Search This Blog

Monday, September 30, 2013

Last weekend's field trials in New Jersey: Congratulations to Darren and Theo

Congratulations to Darren Doran and his Theo von Moosbach-Zuzelek who placed 2nd in the open dog stake yesterday at DALI field trial in New Jersey. It was his first field trialing experience. Theo's sister Tuesday was second in the open bitch stake.  The picture shows Darren with judges: Ed Wills and Teddy Moritz.
The female dachshund who beat our Tuesday in the open bitch stake at DALI field trial was Callie (G2's Callalilly American Express) owned by Jeffrey Koller. She is a miniature longhaired dachshund who is out of wirehaired wild boar parents and she is wild boar. I have never seen a longhaired dachshund out of wirehaired parents before. All I can say she is an excellent hunter and now an AKC field champion.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Huge bucks mark a great beginning of Kasey and Boomer's tracking season

Kasey Morgan is a United Blood Trackers member from Elderon Wisconsin and he operates under the name Bloodhound Deer Tracking Services. He has had a great beginning of this tracking season with a number of very impressive bucks.

By Kasey Morgan

The 2013 Wisconsin Archery Season was upon us and the calls for tracks came in fast and furious.  Boomer, my bloodhound, would get his first action the night of opening day on a good buck hit high and slightly back from perfect.  We took up the track and Boomer made short work of the 250 yard track.  The buck had fled the scene in a completely different direction than the hunter had remembered.  The amount of sign along the track was minimal, but a fairly steady track of blood droplets.  We were on the deer in less than a half hour and Boomer was on the board with his first “fair chase” whitetail of the year. 

The next call would come in shortly after leaving our first track.  Matt Serwa of “Real Deal Mineral” had hit a deer he knew very well.  He quickly sent me a picture of the deer from one of his trail cameras, and I was amazed at the size.  He described the chain of events that lead to the shot and the shot location.  He had stomach hit the deer.  The shot was back, but looked to be center of the deer between spine and bottom of the belly.  We were dealing with a number of variables on this track.  The first issue was the fact that it had started to rain steadily and was predicted to continue throughout the night.  Being able to locate blood throughout the track is not the most important thing, but it certainly helps confirm that we are heading in the right direction.  The second was the temperature.  The temperature was predicted to stay above the 70 degree mark which would cause a gut shot deer to spoil more quickly.  Matt and I agreed that waiting until the following morning was still the best option.  Pushing the deer that night would definitely destroy our chances of a recovery.

Early the next morning Boomer took up the track.  It was still raining very steadily, and there was no sign of blood.  We began the track and Boomer followed in a similar line as was described by the hunter as the deer’s path of exit from its feeding area.  We tracked off of a food plot down into a low swamp area.  The dog became very excited and proceeded to make a right hand turn into an area full of marsh grass.  There were several deer beds in the area, none of which we were able to find blood in.  We trusted the hound as he led us on fairly straight path through the marsh and down into a creek bottom.  We had now progressed somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 yards with no visible blood.  Boomer searched both sides of the creek bank frantically looking for the scent.  He decided on a line heading westward deeper into the swamp. 

 After another 200 yards the terrain had changed from marsh grass and creek bottoms to tag alders and a foot of water.  Boomer pressed on through the water but soon appeared to have lost the track.  He began a back track and I watched as his body language showed some confusion.  As he backtracked out of the tags he soon hit the scent of the track and again progressed westward.  I was out ahead of the hunter when Boomer turned north and locked up completely along the edge of the creek.  I circled around the creek bank and was astounded at what I was looking at.  Boomer was baying like a fog horn on top of a fair chase, two hundred plus inch, whitetail deer.  I yelled back to Matt that we had found his deer.  He excitedly made his way toward me.  We exchanged high fives and the celebration was on.  We snapped some great photos and awed over the sight of such a monarch.

It was not the longest track we have ever run with a successful ending.  However, the 14 hours of continuous rain and the tough tracking terrain made the near one thousand yard run, my proudest moment as a tracker.  Although Boomer does not pay attention to the Boon & Crocket Scoring System but, the record book whitetail at the end was a great bonus.

Dustin McAloon of DeerFest with a massive Wisconsin 8 point!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A young wirehaired dachshund puppy is already helping hunters recover their deer

Moose (Uncas von Moosbach-Zuzelek) was born on May 10 so he is not five months old yet. Thanks to his owner's dedication, Adam Hostetter from Pennsylvania, Moose is already tracking this season and has two recoveries under his belt. Since it is illegal to track in PA, Adam is lucky to live close to Maryland border, and this is where he does his tracking.

This is a picture of Adam and Moose with a hunter and a buck that Moose recovered in Maryland. Moose went at least 400 yards with very little blood, and jumped the buck once. He showed no fear the much larger animal (Moose is 12.5 lbs at 4 months). Adam said "The hunter and I both were totally floored on how well he worked!"

Last night (Sept 23) Adam received a call around 7:30 from a buddy who shot a buck but had no blood! Adam writes: Moose and I drove down to Maryland and met him. After speaking with him I was pretty sure it was a probably a one lung/liver hit. The deer was angled towards him. I sat Moose down at the hit site and roughly 125 yards later (with no blood) Moose found the buck!! Here is a picture of Moose and the happy hunter.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Adventures of Kevin and Quenotte, a tracking team from the suburbs of Northern Virginia

Kevin Wilson hunts  and tracks for BackyardBowPro which is a suburban hunter certifying organization (non-profit) in Northern Virginia. His tracking partner is Quenotte, a daughter of Joeri and Keena. He wrote a nice post about his tracking experience with Quenotte, who is just over three years old. Thank you Kevin!

17 September 2013:
Quenotte and I tracked two wounded deer this week in support of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) suburban bow hunts.

The first deer was gut shot around noon and the trail had been lost amidst a series of islands and creek channels.  I started her at the shot sight and she re-traced the trail to the first water crossing.  On the other side, the hunters had marked the blood trail and she regained it quickly.  We were now on a smallish island where the hunters had lost the trail and then grid-searched causing a lot of human foot traffic.

In the middle of the island, Q's body language indicated that she was unsure and it was impossible to see blood on the trampled brush.  We re-started once at the beginning of the small island unsuccessfully.

The island was not large and the deer was definitely not on it so we moved off the island and investigated the likely crossings leaving the island.  On the first crossing site, Q made a circle then picked up the trail again and we advanced rapidly across a larger, un-trampled island with good visual blood sign accompanied by positive body language from her.  At the end of the island, she went down over a steep bank and moved along a small mud flat.  At first, I wasn't even sure how I was going to get down to her.  However, she was positive and even tried to enter the water.  After finding my way down to her, I discovered fresh tracks and deep purple blood flecks at the water's edge indicating that the deer had crossed the creek on an oblique angle.  The water was too deep to cross on foot so we circled around to the opposite bank by climbing across a downed tree.  Finally, I put her down and she moved along below the opposite bank and then tried to turn up the bank.  It was so steep that I carried her over the edge but we were rewarded with the doe lying at the very top of the bank.  The hunters were elated and impressed.  This is one of our best successes ever.

20 September 2013:
The next call was two days later and involved another gut shot doe.  The hunter had hit the doe during the previous evening and lost the trail after about 150 yds.  His lab (named Moose) was on-scene and Moose had advanced the trail some before our arrival.

Moose weighed about 80 lbs and had a lot of energy.  The hunter asked if Moose's presence would be a distraction for Quenotte and said I yes (definitely).  Moose went back in the truck.  We started the trail at a spot where the doe had crossed a road and then moved through about 100 yards of easy tracking with some blood.  The doe then entered an elongated thicket running next to a split rail fence line bordering the neighborhood.  Moose had lost the trail amidst this thicket and the hunter thought maybe the deer had turned to go under the fence and enter the adjoining neighborhood.  Note: I have never seen a suburban deer seek the neighborhood environment when wounded.  Quenotte went past the point of loss and worked through two turns inside the thicket.  Blood was present and I caught a whiff of decaying flesh so I was beginning to think maybe the deer had died in this thicket somewhere.  The trail straightened and we continued parallel to the fence along a major deer runway.

As the thicket tapered, we went past a final blood spot and then Q took the trail across an open area and entered into a denser thicket.  She was pulling hard and I was on my hands and knees trying to keep up with her (and keep the leash untangled).  We crawled through about 50 yds of ungodly mess and I could see no blood.  In retrospect, I suppose the scent trail had widened and maybe the blood was off to one side.  In the midst of the thicket, Quenotte broke into a slightly more open area and I could hear a man saying "Hello Little Fellow".  I emerged from a rabbit run brush tunnel to find Quenotte greeting a hunter who had participated in the search earlier.  He was a marking a trail through the center of the thicket (for some unknown reason).  I asked if he had seen the dead deer and he said 'no'.  Mistakenly, I assumed that Q had followed the hunter or blood scent from his boots.

There was no blood sign visible and I (mistakenly again) assumed that we had lost the trail.  I picked her up and we returned to the last blood in the previous thicket.  We started 4 more times from this spot, going in differing directions and investigating along the fence line without finding additional blood.  We back-tracked into the original thicket and tried three more starts to see if we could identify a diverging trail. At this point, we were both exhausted and I told the hunter that we were done.  He asked if he could bring Moose back out and I said 'yes' but I would hold Quenotte while Moose worked.  The hunter returned with Moose and Moose bounded through the thickets while Q and I prepared to leave.

Just as we were leaving, Moose discovered the dead deer just 50 feet beyond where Quenotte had met the hunter in the thicket.  If we had persisted with the original line, then we would have found it easily.

Certainly, the hunters would not have come close to finding the deer if we had not advanced the trail as far as we did; however, I was disappointed in myself for pulling her off the original line.  I still have much to learn about when to trust Quenotte and when to re-start her.

Reported recovery rates in these suburban park hunts exceed 90% by ratio of reported shots taken to deer recovered (archery only).  Historically, this is a very high, archery recovery rate and finding two extra deer can make a big difference at the 90% margin.  This is the 5th year of the park hunts and my participation has shifted from hunting to tracking...although I still hunt private, suburban properties.

A while back, Jolanta asked for stories of unsuccessful tracks...

February 2012:
Quenotte and I could probably write a book of lessons learned the hard way.  This is a story with an unexpected outcome from last winter.  Q and I were called out to track a doe hit in the shoulder by a very reliable crossbow hunter on a private property.  The deer had been with a group of four deer and the hunter claimed to have hit the deer in the crease 'right behind the shoulder'.  The shot site was on the bottom of a long hill and the hunter claimed that the deer had gone downhill and crossed a road into a nearby stream valley park. Reportedly, the other (un-injured) deer in the group had gone uphill.

The shot site was amidst a pile of old trash (washing machine, sewer pipe etc) and it was a difficult place to begin the trail normally and safely.  I put Q down near the hit site and she immediately turned uphill.  She went about 50 yards with no blood and I presumed that she was following an un-injured deer.  The hunter said that it was the wrong direction but she was so sure that I let her go.  We went another 200 yards uphill in the direction of massive honeysuckle thicket bordering the client's yard.  She entered the thicket with increasing certainty and I followed discovering blood in the thicket.  Although it was winter, the honeysuckle vines were dense and intertwined with various trees.  I had to relinquish the leash several times to take a different route.  On the third evolution, I returned to the leash just in time to see the tag end disappear into the thicket (to my horror).

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to catch up with the leash or the dog.  It was impossible to even tell what direction Quenotte might have gone and I was afraid that the deer would emerge from the far side of the thicket and head towards the street.  I crashed through the thicket and into the neighboring yard but the dog wasn't there and the blood trail did not emerge from the thicket.  I could not hear Quenotte in the thicket but I suspected that she was still in there so I re-entered.  To compound my troubles, the neighboring property is owned by a rabid anti-hunter so I was unable to use my larger light (he wears a blaze orange vest while gardening if we are hunting neighboring lots).

There were a lot of terrible thoughts going through my mind and I just wanted my dog back at this point.  Almost immediately, she sounded off about 20 yards into the thicket so I headed towards the sound.  To my surprise, I emerged into a small open spot with the deer lying at my feet showing only a nasty but obviously non-lethal shoulder wound.  Quenotte was on the opposite side of the deer raising hell and the deer just looked confused (but not for long).  I didn't know whether to be thrilled that I had not lost my dog or concerned that the deer was going to go ballistic after being cornered.

The deer settled the issue by regaining its feet and rocketing out of the thicket in a manner that convinced me that it would survive.  Gratefully, I picked up Quenotte and we called it a night.
The evening was a success because we located the deer cooperatively but a painful lesson learned for me on leash management.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A double-lung shot doe that went further than expected

By Andy Bensing

These lungs show how tough a deer can be and how far they can actually run on even a perfect shot. This doe was arrowed at 10 yards from a low tree stand with a crossbow. The deer was at full alert and had been grunted to a stop before the shot. With the loud crack of the crossbow and being at full alert before the shot the doe took off up hill like a bullet. There had been a very light rain during the evening hunt but immediately after the shot it began pouring and when the hunter was out of the tree there was no blood to be found except two small splashes at 60 yards down the trail the deer ran off on. A two hour body search in the ram at night did not turn up the deer.

I tracked the deer with my Eibe in the morning. We found the doe rather quickly even though the night's downpours washed all visible blood away. The scent was still there. Amazingly the doe had run very hard for 150 meters and would have gone even further. When we found her she was impaled on a box wire fence in the woods. It was quite clear she had hit the fence still going full speed 150 meters from the hit site. Look closely at the lungs and you will see it was a double lung shot and If you look real close between the lungs you will see the aorta was severed as well. Interestingly I was only able to collect barely 10 ounces of blood from the chest cavity. She must have bled out as she ran but the pouring rain washed it away very fast. The area she was in was very thick with vegetation and it would have very unlikely the hunter would have found her that far away just by grid searching even in the daylight. It is sometimes incredible how tough these animals are.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Jersey handlers promote the use of blood tracking dogs

On September 14 and 15 The United Blood Trackers had a booth at the New Jersey Outdoor Expo. This event is hosted by the Division of Fish and wildlife and was held at Colliers Mills WMA. The event was attended by 8,400 visitors over the 2 days. This is a 17% increase in visitor participation from the 2012 Expo. Together with exhibitors and volunteers, a diverse crowd of more than 8,700 people participated in this successful outreach event. The event is free and has a multitude of outdoor activities that are geared towards adults and kids that don’t necessarily have allot of knowledge about the outdoors.
The UBT booth was manned by members of the New Jersey tracking permit. Stan Kite and Rilla, Nola Wunderlich and I with Karl and Theo were there on Saturday. Rich Stollery and Ember, John Drahos and his daughter Rylee along with two new trackers Jeremy and Arthur Garey filled in on Sunday. This was pretty good considering this was the opening weekend of our archery season.
Blood tracking demos were held both days and were well attended by spectators. The dogs were a real magnet to kids and adults alike and we were able explain a tracking dogs function to people that had no idea what we did. This type of positive exposure to the general public will pay off later.
On a side note:
Over the last three years the UBT has been a member of The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and has a seat on the Conservation Foundation. The NJOA has been assisting the tracking dog legalization effort here in NJ. At a recent meeting with the Governor’s office, the NJOA discussed the legalization of a leashed tracking dog. A bill is being crafted and is being backed by Governor Christi. Our next step will be finalizing the language and getting a Republican and Democratic sponsor. Over the last five years our tracking permit has been issued, we have slowly won over Fish and Wildlife, the Law Enforcement component, and finally the Politicians. This has been hard work and the amount of paper work our trackers have had to submit is cumbersome. I would like to thank them all for their commitment to the cause.
Submitted by Darren Doran, NJ Tracking Permit Coordinator
Arthur Garey and Dennis
Stan Kite with Rilla and Karl
Jeremy Garey and Faline
Daren Doran's tracking dachshunds: Karl and Theo

Rylee Drahos with Theo and Karl
A big thank you to Darren Doran for all the work that he has put into the New Jersey tracking permit. It is starting to pay off, that's for sure!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Seven tracks in two days result in five deer recovered by Lightning Mountain Outfitters and Tucker

On Sunday I was in Batavia, NY to attend one day of field trials, and when I got back on Monday morning I found out out that Ray and Pam Maurier from New Hampshire have been very busy tracking. They did seven tracks in two days and recovered five deer (on Monday they tracked four deer and recovered all of them).

We are so proud of Tucker (Storm von Moosbach-Zuzelek), who is our Sky's littermate. We could not imagine a better home for Tucker, who is loved and cherished, but also given so many opportunities to track.

The first picture shows a bear that Trucker recovered a week ago so this is not part of the last two days' tally. Ray posted the summary of the last two days on Facebook and I might be able to repost it here. Anyway, huge congratulations to Pam and Ray and their tracking teckel Tucker!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another hazard for tracking dogs

by Andy Bensing

As an avid outdoorsman I usually love learning and experiencing new things about nature but sometimes there is a limit.  A recent blood tracking expedition taught me something I really didn’t need to learn. 

Last Tuesday night after a very routine blood tracking call earlier that day in MD I found myself lying in bed in the dark scratching like crazy on my legs.  The itching and small bumps immediately brought the thought to mind that I had again gotten into some chiggers earlier in the day.  Actually, the itching and bumps were less than I had experienced in the past from chiggers so I was pretty happy about that.  I found out a day and a half later it wasn’t chiggers that I had gotten into but instead my dog Eibe and I had gotten into a nest of tick larvae!  Tick larvae are very, very small and I had not noticed them at first on myself or my dog but by Thursday morning they had been feeding on Eibe for a while and had blown up to a size that I could now easily see.  Commonly called “seed ticks” for their close resemblance to small seeds, Eibe was covered in them!  Without exaggeration I would estimate there were at least 1,000 or more engorged tick larvae all over her body!  Upon close examination I could even see the discarded exoskeletons from some of the larvae who had molted into the nymph stage.  The engorged ticks were so small that I wasn’t even sure what they were until I used a magnifying glass and could see their legs.  A quick call to my vet and a little internet research held the solution to the problem.  Unlike adult ticks and just like chiggers, these larvae don’t attach very securely when feeding.  That’s why I easily rubbed them off my legs unknowingly the first night and did not end up with any engorged ones on me.  All that was necessary to get them off Eibe was a simple flea and tick shampoo and a flea comb through her hair once dry. 

Except for the fact that I can’t stop itching from just the thought of all those creepy little critters all over my dog and some inevitably crawling around my house the whole thing ended pretty easily.  According to the research I have done, the likelihood of tick borne diseases being transmitted by the nymph stage appears low.  Now the only big question left is what will be my next dog disaster?

Engorged tick larvae on Eibe’s back and belly.
Shed larvae exoskeletons after molting to the nymph stage.
Engorged tick larvae on Eibe’s back and belly.
Just a few of the dead ticks collected from the drain after Eibe’s tick bath.

This chart shows the comparative size of the larvae, nymph, and adult tick.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First natural training line for Addi, a seven-month-old wirehaired dachshund puppy

Andy Bensing shared with us his recent experience with Addi, a puppy who is sired by Chuck Collier's Moose (FC Nurmi von Moosbach-Zuzelek). Moose is a talented and accomplished tracker in his own right, but over the last few years he has proved to be an exceptional producer.

Here's Addi, a 7-month-old granddaughter of my Eibe on her first natural training line track.  The deer had traveled 100 yards after the double lung shot but left absolutely no blood trail.  Unfortunately the hunters were unaware of the availability of tracking dogs when this buck was shot and it took well into the next day for the hunters to locate the buck in the thick cover that it ran into.  The deer was left lay due to spoilage after it was found by grid searching the next day.  I was on the property 2 days later with my experienced dog, Eibe, for a different deer and when that track was over I used the opportunity to try giving my young pup a little field experience.  Although Addi had previously been on about 20 training lines with tracking shoes and blood, I doubted she would be able to do anything with a 40 hour old bloodless line but I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot.  Well to my wonderful surprise when I put her down on a bloodless start at the hit site she figured it out very quickly.  Very slowly and methodically she picked her way down the bloodless 100 yards through thick cover right to the carcass.  Conditions were perfect for training; the uncleaned arrow was available to lie on the ground at the exact known spot the deer was standing when shot, the wind was at our back and the deer was still in the woods at a known location. 

This is the kind of dog that is being bred here in the United States on an ever increasing frequency.  Not all dogs start out so well at such a young age and many of those slower starters still turn out great later in life but when you get a quick starter and combine it with some good initial young dog training you can get results like this.  If it sounds like I am bragging, I am!  I could not be happier today if I had hit the lottery!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Promotion of blood tracking dogs at its best: a big thank you to Ray and Joe

Ray Holohan, a United Blood Trackers member from Ashkum, Illinois, wrote:
Hi Jolanta, I  thought I would send you a picture of the outdoor show that Joe Walters and myself  did this past weekend representing the UBT. The show was a spinoff of the GOTCHA show that we have done the past few years.  This show was put on by the Kankakee Valley Park District and was called  2013 Ultimate Outdoor Show; it was a two day event. The show wasn't really put together well and wasn't well advertised, making the attendance pretty low. We were still able to get the word out about the UBT and tracking wounded deer with dogs. Everbody thought it was a great concept and  were all for it. We also got a chance to show off our new puppies Ruff and Maddy, they were very well behaved and did a good job considering the temperature was in the high 80s. Joe's tracking season will start this weekend, Indiana has a early urban hunt, I have to wait till October 1st. Well that's all for now, good luck this season

Ray, Claudia, Rosco, Razen, and Ruff

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A four-moth-old dachshund "Mongo" (aka Urho) recovers his first "real" mule buck

Urho von Moosbach-Zuzelek, a puppy from our "U" litter that was born on May 10, is owned by John Sakelaris who works at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. John has two sons and they call the pup "Mongo". On September 5 I received a very exciting message that Mongo was successful the first time out and recovered a very nice mule buck for the hunter in the picture. We could not be happier to hear the news. Congratulations to Mongo, Perry and John!

Perry with his pup Mongo.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A memorable bear track for Buster and Susanne

This picture shows Susanne and Buster on one of the tracks they did in 2012.

By Susanne Hamilton

The saying that things get better with age is true although for me it comes as a two edged sword.

My dog Buster is 11 years old and has many jobs of which all of them he takes very seriously. He is my best friend, my constant companion, my horse show dog, my field trialing dog, my agility dog and last but not least my tracking dog. My friend Jolanta always says that there is no such thing as the perfect dog, but  to me this little guy is the embodiment of perfection and all I wish is that I could make time stand still to keep him just the way he is right now for ever and ever! 

I want to tell the story of a recent track  in which although we did not end up with a find, everything went right...

It was at 11:30 at night and I was just ready to get to bed when I got a Facebook message that someone was looking for a tracking dog to find a wounded bear in Maine. After a short conversation on the I couldn't resist going on this track even though I realized this was two and a half hours away. It was our first call of the season and both Buster and I were itching to go.

The man that called, Chris, is an experienced hunter and guide, and he was devastated because a good shot turned into a bad one. The bear moved the moment he pulled back the release of his bow, which resulted in the arrow landing on the upper part  of his hindquarters. The bear had taken off with a loud roar, then crashed, then got up again and crashed again, and after that there had been silence.

From the description of the shot, I did not think we had a fatally wounded animal, however, there is always the question "what if", and Chris, my hunter was really anxious. The arrow was a fixed blade, and from the description,  it was at least ten inches in the bear. I pondered it for a short while, and decided to take a chance.

There was no evidence of blood at the hit site, and Chris had really never found any blood during his search for the bear he had shot at 6pm that evening,  but Buster does not need blood to follow a track. We knew the bear had been hit high, with no exit wound.  The people who usually need blood evidence, are either a) the tracker, who would like to know that his/her dog is persuing the right animal or b) the hunter, who feels awful, that he took a bad shot, and made every effort to find a "bloodhound" and now doesn't really trust that a little 20 pound dog  on short legs with a blonde chick at the end of a tether could  in all actuality sniff out and recover his wounded game.

When we arrived at the bait site at about 2:30 AM, my eyes fell on all the bait scattered at the site...   to me it stank, but to Buster, it must have smelled like a feast.  I wondered for a split second, if Buster was going to show more interest in the food than in the bear track, but I was mistaken, and he never even glanced at it. As always, he was all business.

Chris  showed me the exact direction the bear had taken off after being hit, but Buster gingerly chose an entirely different trail in front of the trail camera.  I was puzzled,  and trusting my dog, I let him lead the way for a bit, but then  chose to reset him back onto the trail that the hunter showed me, and that he had been certain, the bear had disappeared. Buster threw me a short glance, put his nose down, and started tracking.

Off we went, and Chris who was searching for any evidence behind me was excited. He felt that this was exactly the direction the bear had taken,  just before he heard him crash.  Buster confidently kept up on the trail, swung slightly to the left after about 300 yards, and kept a good pull on the lead. He felt very consistent to me but after a half a mile with absolutely no blood evidence I made the decision to go back to the bait site to see if Buster would take the same track again.

My general rule is, if Buster tracks it once, I may on occasion be allowed to be a skeptic, especially if there is absolutely no evidence or signs to prove we're on the right track,  but  if he takes the same trail twice and he is committed to that track, I had BETTER follow his lead.

I carried Buster back to the bait site,  put him  on the same trail and asked him to "find that bear".  He gave me a look that one would get from someone who feels a bit sorry for you because you're a little slow on the uptake, but then turned, and patiently took me along exactly the same trail we had taken before.

I love tracking at night, there is something serene and quiet about it. There aren't any of  the loud abstract colors and distractions  that appear in the daylight, my entire world exists in the low glow of my headlamp and everything around us is dark. It gives you a feeling of being almost encapsulated. The little world includes only myself, my dog and often my hunter. One’s senses tend to sharpen to details of the trail.

 This time,  about 300 yards into the track, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a tiny black spot, I did a double take low and behold, on a small fern, with only six or so fern leaves, there was a pin drop of blood. I hollered for Chris to come and check it out, and the excitement grew.  I marked the spot with some tape, and also marked it in my GPS. This pin drop of blood was to be the only blood we found on the entire trail.

We tracked to our half mile mark, and just when I told Chris that we were now passing the spot where we had decided to reset Buster the last time,  I found the chewed off  end of the arrow. Buster had stopped and pointed it out to me.

From that arrow, we could now tell that it probably had only penetrated about 4-5 inches, which made me suddenly realize, that this bear was probably at the most just "pissed off".

 However, Buster really pulled and told me to get going, and Chris really felt that he wasn't finished "looking" ye, so  we marked that spot and off we went again. This time, the track took us on a large circle, which after fifteen minutes ended exactly where I had marked the arrow. Then suddenly we heard a loud crashing through the woods, VERY close to us. Buster jumped directly behind me.  I have to give it to him.... He knows he's in charge of finding these bears, but when it comes to "killing them", he'd rather leave the job to one of his two- legged hunting partners.

 From this moment on, Buster tracked very close to me, which is usually a sign, that the bear is very close by.  This was evident on many levels, being that we had a heavy morning dew at this point, we could see where the dew was disrupted. It was also evident that this large male bear lived here.  There was evidence of bedding places, and bear trails, and Chris knew from the cameras, that this was the only male bear in the area. He had over 400 pictures of this bear, and we where literally right  in HIS living room!!!
The bear's picture caught on a trail camera
 When we had traveled a total of about two miles,  had tracked for 3.5 hours and the first signs of daylight where visible in the sky and it was 6:00 am , I looked at Chris, and on his face, I could tell that he was finally satisfied, that he had done the best he could, and that aside from the feeling of guilt causing an animal to suffer, he could accept that this bear was not going to get caught... not that night anyway! 

 I took off Buster’s harness, and we checked compass and GPS for the way back to the truck. Tired, sweat soaked, thirsty, but satisfied, I climbed into the car for a two-and-a-half hour ride home.

 Our reward....  Chris's awe and  pure amazement at what my little dog had done for him. We had taken a donation towards gas money, but that means little in comparison to the enthusiastic praise and re-capture of things he had seen Buster do, that "for sure made him the SMARTEST dog he had ever seen in his life..."  that "boy oh boy, he was sure glad that Buster didn't track HIM, because that is 20 LBS of NASTY". Hunters like  Chris, remind me why I can spend an entire night driving and tracking, not get a wink of sleep, but will walk around all day long, with a smile on my face :o)

 Chris called me at 10:30 AM to tell me that he had checked his trail cam, and that the bear had come back to the bait  five hours after he had been shot, with the arrow already gone and hungry for a snack. So I have much confidence, that his bottom will be sore for a few days, with the embedded broad head in it, but that he will recover fully.

 On a short note, the evidence of the camera showed that the bear  left the area EXACTLY where Buster first chose to track him until I reset him onto the colder trail.

 Upon getting home, my tired Buster refused to eat his breakfast, until, according to our tradition, I told Cliff the whole long tracking story. Buster  will sit in front of Cliff, wagging his tail, looking back and forth from me  telling the story to Cliff, ooooh-ing and aaaaaah-ing , and occasionally giving a woof  of encouragement.  It is only then, that he will eat and climb into bed...

What an AWESOME dog!!!
BTW, this is a note Chris left on the United Blood Trackers Facebook: You folks offer a great service and being somewhat of a skeptic prior to this event, I can tell you that I am not a skeptic anymore. This is the first time I have ever relinquished control on a tracking job to anyone else and it taught me a good lesson... A good dog is worth a thousand men, maybe more. Buster is THE MAN!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Remi's incredible track

In Justin's own words: "You would not believe the track Remi just pulled off. Is was the most amazing track. It was incredible. I cried when we finally harvested the buck. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this Remi."

We are dying to hear details.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A new photoblog for my nature photography

This picture shows Fox Creek behind Fox Creek Market store in Berne, NY. It is probably 300 yards from our place. Colors are definitely starting to change. The water level is really down. Hard to imagine that two years ago Fox Creek was turned into a raging river when Tropical Storm Irene hit us. But unfortunately we still see  a serious post-Irene impact in many places of this area. 
Last year I started a photoblog but I have not kept with it. September and October are so beautiful in the Helderbergs that I decided to reactivate the blog. It is at So if you'd like to experience the nature the way I see it, please visit the site from time to time. Also a lot of my pictures are posted on Facebook at Come and see us there!

Joeri and Gilda hanging out together and relaxing on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Two pals, Joeri and Gilda, hanging out together on a hot and hazy Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Theo von Moosbach-Zuzelek, a young blood tracker with great potential

Theo von Moosbach-Zuzelek was born on April 6, 2012 so he is not a year and a half old yet. He is owned by Darren Doran from New Jersey. We can't wait to see how Theo does in the field this year as Darren's reports on his performance on artificial lines are quite extraordinary