

This is quite frustrating to myself and other hard working members of DRP.  We have been working for years to educate the legislature.  We send them packets of information, offer unfettered access to us to answer questions and meet with them or their assistants to explain what we do and answer questions.  Just this past August and September one of our members personally met with 10 of the 11 committee members or their assistants in one on one meetings at the capital to explain what we do, why we do it and how it is done in other states.

With all this effort on our part our tracking dog bill has been brought up in the Senate Game and Fisheries 3 times in the last 18 months and always has ended up with the same result.  Tabled because they need more information.

The meeting did have one bright note in that the consensus was that the committee was not completely against the bill, they did table it instead of voting it down, but they wanted more specifics written into it as to how it would actually be run by the Game Commission once enacted.  Several members of the committee spoke with us after the meeting and asked us to assist with that.  Also, the Chairman did commit to holding an informational public hearing early next year to try and work out some of these issues.

So all in all the meeting did not live up to my early expectations but we did inch forward a little bit.  One thing about blood trackers that’s for sure, we don’t give up easily.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Susanne's graveyard track

A big thank you to Willette Brown who shared her story about a wounded buck track that took place on September 24. Susanne is now on her way to Florida where she spends her winters training horses. It was her best tracking season yet - she went on tracks of 58 deer, four moose and four bear. This kind of dedication to tracking is matched by very few!

By Willette Brown

I got out of the passenger seat and adjusted my coat and hat.  We were parked in a graveyard and heading for the field and woods just beyond. Susanne handed me a headlight and a coat because we had hurried from another location to the hit site and I didn't have any tracking gear with me.  I was thinking to myself that I hoped there wasn't any swamp because I only had my sneakers on… but I wasn't going to whine about it in front of everyone else.

As we got our equipment together Susanne recapped the information with the hunter… half the arrow still in the buck, no blood at the hit site, blood fifty yards later on.  Buster, Susanne's dog, was all business, quiet, thoughtful, and patient as she got him fitted with his harness and light.  He has been here and done that.  He knew the drill.

We moved towards the field and out into the night.  Susanne's headlamp illuminated the path, light banter and Buster's businesslike trot drew us on.  It was probably a four pointer the hunter explained, best he could tell in the heat of the moment. As we approached the hit site, Susanne hooked Buster to his tracking lead.  "Game on!" as far as Buster was concerned. Nose down he began to work. Suddenly, we were off into the tall weeds, thick and thin, with paths here and there that appeared to be game trails. 

Buster moved across the uncut field and spent some time looping.  We paused and watched him work.  Well, we actually couldn't see much except Susanne's shoulders and headlamp following through the rustling, dried weeds.  Down the edge of the woods he went, then back up to last blood  where we were standing.  Then he locked on and headed or the woods and we followed.  After maybe thirty seconds we hear, " I got it!" and about fifty yards into the woods, hidden in thick brush, lay the dead buck.  It was a 17 pointer! Wow!  The hunter was now REALLY pumped up.  He had brought his son and a friend to help get the buck out of the woods.  He was completely confident that Buster would find the deer.  He had worked with Susanne before and knew that if it was "gettable" they would get it.

In fact, he had quietly remarked as we set off into the night, that he wished he had met her 20 years ago.  I laughed, and knew that this was high praise, as well as backhanded marriage proposal.  Of course I think he would have to get in line, a very LONG line, as she has admirers all over Maine who have come home with a deer that might otherwise have become coyote food.

We then let my young dog follow the track and "find" the deer.  Susanne patiently guided him as he had an excited but muddled start.  Once on the line he quickly headed for the woods and "found" the deer, his first.  Initially he was surprised and unsure what to do with the dead deer, and he cautiously tugged on the ear, then looked around like, "Is that OK?" We laughed and praised his efforts.  He was getting very proud of himself.

It was full dark and the party, with dressed deer, moved back through the woods and fields. Bow season, warm weather, lots of night tracking.  I knew that I had watched a truly remarkable team at work and I couldn't help but admire the amazing partnership.  So sure of each other and focused on the job. And out of the maze of deep dark woods we were able to find this one deer.  Wow.

 Pools of light from headlamps guided us back and the relief and accomplishment was palpable.  The hunter had done the right thing, and the Buster had made short work of what might otherwise be a long, possibly fruitless search.

Tracking season had officially begun and "that look" was now in Susanne's eyes.  It is a hungry,  razor focused,  adrenalin laced look that might be terrifying if you were a wounded deer, but is unadulterated nourishment for her partner, Buster.  The look in Buster's eyes was a bit more ho hum, and as he settled into the car he quickly curled up.  Only eight more weeks to go!

This 17-pointer shot by Paul McFallin was recovered by Susanne Hamilton
and her 11.5-year-old dachshund Buster.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we are approaching Thanksgiving celebrations we’d like to let you know how much we appreciate you and your dogs, and we thank you for being a part of our community. John and I are very thankful to be a part of your life, and we wish you and your loved ones Happy Thanksgiving.

Urgent call for help! Support legalization of blood tracking dogs in Pennsylvania now!

These are just few pictures of many that show deer recovered by Andy Bensing and his tracking wirehaired dachshund Eibe this fall. Even though Andy lives in Pennsylvania these deer were tracked in Maryland. Andy loves helping hunters recover deer that they are not able to find by themselves but unfortunately the use of blood tracking dogs is illegal in Pennsylvania. Read more what Andy posted on Facebook today:


I and many of my friends have been working for 13 years to change a hunting law in Harrisburg to legalize the use of leashed tracking dogs to help recover deer that a hunter has shot and has not been able to locate himself just using his eyes. Our current bill is very close to becoming law. If you would like to help please read the rest of this message and send a few emails to Harrisburg ASAP.
Thanks in advance,
Andy Bensing

Recent developments in Harrisburg make it urgent that you email or call to all the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Members immediately. Please contact them yet tonight or tomorrow. Send your email on Thanksgiving day if that is all the sooner you can get to it but PLEASE get it done.
Chairman Alloway is considering putting HB451, our Blood Tracking Bill, on the agenda for passage next Wednesday, December 4th, but it will only happen if the other committee members express their support for HB451 to Chairman Alloway in advance. That's why you need to contact all committee members right now and ask them to support HB451 and request it be put on the agenda.

Get any of your interested friends and relatives to write as well. The more the better. With enough hunter interest and support this may actually happen finally this year.

Here is a list of all the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee email addresses. Just address your email, "Dear Senator" and BCC copy it to them all.
Write your own letter or use the Sample below but please just write and do it immediately. There is no time to waste.

Sample letter:
Dear Senator,
I am very happy to hear that Chairman Alloway is considering putting HB451, the Leashed Blood Tracking Dog Bill, on the December 4, 2013 Senate Game and Fisheries Committee meeting agenda for passage out of committee. I support the legalization of leashed blood tracking dogs here in PA and I hope you do as well.

I ask that you let Chairman Alloway know that you are in favor of HB451 and you would like to see it come up for a vote at the upcoming committee meeting.

The legalization of the use of leashed blood tracking dogs for the recovery of wounded deer and bear has been rapidly spreading across the country for the last 10 years. All the major PA sportsman’s clubs (PFSC, UBP, NWTF, USP, QDMA) support HB451. The PGC has supported HB451 with a resolution and Governor Corbett on the advice of the Governor's Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation supports the bill as well. With all this support I hope now will be the time to finally pass this bill. I hope you can help.

Monday, November 25, 2013

2014 Calendar with wirehaired dachshunds

A 2014 calendar with our wirehaired dachshunds is ready and can be purchased at Enjoy!



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A memorable tracking season for Pete and Lisa: three bears recovered so far

I again apologize to those who submitted their pictures and have not seen them posted here. All the pictures get posted promptly on Facebook. It takes a while for us to post stories and pics here on this blog as due to the high volume we need to group them.

This post is dedicated to Pete Martin, a Deer Search handler from Kiamesha Lake, NY, and his tracking dachshund Lisa. Lisa was born on April 9, 2005, so now she 8.5 years old. Her parents are FC Billy von Moosbach-Zuzelek and FC Gela von Rauhenstein. Over the years Lisa proved to be an excellent tracker of wounded bear, and this year she has recovered three of them.

The first bear was recovered on October 13, and Pete described the circumstances:

What a day full of coincidences. I was invited to attend a bow hunting educational course in Yulan N.Y. Sullivan Co. When I pulled into the deli next to the fire house I ran into an old friend I haven't seen in 7 years. While I was participating in the bow education class representing Deer Search, a fellow inquired about a bear his friend had shot the night before. They were still looking for it. I advised him to call hunter out of the woods so he could come and talk to me. I interviewed the young hunter and his father at the fire house around noon. The call didn't sound good for several reasons. My biggest concern was that he arrowed a sow with two cubs by mistake. No arrow. No blood. I decided to make the best of the situation. It was only a couple miles up the road. Second weird coincidence. As I was making out paper work a truck pulls up and it turned out to be one of my best friends from High School. I haven't seen him in 30 years.

Off we went to track the hunter's bear. From the hit site nothing, at 75 yds. we had minimal blood. 100 or so more yards and  Lisa showed me  a wound bed; 50 yds. further another wound bed. Then 30 yards more and there was a dead bear. I think Lisa knew where this bear was before we started to track. Total time was about 20 minutes.

Took the bear back to Yulan Firehouse to show students and instructors what Deer Search can do for hunters. What an incredible day. I have you John & Jolanta to thank for this pleasure.

First bear of the season
On November 4 Pete wrote:
Again Yulan Firehouse - Sullivan Co. on Saturday afternoon, 18-hour-old bear track. Hunter trailed bear 80 yds Hunter shot the bear at 5 pm and he looked until 11pm. He trailed the bear for 80 yards. Next day the hunter and friends looked for bear all morning. We arrived at firehouse around 11. Trail was not marked. Very little blood then nothing. Lisa was very confident.  Showed me more blood 100 yards later. We found wound bed 50 yards further. Lisa made an extremely  intelligent and focused trail, She checked herself twice before going another 175 yards or so straight to a very large dead black bear.  As usual I stick around for the field dressing to see the true evidence of the shot placement and blood collection. It was a perfect liver shot. What a day! Lisa is the best I have ever seen tracking. Awesome!

Third bear of the season
 November 16 brought another e-mail from Pete who wrote:
Received a call from a hunter that Lisa and I tracked for three years ago for yet another bear. It was in Orange Co. on Tuesday Nov. 12. Arrow recovered, minus three inches. Very little blood on the ground, no blood on arrow. Shot at 4:30 pm. Took up track at 1:45 pm. next day so it was a 21-hour-old trail. Hunter tracked bear about 80 yards. Lisa was very focused on her job at hand. She made no checks on her way to the bear at least 500 yards away. No blood whatsoever. She was very vocal. Took us to live bear 10 yards away from him. Bear was dragging his hind legs in front of me trying to get away. Right away I knew obviously it was a spine shot. I had to catch up to bear to dispatch. Large male bear. Lisa is the best bear tracker ever! I don't even think she likes deer anymore (just joking) Third bear this year! Thank you again for an awesome tracker!

Well, Lisa proved Pete that she likes to track wounded deer too as few days ago he wrote back:
I received a call from a young hunter who shot his deer on Saturday morning at 7:15. (I tracked for the hunter's friend last week and that deer was found alive in its wound bed.) week. We took up track at 9 am Sunday morning.

Weather conditions were foggy, mild, calm. Pete says: "Walking to the hit site I could tell Lisa was already on to the deer. From the hit site the hunter marked the trail 70 yards or so. Off we went along the logging trail. One hundred yards or so Lisa took an immediate sharp right turn. There lay the deer, 10 yards off the trail. The hunter and his friends walked past the deer looking for it 5 or 6 times. They never saw it. Nice spike buck.

Hunter and family are very grateful for meat on the table this holiday season. I am so proud of Lisa and the work we do in the name of Deer Search."

Pete Martin with Lisa and a deer they recovered recently

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two different deer tracking strategies produced different results

Thank you to Ken Parker, a UBT member from Georgia, for the report on two tracks he did with Mirko and Baby, his Bavarians.

Tuesday morning around 10 AM I got a call from a hunter stating that he had shot a big buck around 8:30 with his crossbow but backed out when he realized he had gut shot the deer. I advised him that we needed to wait 6-8 hrs after the shot before we took up the track. I was going to try to get off around 2:30 to head his way.
Well around lunch I got a second call of a deer down that could not be found. The hunter could not find any more blood after a few hundred yards and he had spent the morning walking the woods looking for his deer. We talked some and I told him that I should be able to get to him between 9 and 10 that night.  He said that he had someone coming in a few hours and they were going to be looking some more.

I was not able to get off until 3:30 so that would put me getting to the first track around 5. We were able to get in and get started quickly. Mirko, my male BGS, was the one who was up for this track. He quickly worked the line out to the hunter's stopping point and out into an old grown up field. The wind was swirling some and he kept putting his head up like he was winding the deer. He finally picked a line and off we went down into a swamp. There was so much deer sign it was hard to to tell if he was on the right deer or not.

I decided to pull him off the track and restart him to see if he brought us back to the same spot. In the meantime I also got a call from the second hunter stating that they had found a wound bed and were going to bring in a bloodhound. If they did, would it be an issue for my dogs if I was till needed? I said no problem, go for it.

Returning to the hit site I restarted Mirko and he took us right down to the same opening and started working with his head up again. Off we went down the same trail again for about 50 yards, then we turn left, OK, new spot, lets go. Mirko took me across the old field and over near the road and power line. Here he turned up toward an industrial building. At this point I was just letting him drag the lead around as I did not want to crawl into the thicket he was in. That is when the world came alive.

A big deer came barreling by me and I knew right away we had the hunter's deer up and moving. It was now 6:30 and it had been 10 hrs since the shot. We decided to give the deer some time and went to move the trucks around to where we were now. Boy I did not know it was going to take us so long to get started again. As I was getting ready to go back in the woods I realized I did not have my GPS tracker for the dogs. I must have dropped it when we were getting back in the trucks. So off we went back to the other side but no gps. Now I was mad as that was a lot of money, then it hit me. The controller beeps when the dog trees so we could check if we heard it.

I started to think when the last time was when we had it. So we went back to the spot where the deer about ran me over and started our search. Sure enough, we heard the beep so it was close but where? We spent the next 30-45 minutes walking in a 20 yard circle hearing the beep but not finding the unit. Finally, we all agreed that we were within 10 ft but still could not find it  because of very tall briars. Then Derek looked down and low and behold we had been standing on it in the trail.

Back to work - did the deer go to the swamp or cross the road. Mirko was so ready that when I hooked him back up and told him to "find it" that he about pulled my arm out of the socket going after the fresh track that was now a little over 1 1/2 hrs old. Well this is the lucky hunter as we came up on the deer in about 150 yards as it was taking its last breath. When it got up and ran that was the last bit of energy it had.

So back to what we all knew would be the unlucky hunter. I gave him a call and told him that I could be there at 9 PM if they had not found the deer. They did not find it and wanted us to come. I got there at 9 and we got down to the hit sight. As it turned out the hunter had waited only 20 minutes before he started to look for his deer. That is when we heard a large pack of coyotes off in the direction I was told the deer had gone. I wanted to start at the beginning of the track since they had spent the better part of the day looking near the point of loss and later another dog had been on the track.

This time it was Baby's turn to track. She is getting old and is easy to follow so I just let her drag the lead instead of holding onto it. We quickly worked the line out to the point of loss and then out to were the hunter's friend had found a wound bed. Baby was slow and steady and not only showed us the wound bed but the other two wound beds also. So we kept going and the deer turned and went under a fence. I was told that the bloodhound did that too but he turned and went back down the fence the way we came. Baby ignored this and went straight across the open area into the next wood lot. Here things got a little weird and we lost the track. I decided to work her around the field to see if we cut the track or could wind the deer in the field.

We worked all the way around the field and came back to the track at the wound beds. But this time I spotted the fourth wound bed. There were 4 in 50 yards. This deer was hit hard to keep getting up and moving like that. So again under the fence and into the woods but this time we took an immediate right just inside the woods. It was now getting close to 11 and the hunter's was about to drop from being so tired and worn out from looking all day. I was also getting tired. But that is when we noticed, more blood. So here we were with new sign to guide us. Baby continued finding a few more spots and then took me out across this wood lot into another field across it and into the next section of woods that holds two house and the road. Well this was where the track ended for us. The deer crossed the road and went where we could not go at that time.
The difference in recovering and not was pretty straight forward.
  •  The first hunter recognized he gut shot and backed out following my instructions not to go back in there as he might push the deer. Second hunter only waited 20 minutes and searched all day walking and disturbing the woods.
  • If the deer runs out of sight wait at least 2 hrs. If you even think there is a chance of gut or liver wait 6 hours or more if you can. I know weather plays a big factor in how long you can wait.
  • If you go more than a few hundred yards and have not found the deer, back out and wait a while.
  • If you do jump the deer wait another 4 hrs.
  • None of this will guarantee a recovery but it will increase your odds. It will also be less likely that you have to call in a tracking dog. But if you do and have done everything right, then hopefully your deer will be found within a few hundred yards instead of a mile or more because you were in to big a rush and pushed the deer.

Here is Derek Snyder and his boy with Derek's perfect 10. This was a very tall and heavy racked 10. Not a lot of spread on him but a very symmetrical rack.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A neck-shot deer recovered 20 hours after the shot

Claudia Holohan and her wirehaired dachshund Razen seem to be on fire. This is one of their latest finds as reported by Ray, Claudia's husband.

Razen and Claudia found another nice buck. The hunter called the night before that he had shot a buck in low light and was not sure of the shot placement. When he found only a few drops of blood he decided to back out and call us.

We decided to wait till morning since we weren't sure of the hit. Next morning we packed Razen and Ruff up and drove to the area. I brought Ruff along hoping it was going to be a easy track and I would let her run after Razen located it. Claudia started Razen at hit site and it wasn't long before she found the blood and was tracking a relatively easy trail with moderate blood from single drops to cluster of drops. She tracked it out of the timber where I took over across a cut corn field to a 2 acre swamp low area with lots of cover.

At this point she continued by the swamp along a standing corn for about 300 yrds where I turned her around and headed back to the swamp since I haven't seen any more blood. Once we got back to the swamp I put her on last blood where she worked it out and headed into the swamp. Once in it I was picking up blood here and there and she was making a number of checks. We found a wound bed that had a moderate amount of blood.. As I worked my way through the swamp I noticed the blood wasn't dried blood but really bright and fresh looking. As I got out of the swamp there was a few more clusters of fresh blood, I told the hunter that I think we blew him out of there and he agreed. We decided to give him some more time and backed out.

Claudia came back with Razen 3 hours later and put her on last blood. It didn't take long before she wanted to jump the fence and go into the standing corn. She went cross the rows about 60 rows and found the buck. The hunter was one happy camper hugging Claudia and smiling from ear to ear, first comment was "how the hell am I going to get him out of here".

To Claudia's surprise was that the buck had been shot in the neck and just expired after being shot 20 hrs before. If the hunter had told me a neck shot I probably would have told him that if he hadn't found it that we probably wouldn't either. The hunter was using two-bladed blood runner; this is a twin razor blade that expands even further on contact to 2 1/2". The arrow had broken off and I think was working on him when he was moving causing more damage and keeping the blood flowing. So I think I will have to reconsider the next neck shot track and at least take a look.

Thank you Ray for the informative post and congratulations to you, Claudia, Razen and Ruff on such a good recovery. As John said in his book the neck is not a good target for bowhunters. If the spinal cord and the major blood vessels are not disrupted, the deer is likely to keep going and soon will stop bleeding. It looks like what you encountered was a special situation.

Help find Bella, a blood tracking dog from Claremont, NH

Update: Bella has been found!

Rob and Diane Richardson from New Hampshire are looking for their blood tracking dog Bella. In Diane's words:

We were doing a wounded deer track on 11/14/13 at 379 Jarvis Hill Rd, Claremont, NH and just as Rob was reeling her in to call a halt to the track and the night, Bella somehow got off her gear and zipped off still tracking the buck. We searched all night and never found her. She ALWAYS comes to Rob so this is very unusual.

Bella is a Southern Black Mouth Cur (looks like pit X Lab mix to some people) red/yellow/tan. about 50 lbs. 23-24" at shoulder and last seen wearing a green nylon collar that has her name, license (Unity), Rabies tag and Microchip tag.

She is people and dog friendly. Traffic naïve and will run in front of autos without thinking. She is a trained (licensed by NH Fish & Game) Blood tracking/Wildlife recovery dog and is trained to track wounded deer. She may still be in pursuit of or with the buck she was tracking - do not shoot her! Bella has SEVERE food allergies and needs a specific diet!!!

If found in need of medical care transport immediately to her vet Claremont Animal Hospital.

$100 reward for her safe return no questions asked.

Diane & Rob 603-542-7344 or Claremont Animal Hospital 543-0117 or the Claremont Police Department.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Women as handlers of blood tracking dogs

by John and Jolanta Jeanneney
updated November 13, 2013
Many women love to work with dogs, and we  have long wondered why they have dominated the field of Search and Rescue but rarely became involved with dogs for tracking wounded big game. Now the old pattern  is beginning to change, and some of the most active "blood trackers" in the USA are women. Some of them are taking calls and finding deer in numbers that any man would be proud of.

For male hunters it may come as a surprise to learn that the majority of female trackers are not hunters themselves. So how did they become involved in blood tracking in the first place? And what keeps them going? We asked the question some women handlers who are very active in the field and included their answers below.

For some women their starting point was a deep love for their dog. They tried to honor and realize their dog's full potential. Willette Brown, who is not a hunter, described it well in her post about Trackfest when she said: "I have this totally awesome dog, and when I watch her work my pride is bigger than all of my misgivings or fears, and all I want is to understand her more deeply and help her become the best she can be."

Later the challenge of  finding the game might motivate the women trackers even further. Males who hunt can well understand and appreciate the psychology of this.  Tracking together in cooperation with a  dog is important for these hunter/trackers too, but they also find that tracking becomes, in a way, an emotional extension of hunting.

Let's make it clear that the new wave of  women can't be boxed into a single category as non-hunters. Some women are passionate hunters, like most men who track. Pam Maurier, Paulene Eggers and Lee Behrens are good examples. They  hunt and track with passion.

So let's hear what the women said themselves.

Susanne: I originally got a dachshund from Germany just because I loved the breed.  Little did I know that this dog would change my life for ever! I got involved in blood tracking when Buster was about six month old. My friends from NY, the Jeanneneys, convinced me I had an awesome dog, who was born to track and I got hooked.
     Blood tracking is unbelievably complex. You never know where you end up, what the terrain might be like, what people you meet, and what the circumstances of the hit are until the track is over and you have put together all the many pieces of the puzzle...  does that make me an adventurer??
Perhaps yes, but for sure none of this would pull me to go out there at all hours, at night, early cold mornings, or wet and windy days or getting stuck waist deep in swamps, except that watching my little dogs work is the most amazing and rewarding experience and it fills my heart with pride and joy.
     Over the 11 years I've been tracking wounded game, I have met the most amazing people in my journeys and I've made many friends for life!  I have had some incredible mentors who never tire to give me information when I ask them about something I have not encountered before! John Jeannenay, Tom Di Pietro and Troy Wallace are largely responsible for helping me understand "the game" so much more every year.
     While I am still learning something from every track, I have started mentoring a new generation of Maine trackers and hope to pay it forward.
     What keeps me going when I'm tired or cold or the weather isn't inviting is compassion for the hunters out there who search for days and days for a deer they think is laying dead. To me putting them at peace of mind is almost as important as finding the deer.

Pam: My passion for hunting got me into it and knowing there was a better chance out there to help with recovering game. I am all for helping my fellow hunters and I love meeting new people. Seeing Tucker doing what he loves most and the amazing work he does, and seeing the reward at the end of the track - it can't get any better. Just love helping out as much as I can.

Judy: I must say that I got involved with blood tracking only by coincidence years ago.  I used to be an avid deer hunter and I had a JRT puppy named Bear.  Bear would go hunting with me -- staying in my vehicle for the couple of hours I was in the stand.  If I ever shot a deer, I would always go and get Bear to go with me to find the deer.  With time and repeated trials, Bear seemed to understand what was to be done and became more and more efficient at finding deer.  His love for doing this along with my enjoyment of it have kept me motivated.  Also, finding deer for a hunter who has been unable to track the blood has been very rewarding. I love being in the woods and love to have a companion (Pup) enjoying it with me.  The communication that Bear and I have in tracking wounded deer has continued also to keep me motivated.   I talk with Bear as we try to find the deer--his vocabulary and understanding me--makes this a team effort.  Don't really know why, but I had rather track a deer these days than hunt a deer myself.

Joanne: I have always loved hearing my friend Susanne's stories about tracking. Tracking was legalized four years ago in New Hampshire. I attended a UBT clinic in Laconia. It was very interesting and the speakers shared passion, adventure, technology and enthusiasm. I came home and started laying lines. Angie loved following the lines and I so enjoyed watching her. It was fun and games. Our first track was a success on many levels and I never looked back. You can't make these stories up! Nobody mentioned the waist deep swamps.

Paulene: I saw an article in the outdoors news about five years ago about a Deer Search member 
who was a woman and had a long haired dachshund. I saved the article as I was so fascinated with it. I mentioned it to Laura my partner and she then gave me a 10-week-old WHD puppy with John's book as a Christmas gift. That was a year later. I was hooked completely after attending a Deer Search competition in Campbell. I only went there to observe and did not even plan to try Braylee out as she had such minimal training but the FLC members encouraged us to try to certify her. She did wonderfully and was certified before I was even a member or certified myself. What keeps me going is how much Braylee loves to go tracking and how thrilling it is to have a recovery. Often times it is overwhelming and very exhausting but I love it.

Claudia: I am married to an avid hunter and tracker. Listening to Ray's tales about his tracks made tracking sound interesting. After we bred Rosco we decided to keep one of his pups (Razen) knowing that I would be her handler. There is lots to know about tracking, every track is a learning experience for both myself and Razen. Ray and I keep each other going hoping to find that deer? We also have our tales to tell whether we successfully find the deer or not. What keeps you going back for the next track is knowing that you are going to find that deer (hopefully) and if you do, seeing your dog with its prize and seeing how excited the hunter is seeing his hunt completed. You meet  a lot of nice, friendly people along the way. Besides having a tracking dog you have the best friend and companion you could ever ask for.

Sally: My motivation for getting involved is pretty simple.  Dogs and being out in the woods are two of my favorite things.  About 8 years ago, a friend of mine told me how he had someone with a dog find his deer which was the first time I’d heard of dogs tracking wounded deer.  Of course, the person who found his deer was Tom with Musket.  To me, there’s nothing better than being out in the woods with a dog, and the thought of doing that with a purpose really appealed to me.  
     I’ve never been interested in hunting, so that part of it doesn’t interest me at all.  In fact, the hunting part is actually something I struggle with.  We only get called with things go wrong, and it can be pretty ugly.  It’s difficult for me to see what sometimes happens to these animals, and it stays with me for days.   As you can imagine, having to shoot a deer myself is not my favorite thing, but the alternative is worse.   At least I can do it now without my hand shaking.  
     As far as what keeps me going, most of it is the sheer fun of working a dog who loves his work.  It drives me nuts how some people treat their dogs like spoiled children.  Dogs are happiest when they’re allowed to be dogs, and when Petey tracks, he is a dog doing what he is supposed to be doing.  It’s very satisfying to me and just seems right.  
     The challenge of it also keeps me going.  If we found every deer we tracked, it would be boring and not nearly as meaningful.  Even though it can be pretty frustrating, I stubbornly keep at it because you never know – the next track could be that epic find you’ll be talking about for years.  It’s kind of like gambling – the jackpot could be just around the corner.
     I also like meeting and working with the hunters.  This came as a surprise to me as I’m not much of a people person.  Talking deer and dogs with someone I just met is so much easier than making awkward small talk at a party.  It gives me a comfortable way to interact with people and actually enjoy their company.  
     Of course, when you find a deer, it’s like winning a gold medal.  The hunter is happy, I’m proud of my dog, and Petey and I get to be heroes for the day.  You can’t beat that.
     One last thing that makes tracking fun for me is being friends with Tom and Chris.  I called Tom out of the blue when I decided to get into tracking, and from the very beginning, they’ve been nothing but helpful and friendly.  Tom can talk tracking for hours, and he’s always been more than willing to answer questions and give advice.  We talk every few days during tracking season to swap stories, complain about bad calls, etc.  They’re a lot of fun to be around and don’t take themselves or tracking too seriously, and they definitely make tracking more fun for me.
Chris: The original motivation for tracking was to spend time with my husband, Tom, who loved tracking more than hunting.  I love to be in the woods and he would always ask me to go with him, so I would go and help him spot blood.  I also love a working dog and truly enjoyed watching Musket unravel the puzzle to find the deer.  My motivation to continue is to train our newest tracking dogs, Scout (WHD) and Addie (BMH) and to help the hunting community find their deer.  It is very rewarding to find a deer that the hunter could not find him/herself. My favorite weekend to track is our Youth weekend.   It makes you feel so good to help a young hunter find his/her very first deer.  Other motivations are that it keeps me in good health and you meet so many interesting people.  I remember my first years of tracking, I would be so exhausted.  Running up & down mountains and through swamps and thickets is very tiring.  Tom and I started training for sprint triathlons to keep us in shape for the "tracking" season. Just another thing we could do together.  Now I can track for hours and still get up the next day and do it all over again.  The hunters are very appreciative when we come out to help them and we have made many friends through our tracking connections.  I love the time I get to spend with Tom, in the woods with my dogs.  It's my favorite time of year.

Pictures are presented in alphabetical order according to women's first name. Names have links to websites or more info about the women's tracking services.

Barbie Wills from Concord, NH, tracks with wirehaired and shorthair dachshunds.
Claudia Holohan lives in Ashkum, Illinois and she tracks with a wirehaired dachshund Razen. 
Cheri Faust and her dachshund Danika live in Madison, Wisconsin. Cheri is a Secretary and Board member of the United Blood Trackers. 
Chris DiPietro lives in Jericho, VT and she her husband Tom track with 
wirehaired dachshunds and a Bavarian Mountain Hound.
Joanne Greer from Chester, NH tracks with wirehaired dachshund Angie. 
Jolanta Jeanneney from Berne, NY, usually tracks with her husband John and their wirehaired dachshunds. She is on the Board of the United Blood Trackers.
Lindsay Ware from Ellsworth, Maine, tracks with her black Lab Gander.
Louise La Branche from Maricourt, Quebec, has imported four wirehaired dachshunds from Germany. She uses them for tracking and breeding.
Pam Maurier from Manchester, NH is part of Lightning Mountain Outfitters and she tracks with a wirehaired dachshund Tucker.
Paulene Eggers from Syracuse, NY  is a member of Deer Search Of Finger Lakes
and her tracking partner is a wirehaired dachshund Braylee.
Sally Marchmont from Fairfax, VT tracks with a wirehaired dachshund Petey. 

This is Shannon Smith's from Fowlerville, MI, first deer tracking season.
Her black Lab River has been in training since January 2013.
This is a first tracking season for Sherry Ruggieri from Mantua, NJ, and her wirehaired dachshund imported from Hungary Niya. What a great first recovery! 
Susanne Hamilton from Montville, Maine tracks with two dachshunds, Buster and Meggie. She is on the Board of the United Blood Trackers and is a recipient the Maine Bowhunters Association Award. 
Willette Brown from Union, Miane, tracks with wirehaired dachshunds Quilla and Bridger.
Be safe in the woods and keep on tracking!