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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Short track and recovery for Thor: Important deer anatomy lesson

By Bob Yax
On Nov. 8th, Thor and I took a track in Geneseo.  The hunter, Josh, hit the buck about 4 pm the previous day.  While interviewing Josh about the hit, not long after he shot it, he said that the buck was broadside when he hit it and the arrow passed thru near the center of the deer.  Surprisingly, the buck bedded within 20 yards of the hit, then got up shortly after and bedded 2 more times in the next 50 yards before getting up and walking off.   

Josh waited awhile and then inspected the hit site and arrow along with a few yards of the early trail.  He saw a reasonable blood trail and then backed out and called Deer Search.  The quick, frequent bedding, signaled a liver hit, but then Josh described the arrow as having heavy intestinal matter on it.  With a broadside shot it’s hard to hit both liver and intestine.   I told Josh that the options were to go after it late that evening, like 11 pm (assuming it was liver), or to wait to later in the morning assuming it was intestine only.  It was a tough decision.  A liver-hit deer could be dead in less than an hour (typically 7 hrs covers 95% of liver hits), but an intestine-hit deer can go for over 24 hrs.  We had to worry that it might spoil if it died early or we might jump it if we go too early.  We decided that we’d wait till late morning to start the track.  

We started at about 11 am, 19 hrs after the hit.  I inspected Josh’s arrow and confirmed it was covered with intestinal matter and a little blood.  We started the track and quickly got through the first 100 yards where blood sign was still visible along the way.  Soon we came out to a standing cornfield, where Thor spent about 10 minutes circling around in about 20 rows of corn.  I was happy to find 1 spec of blood on a corn stalk, while he was circling.  Finally, Thor came out of the corn and headed off pretty hard across a clover field for about 125 yards, until he entered the woods that surrounded a 1 acre pond.  Soon, he was walking through the shallow water at the corner of the pond.  He came out of the pond and climbed up a short bank.  There I found a single drop of blood.  Thor then took a path through the brush along the edge of the pond, and again ended up along the water’s edge.  He was really interested in the water. 

I scanned the pond hoping to see a floating deer. Finally, he walked off the bank and started swimming into the pond.    I let him go out a few yards, and then pulled him back to shore.  He jumped up the bank and then I spotted a bloody leaf on the shore.   I let the leash go and told Josh to grab it as I climbed through the heavy brush.  He grabbed the leash but had a hard time holding Thor back as he dug in and pulled hard into the brush.   A few seconds later the reason was obvious.  The dead buck was lying about 40 yards from the pond. So far the track wasn’t that interesting, but the deer and the hit changed that.  Looking at the 8 pointer, it was obvious that the deer had passed just a short time before we arrived.  There was no rigor, and the internal organs were freshly warm.   The other observation was that the lower half of the deer was soaking wet and his legs were brown with pond muck.  It had obviously been laying in the pond.  The autopsy revealed the biggest surprise, the 3 blade broad head clearly passed thru the liver, before exiting out the intestines.  This buck, with a solid liver hit, likely lived for 17 or 18 hours!   Not sure if laying in the pond had any influence, but most liver hit deer are dead at 6 or 7 hours.  I did have one buck years ago, that we jumped after 20 hrs with a liver hit.  The general rules usually apply, but not always!  Photo of hunter and buck, below. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New version of John Jeanneney's book Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer

The first edition of Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer was released in 2004, and was followed by the 2nd edition in 2006. The book had been selling well but in the last few years it became clear that we needed to update it. A new version was printed in October 2016. 

This "new" 2nd edition has additional 7 chapters, new pictures and appendices, and an index. The information has been updated throughout the book. While the 2006 book had 360 pages, the new version has 424. Its cover is green. The book can be purchased on our website (CLICK HERE) for $39.95 plus $4.00 for shipment within the United States.

Just today we received feedback from Marianne Jacobs who lives in Luxembourg, and has a lot of experience in hunting and blood tracking. When John read it, I could see some tears of happiness in his eyes. Thank you Marianne!
I wanted to give my feedback on the book “Tracking dogs for finding wounded deer”!

First of all: I am amazed and this book should be on every trackers book shelf! 

It is very clearly structured and written in a great English. The chapters and words are well chosen, and the sentences are easy to understand (important for me as a non-native speaker). I never had to read a sentence twice to get the meaning of it! Reading the book was a real pleasure for me.

Concerning the content: It covers all that I could imagine: blood-tracking in general, breeds, puppy-choosing, training for all age stages, equipment, different game, tracks, problems, tests and so on! And what I loved the most about the book were the small summaries at the end of every chapter!

The information given in this book is priceless! I would recommend this book to every tracker; to the ones who gets started and also to the experienced ones. There is plenty of information for everyone, no matter if they where they track in the world.

I have read many (especially German and French) books about blood-tracking, but this is clearly my favorite now. I truly have the impression that the author wants me to learn (a lot) from his book. I always missed this feeling with the European books: they gave some information, but the content was more about the authors’ dogs and his personal successes and tracks. And they often only praised certain breeds, and ignored others completely. I couldn’t get that much information from these books, especially practical information about training and trouble-shooting were often missing. But not in this book!! While reading, I could feel how the author put his soul and all his knowledge into it. 

I will absolutely recommend this book to our puppy buyers, fellow trackers and hunters, they can learn a lot from it. I learned so much and I already know that I will often look something up in this book, because this is definitely NOT a book that you only read once and then put away.

Thanks a lot for writing this wonderful and educational book!

Marianne Jacobs, 
Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg    

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thor tracks and recovers a liver-hit buck 4 days after the shot

By Bob Yax

Just got back from a cold rainy day (Wednesday) of tracking.  This afternoon I had to shoot a 12pt non-typical 18 hours after the hit, and that wasn’t the most interesting track of the day!  

The track we started this morning at 9:00 has a long backstory.  The Hunter, Charlie, had hit a big buck this past Saturday morning (11/5) at 9:30.  He thought his arrow had entered low in the ribs, about 6 inches back of the front leg on the right side.  The white hair at the hit site indicated that the exit was near the bottom of the deer. Being pretty new to bowhunting, he waited about 1.5 hours to begin tracking.  He and his hunting friend tracked the deer about 300 yards, when they jumped it.   They then backed out for about an hour and continued tracking a dwindling blood trail.  After several hundred more yards, they jumped it again.  Finally, after about 3 hours of tracking, they jumped it a 3rd time and then tracked it a few hundred more yards to the last blood sign at the edge of a golf course, on a cart path.  At this point they’d tracked about ¾ of a mile.  After the cart path, the buck headed across a fairway and then along the woods on the other side.  Charlie was able to track the buck’s hoof prints in the soft dirt.  About 100 yards past the cart path, they lost all signs of the buck.  From that point on, Charlie and his hunting friend grid searched the woods on that side of the fairway for another hour to no avail.
Two days later, on Monday 11/7 at 8:30 am, Charlie called into Deer Search asking for help.  The rut in our area, as well as cross bow hunting began this weekend.  As a result, we had 30 to 40 calls waiting in our system.  We don’t have the manpower to handle all those calls, so on Monday evening I began deleting calls older than 36 hours and then calling those hunters back to say sorry and to discuss their hits.  Charlie hunts in an area far from most of our trackers and it was now 59 hours after the hit, so I deleted his call and then called him.  After hearing the story of his hit and track (jumping the buck 3x) it certainly sounded like a liver hit.  It went a long way between beds, but it was being pushed.  I knew the deer was dead, and Charlie made it clear how much he wanted to recover it, his best buck to date.  I thought that a body search, to smell the dead deer might have a chance of working – but they usually don’t!   I told Charlie, that I might be in his area on Tuesday and that I might want to give it a try.  Well, Tuesday didn’t work out, but I did catch a call for Wednesday that would be nearby.  Charlie and I traded a bunch of text messages Tuesday night, and he even emailed me a Google Maps photo of the area with his deer track marked on it.   At that point I didn’t realize that the track so far, was ¾ mile long.     The photo showed that the area was very large with diverse vegetation.  I agreed to meet up with him on Wednesday morning at 9 am – 4 days after the hit.  From Saturday thru Tuesday it had been sunny, warm (65deg) and breezy, but Tuesday evening and Wednesday AM the forecast was for rain.  Sure enough it started raining about 9 pm Tuesday evening.  At that time, the thought hit me that with this moisture, Thor might actually be able to follow the 4 day old track! 
Wednesday morning, as I made the 60-mile drive to Hume, Allegany County, the rain was pretty heavy, but luckily just about stopped as I met up with Charlie.  After doing our paper work, Charlie showed me his arrow & Rage 2 blade broad head.  The arrow and fletching showed not much blood, and the first 10 inches had a coating of white fat / suet on it.  Likely from passing thru the fat on the bottom of the chest. I decided we should start the track at the hit site in the hope that Thor could actually pick up and carry the track beyond where the hunters had lost it.  I started Thor where we thought the hit occurred and headed off in the direction the buck went.  I never saw any blood, but Charlie convinced me that Thor seemed to be going the right way.  After a short time, I was convinced that Thor did have the track.  

To make a long story shorter, for about the next hour, we followed Thor down what seemed to be the right track through the mixed hardwoods.  On 3 or 4 occasions along the way, Thor got into a circling pattern 30 or 40 yards in diameter, obviously trying to figure out which direction the buck went after it stopped and circled.  Once we got to within about 200 yards of the golf course, Thor got stuck in a circling pattern for about 15 minutes. He was working hard, but couldn’t get out of it. It could have been the Hunters bloody boots that complicated that area.  The 3rd bed was ahead in the thick brush between us and the golf course.  We were now about an hour into the track and still hadn’t gotten to where the hunters had lost the track.  At that point, I asked Charlie to take us to the last sign of blood at the edge of the golf course, 200 yards ahead.  Soon we were at the cart path where the buck came out of the woods. Still in the path, was a dime sized blood clot.  The 1st blood I’d seen so far.   Thor caught the scent again and headed off hard across the fairway towards another woodlot.   A short time later, Charlie confirmed that Thor was on the path of hoof prints in the fairway that they had followed 4 days earlier.  75 yards further along the edge of the fairway and we were now at the point where Charlie lost the trail for good.  At that point, Charlie and his friend went on to search the woods on that side of the fairway, and the woods beyond.  Now I was hoping / praying that Thor would take us in a totally new direction.  Soon after, he was in the middle of the fairway, heading back across towards the cart path and woods beyond.  Yes! Charlie, had never searched in this area.  It was totally clean and Thor was heading hard into it. That buck should be lying, dead ahead within a few hundred yards.  So, I hoped!  

Well, we continued into the new section of woods for another 200 yards with Thor seemingly, still on the trail – I sure thought so.   Then, just as I was beginning to doubt him (I shouldn’t do that!) I spotted what I thought was a blood spot on a wet leaf.  I stopped and dabbed it with a white paper towel – BLOOD!   The last blood sign I’d see on this entire track.    A short time later, Thor was in his 4th or 5th area of circling.  I stood by for 5 minutes trying to be patient – it’s hard!  Finally, he was off on another 200 yard line thru the woods.  I expected to see the dead Buck ahead of us at any moment.  We’d been in this woods for at least 400 yards, the buck should have bedded by now.   After another 100 yards we were at the corner of the woods and a clover field.  Here, Thor spent at least 10 minutes circling a 30-yard diameter area in the woods.  This is torture!    Multiple times, he would seem to head off on a line out of the area, only to come circling back!  In our early tracking days, I couldn’t take it, and would pull him off in a direction I wanted to go.  Now, I’ve learned that he almost always figures it out, if I give him the time he needs. Finally, Thor headed into the clover field and then took a good straight line, for about 100 yards, across it to the woods beyond.    He quickly got thru the woods and then we headed into a large thick brushy basin.  We were now more than a half mile beyond the last bed, with no sign of the deer.  I began to have my doubts, but Thor was still determined as we headed down the narrow deer trails in the dense brush.  After a 200-yard arch thru the brush, Thor’s nose was suddenly up, scenting hard.  10 yards later I caught a whiff and a few yards later I saw half a rack poking out of the weeds ahead – we had him!!!  The buck was a big 6Pt, and the shot was just about where Charlie thought.  The broad head looked to hit the bottom of the liver.  Unfortunately, after 4 days, only the rack was salvageable.  But that, and the track it took to find him, will provide memories of this Buck well into the future…  Photo below shows Charlie and his Buck.  Map shows total track route.  Red portion is where Charlie tracked the Buck,   Thor tracked the entire route.  I learn more and am amazed more every day!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bob and Thor track and find three deer in one day

Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek, a brother to our Tuesday and Darren Doran's Theo, has had a great tracking season so far. He helped hunters to recover their deer that otherwise would go to waste or feed coyotes. This is what happened today, in Bob Yax's words:

After breaking my streak of Birthday recoveries yesterday, I was ready for some success today. Boy, did we get it! 3 recoveries on 3 tracks that were all hit yesterday and sat overnight in the heavy rains. Thor was awesome today... relentless on every track.

Track 1 was in Romulus. I started it yesterday afternoon thinking it was a liver hit. We then postponed it till today when I saw only intestine matter on the arrow. The arrows level / broadside path could have not have hit liver and intestine so we needed to wait overnight. Yesterday there was no blood found on the 1st 20 yds of the trail. That's as far as the hunter tracked it. This morning just as the rain was ending we took up the trail - 0 blood was seen, but Thor took off hard down the trail. To our surprise, we found the buck dead 100 yds from the stand. Autopsy showed arrow deflected (off a branch) down thru the back strap, lung, liver, stomach and came out the intestines. The 9pt was likely dead after 5 or 6 hours. We found it at the 24hr mark and it was still good, likely due to the heavy cool rain.

Track 2 was in Pavilion. Hunter wasn't sure what he hit on the big buck, but he had a pass thru with only blood on the arrow (no guts). Yesterday, he and his wife tracked it for hours over a mile till the blood petered out. We started the track 29 hrs after the hit. The arrow look almost clean to me, maybe from skidding thru very wet clover? Over the next 30 min we covered the mile long trail with 0 visible blood again. We did go right past 3 markers the hunter left along the buck’s path. That is always reassuring! Finally we hit a railroad track where they had stopped tracking yesterday. The thick brush on the other side was a promising place for the buck to bed. Thor headed down a trail into the brush, then came out into a clearing in the swampy woods. About 50 yds later his head was up scenting the air hard - was the buck nearby? - yes! It was laying in the open wood 40 yds ahead. It looked dead, but it was laying straight up on its belly with its chin on the ground and antlers up? Thor was barking like crazy! I had the hunter hold Thor's leash as I slowly approached the buck. Soon I was 15ft from it and it was still motionless. Just when I was sure it was dead, it blinked and took off running. I got my 20ga up and shot when it was going away at 30 yds. It tumbled into one of the big puddles then ended up lying head up in the woods 40 yds ahead. My hit to the back knee put it down, but it was still trying to get up. Too long story short - 2 more shots finished it! (this included an "ammo run" to get a 3rd slug!) It was a Big 10pt. The Hunters shot passed thru the top of the lungs just under the shoulder blades. PS, it was a 4 blade Muzzy. This was the 1st marginal lung shot we've ever recovered, and it wasn't easy...

Track 3 was in Dansville. Hunter said that yesterday he hit the buck broadside and far back. He saw stomach contents on a tree. The arrow showed me only intestine contents, but I did find stomach matter on the tree. Yesterday the hunter tracked it (pushed it!) about 175 yds with a little blood, he then backed out. We started on the track 23 hrs after the hit, again no blood was visible (dam rain!). Thor again got hot on the trail and was soon passing the hunters backpack that he left where he backed out. About 300 yds later, Thor again had his nose high in the air looking for the Buck. We then saw it dead, 50 yds ahead. The 8pt was very fresh, no rigor. It had only been dead a few hours. The entrance wound was halfway back and about 6 inches from the bottom of the deer. It hit Stomach and exited out the intestines. A day that started with driving in the pouring rain, turned into our best tracking day ever. Tracking conditions were great, damp and cool, and Thor was really on his game. The heavy rain that washed away all blood sign probably helped us.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Track or treat" night: Winnie and Jared's first track in pursuit of a wounded deer

Some tracks are more memorable than others but most likely every handler remembers their very first track. This week we received email from Jared Brueggeman, who got a female pup from our only 2016 litter. Winnie (Yola von Moosbach-Zuzelek) was born on July 3, 2016 so she is just turning 4 months old tomorrow.

My neighbor shot this doe on his land at approximately 5:45 pm Halloween evening. He said he heard the arrow hit but was unable to locate it or any blood at the shot site.  A few hours later Winnie, myself, the hunter and two friends took to the field. We started tracking at 9:15 pm.  It was difficult to locate the first blood as there was none at the hit site that we could see. We tracked for quite a distance.  Some heavy blood fading to some light blood and back to heavy.  After several hundred yards and it was apparent that the deer was still alive as we were finding fresh blood that was not dried like at the beginning of the trail.  We never found a single bed.  We pushed the deer to make her bleed and we ended up through the large block of timber where the deer crossed the road.  We located a few drops on the road and Winnie was anxious to push on. Shortly after crossing the road Winnie came upon her first real deer.  The deer was dead and Winnie realized what she has been training  to do. She went right over and started licking the blood and eventually she latched right on and was biting the deer with all she had. She showed no possessiveness as last night I think Winnie realized that we are working as a team.  All of the other people and the lights in the woods were a distraction at times as this was only her second time in the woods at night, once on an artificial line and then this actual call. I would reassure her with a calm tone that she needs “find the deer” and she was back to tracking. We recovered the deer at 11:28 pm. The deer was shot quartering away hitting the gut, liver and a single lung. There was an entrance and exit wound, however, the arrow was still in the deer. She had not been dead long as there were still bubbles coming out of the exit hole near the lungs. The track totaled just about a mile in distance. The Halloween deer that Winnie found will be one I will never forget. Winnie did get on Halloween a little treat of her own, a few slices of fresh deer heart.

On the track there were a few times where I needed to reset Winnie on the last blood found and then she was back on track. She persevered and did great. I was very proud of her as you know she is not even 4 months old yet! I am on cloud nine right now and I have the itch to get back out there and let the sniff hound go find another!  Thanks for being a part of all of this. 

Sincerely, your friend and now fellow tracker,

Jared Brueggeman