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Thursday, October 31, 2013

A liver-shot buck recovered by Bob and Thor

Another Lesson Learned

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

     Thor and I took a call on Sunday 10/13/13.  The hunter, Bob, called in around 11 AM for a Buck he had hit at 8:45 that morning.  He said the deer was totally broadside and the arrow hit about 5 or 6 inches behind the left front leg and about 5 inches up from the bottom of the deer.   The shot was at a slightly downward angle so the exit hole would be slightly lower.  Bob had found his arrow at the hit site and said that it had dark blood on it with no sign of lung blood or stomach contents.   His description of the hit location had me hoping that he may have caught the bottom of the liver while exiting the deer.  It would be close.  His description of the deer’s reaction to the hit also had me believing it was a liver hit.  When hit, the Buck jumped a bit but then slowly walked away.  After only 50 yards or so, the deer bedded down.  Bob got out of his stand and headed home to wait.   After about 2 hours he went back, only to see the Buck slowly walking about 70yds ahead of where he had originally bedded.  Bob said the Buck looked like he was looking for another place to bed.  It was at this time that he called into Deer Search.  After discussing the hit with Bob, I told him that it sounded like a Liver hit and we had to give the Buck 6 hours before tracking.  I believe that 95% of Liver hit deer will be dead within 6 hours.
At 3:00 that afternoon, my son Nate and I met up with Bob.  When he showed me the arrow I immediately saw dark dried blood on it along with the sand like particles that indicate stomach contents.  This had me worried.  If it was only a stomach hit, then 6 hours would not be nearly long enough to wait.   After a 10 minute walk back to the hit site, we got on the start of the blood trail.  The blood was dark, definitely not lung blood.   Thor got on the trail quickly in the open hardwoods and after a little of his usual initial excitement wandering took us past the 1st bed.  In the bed, I was able to show Bob a small pile of stomach contents that confirmed at least a stomach hit.  Thor continued on the trail showing us blood sign periodically along the way.  After a few hundred yards, we passed through a jumble of downed trees.  When we came out of it, Thor seemed to be at a new level of excitement.  I think the deer may have been bedded there and we were now on a very fresh trail.  From this point on, the blood sign we were seeing looked fresh.  For the next half hour or so we followed Thor on a path that skirted around a relatively dry swamp in the middle of the woods.  Along the way we were constantly seeing small signs of fresh blood – the Buck was definitely on the move ahead of us.  At about 4:00 PM, over 7 hours after the hit, the blood trail crossed a clearing and headed into the open hardwoods again.

At this point we stopped to re-evaluate our strategy.  The Buck was definitely on the move ahead of us.  Thor was hot on the trail and would have no problem following this deer for as long as it took.  We had yet to get close enough to catch a glimpse of the Buck.  We knew the deer was at least gut hit and it seemed that he still had too much energy to be Liver hit. With a stomach only hit, it was possible for the deer to live another 15 hours or more.  We could push him into the next county by then.   After talking with another experienced Deer Search Tracker, we all decided it was best to back out now and allow the deer to bed again, hopefully for the last time.  We would come back first thing in the morning to pick up the trail.  The entire time that we were stopped, deciding our next move, Thor was straining at the end of the lead barking wildly, wanting to continue on the trail in the hardwoods.  We marked our location and backed quietly out of the woods.  On our drive back home it started to rain and then rained harder overnight.  Even with the rain, I had a lot of confidence that Thor would continue hot on the trail in the morning, although visible blood sign would probably be gone, making it more anxious for us human trackers.

Thor and I met up with Bob at 7:45 on Monday morning.  It was very damp and calm and the rain had stopped.  It seemed like a perfect morning to find a Buck.  On the walk back to where we had left off, Thor stopped and stuck his nose high into the air, looking into the hardwoods.  Bob said that Thor might be smelling a dead Coyote that was off in that direction.  After a few seconds, Thor was back to walking down the path towards our deer trail.  A short time later, Bob and I both picked up the smell of the rotting Coyote.  Thor didn’t even pick his head up into the smelly breeze.  Once we got within sight of our marker from the previous night, Thor's excitement grew.    When got within 20 yards of the trail marker, Thor was pulling hard on the lead.   At the marker, he was off in a flash into the hardwoods.  After the first 20 yards, it was obvious that the blood we were seeing before the rain was no longer visible, but Thor seemed to be hot on the trail anyway.  Just about as fast as the tracking started, it ended when I looked up and saw the white belly of a deer in the open hardwoods 50 yds ahead.  It was our Buck, only 75yds from where we had stop tracking on Sunday.  Whether he had crashed there before we stopped, or laid down after we backed out,  we’ll never know. 

The entrance wound on the Buck was about 5 to 6 inches back from the front leg and just a few inches higher than the hunter thought, about 7 inches up from the bottom (you can see the big entrance wound in the photo). The exit wound was about 2 inches lower.   During the autopsy, it was obvious that the Rage broad head had indeed passed through the liver about 2 inches up from the bottom.  I’ve always thought that for a big buck, 6 hours may not be enough time to wait on a Liver hit.  This Buck proved it, since we know he was on his feet 7 hours after the hit.  Another lesson learned.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kunox - our new dachshund puppy from Germany

It was a week ago, on Wednesday, when John and I drove to Newark International Airport to pick up our new puppy from Germany - Kunox der von der Dohlmühle. Kunox  arrived in the United States, all happy and wiggly, not showing any sign of stress.

Interestingly, we did not plan to get a new puppy this fall, but sometimes an opportunity presents itself and cannot be denied. It was almost four weeks ago when Stefan Fuß of "von der Bismarck-Eiche" kennel in Germany posted some information on Facebook about a male "von der Dohlmühle" puppy looking for a hunting home due to some unexpected circumstances. When I (Jolanta) saw the pup's picture and outstanding pedigree, I knew that we must have him. More about his pedigree and family later.

So many, many thanks go to Stefan who made it all possible and to Annelie Grauer, Kunox's breeder, who trusted us with her puppy.

John has already started to work with Kunox and this is what he wrote: As Jolanta points out, we were lucky to get a puppy with such an outstanding pedigree for  blood tracking. Fortunately little Kunox doesn't know about the pedigree and how  good he is supposed to be. He is a nice, relaxed dog with good social skills around humans and canines. He departed from Lufthansa at Newark Airport totally relaxed and ready to sleep on my lap all the way home.

Of course the Old Man was especially interested in Kunox's desire and ability for tracking. The second day after his arrival in Berne we tried the first liver drag of 20 yards. No problem, but he learned what it was all about and had a fine chew on the deer liver at the end of the drag. The next day Kunox had a liver drag twice as long. Clearly it was too easy, but he liked the liver. On day three the liver drag was nearly 100 yards and an hour old. It was windy but Kunox got his nose down in the grass and  held to the scent line. Now he was ready for something more challenging.

Day four: This time I laid out a line with droplets of deer blood through  the labyrinth of paths in our running enclosure. There were many right angles to overshoot, and I let it age for  four hours. The line was only about 150 yards long, but there were many complicated turns. Kunox marched through it with ease, never overshooting a turn by more than five feet before checking and correcting himself. At the deer skin he approached with caution, but after my assurances he grabbed on. The prey drive was there! He actually preferred shaking the deer hide to eating the deer heart treats.

I kind of like this puppy!

This puppy loves his food, even home-grown kale. We need to take just a little bit of weight off him.

He is a low-key pup that can just relax and sleep while we go about our daily routine.

Kunox has met most of our dogs and proved to have good social skills. Mielikki is a good playmate as she is patient and gentle with him...up to the point. She set some boundaries by now for Kunox and one of them is that he is not allowed to hump her (he tried).

Kunox has been accepted by his new family; the picture shows Paika and Sky

Kunox licking Billy's face

Kunox has a very good switch: he is on in the field...
...and off in the house. Don't you love a puppy that you can take a nap with?

Kunox's dam is Gwendoline der von der Dohlmühle, who just three days ago won the International Vp test in Italy with maximum number of points of 280. Gwennie's mother Elsebeere von der Bismarck-Eiche got 268 points. Both got their CACIT (Certificat d’Aptitude au Championnat International de Travail) and became International Working Champions.
When we were in Germany in 1999 we visited Manfred Siekmann of von Rominten kennel. He is an extremely knowledgeable and accomplished breeder and handler, and we learned from him a lot. At the time his male Nurmi von Rominten was flying high as a blood tracker. I think he won Chorin Suche blood tracking championship twice. We loved the dog, and we saw him again on subsequent trips. He got to live to be 15. We always wanted a puppy sired by him but it has never worked out. The sire of Kunox is IACh GS BSS Doktor von Rominten, who is linebred tightly on Nurmi, and is an outstanding dog in his own right.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Von Moosbach-Zuzelek" puppies' first tracking season: Uncas (Moose) and Urho (Mongo)

In 2013 we had only one litter of puppies, which was out of FC Sky von Moosbach-Zuzelek and FC Mielikki Raptor. Both parents are young dogs themselves. Sky comes from several generations of our own breeding that produced a family of very accomplished blood trackers. Mielikki comes from Nordic bloodlines and has a very nice pedigree, but when you do an outcross as we did in this case, you always take some chances. Sometimes you win a lottery, and sometimes you don't.

The "U" litter was born on May 10, 2013 so these pups are just 5.5 months old. All of them have showed a lot of promise when we worked with them at a very early age. We are happy to see that this potential has been getting realized in the field and the pups are already helping hunters.

The four pictures below show Moose (registered name Uncas von Moosbach-Zuzelek) owned by Adam H. from PA. Since blood tracking dogs are illegal in PA Adam who lives close to Maryland border, tracks in that state.

September 24: Another find for a young Moose who looks really tiny in this picture. Adam H., Moose's owner, says: Last night I received a call around 7:30 from a buddy who shot a buck but had no blood! 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!! 

October 7: Adam  wrote yesterday: Good evening John and Jolanta, I just wanted to let you know that tonight Moose made his 3rd recovery of the year! The hunter hit the big old doe far front but had pretty good blood. She did zig zag several times through a standing cornfield! After about 150 yards he found her  He's the real deal  Thanks again you guys for an awesome little guy!

October 13: Adam wrote: "Good morning folks! Well, my boy did it again last night! This makes 4! I received a call last night from a buddy whose buddy hit a buck but didn't have much blood. Moose and I got to the hit site around 10:30. After approximately 125 yards Moose found him. With the deer angling away it appeared the arrow clipped the lungs and lodged into the brisket! (No exit hole)

Yesterday Moose has taught Adam a valuable lesson:

Good afternoon John and Jolanta,
Well I learned a very valuable lesson the other day - too bad it was the hard way!  I was down in Maryland doing some hunting on Monday evening and shot this buck. The shot felt and looked great! The buck was shot broadside at 19 yards and tore away after the arrow zipped through him! I eased out and gave the buck about 2.5-3 hours! I took my neighbor and Moose back down at around 9 pm to do the recovery. With ease Moose tracked the buck about 80 yards to a large puddle of blood and then he made a left down a ravine traveling about 150 yards with NO blood. I was certain with the shot I made he was off the track (since there was no more sign) - so I picked him up and brought him back to the hit site! He again made a left and I allowed him to travel even further this time but again there was no sign so again I brought him to the hit site.  This time he went straight from the blood out the ridge about 75 yards. As we crested down the ridge I heard a deer bust out of the thicket! I was sure we just jumped the deer so I picked Moose up and we left- I decided to come back in the a.m. so I could see better. The next morning I started him at the puddle where he again went left this time I just left him go - we went roughly 225 yards to a dead buck that had been ripped to shreds from coyotes.! The entire left side of the deer was eaten clean :( 

Hard lesson learned. I will now let Moose go for as long as he wants to go - trusting him completely!!!! I was so upset with myself BUT I swear to you Moose looked at me after he chewed on him for a little almost to say I TOLD YOU SO - you jack***! Haha. Thanks again for my boy! He's everything to me ;)
Moose's brother Mongo (Urho von Moosbach-Zuzelek)  is owned by John Sakelaris and is a tracking dog at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico.
The hunter in the picture wrote:
I am more than happy to write a letter commending the tracking dog and the dog’s owner. Mongo was outstanding. I have worked with other deer in the past as we track many a wounded Whitetail at our place and I think Mongo can hold his own with any of the other dogs. I think it is a great service to the ranch to have a dog like that and we certainly appreciate his capabilities.
And John wrote to us:
I want to thank you again for the dog, he is fantastic. I have had big game hounds for the last 15 years and most of them barely know day from night until about 3 years old. Only then do they really come into their own and start to “think”. Mongo at 4 months shows incredible intelligence and problem solving ability. We just got back this morning from an all day and most of the night track where we went up and over 2 ridges with a whole lot in between. Several times I thought Mongo was not on track be he would prove us wrong when we would find blood. This last find was a real test and any blood tracking dog owner would be proud, not to mention one of a pup 5 months old. He is worn out today but still wants to go again." 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday von Moosbach-Zuzelek is a Field Champion now

I am running way behind in reporting all the blood tracking activities that you readers have sent me news about, and I hope to catch up this week. On Friday I drove to field trials given by the Western Pennsylvania Dachshund Club at the Hilltop Beagle Club in Cowansville, PA. It was a last minute decision. I got back from the field trial last evening.

It is a long drive there, around 8 hours, but it was worth it. I have never been to the grounds before and did not know what to expect. As it turned out the grounds were really good, with nice cover and a right number of rabbits, not too few and not too many. The beagle club has both types of beaglers, brace and SPO, and it seems thriving. A lot of beaglers showed up to cook three meals a day, beat brush and some were judging too. I loved the whole experience!

On Saturday I ran our Tuesday in the Open Stake and she placed first. Then she won her runs for the Best of Open and Absolute winner. I was really pleased with her performance. She has always had enormous hunting drive but had no concept of recall as a pup. A year ago she flunked the NATC Small Game Hunter test as I was not bale to pick her up in the field and a good recall is part of that test.

Well, I am happy to report that her recall and field obedience got much better due to some serious work in the field. She ran several times on Saturday and came back to me every time. Good girl Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Introducing a new deer tracking team from Florida

Paul Ohmer has just joined United Blood Trackers and he wrote:

I have attached a photo of "Jack",  a five-month-old beagle/bloodhound mix, with his first deer. This was a paunch shot bow season deer that was shot at 8:30 am and I got a call from my brother in law at about 2:30 asking if I could bring my pup to help find the deer. I loaded up and got to the hunting camp about 3:45 and drove to the shot site and put Jack on the ground around 4:30, and the pup took right to the trail. This shot left no blood at all, just a little clear fluid now and then, and the pup was trailing in a palmetto thicket with nasty undergrowth that was about 4 ft tall. Jack could not see at all due to the terrain and his size. The pup did a perfect job of keeping his head up to avoid the sharp palmettos leaves and trailed this deer to its final bed in a quick 30 minutes. The deer was recovered and loaded in the truck by 5:30. Very happy with the pup's first tough recovery call. Thank you to John J's great book on training tracking dogs and the resource that UBT provides to us all. 
To see contact info for Paul click here.

Paul Ohmer with Jack and his first deer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A perfect afternoon of deer tracking and photography

By John Jeanneney

On October 8  I had a call from a young college student at SUNY Cobleskill. He had bow shot a mature doe that morning and had tracked it about 300 yards to a lawn behind the house of the property owner. He was "pretty sure" that the deer had turned back up into the woods, but he couldn't find any more blood.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon when Jolanta, Tommy and I met the hunter and drove to his hunting  area which was about 25 miles from where we live in Berne. Jolanta had her camera and was ready to shoot anything, dog, deer or landscape that might present  a photo op.

I like to start at the hit site, but since we had good blood much closer, Tommy and I started up in the woods about 50 yards  from the point of loss at the  lawn where the doe was supposed to have turned back. Tommy locked in on the scent  line, and when we came to the lawn he did not hesitate. 

Out across the lawn he went, across a road, and then we had to stop to get permission to continue. A 100 yards  of lawn stretched out ahead. No visible blood and the scent line was ten hours old on closely mowed grass. How could Tommy track with such ease in  such a situation? Was he making it up?

We were reassured when we got down into the brushy woods and  saw blood. No problem. Tommy went another 150 yards to the dead doe. Meanwhile, Jolanta's camera was constantly at work. You  see the results here.
A good ending!
When the recovered was being dressed Tommy had to be tied to a tree on a light chain. In the past he chewed through many plastic leashed in similar situations

We gutted the doe and the hunter dragged it up the hill and across the expanse of lawns. Jolanta took more photos in the beautiful, late afternoon light.

When Jolanta posted the landscape photos on a Facebook group for Hilltowners that evening, a comment soon came in,  "Hey, that photo was taken in front of my house."

The next day another message came in from the same man. "Did you find the deer? Was just wondering because one of my Labs brought me home a wonderful gift this morning: the mammary glands that had been cut out of a doe. Hahaha... I had to laugh, especially after seeing your photo and knowing the story behind it"

What a small world!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How is Joeri doing?

Several people asked recently about Joeri so a short update is in order. Joeri is doing very well though his gait is not 100%. But he can run freely off-leash and use his nose on rabbits again. This picture was taken in our 11-acre enclosure a week ago or so.

We are not going to use him for tracking wounded game as we do not want to put him at risk. When you track a real wounded deer you never know the terrain and cover that you will be tracking in. Sometimes the brush is so thick that we have to crawl on our knees and elbows. We have quite a few dogs that need a real experience in the field, and Tommy, now 5.5-years-old is a real pro. Joeri can enjoy his life without stress and pressure of expectations. We are so happy to have him as he is a great companion with a lot of soul.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

When a track is a success?

We all get that question, "What's your success rate?".  In the leashed tracking dog states we have to tell them, "Around 35%" because we know that what they are asking for is the frequency with which we find the deer and tag it. It goes without saying that the non-productive 65% are FAILURES.

If you have tracked for a while you come to realize that it's not that simple. Some of those FAILURES, when you didn't get the deer, actually become sources of pride and satisfaction. Our tracking adventure this afternoon is a good illustration.

We got the call this morning. The buck had been hit behind the shoulder late the previous afternoon with a Rage expandable broadhead. As happens, all too frequently, there had been inadequate penetration, four to five inches. The one thing that made me take the call was detail that the buck was occasionally blowing fine droplets of blood from his nose; a lung had been penetrated, but it was impossible to know how much damage had been done. A deer can go on one lung, and the damaged lung can eventually heal and become functional again.

Another slight complication was that the hunter's son was playing that morning in a high school football game. A good father knows that family comes first! It wasn't until 1:30 PM that Jolanta, Tommy and I  started on a long ATV ride back to where we were to begin tracking. We didn't start at the hit site, which is the normal thing to do, because the buck had been eye-tracked so far the previous night. Tommy, our tracking dog, started on a drop of blood and took off across the very dry leaves and pine needles.

Occasional drops of blood reassured us that we were on a right track.
The hunter and his buddy had done a superb  of eye-tracking, the best I've ever seen, and Tommy stayed on the line for a quarter of a mile into some very thick brush that involved crawling on my hands and knees. It was a hot mid-afternoon, but I was thankful for my heavy nylon coat and chaps. I had to plow along where Tommy  was tracking. Jolanta zoomed in whenever the brush cleared to give Tommy water and encouragement to us both. Tommy was hot, but totally focused on his  work. He was "locked in" on the scent line now 22 hours old. We broke out into an overgrown field where the deer had bedded the night before.

John's worn out tracking coat.
In the field of dry grass and goldenrod we found no blood at all, but Tommy seemed to have footprint scent to work with. Clearly the scent line was fresher now, even though scenting conditions were at their worst. Tommy worked down through the deer runs, checking carefully to make sure at each intersection. This was a hot deer area, but Tommy seemed positive that he was on the right line. "Trust your dog!"

Tommy tracking the lung-shot wounded deer that we could not get.
I began to realize that there would be no "successful find" on this call. This buck had come too far and had stayed strong for too long. If he had been fatally gut shot, things would have been different, but clearly this buck was not  losing blood now  and he was in a condition to keep going, back into the thick stuff, as long as we wanted to follow.

The decision to quit is a delicate matter. I like to have the hunter participate and  agree that there is little chance of catching up to the deer. Would the hunter believe that we were  still on his buck and not just rambling around on hot lines of healthy deer? Then the hunter's buddy, who had been following us closely, found blood, a tiny drop, but it was fresh and still wet. I checked Tommy for briar scratches, which might have left that drop. Tommy was clean, and Tommy was right. We were still on the wounded buck, and the buck was still strong after 22 hours. We pushed on for another 200 yards with Tommy pulling confidently.

We came to an ATV trail through the thickets. Tommy pushed on across but the humans were ready to stop. The hunter knew that the trail led back to where we had originally left the ATV. We called  back Tommy and he seemed to understand. There was no getting this deer even though  he had done his best. The whole tracking adventure seemed  a success, not a failure,  both for Tommy and for the folks who had supported him from  the other end of the long tracking leash.

What do you think? Success or failure?

Going back to the ATV.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tracking adventures of Bob and Thor on the opening weekend

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

We had a good opening weekend even though the temps were in the 70s and 80s and it rained a lot.  We went on 3 calls with 2 pretty easy recoveries and a weird non-recovery.   Thor showed me that he was picking up pretty much where we left off last year.
The 1st call was for a hit that took place at sunset, in the pouring rain, on Friday evening.  The hunter Josh,  said he didn’t know where he hit the buck, but he did have a broadside pass through shot from about 40 yds.  He said that it looked like dark blood and stomach matter on the arrow.  After the hit, he only followed the slight blood trail a short way in the rain, before turning back.  After talking to him, we decided to pick up the trail first thing Saturday morning.  When I inspected the arrow on Saturday morning, I did find dark blood and the telltale gritty / sand-like particles that indicated stomach contents.  I told Josh that if it was a stomach only hit, the deer could still be alive, but if it also hit liver, the deer would be dead by now (13 hrs after the hit), likely within a few hundred yards.

Once at the hit site, Thor quickly picked up the scent in the still wet  hardwoods.  In the first 50 yds of the trail I was happy to come across a few spots where the blood had not been washed away.  Thor continued on a pretty straight line another 50 yds or so until he began circling and backtracking a bit.  Since the hunter had not followed the trail this far, I figured that the buck must have stopped here and wandered around a bit looking for a place to bed.   Over the next  5 minutes, Thor constantly went back and forth over the same 30 yd circle.  I learned last year that at this point I had to let him figure this out on his own.  The only help I could provided was to make sure my son Nate had marked the last blood sign up the trail a bit in case we had to go back to it.  Luckily, Thor finally headed off in a clear direction along an overgrown logging road.  After a short distance, I then saw another blood drop – Great ! we’re back on it.   After a few more blood drops in the next  75 yds down the logging road, Thor took a left off the road and there in the patch of berry bushes was the dead 7pt.  We confirmed later that the arrow had just caught the bottom of the liver as well as the stomach.   All toll, we probably only traveled about 250 yds during the 10 – 15 minute search.  
                                                     Hunter  with  Nate Yax & Thor in Howard NY
Our 2nd track was a very similar situation.  The Hunter, Cory had hit a buck on Saturday evening just before dark.  He too had a good broadside shot from about 30 yds but didn’t know where he hit it.  The arrow had blood from tip to tip but he didn’t  think there was any stomach matter on the arrow.  When he inspected the hit site,  he found some blood, but it soon began disappearing when a hard rain started.  He tracked some blood for about 100 yds, but then could find no more.  Later that night he and his father searched an area ahead of the last blood sign with no luck.   I arranged to meet him first thing Sunday morning.  Associate tracker Ark Pisarevsky was along to help.

It was very damp and foggy when we met up with Cory on Sunday morning.  This time the arrow contained a lot of bright pink/red blood – lung blood.  There was no sign of stomach contents or dark muscle or liver blood.  From the description of the hit, this could be a good double lung hit.  Once we got to the hit site, I could see that Cory had marked his initial blood trail with orange tape for about 100 yds. The area was a mix of trees with a lot of thick rose bushes at ground level.  

Thor got on the trail quickly and followed right along the markers.  There was no blood sign however. We soon got to the end of the markers and to the point where Cory and his dad had lost the trail the previous night.  At this point I knew we would have trouble.  After losing the trail the previous night, Cory and his dad had done a grid search of the area ahead, surely with blood on their boots.  At this point Thor began searching in a random pattern all around the area.  At one point we headed off into an uncontaminated area of thick rose bushes.  After about 50 yds, Thor got stuck in thorns with nowhere to go.  I had to pick him up and carry him several times just to free him.

I finally headed him back to the last blood marker and after a few minutes of seemingly random searching the “mucked up – boot print” area again,  he headed off in a straight line like he was on something.  Within a few minutes,  I looked up and saw the dead 9 pt about 40 yds ahead of  him.  The shot ended up being a good, slightly high,  double lung shot.  The buck had gone about 200 yds total.  Again it only took about 15 minutes and I never did see a spec of blood.  I was really happy to see that  Thor again had worked through a problem area and got on the right trail to the deer.

Hunter with Bob Yax and Thor in Hemlock NY

Finally we took our 3rd call late Sunday afternoon.  Associate Deer Search tracker Joe Dallas was with me.  The temperature was 82 degrees!!!  This hunter had hit the deer at 7 am Sunday.   The button buck was only 5 yds from his 16 ft high tree stand.  The deer was facing directly at him with his head down and feeding when he shot (bad shot to take!).  He described the hit, which he plainly saw, as just to the left of the deer’s  spine  (the deer’s right side) and  towards the back of the lung area. He said it was a complete pass thru and there seemed to be stomach matter as well as a little blood and white hair on the fletching.  

The arrow was stuck in the ground when he found it.  He described just a slight blood trail because again, right after he hit the deer it had rained hard.  He thought that the arrow had also been somewhat cleaned off from the hard rain.  After talking to him I agreed to help him at about 5:00.  If it was a one lung & gut hit, this might be enough time.  If it was a liver and gut hit the deer would be dead.  When I met up with him I did a quick inspection of the arrow.  The broad head and first 4 inches of the arrow was covered in dirt.  The camo arrow shaft was pretty clean with just a few area of pink/red.   The fletching were slightly greasy had a slight odor and a few grainy particles (gut matter?) on them.  Both the fletching and nock had white hair on them.

To make a 45 minute, hot /sweaty story,  shorter,   there was no blood at the hit site, no blood on the trail.  No beds found.  Thor never seemed to get hot onto any trail, until near the end when I think he jumped a live/not wounded deer – he began yelping / barking  and pulling hard, a classic sign for him.  About the time I was ready to give up,  we were back near the hunters truck.  I told Joe, “I want to see that arrow again”.  It was in the bed of the hunters truck.  I pulled a paper towel  from my pocket, spit on it and proceeded to wipe down the entire arrow and fletching.  There was not a trace of pink on the paper towel!!   The arrow did still have a little pink / red  PAINT!  on it however.    About this time the hunter came back to the truck.  He said “what now ?”  –  I said “I’ve got one question for you”-  “Did you wash your arrow” – he said no!   I said “then you never hit the deer” and showed him the clean paper towel.  He said, “maybe I need glasses”!

I learned again that often what a hunter sees and what really happened are not the same.

PS – I think this hunter shot off to the side of the deer and stuck the arrow deep into the ground.  The deer then jumped and turned 180 degrees to run off.  I think he landed belly first on the nock end of the arrow leaving some grease and white hair on it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Learning from experiences of other trackers is invaluable!

A big thank you to Brady Hensington, a UBT member from Missouri. I think we all can learn something from your stories!

by Brady Hensington

I have included some photos from a couple of this year's tracks.  One of the photos is from a Dept of Natural Resources Special Handicap Hunt where we volunteered to track this season.  The hunt was unusually slow this year with only 3 deer being taken during the entire weekend.  Two of those fell within sight of the hunter.

The 3rd deer was shot by John Mease, a young man with cerebral palsy.  John shot the deer with a muzzleloader from about 60 yards away.  The deer was angled towards him, and due to the smoke of the muzzleloader, neither he nor his guide were sure of where the bullet had struck, but they were convinced that the deer was hit as it bolted from the food plot.  An initial search of the area did not reveal any blood or other sign, so they radioed for us to help out.

I had brought along both Caliber, my 3 year old wachtelhund and Chloe, my 14 month old BMH (Bavarian Mountain Hound).  I opted to start the track with Chloe in order to continue her training.  I started her where the deer had been standing at the time of the shot.  She made quick work of picking up the trail, and following the deer's path into the woodline 50 yards away.  We traveled on course another 50 yards into the thick timber when we jumped up the bedded doe.  I was encouraged that the deer had bedded so close to the shot sight, so we continued on.  In another 50 yards we jumped the deer again.  Chloe tried to give chase, but I held her back.  Up to this point the only evident blood was in the wound beds and appeared to be consistent with a muscle hit.  We decided to back out and take up the track later.

After an hour I restarted Chloe at the second bed.  She took the trail up well, but angled sharply right just after starting.  I was sure that I had seen the deer run further ahead, so I was concerned with her change of course.  We had also jumped several turkeys in this area about the same time the deer had jumped up.  I decided to let her figure things out on her own and followed along.  She led into some 6' tall Johnson grass and began running through it excitedly.  I was concerned that she was scenting some small game, and as I suspected she flushed a rabbit from the grass.  My 13 year old son, Caleb was also helping on the track, and he called out to me as the cottontail flew past him.  Still, Chloe seemed undeterred and remained in the grass.  After a minute or two, I pulled her from the tangle of Johnson grass and attempted to restart her where I thought the deer had gone.  She had a difficult time restarting and took a few different paths, but kept wanting to "play" in the Johnson grass.  Eventually, I became frustrated and took her back to the truck.

I decided to restart my more experienced wachtelhund at the hit sight as well.  He tracked well up to the point of the second bed.  He became momentarily distracted by the turkey scent, but quickly corrected when I verbally questioned him.  Then, he too made a hard right turn into the Johnson grass.  At this point I believed that he was "cheating" by following our earlier trail rather than the deer's trail.  Again, I humored him and let him work out the track on his own, while my own frustration level was rising.  When he entered the Johnson grass and began pushing through it, I thought that I saw something run out the back side of the thicket into the adjacent corn field.  Caliber apparently did not notice and continued to track.  When he got to the edge of the field he became noticeably excited and began tracking at a very quick pace into the standing corn.  That's when I saw the deer run through the corn!  At that point I saw the wound, which was a large hole along the deer's right shoulder blade.  The leg was completely severed, though no vital organs were struck.  I called for the guides to come up with the gun, but they were still 100 yards behind us in the woods.

Let me note that typically in Missouri, neither tracker nor hunter can carry a bow or firearm, however on this DNR sponsored hunt, we had received clearance by the Department that wounded animals could be dispatched with a muzzleloading firearm.  In the meantime, the deer broke off deeper into the corn.  Caliber and I were in hot pursuit and he aggressively bayed up the deer.  While the deer was bayed and the guide tried to hurry to our position, I got the bright idea that I would slip up behind the deer and make a fatal wound with my hunting knife.  I closed to within a few feet before the deer turned and hit me in the chest like an NFL linebacker.  That was enough for me to back away and count my blessings that it was a doe, rather than a buck!  When the guide arrived moments later, I was able to call of Caliber, allowing him a shot.  Retrospectively, Chloe was on the right track all the time.  However, Caliber was instrumental in the recovery as he had the determination to bay up this wounded deer.   I think that it is safe to say that this deer would likely never have been recovered without the use of a tracking dog.  Everybody was elated that we had recovered John's much deserved deer.

The picture includes both of my dogs, Caliber and Chloe, as well as my 13 y/o son, Caleb
and the hunter John 

The other picture is of my BMH Chloe with her first recovery.  After several difficult tracks without a recovery, we were finally able to make a successful recovery.  I had shot this doe earlier in the morning with my recurve.  The shot looked very solid, and I thought the track would be a simple ego booster for the dog.  I waited 2-3 hours after the shot before putting Chloe on the track.  Because I  thought that the track would be too simple for her, I started her where I had seen the deer enter the woods about 50 yards away from the hit sight.  Chloe quickly sorted out the trail and tracked up to my arrow.  Smelling the blood on the arrow obviously excited her and she progressed another 50 yards or so before we jumped up the deer.  I was very surprised to see it alive.  We backed out of the area and returned a couple of hours later.  It was nearly 90 degrees on that day, and we had worked on some projects while waiting on the deer to expire.  When I put Chloe back on the track she refused to track.  Instead she kept crawling into the bushes to lay down.  No matter how hard I tried I could not get her to progress.  Looking back, I think that she was hot and tired from our work out in the heat.  After combing the area for sign unsuccessfully, I decided to walk Chloe beside me as I searched for sign.  Several minutes into our search I looked over to see and hear her sniffing at a spot on the ground.  She had found blood!  She took up the trail immediately and led me another 100 yards or so to the liver shot doe who was long dead by the time we found her.  Chloe had found her first deer and again had recovered a deer that due to the thickness of the area where it had expired would likely have gone to the coyotes without her assistance.

Chloe, a Bavarian Mountain Hound, with her first recovery

Monday, October 7, 2013

Terrific tracking season for Susanne Hamilton and her German dachshund Buster

We have written about Susanne Hamilton and her German dachshund Buster many times before. It is hard to believe but in June Buster turned 11 years old.  His age does not seem to be slowing him down, quite the opposite. So far he has had an outstanding tracking season. Susanne is a dedicated and driven tracker who travels long distances, often at night as after all she carries a full working schedule during the day. We wish this amazing tracking team from Maine many successful recoveries in the future.

Not too many handlers are willing to track a wounded bear at night. Susanne seems to be an exception.
Susanne wrote: We tracked it a quarter mile till point of loss, then we tracked it another quarter mile with only two spots of blood. It was still alive when we found it.... and put it out of its suffering quickly. The moose was 828 lbs with a 42 inch spread.

A 16-hour paunch shot. Smart hunter left it alone and Susanne and Buster found it in 200 yards!

A 17-pointer!

Hunters wrote about this track: Josh Callahan shot a doe last night which headed through brush that was murder to track in. We struggled to follow the blood trail for 4 hours. At 11 PM, Buster and handler Susanne Hamilton joined the search. Buster is an amazing blood trailing Dachshund...yes that's right, Dachshunds are great tracking dogs! Buster jumped on the blood trail and found the deer within 10 minutes.
Buster does not mind sharing his find with kids.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Two veteran trackers have started another tracking season with gusto

Hunting season opened in our pat of New York on October 1. John has taken three calls and the last one ended with a successful recovery. This is what he wrote: This buck was shot high through both lungs, but he left almost no blood. The hunter found a few drops in the first 50 yards across a golden rod field--- then nothing. Tommy had no problems with this four hour-old scent line and went another 150 yards to this nice 8 pointer. This was SO easy after the two previous deer calls that did not produce.

John Jeanneney with Tommy
Walt Dixon with Ari
Another Old Timer, Walt Dixon from Tully, NY, also recovered a very nice buck in much harder conditions. Walt tracks with a 10.5-year-old Ari (Ariel von Moosbach-Zuzelek). He wrote: I just came back from Elk Hunting in Colorado and received a call last night that a bowhunter hit a deer at 6:30 pm and after waiting a short while, and before he could start to track, the skies opened up pouring rain washing away any visible sign. He called last night, said he thought he hit the deer near the liver, and I advised him to look for the arrow in the morning and leave the deer alone. It rained again during the night and this morning he called after finding the arrow broken in half near the edge of the woods the deer entered after being shot.
With no visible sign, Ari smelled the arrow then entered left the grass field and entered the woods under an apple tree. She seemed to be working hard so I let her go and about 400 yards away she found the buck who was hit in front of the left rear leg, quartering toward the bowhunter, exiting low and puncturing the right rear leg. Intestines hung about 10 inches out of the bottom of the buck and there was no sign visible the entire trail. Even after all the rain, the 15 hour old trail left enough scent for Ari to recover it! This old tracking pair is off and running for another season!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Amazing autumn colors of the Helderbergs

By far this is my favorite season and the pictures show why. It looks like this year we are going to have vibrant, rich colors, and I hope to spend quite a bit of time outdoors with my camera. It's good for my soul.

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