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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Bond of Hunters, a story by John Jeanneney

The Bond of Hunters

by John Jeanneney, copyright 1998

 Max was an old wirehaired dachshund  whose gray grizzled coat matched my own head. Neither of us could escape the truth that the hills were getting steeper, but for both of us finding wounded deer for hunters in the fall was the adventure which bound us together and around which we organized our lives.  We jogged regularly, linked by a short leash as we built and measured our strengths for the fall season when we would search once more together on the long leash as blood trackers. On our sedate runs along country roads, I eyed and Max smelled the wildlife in the green fields. The woodchucks, sitting up like sentinels near their dens were one of our diversions from the boredom of the road. We would charge the ramparts of their earthworks, arrive puffing and panting only to find that our quarry had dropped down and out of sight. Max was too big to enter, adrenalines at ebb we would return to the road.  Still, the surge of the  chase assured us that the old team was still alive and ready to take on the next wooly mammoth or great cave bear which blocked our path.
            Near the start of our morning jogs we sometimes stopped in the yard of my neighbor Arnold to stretch stiff muscles. Arnold had complained of an enormous gourmand woodchuck, old and gray as ourselves, but much fatter. This woodchuck was ravaging Arnold's garden and mocking all defensive efforts. Plunge holes were his temporary escape but he never stayed near the lawn and gardens to await serious retaliations. His favorite tactical retreat was through a  culvert under the road and into the  wide green field beyond.
            Max and I were returning from one of our three mile loops past the green field approaching Arnold's and there was the gourmand chuck, huge and self-satisfied. I held Max up so that he could see above the wall of unmowed grass at the road's edge and then unsnapped the leash. We launched our charge and sped the fifty yards. Sped? Well, anyway we scrambled just as fast as we could, two old boys as carnivores converging, the fat prey fleeing....all in slow slow, so desperate...straining, the distance closing, closing... flat out. We had him! Right at the edge of the woods, a faltering stride from his den under the old maple. Max grabbed first and rolled him. I took the tail hold, quickly swung our prey in hard orbit to the tree. It was over.

  I thought for both of us of good lives, well-lived and of quick death. 

    John with Max and one of many deer that they have recovered.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Video of wounded moose recovered by Susanne Hamilton and her dachshund Meggie

The use of tracking dogs in the recovery of wounded game has grown and expanded enormously in the last decade. The United Blood Trackers is still gathering numbers of recoveries from its members for the 2015/16 season, but in the previous season UBT members recovered 718 deer, 11 bear, 7 moose and 2 coyotes. 

One of the more active UBT trackers is our very good friend Susanne Hamilton from Maine. In fall 2015 she went on 73 tracks (while holding a full time job) and recovered 31 deer, 3 bears and 1 moose. Eight animals needed to be dispatched. Susanne tracks with Meggie and her sire Buster, who at 13.5 years made ten finds. Readers of this blog are very familiar with Buster, who is an amazing tracking dog. The video below shows Susanne and Meggie on a track of wounded moose. The track was 9-10 hours old and shows very well the spirit of tracking. You might notice that Meggie opens a lot on the track. Susanne said that the terrain was very rough and she moved slowly, too lowly for Meggie, who was getting impatient. There were also a lot of obstacles and Meggie swam at least 20 times. There were also times when Meggie tracked silently but the five minute footage chosen for the video does not reflect it.

Susanne, a top level dressage rider and trainer, is competitive by nature. Her passion for blood tracking is matched by very few handlers. Last fall she went on 6 tracks within 24 hours and recovered 4 of the 6 deer she tracked. This must be some kind of record! I don't think she slept in those 24 hours at all.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Are leashed blood tracking dogs going to be legal in Pennsylvania soon?

It has been a very long and difficult road to legalize the use of blood tracking dogs in Pennsylvania. Nobody knows it better than Andy Bensing, President of the United Blood Trackers and Deer Recovery of Pennsylvania. In October 2014 he wrote an excellent article "Why Can't I use My Dog?", which gave a good analysis of the situation and objections to tracking dogs in PA and other non-legal states.

Next week identical bills allowing leashed tracking dogs will be voted on in the PA House and the Senate. See the full text here.  Quote: "It shall be lawful to do any of the following:
(1) Make use of a dog to pursue, chase, scatter and track wild turkeys during the fall wild turkey season.
(2) Make use of a leashed blood-tracking dog to track a white-tailed deer or bear in an attempt to recover an animal which has been legally killed or wounded during any open season for white-tailed deer or bear." 

According to Andy there is a very good chance that both bills are going to pass. We are going to keep our fingers crossed that PA is going to turn green on this map:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Another deer recovered by Mossy Brooke (Viola von Moosbach-Zuzelek) from Georgia

Mossy's recovery #29 for the season took place on Sunday night, the last day of hunting. As it turned out it was not her last track of the season but we will have another post about that. A big thank you to Judy Catrett, Mossy's owner and handler from Georgia, who reported:  

The hunter had shot a doe quartering to him and had found blood and hair, 3 foot diameter area, at the site of the shot. The most hair I had ever seen at a shot site. Mossy tracked the blood trail easily into the woods and through a swamp for 200 yards with visible blood being seen by me as we tracked. She then tracked for another 600 yards, total of 800 yards, with me seeing no blood the last 600 yds. Craig was with us on this track, having stayed at the truck, so I called for him to pick us up and let Mossy start over. She again tracked 200 yards, but at this point went in a different direction than our initial track and within 100 yards, I began seeing blood again. She tracked for 300 more yards into a clear cut with thick briars.  

She jumped the deer which I could not see, but could hear. We then tracked very fast thru the briars which were chest high, with me seeing blood the entire time. I had shortened her leash to 6 feet so that she would be in no danger of again coming up on the deer without me seeing it and being hurt by the deer. Within 100 yards, the deer had bedded again and was unable to jump up and run. I was able to dispatch the deer with my pistol.  

This deer had sustained an open wound to the left side of its abdomen and had run 600 yards per GPS from the shot site with its stomach and intestines hanging out. I really had empathy for the suffering this deer had already endured and was so glad that Mossy had found it so that its misery could be shortened. Evidently, no major arteries had been hit and the deer could have lived for a while longer had we not found it. The deer had made several turns, so I am not sure how far she actually was able to run with this massive injury, probably 700-800 yards as GPS showed 600 yds straight line. Deer are very tough animals, being able to exert this type of energy with this injury.  

There were 5 other deer in the field when this deer was shot, and I assume that Mossy, in her haste to find the wounded deer, took the track of one of the other deer initially after 200 yards. I knew after 800 yards and no blood that we were probably on the wrong track, so we tried again and she straightened herself out. She is still very young in her tracking career, and things of this type are to be expected. She continues to excel in her tracking abilities.  

The picture is not pretty with all of the blood involved and Craig burst out laughing when he saw me in the picture. He said I honestly looked like I had been dragged through a swamp. Mossy was the only one who endured this track without any change of her looks. She is always rewarded with the tongue once she finds the deer. She swallowed this tongue whole, but is doing fine this morning. Could not believe that she just gulped it down as she normally chews them. She also supplied heart for supper for herself, Pache, Tiny Tink, and Buddy. Her sibs love having her around so that they can all feast on heart when she comes home from tracking--something they have come to expect when we get home from a track.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Finding wounded deer with tracking dachshund Mossy Brooke

Huge shout out to Judy Catrett from Georgia and her tracking partner Mossy Brooke (Viola von Moosbach-Zuzelek) on their 28th recovery of this tracking season. Mossy is going to be two years old in April, and she is a daughter of our Tommy (FC Tom von Linteler-Forst) and Tuesday (FC Tuesday von Moosbach-Zuzelek). Judy and Mossy recover deer faster than I am able to post about it.  Judy wrote:

What a day Mossy and I have had. We received a call last pm from a hunter who had shot a 6 pt. buck and asked if we could help him. As he was over an hour from us, and it was already dark, I told him that Mossy and I would meet him at daylight. Isaac had actually shot the buck at 4:30 PM yesterday and we arrived and started tracking at 8:00 AM.

When we arrived, Isaac was very helpful in showing us exactly the spot the buck was shot and Mossy was asked to find a dead deer and blood. She tracked without difficulty to the last place that Isaac had been able to find blood, approximately 50 yds from the site of the shot. She continued to trail in a light rain and around 500 yards later she ended up at the edge of the head of a pond. Mossy tried to swim into the pond, and at this area the pond was only 50 yards wide, but deep.

We made our way to a crossing that was not above our boots and I asked Mossy to try to find a dead deer and blood as we were then on the side the buck should have exited. She immediately went to the area she had tried to swim into from the opposite side. She again tried to swim into the pond. I did not let her do this on either side as it was cold and I did not want to take a swim this early in the morning. I told Isaac that Mossy was telling us that the buck was in the pond. We looked for any floating objects, but did not spot any.

I then asked Mossy to make a big circle of the area hoping she may pick up on a track of the buck exiting the pond. She made the circle and again led us to the exact spot on the edge of of the pond. Again, she wanted to take a swim. No, Mossy, I am too old for a swim at 8:00 AM in cold weather. I told Isaac that Mossy said the buck was in the pond--he agreed. I advised him to check the pond later for a floating deer. He had to leave to go home 6 hours away in just a couple of hours, so I suggested that he check with the landowner thinking that he would probably check the pond for Isaac.

As we were saying our goodbyes, Isaac asked if he could have his picture taken with Mossy to show his wife. Mossy, of course, obliged. Mossy and I had been gone appx. 5 minutes when Issac called. He had checked the opposite end of the pond near the dam and had seen an unusual object which on closer inspection turned out to be his buck. Mossy and I returned to celebrate with Isaac. I don't know who was happier--Mossy, Isaac, or myself. What an asset Mossy has been to my life and it continues to amaze me the new friendships created because of her. We left Eric skinning his deer with him assuring me the meat would not go to waste now--because of Mossy.

Jolanta, I have tried to let Mossy track every deer possible this year, easy or difficult. I had some concern that the easy tracks may make it more difficult for her to concentrate on a more difficult track. She answered my question today. She has such a desire to track that she has learned from every opportunity at tracking as have I. She and I definitely have the connection that Bear and I had. I do talk with Mossy while we are tracking--as I do when we are not tracking--the communication between us continues to broaden as Mossy's vocabulary increases. Don't think that we are quite at the Darren and Theo level, but we are making progress. If all of your pups are of Mossy's quality, you and John have reason to be proud.