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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.