Her name was Susie. She was owned by the parents of my future son-in-law, Keith. During deer season one day long ago, I shot a doe, followed and lost the blood trail and was about to give up when I remembered Susie.
I called Keith, he brought Susie over and within half an hour, she was barking at my downed deer.
This happens all across our part of the country this time of year; a hunter makes an errant shot, a deer is wounded and would become food for coyotes and buzzards except for a good blood trailing dog.
This week I learned of an incident where a dog recovered a fine buck for a Red River Parish hunter. Jerry Hester shot a nice buck that ran off, he brought his prized blood trailing dog, Scooter, to the scene and within minutes, he was putting a tag on the antlers of the big 12 point buck.
What breed of hound was Susie? What about Scooter? Actually neither was of the hound persuasion, the type of dog you'd expect to be adept at trailing wounded deer. Susie was a Dalmatian, one of those white dogs with black spots you see hanging around fire stations. Scooter is a Snorkie, cross between a Yorkie and Schnauzer, a household pet. I've also heard of dachshunds and even poodles having a knack for finding wounded deer. So what's up with this?
I went to the internet to find some answers and a blog written by a guy named Bob from Georgia shed some interesting light on the subject.
According to Bob, just about any dog can be trained to blood trail wounded deer. Here are some of the things Bob suggests, although what he says might be a bit unsavory for the squeamish.
The next time you have a deer hanging from the skinning rack, recover some of the blood, put it in small containers such as film canisters and freeze it.
Next, put a harness on the dog which will teach it to associate the harness with the tracking job at hand. Never use this harness for anything else so when he puts it on, he associates the harness with the task ahead.
Take the frozen containers of blood, mix with water (not chlorinated water) in a gallon jug and then lay a trail by punching holes in the jug so the water/blood mixture drips steadily on the trail.
Make the trail short and in a straight line at first. As the dog becomes accustomed to this exercise, gradually extend the length of the trail and include some right angles so the dog learns to back track and pick the trail back up.
Bob warns that you should not drag a deer hide or other deer parts. "You want to teach your dog to track blood trails only; not deer," Bob writes.
Before skinning and dressing a deer, or if you find fresh road kill, place the deer at the end of the trail and really praise and reward the dog when it finds the carcass.
Some key points Bob added were to use only deer blood along the trail. Always have your dog in a harness and on a lead; otherwise the dog will leave you behind and is in danger of being shot during gun season.
"You take the week or two to train a dog and you'll never lose another deer. Let other deer hunters in your area know that you have a blood trailing dog available and offer his assistance. The extra practice will just make him better." Then Bob adds, "Any little fido can be taught to do this."
Give this exercise a try and one day maybe you'll have a Susie or Scooter that will be the envy of the deer club.
Reckon I could teach Rufus, our Papillion to do this? Perish the thought; Kay would never hear of it.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.