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Old 11-24-2020, 03:47 PM   #1
dk_ace
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Default Question for those with tracking dogs

When you get called in to track a deer, what are the common elements that lead to needing dogs and lost deer? I had the unfortunate experience of losing a deer for the first time in my life last weekend. A friend with dogs helped us search all afternoon. He said something along the way that made me wonder what the common themes are that lead to tracking jobs and lost wounded deer.

Iím hoping that we can all learn a few things and avoid being the next tracking job story...

D
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Old 11-24-2020, 07:53 PM   #2
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Held too long and pulled the shot. Not the normal head I shot deer with.

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Old 11-24-2020, 09:28 PM   #3
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I've heard many times of people putting a "behind the shoulder shot" on a quartered-to deer. you almost always end up with a gut shot. If we were fortunate enough to find the animal, I always try to do some quick in the field teaching to the ones that don't "already know everything".
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Old 11-24-2020, 09:50 PM   #4
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I would say taking up the track to early and bumping the deer.
If you donít see it drop or hear it crash wait at least an hour minimum and most of the time you wonít need my dog.


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Old 11-24-2020, 09:52 PM   #5
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Good idea for a thread. I hope more people chime in.

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Old 11-24-2020, 10:33 PM   #6
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Although it wasnít in the original post I will also add that one of the biggest reasons we donít get to finish a track is because people donít know how to get in touch with their neighbors to get permission to enter their property.


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Old 11-24-2020, 10:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex View Post
I would say taking up the track to early and bumping the deer.
If you donít see it drop or hear it crash wait at least an hour minimum and most of the time you wonít need my dog.


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This and add having the whole camp stumble threw the woods looking, spreading the blood scent around the whole time, before calling the dog.

The tracker can almost never trust the impact location reported by the hunter unless itís on video! I saw this over and over and then fell victim to it on my last buck. I was 110% my shot was money, forward if anything. My old dog lost it so I called another dog which had to run the deer down.

The shot was lethal but not for a while. Looking at entrance and exit everyone would say guts but with 3 experienced trackers and a recovered arrow none of use saw sign of gut shot. None.

Turned out to be liver only
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Old 11-25-2020, 09:56 AM   #8
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all good advice so far.

i would add that you should always act as if you will need a dog and take the necessary precautions. in the end, you usually won't need one, but if you follow the right steps and end up needing a dog, you will not have mucked up the trail and made it twice as hard on the dog to do its job.

my asks are fairly simple if i am getting my dog on the track.

wait for 45 minutes or longer if you didn't see or hear it crash

do not go out and check your arrow or look for blood until that time is up

when you do go, walk slowly and look for blood or hair or guts.. then mark that spot with rocks or something as the starting point.

if you have a blood trail or think you know the path the deer took, do your best not to walk all over the trail or the path. stay to the side of it and off the trail. we don't want the dog tracking you , we want them looking for the deer.

make sure to move very slowly and quietly, and mark any blood spots so you can go back to that spot.

on my place we have a lot of animals, and it is easy for a dog to get distracted with the scent of a hog or a rabbit or an axis, when you want them finding what you shot, not finding that jackrabbit.


to be clear, I am no expert tracking dog trainer and my dog is ten times better than i could have ever trained her, meaning it is a natural thing for her to want to find animals.
but finding and marking the blood spot, even if it is one drop, can be the difference in finding the downed animal.
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Old 11-25-2020, 10:18 AM   #9
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Most people call a dog as a last resort. That means they gave destroyed the trail and the dog has to circ lo e around and pick it up way out or just wind the deer.

I had dogs for many years and learned to take everything the hunter knows about the shot a with a grain of salt and trust my dog. Many many tines the deer went the opposite direction from what the hunter said.

I once had a fellow call me on a giant buck he shot crossing a narrow lane. Sure he hit but zero sign. I walked my dig on and saw him perk up. He went quickly left. He fellow started yelling at my dog saying the deer crossed left to right. I told him let m.h e deal with the dog as he was on the deer. He was mad and said that **** dog is backtracking. Ten minutes later he barked his"im looking at a dead deer " bark almost out if hearing. I told the guy he had the deer and started that way. No tracking collar but the dog would bark on command was not leaving a dead deer. The fellow was circling around on the right side and didn't want to go. He said the dig probably had a#$%% possum treed.

I assured him it was the deer and when we got there it was a huge ten pt close to 160. 400yd in the opposite direction center paunch shot.
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Old 11-25-2020, 10:58 AM   #10
dk_ace
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Great stuff here so far. Thanks for all the info!

Any common themes regarding the broadhead used? I don’t want to lead the thread too much as I was interested in what common themes you see generally. I’m not seeing broadhead choice being a theme here, so it seems like my friends comments may have just been anecdotal.

Fortunately, we were very careful about the trail and I gave the deer 3 hours before we started the track. We tracked it very, very far, but this one just got away somehow.

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Old 11-25-2020, 11:20 AM   #11
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Trust the dog. If you jump the animal one time, stop! Follow blood trail to the side. After shot, wait a "minimum" of 30 mins....more is better. Once on the track, give the dog room, don't crowd the dog. Track with a minimum of people, no more than 4. Certainly, there will be that one guy that knows more than the dogs nose. Be patient, don't rush. Usually, however long it took you to track to certain spot, it will take the dog just a few minutes.

Did I say, trust the dog? Trust the dog. Trust the dog.
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarGuy View Post
Most people call a dog as a last resort. That means they gave destroyed the trail and the dog has to circ lo e around and pick it up way out or just wind the deer.

I had dogs for many years and learned to take everything the hunter knows about the shot a with a grain of salt and trust my dog. Many many tines the deer went the opposite direction from what the hunter said.

I once had a fellow call me on a giant buck he shot crossing a narrow lane. Sure he hit but zero sign. I walked my dig on and saw him perk up. He went quickly left. He fellow started yelling at my dog saying the deer crossed left to right. I told him let m.h e deal with the dog as he was on the deer. He was mad and said that **** dog is backtracking. Ten minutes later he barked his"im looking at a dead deer " bark almost out if hearing. I told the guy he had the deer and started that way. No tracking collar but the dog would bark on command was not leaving a dead deer. The fellow was circling around on the right side and didn't want to go. He said the dig probably had a#$%% possum treed.

I assured him it was the deer and when we got there it was a huge ten pt close to 160. 400yd in the opposite direction center paunch shot.
This is a good thread. Love this story.
Can any dog be a tracking dog if they have a great nose? All my boxer wants to do is track squirrels, cats etc when we walk in suburbia. She goes nuts when I come home from hunting especially if I have harvested. She wants to smell everything for hours. I'm probably ignorant but just curious.

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Old 11-25-2020, 11:48 AM   #13
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That is **** good advice Rsquared.What Gar Guy said about the deer going the opposite direction is dead on.Good thread right here.
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:52 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bakin7005 View Post
This is a good thread. Love this story.
Can any dog be a tracking dog if they have a great nose? All my boxer wants to do is track squirrels, cats etc when we walk in suburbia. She goes nuts when I come home from hunting especially if I have harvested. She wants to smell everything for hours. I'm probably ignorant but just curious.

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Sounds like you have a tracking dog. If a Chihuahua can track deer, Im sure your Boxer can
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakin7005 View Post
Can any dog be a tracking dog if they have a great nose? All my boxer wants to do is track squirrels, cats etc when we walk in suburbia. She goes nuts when I come home from hunting especially if I have harvested. She wants to smell everything for hours. I'm probably ignorant but just curious.

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I would say no. You don't want a dog that tracks animals as this means you never know what its tracking. You want a dog that tracks blood because it may have to track through dozens of other animals tracks to stay on the blood track.
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Old 11-25-2020, 12:08 PM   #16
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I love these threads. I agree with bboswell, but, it is in any canine to track. If you have the option, go with a proven breed.
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Old 11-25-2020, 12:26 PM   #17
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I would say no. You don't want a dog that tracks animals as this means you never know what its tracking. You want a dog that tracks blood because it may have to track through dozens of other animals tracks to stay on the blood track.
So what makes the difference? Breed? So a "blood" dog has no desire to sniff out animals or vice versa?

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Old 11-25-2020, 12:59 PM   #18
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Awesome thread. I've lost a few deer that I wished I had called a dog in for thinking "I hit him good - just need to give him time". The 2 occasions I've used a tracker they said the first 12 hours are critical for having a good trail to follow. After that your chances of recovery really drop.
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Old 11-25-2020, 01:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakin7005 View Post
This is a good thread. Love this story.
Can any dog be a tracking dog if they have a great nose? All my boxer wants to do is track squirrels, cats etc when we walk in suburbia. She goes nuts when I come home from hunting especially if I have harvested. She wants to smell everything for hours. I'm probably ignorant but just curious.

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No, it takes a special dog with the right kind of drives. They need hunt drive, prey drive and fight drive and a lot of it. It also takes a very smart dog to be able to sort out a wounded animal from a herd of healthy ones.
Once you have weeded through a lot of dogs and found one with all the right drives it takes A LOT of hard work to train him. You have to put them lots and lots of deer. It takes 100 or more real tracks to really finish a dog.
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Old 11-25-2020, 01:40 PM   #20
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I’m confused by the question. Is the OP asking what the conditions are that lead someone to require a dog or at what point should the hunter stop trying to recover a deer on their own and call someone with a dog?
The most obvious reason for needing a tracking dog is the deer cannot be found. The blood trail runs out or the hunter has already jumped the deer and it’s gotten ahead of them. Marginal shots, gut shots, quartering to shots where stomach contents plugs up the wound channel, and busted legs are usually going to require a dog for recovery.
Ideally, the hunter should start making efforts to find a deer tracking dog as soon as he realizes there is a problem. If you track a deer 200 yards and still haven't found it, stop, call us, and wait.
If you don't disturb the area, and the deer is mortally wounded, we have a good chance of recovering him.
There are a lot of reasons an experienced tracker might not take a call but that’s another thread.
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Old 11-25-2020, 01:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
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No, it takes a special dog with the right kind of drives. They need hunt drive, prey drive and fight drive and a lot of it. It also takes a very smart dog to be able to sort out a wounded animal from a herd of healthy ones.

Once you have weeded through a lot of dogs and found one with all the right drives it takes A LOT of hard work to train him. You have to put them lots and lots of deer. It takes 100 or more real tracks to really finish a dog.
Any special breed?

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Old 11-25-2020, 01:57 PM   #22
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I have used several breeds. SMART is the key. Curr/hound crosses have done great for me. The two Best I ever had were ridge back /curr crosses. Both would not run a deer that wasn't wounded and were great squirrel dogs . I could take them where a deer was shot and immediately know ifxthe deer was hit by their reaction. Even after I hissed them up, if the deer wasn't wounded they would just trail a but and look back at me. If hit, you could see the excitement level quickly.

If a trail was a day or even two days old I often made a big circle down wind. When the dog hit the scent of a dead or wounded deer it was obvious.

I have seen several threads this year where a tracker turned down a track that was shoulder hit. I loved those. A broken leg or shoulder was near 100percent recovery. Of course I had big gritty dogs that were capable of catching a deer.

My dogs were with me constantly and could read my mind. Gosh I miss having dogs. Might gave to do it again.

Last edited by GarGuy; 11-25-2020 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 11-25-2020, 02:32 PM   #23
bakin7005
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So it sounds like, by some of these posts, a great (not good) track dog has to be a certain breed and requires hundreds and hundreds of hours working, training, tracking. A good bird dog doesn't require that much experience....
I only ask and comment because I'm curious. I've seen some threads that show the deer recovered by a "tracking" dog that looks similar to somebody's lap dog.

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Old 11-25-2020, 04:03 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by bakin7005 View Post
So it sounds like, by some of these posts, a great (not good) track dog has to be a certain breed and requires hundreds and hundreds of hours working, training, tracking. A good bird dog doesn't require that much experience....
I only ask and comment because I'm curious. I've seen some threads that show the deer recovered by a "tracking" dog that looks similar to somebody's lap dog.

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Specific breed, no...hundreds of hours working and trailing YES.
And because you have to shoot a lot of animals for your dogs, most people donít have the kind of training opportunities it takes to really train one correctly.
Those golf course tracking tests are no substitution for the real thing. Finding dead deer is only part of it. In a typical season we find maybe 1 in 5 dead. The rest we have to bay and dispatch. Most hunters just donít understand that.


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Old 11-25-2020, 04:21 PM   #25
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Specific breed, no...hundreds of hours working and trailing YES.
And because you have to shoot a lot of animals for your dogs, most people donít have the kind of training opportunities it takes to really train one correctly.
Those golf course tracking tests are no substitution for the real thing. Finding dead deer is only part of it. In a typical season we find maybe 1 in 5 dead. The rest we have to bay and dispatch. Most hunters just donít understand that.


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There you go. That what I was talking about on shoulder shot deer. A good dog will get him.
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Old 11-25-2020, 04:47 PM   #26
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I've helped find and tracked without recovery more "perfectly hit" deer than you wanna hear about! IMO the biggest factor is people not knowing where a true kill shot needs to be.
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Old 11-25-2020, 11:05 PM   #27
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I've helped find and tracked without recovery more "perfectly hit" deer than you wanna hear about! IMO the biggest factor is people not knowing where a true kill shot needs to be.


Or knowing full well but not processing all the movement that can take place between shot release and impact with a bow.

I helped track a Bull elk this year, both guide and very experienced bow hunter swore shot was behind the shoulder mid mass, I was spotting from 300 yards and called the shot dead in the shoulder / non-fatal. They argued to the point of getting angry so I just shut up.

We trailed muscle blood well over a mile.

I got video of the bull last week alive and well.
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Old 12-05-2020, 09:27 AM   #28
msodolak
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I’m not an expert but a liver shot seems to get the best of some bow hunters. It appears to the hunter to be a “decent” shot and the arrow is usually covered in blood (even though its darker). Blood trails on liver shots in which there is a complete pass thru usually produce a trail that can be pretty easily followed for the first couple hundred yards. Since it appeared to the hunter to be a “decent” shot, blood on arrow, and initially a good trail to follow they go too soon and bump the deer. On shots further back that hit guts most people know to give them time. On liver shots though they don’t distinguish between the bright red blood of heart/lung and the dark liver blood. Typically an un bumped liver shot deer will bed within the first 300 yards and die within 6 hours or so. If bumped I’ve seen them travel darn near a mile.

As for broadheads it’s common to see penetration or deflection issues with mechanicals which leads to a whole different debate where you can find thousand of opinions.
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