ABOUT BLOOD TRAILING WITH DOGS
Since dogs have been domesticate by man, they have been used not only in hunting, but also in the retrieval and recovery of game. A dog has an olfactory ability that is far superior to the "smelling senses" of a man. So when a wounded animal leaves only a faint trail with little visible blood to follow, it makes sense to incorporate the use of a dog---especially one that is trained specifically to follow the faintest blood trail of a wounded animal.
Every hunter has a legal (and an ethical) responsibility to do all within his means to recover an animal that has been wounded. When it is obvious that an animal is unable to be trailed and recovered by a visible blood trail, there is definitely another option. When faced with the loss of a trophy (coupled with a genuine concern to minimize the suffering of the wounded animal) the employment of a highly-trained blood tracking dog is the most ethical choice. As a matter of fact, in some Scandinavian and European countries, all hunters MUST have access to an officially titled and registered blood tracking dog in order to legally hunt deer or moose.
Keep in mind that success is not automatic just because a good tracking dog is called in. The first thing a dog has to do when he is put on a wounded animal trail is to work through the area that has been tracked up by the hunter. The toughest part of the tracking process is usually at the point where the hunter loses the blood trail. This is generally the area where the hunter's search has been the most intense, so obviously the area with the most amount of hunter disturbance---from tramping around looking for blood evidence on every leaf, twig, or blade of grass. A blood trailing dog will have to work through this contaminated area.
The behavior of the animal itself can create serious difficulties in tracking also. Sometimes a wounded animal will make sharp directional turns or even appear to back track. In such cases, an experienced dog is needed to work out the trail. Other animals will also have an influence on the blood trail. A track laid several hours earlier will have many cross-trails of uninjured animals. These animals will not only be altering some of the tracking and scenting conditions, but they will also be offering tempting smells to a dog that is not disciplined to stay on the track of the wounded animal. A good blood trailing dog must be trained to discriminate and focus only on the specific wounded animal that is being sought. A good tracking dog must be able to track a faint scent (that may be several hours old) for a long distance in mixed terrain. The wounded animal will often flee immediately after the shot at full speed, and it may have bled very little. Training a dog that is disciplined to handle such difficulties and distractions is an exhaustive, time-consuming and expensive project. It may take years to develop a top blood trailing dog.
From my own personal experience as a hunting guide, I have learned that you should never assume a miss! If a shot is fired, you must treat the animal as if were hit. I have tracked and recovered dozens of animals that hunters thought they either missed or felt confident that it had not been a non-lethal shot. On the other hand, some shots may appear to be lethal, but the animal is actually still healthy enough to travel a great distance with apparently no physical limitations. Some animals will somehow survive a shot that would prove to be fatal in most cases (check out the gut-shot deer pictured above). Determing the true condition of the animal after the shot is critical. A wounded animal should never be rushed. Wounded game that is pushed too early will often flee---on survival instinct and adrenaline alone---causing it to distance itself in such a manner that it is almost impossible to recover by any means. Moderate rain or snow on the scent line is not nearly as bad as dry, windy conditions---which can make trailing difficult or even impossible.
All wounded animals are not recoverable! The animal being trailed has to be seriously injured if the dog and handler are going to catch up to it. In over 2/3 of the trails we have worked as hunters and guides (without dogs) the wounded animals were found dead. A dead animal is not going anywhere, so there is usually not any hurry to get to him. If the animal is not dead---a reasonable amout of time will only allow it to get weaker and hopefully lay down. If the wound is not sufficient to slow up, and eventually bring the animal down, then the moderate waiting time will have no bearing anyway. So if tracking conditions are favorable it may be better to wait at least an hour or two to start a dog on any trail of wounded game. The age of the track is important, but the nature and severity of the wound has more bearing on the recoverability of that particular animal. Atmospheric conditions will play a part, but that is a factor that cannot be manipulated or changed by the hunter or dog handler.
The type of animal will also have some influence on the difficulty of the trail to be followed by dogs. A non-rutting deer will obviously leave much less scent than a stinky old mature wild boar. A small animal like a bobcat will be much harder to trail than a black bear. Hopefully there is enough blood---along with various body scent and fluids---present on the trail to be sufficient for the dog to follow (whether the blood is visible to the hunter or not).
Sometimes a wounded animal will have to be trailed for some distance to determine whether or not it is recoverable. Some mortally wounded animals do not bleed at all, but they will leave other scent evidence of a wound that only a dog can detect and follow. The entrance or exit wound of a hog will often close up due to the extra amount of fat and thick hair. A hog hit high in the torso may not show any blood for up to 100 yards. A mortally wounded animal will eventually get weak or sick and start leaving a trail that indicates its weakened condition. If there is no visible blood or track that leads to this point, the animal will not be retrieved by even the most proficient tracking skills of a hunter or guide.
Trailing a wounded animal is a fun and exciting sport in its own right. But it can be just as challenging and sometime just as un-productive as any type of hunting can be---however---having a well-trained blood dog will always tip the scales in your favor!
If you look closely you will see the exit wound of an arrow in the left flank of this buck (from a low entry into the belly on the opposite side). Our Jack Russell female worked the trail for a short distance the following morning, but was not very enthusiastic. We were able to follow the deer for almost a mile before losing his track. The shot did not slow down this buck, and from the photo it is obvious that he survived. The dog seemed to know that the deer was not mortally wounded. In this case, the buck was not hit hard enough to make a blood trailing dog of any use.
Even after an almost perfect heart/lung shot, this big bodied Fallow buck still ran over 200 yards leaving a very dim and intermittent blood trail. A hunter with little tracking experience could have easily given up on finding this buck. But after 45 minutes of some serious tracking, the buck was found. His eyes were already dried and glazed over and there were ants working on his body, so the buck must have died within moments of being shot. In this case we had a good shot, a quick death, yet a very poor trail to follow with the naked eye. This is the perfect example of massive internal bleeding with very little external blood sign. A good blood trailing dog would have taken us straight to this deer!
NON-MORTAL WOUND MORTAL WOUND WITH LITTLE BLOOD A BLOODLESS TRACK
I had a big javelina within bow range, and I got too excited and punched the trigger---causing the arrow to pull into his flank. A gut shot, but with some quartering, so I might have got some of the liver. We tracked the wounded animal for over 150 yards, but the blood finally quit and we could not advance any further. We found the dead peccary a week later near the area where the blood had ended. A definite kill shot---but with no dog the trophy was lost.
A quartering away shot is generally a good bow shot, but if it is too far back, the arrow will pass through intestines and a part of the stomach. Even if the arrow penetrates the vitals---the stomach, intestines, and diaphram may block the free flow of external blood . There is a tremendous amount of internal hemorrhaging---but nothing to make it easy for the visual blood tracker to find his game!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT DOG TO TRAIN FOR BLOOD-TRAILING WOUNDED ANIMALS
If you have ever owned any type of hunting or working dog, you probably realize that "breeding" is the most important factor determining the degree of success that you will have in training your animal for a specific purpose. Obviously, a Chihuaha would not make a good "catch dog" for a hog hunter, and you wouldn't choose a Great Pyranese as a lapdog. Dogs have been bred for specific purposes over many centuries---some for hunting, some for herding livestock, some to provide protection for their owners, and others simply as pets. So if I am looking for a good dog for trailing wounded animals, I should choose an animal with an exceptional intelligence, a good nose, and an innate desire to work a blood trail. If I can find a breed that has been used specifically for this purpose for over a century, then I am already off to a good start. Today many dog breeds are utilized for their scenting abilities. The hounds are obviously the first choice for those who want an animal to locate and track down an animal by scent alone. Law enforcement agencies also employ several breeds of dogs for drug detection and rescue and discovery. Here in Texas most people have traditionally used their working cow dogs to trail wounded game, simply because these dogs are usually already present in the ranching operations where deer are located. But what is the BEST dog for trailing wounded game? The answer is almost as diverse as the people that train them. It is accepted by most people who are experts in the area of blood trailing that the German breeds seem to be the best suited. The Europeans and Scandinavians have been developing blood trailers since the mid-to-late 1800's. In some countries hunting for deer, elk, or moose is illegal unless the hunter has access to a dog that has been officially certified as a Blood Tracker. There is great diversity in the German breeds---ranging from the Rottweilers, Dobermanns, and Shepherds---on down to the smaller -sized Dachshund.
At Texas Jagd Kennels, we obviously believe that the German Hunting Terrier (Jagdterrier) is the overall best dog for the job. They are very intelligent, cold-nosed (for a terrier), and have a tremendous hunting drive. They can be trained at an exceptionally early age---which really cuts down on the time that it takes to produce a proven blood trailer. If an older dog is lost---a younger replacement can be trained in almost half the time it would take for many breeds. As a matter of fact, training for a Jagdterrier usually begins at about 10 weeks. In other words, as soon as a pup is able to get out and run around the yard, it is time to put them on some blood.
BRIGITTE LOCATING HER AFTER A SHORT HEAVY BLOOOD TRAIL SHE AFTER THE TUMMY TREAT---BRIGITTE
FIRST BLOOD TRAIL LOCATES THE TARGET (A BIG SLICE OF CHEESE) GETS TO CHASE A BLOODY HOG LEG
AT TEN WEEKS, GOOD KNITE BRIGITTE WAS STILL A BABY PUPPY BUT NOT TOO YOUNG FOR SOME SERIOUS TRAINING
ONE MONTH LATER AND A HALF DOZEN BLOOD TRAILS LATER, SHE IS NO LONGER A PUPPY, BUT A "STARTED" BLOOD TRAILER
BRIGITTE IS NOW OUT IN FRONT WITH A LONGER LEAD---THE SLACK IN THE LEAD SHOWS YOU THAT SHE IS WORKING THE TRACK UNASSISTED.
SHE STOPS TO EAT A TIDBIT OF LIVER---AT THE END OF TRAIL SHE HAS HER FIRST SHORT 90 DEGREE TURN---SHE FINDS THE TARGET.
BRIGITTE IS CHEWING ON THE HOG FOOT---THEN IT IS PULLED BY A STRING TO START A FUN GAME OF TUG OF WAR AT THE END OF TRAIL!
Intelligence, cold-nose, hunting drive, gameness, and the ability to start training at an early age---all are good reasons for choosing a Jagdterrier as a blood trailing dog. They are not afraid to engage a downed animal (of any size) if it is necessary. They are an extremely versatile dog, so can be used for a variety of hunting situations. If you take them bird hunting they will learn from other dogs to point and retrieve. If you take them dove hunting, they will learn to fetch your birds. I know of several Jagds that are used by duck hunters to work alongside their Labradors. I know one rabbit hunter in Missouri that uses a Jagd with his beagles. He says that the Beagles no longer catch the rabbits, because the Jagd is always out front. His labradors no longer get to retrieve his doves, because the Jagd is too fast for them. A Jagdterrier is not a normal run-of-the-mill dog. It is a breed that stands in a class by itself!
A LITTLE PUP STARTING TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO AN EXPERIENCED BLOOD TRAILER
AT ABOUT THREE MONTHS OF AGE BRIGITTE IS PUT ON A 150 YARD BLOOD TRAIL OF A HOG SHOT WITH BOW
BRIGITTE WORKED THE TRAIL AND WAS VERY AGRESSIVE AT THE DOWNED HOG---SHE FINALLY LAID ON THE HOG---CLAIMING IT AS HER OWN!
BRIGITTE AT NINE WEEKS GIVING ONE MONTH LATER SHE IS IN
OUR OLD HOUSECAT FITS! THE FACE OF A DOWNED HOG!
I HAVE OWNED HOUNDS AND VARIOUS TERRIER BREEDS FOR THE PAST FORTY YEARS, AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN A SMARTER, GAMIER, AND TRAIL-WISE PUP THAT COULD BE COMPARED TO THIS LITTLE JAGDTERRIER. NOW YOU CAN SEE WHY I AM RAVING OVER THESE SCRAPPY LITTLE DOGS!
BLOOD TRAILING FACTS
Interesting things about tracking
wounded game animals and the
use of game recovery dogs
I MADE A GOOD SHOT ON A VERY LARGE FERAL HOG, BUT NEVER FOUND A SINGLE DROP OF BLOOD. IT WAS POWDER DRY, AND I COULD NOT DISCERN MY HOG'S TRACKS FROM OTHERS LEFT BY SEVERAL GROUPS OF HOGS. A GOOD BLOOD TRAILING DOG WOULD HAVE COME IN HANDY. THIS HOG WAS ALREADY DOWN SOMEWHERE BUT HAD TO BE LEFT IN THE FIELD BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF VISIBLE BLOOD AND POOR TRACKING CONDITIONS.
AT ONLY FOUR MONTHS OLD---BRIGITTE IS WELL ON HER WAY TO BECOMING A TOP BLOOD TRACKER!
I SHOT THIS COYOTE WITH A BOW, AND BRIGITTE BOTH COYOTES WERE SHOT WITH BOW DURING ONE EVENING
FOUND THE DEAD COYOTE SIXTY YARDS AWAY. HUNT. BRIGITTE TRAILED AND LOCATED BOTH COYOTES!
GOOD KNITE BRIGITTE
BRED FOR HUNTING AND BLOOD TRAILING
AT FIVE MONTHS OF AGE---BRIGITTE IS BEING PUT ON GAME ANIMALS EVERY WEEK!
This hog was shot too far back (in the gut), and as is often in such shots as this, there is no visible blood to work with. We put Roxie on this track two hours after the shot was made, and she worked out the track and found her animal with plenty of life left in him. This was definitely an animal that would have been lost without a blood tracking dog. Roxie worked out the bloodless track and then bayed the animal long enough for me to move up and put him out of his misery. Blood tracking dogs are effective tools in the recovery of wounded animals. This hog would have suffered for hours (before dying) if Roxie had not been available to track him down!
BRIGITTE---NOW SHE IS AN ADULT JAGDTERRIER!
Obviously, we are very biased---since we own Brigitte,
BUT THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL BROKEN-COATED FEMALE JAGDTERRIER BLOOD TRACKER!
(Photo taken in April 2007)
SCENT-TRACKING---AS IT RELATES TO WORKING BLOOD
Utilizing the DIRECTIONAL SCENT FUNNEL produced by a wounded animal
Tracking with a dog is all about "scents'". Obviously, a tracking dog does not depend on its sight to follow a visible blood line to where a wounded animal is located. The scent-quality of the blood track that a dog is trying to follow is not always determined by the amount of blood that the hunter or dog handler can SEE. Actually, scent-quality boils down to what the dog is able to smell---and move in the proper direction.
A concept that MUST be imprinted in the mind-set of anyone who is handling tracking dogs is this---WHAT A HUMAN IS SEEING IS NOT THE SAME AS WHAT A DOG IS SMELLING. You may not be able to see one drop of visible blood, but your dog may be able to almost run along an apparent "invisible" blood line like there was blood poured out from a bucket. Then on the other hand, you may SEE a significant amount of blood, yet your dog may act like he doesn't have a clue where to start the blood line. In other words, one track may seem good to you, because you can see a steady visible blood line, but that does not mean that the tracking dog is SMELLING what you are SEEING. Another possibility to consider is that the dog may not actually be having any problem SMELLING, but a lot of trouble ATTACHING A DIRECTION to the scent it is smelling.
Let me explain it by asking a question----Have you ever heard anyone say that they love the TASTE of classical music? Probably not---but you do know some people who like to HEAR (listen to) it. So when a musical piece is being played---they are not trying to TASTE the sound of it---they are trying to HEAR it. There is little comparison to tasting and hearing in this case.
Well.....the same is true for blood tracking. The tracking dog is trying to "smell" and it is not concerned at all with "seeing" the blood. So in the same sense as with the example of classical music, SEEING blood cannot be compared to SMELLING blood. What a human sees may have very little to do with what a dog smells. This should not be confusing at all, yet too often we still insist on comparing the effectiveness of a blood tracking dog by the blood-evidence we can see.
I will be very honest with you. Everyone loves to brag when their blood tracking dog finds a wounded critter---where there was absolutely no blood visible to the human eye. But after tracking with various dogs for a few decades, I have learned that some of the easiest tracks that I have ever worked with a dog appeared to be VISIBLY impossible for a dog to track. When we don't see any blood, we automatically assume that our dog just worked a very tough BLOOD trail. But not so fast!
Actually A TRACKING DOG IS NOT JUST DEPENDING ON THE SMELL OF BLOOD to find a wounded animal. There are all types of external body scents---as well as various fluids (sera) and pheremones---that a distressed wounded animal may be emitting along a "blood" line. A good tracking dog will not only associate blood with a wounded animal--- but also the other tell-tale scents that are left along the trail of a retreating animal in distress. So when "blood scent" is limited---there may be other scents that can be easily picked up by the discerning nose of the wounded game recovery dog. If blood volume is lacking along a track line---there may be plenty of other scents available---that enable a dog to easily follow the retreating animal. An animal that has been hit hard by an arrow or a bullet in a vital area is going to definitely be leaving behind more discernable "distress scent" than an animal that has received a marginal hit. The more external blood---and the more physical stress involved---usually the easier the track (but not always). " Much blood" cannot always be associated with "much DISCERNABLE scent"---especially when you mix in the TIME ELEMENT involved. A lot of good scent from blood and the distress factor can be tainted and easily diminished by a long time delay or from interference from human activity.
I was once asked to track a wild hog that was shot on the edge of an open field. There was plenty of blood at first, but after fifty yards, there was no more visible sign. I put Roxie on the start of the trail---where I could see good blood---but for some reason she kept circling around like she could not tell exactly where the blood was located. I was trying to pull her back to the visible blood to get her to take it away from there, but she continued to smell around in circles. I was not aware of the fact that my hunters had been trying to track this hog for several hours before I had ever shown up. They had obviously walked on some blood or body sera that we could not see---so Roxie was smelling "wounded hog scent" in an very large area. We saw a blood line---but she was smelling an extensive (wide) scent field that was hard to put a direction to. Smelling blood and body serum is wonderful---but when DIRECTIONAL INDICATORS have been obliterated by a significant SCATTERING of scent---the dog may have serious problems in "lining out" what it is EASILY smelling. So always remember that what can easily be smelled CANNOT always easily be advanced or followed. A wider-scattering of scent will often reduce the ability to discern DIRECTION of scent.
When I was a kid, I loved it when a jet would streak across the sky leaving a narrow vapor trail behind it. You could not always SEE the aircraft itself, but you could definitely follow the flight of the airplane by the vapor trailing behind it. Right behind the jet, you always had a very narrow line of vapor that helped you pin-point the exact flight that the aircraft was taking. If you looked farther back behind the jet, however, you would see that the once-narrow vapor line has gradually grown wider. What was once a clear line has started to become torn apart and spread out by upper winds. The older the segment of the vapor trail---the more dispersion and the less visible discernment of the exact direction that the jet had taken.
WITNESSING THE EFFECT OF TIME AND DISTANCE ON THE VAPOR TRAIL OF A JET---CAN LEAD US TO A
MUCH-BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE "TRAILABLE SCENT" OF A RETREATING WOUNDED ANIMAL.
A wounded animal is leaving behind a trail that is similar to the vapor trail you have seen from jets flying across the skies. Immediately behind the fleeing critter is a narrow line of strong directional scent. The strength of this early directional scent may be determined by the amount of visible blood, but not necessarily. Again, remember that BLOOD IS NOT THE ONLY SCENT INVOLVED IN THE SCENT (VAPOR) TRAIL THAT IS BEING LEFT BEHIND. As the animal puts distance along its escape route, the funnel of scent is expanding and dispersing similar to what you are seeing with the vapor trail of the jet. As time passes, the scent is dispersed by a prevailing wind (or possibly in many directions by variable winds). Atmospheric conditions---like barometric pressure, surface-ground moisture, and relative humidity---are factors that may also influence the "scent cone or funnel" left behind by a retreating wounded animal.
THE "SCENT FUNNEL" LEFT BEHIND BY A WOUNDED ANIMAL
is greatly influenced by time and human interference.
PRESERVING THE DIRECTIONAL ASPECT OF THE SCENT FUNNEL (CONE)
1. Put the tracking dog on the scent trail (blood/body serum) of wounded animal as soon as possible.
a. As soon as the hunter has determined that there is a possible wounded animal, he (or she)
should back off and call for the blood tracking dog.
b. Putting the tracking dog owners phone number in cell phone is very helpful in speeding up the
2. Eliminate interference from human trackers trying to visually locate animal.
a. Feet of hunters attempting to track their animal will not only pick up blood and widen the
directional cone---but the feet will also pick up and scatter the scent of invisible body serum
and pheremones that a dog can also utilize to successfully track the animal.
b. Keep in mind that blood is NOT the only scent item used by a dog to track a wounded critter
THE "TIME FACTOR" IS VERY IMPORTANT WITH RESPECT TO THE DIRECTIONAL SCENT FUNNEL PRODUCED BY A WOUNDED ANIMAL---FROM BLOOD LEFT BEHIND---BUT IT IS CRITICAL WITH RESPECT TO THE MORE SUBTLE INVISIBLE SCENTS PRODUCED BY BODY SERUM AND PHEREMONES.
Many wounded animals are lost forever---not because they did not leave behind a significant amount of blood and other scent elements---but simply because there was too lengthy a time delay in getting the dog on the track. There may have been enough scent, but the directional aspect of the scent funnel was hindered by the wind and the evaporation of the invisible body fluids and hormonal elements.
EVERY MINUTE COUNTS---WHEN IT COMES TO THE USE
OF A TRACKING DOG TO RECOVER WOUNDED GAME
Delay in getting a tracking dog on the site---along with excessive human interference---has a detrimental effect on the directional scent funnel produced by a wounded animal.
Wounded Animal is moving to the right---with a well-defined directional scent funnel.
Animal is moving to the right with a much-wider scent funnel. The directional element of the scent funnel has been hindered significantly by a time delay and by wind dispersion, evaporation, and human interference.
"VISIBLE BLOOD" IS NOT THE ONLY FACTOR THAT DETERMINES THE DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY A DOG WILL ENCOUNTER ON ANY PARTICULAR WOUNDED ANIMAL TRACK IT ENCOUNTERS.
PERTAINING TO TRACKING WOUNDED ANIMALS
1. Visible blood is not the only important aspect of a wounded animal track
2. Keep in mind the "scent funnel" element of tracking wounded game
a. The scent funnel is not just from visible blood
b. It is a mixture of the blood, the actual body scent of the animal being pursued, and also other
invisible scents produced from the wounded/distressed animal (body serum, pheremones, etc.)
3. Time delays and human interference can hinder (or even completely eliminate) these
invisible elements of BODY SCENT that might have accompanied any blood that is
present. Take away the enhancement of these body scents and a "blood trail alone" may
not be sufficient for the tracking dog to successfully track the animal. Blood scent---
without other valuable body scents---may not be sufficient for the dog to line-out even
blood that is visible to the human eye.
a. The loss or disruption of any scent element---from time delays or by human interference ---will have
a detrimental effect on the DIRECTIONAL ELEMENT of the scent funnel left behind by a retreating
b. The wider and more dispersed the scent funnel---the more difficult it is for a dog to line-out what we
have traditionally called "the blood track".
4. It might be helpful to THINK in different terms about what your dog is actually tracking.
a. Blood is only ONE ELEMENT of scent involved in tracking a wounded animal.
b. Actual body scent and various invisible fluids are often more critcial in locating a wounded animal
than the visible blood that is present.
c. Thinking in terms of a "scent funnel or cone"----not just a "blood trail" ----will help you to better
understand what you are up against when you put your tracking dog on the trail of a wounded animal.
WHAT WE SEE ALONG THE "BLOOD TRAIL" OF A WOUNDED ANIMAL MAY HAVE LITTLE TO DO WITH WHAT AND HOW OUR TRACKING DOG IS SMELLING VARIOUS INDICATORS ALONG A SCENT FUNNEL. IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT FOR JAGDTERRIER OWNERS TO REALIZE THE LIMITATIONS OF THEIR BREED WHEN IT COMES TO "NOSE POWER". THE JAGDTERRIER HAS AN EXCELLENT NOSE, BUT IT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS TO COMPARE ITS NOSE TO THAT OF A BLOOD HOUND---REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU MAY HAVE READ ELSEWHERE.
SO WHEN YOU ARE ASSOCIATING THE "NOSE" OF YOUR JAGDTERRIER BLOOD TRACKER TO ITS ABILITY TO WORK THE TRACK OF A WOUNDED ANIMAL SUCCESSFULLY---THEN YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THE TIME ELEMENT AS AN ESSENTIAL FACTOR. A "HOT TRACK" WILL USUALLY HAVE A MUCH-BETTER DIRECTIONAL SCENT FUNNEL THAT AN OLDER (COLD) TRACK. A COLD "BLOOD" TRAIL MAY HAVE PLENTY OF VISIBLE BLOOD---BUT IT MAY HAVE LOST ALL OF THE INVISIBLE SCENT ELEMENTS THAT MAY HAVE BEEN PRESENT ON THE HOTTER TRACK. A HOT TRACK WILL BE EASIER TO LINE-OUT THAN THE OLDER MORE WIDELY-DISPERSED SCENT FUNNEL THAT WILL EXIST ON THE COLDER TRACK.
SOME JAGDTERRIERS DO HAVE EXCEPTIONAL NOSES AND THEY CAN SUCCESSFULLY WORK SOME TRACKS THAT ARE OVER 12-24 HOURS OLD. BUT THIS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE "EXCEPTION" AND NOT THE RULE. SO IF YOU WANT YOUR JAGD TO HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF LINING OUT A BLOOD TRACK AND LOCATING A DEAD ANIMAL (OR TRACKING DOWN AND BAYING A WOUNDED ANIMAL) THEN YOU NEED TO KEEP HUNTERS OFF THE BLOOD TRACK BEFORE YOU GET THERE--AND THEN GET THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WITH YOUR DOG. I ALWAYS TRY TO GET MY DOGS ON A WOUNDED ANIMAL TRACK WITHIN 1-4 HOURS AFTER THE SHOT---THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS WHEN THE HUNTER KNOWS THAT THE ANIMAL IS GUT-SHOT.
(IF YOU WANT A DOG THAT CAN CONSISTENTLY WORK BLOOD/SCENT TRAILS THAT ARE OVER 12-24 HOURS OLD, THEN YOU MIGHT CONSIDER A WIRE-HAIRED DACHSHUND THAT HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY BRED FOR BLOOD TRACKING.)
Waco recently tracked this bobcat that I shot with my bow. There was a highly-visible blood track that made a complete circle that crossed over itself. I never could find where the cat had crossed-over the circular blood track. Once the blood crossed over itself, I was never able to take the track any further by visible means. But when Waco was put on the track, he was able to immediately veer off the visible circle of blood to "line out" a very strong directional scent funnel that had been completely invisible to my eye. In this case, the time element was probably critical. I had disrupted some of the track where there was visible blood, but had never stepped foot in the direction that the cat had taken to leave out. Waco had a fresh undisturbed directional scent cone funnel to follow, and he went straight to the downed cat. Dennis
"BLOOD TRACKING" IS NOT JUST ABOUT BLOOD. IT IS ACTUALLY THE UTILIZATION OF EVERY ELEMENT OF A DIRECTIONAL SCENT FUNNEL LEFT BEHIND BY A WOUNDED ANIMAL.
A HOTTER TRACK THAT HAS LITTLE HUMAN INTERFERENCE WILL GENERALLY PRODUCE A MUCH MORE DEFINED DIRECTIONAL SCENT FUNNEL---MAKING THIS AN EASIER TRACK FOR A DOG TO FOLLOW.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE HAVE LEARNED
FROM THIS SECTION ON TRACKING WOUNDED GAME?
BLOOD TRACKING IS NOT JUST "WORKING THE BLOOD"
OF A WOUNDED ANIMAL WITH A DOG.
TO ENJOY CONSISTENT SUCCESS IN RECOVERING WOUNDED GAME WITH A DOG
YOU MUST ALWAYS TRY TO TAKE FULL FULL ADVANTAGE OF ALL THE VARIOUS SCENTS THAT MAY BE AVAILABLE TO YOUR DOG (NOT JUST BLOOD).
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESERVING THE DIRECTIONAL SCENT FUNNEL (WITH RESPECT TO TIME AND HUMAN INTERFERENCE) WILL ENABLE YOU TO GIVE YOUR DOG THE ADVANTAGE IT NEEDS---TO NOT ONLY SMELL THE SCENT LEFT BEHIND BY THE ANIMAL---BUT TO ALSO DISCERN THE SPECIFIC DIRECTION THAT WAS TAKEN.
THESE DARKER PINK BLOTCHES REPRESENT TRACKS LEFT BEHIND BY HUNTERS ATTEMPTING TO TRACK THE ANIMAL BY VISUAL MEANS. BLOOD AND OTHER IMPORTANT SCENT ELEMENTS WERE SPREAD OVER A VERY WIDE AREA---REMOVING MUCH OF THE DIRECTIONAL INDICATORS NEEDED BY THE TRACKING DOG.
Who His Ownself (JESUS) bare our sins on His Own body, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 2:24
A GLANCING BLOW FROM THE BROADHEAD OF THE ARROW USED TO TAKE THIS BUCK COULD HAVE VERY WELL CAUSED SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THIS SHOT. FORTUNATELY THE ARROW DID PENETRATE RIGHT BEHIND THE SHOULDER--MISSING ALL VITALS--BUT APPARENTLY HITTING A MAJOR BLOOD VESSEL THAT CREATED MASSIVE INTERNAL HEMORRAGING.
LET'S TALK "DETAILS" ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED ON A RECENT BLOOD TRACKING SESSION WITH ONE OF OUR NEW YOUNG JAGDTERRIERS
THIS IS "OTTER (OUR NEWEST GERMAN IMPORT) ---A NINE MONTH OLD FEMALE THAT HAS BEEN KEPT IN THE HOUSE ALL OF HER LIFE. WE PICKED HER UP FROM THE AIRPORT FOUR DAYS AGO. AS SOON AS WE FELT LIKE SHE WAS FAIRLY SOCIALIZED WITH OUR FAMILY AND SOME OF OUR DOGS, WE DECIDED TO PUT HER ON A BLOOD TRACK TO SEE HOW SHE WOULD DO.
KEEP IN MIND THAT EVEN THOUGH SHE IS OLDER, SHE HAS NEVER BEEN HUNTED AND HAS NEVER SMELLED BLOOD BEFORE. SHE IS MUCH MORE MATURE THAN A YOUNGER PUPPY WOULD BE, BUT SHE IS JUST AS INEXPERIENCED WITH BLOOD. SO NOW---LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW SHE DID---AND HOW I RESPONDED!
Otter is attached to the 30-foot lead, and I am leading her up to the blood line with a short length of rope. As I approach the start of the track, I drop the coils of the lead---allowing the excess length to drag behind me.
For the novice dog handler it would appear that Otter is making her first mistake---she over-ran the track and went past it to the right. Actually it is normal for a dog to swing out from each side of the track while it is trying to line-out the actual blood line. Remember the south wind is blowing---so she is scenting the air and also smelling of the ground.
Now that Otter has passed the small shrub, she has the track lined out , so I give her all the lead rope she needs to figure out the track by herself. Not one time have I had to pull her back on the track. (This may not hold true with very young pups, because they may need some guidance at first).
We are starting to get close to the target (a hog ear tied to a string). Look closely at the small tree past Otter to her left and you can see the hog ear hanging in the air at Otter's eye level. She is working methodically and doing great!
Otter grabbed the hog ear, so I loosen the slip knot tying it to the tree, and we start a fun session of tug-of-war. I am whooping and praising her for a job well-done---while we are having a fun time TOGETHER. Your enthusiasm will be transmitted over to your young tracking dog---so make it fun!
The string broke and now she has the hog ear by herself. Let's see what she is going to do with it. Some pups will immediately start to gnaw on it (to eat it), others will play with it (biting, running, and even throwing it in the air). We will soon learn that Otter has her own personality and way of doing things.
Look at Otter really come alive---the wind is blowing out of the south, and she just now got her first whiff of the blood. She is scenting it in the air before she ever sniffs it on the ground. (The blood line begins right at the corner of the building,) She doesn't know what she is smelling , but she really likes it.
Look carefully to see the small loop of rope behind her head---showing that she has moved back to her left, and is now right back on the blood trail. By this time she has discovered that there is a track on the ground (to smell of) instead of just the scent in the air.
She was moving fast, and now she stops to get a close nose-full of scent before working on down the blood line. She moves fast when confident, but slows down periodically to make sure she is still on track. I like that trait!
With nose still to the ground, she walks out the track and is now very close to finding the target. I like a dog that settles down and uses its nose to work a track. She winds (scents in the air) to locate blood, and once she finds it, she puts her nose to the ground and works it out. You can't ask for anything better than this---Wowww!
Tug-of-war is fun for both of us, but I am now ready for the CHASE. Some wounded animals will still be alive when you find them at the end of a track, so I want Otter to be prepared to pursue the critter when she comes upon it.
After 30 seconds of walking around with her new trophy she stops, and notice WHERE she is looking----right at me!!! What does this mean? Does she not have any interest in the target? Or is she looking back to me....saying "Hey, I've still got the critter---let's play some more!" I may be reading too much into her actions, but my experience tells me that this young dog wants to "please" her owner!
As soon as she turns the corner, she drops her nose to the ground, and the search for the actual blood line begins. She has never worked any type of track (that I know of) so this is a totally new experience. She is showing tremendous interest.
Otter is now advancing rapidly along the forty yard blood track. I moved up closer to her at this time, because of the shrub tree that she is going to have to navigate around. It's OK to move up and down your 30-foot lead to keep from getting your dog snagged on brush while it is working side-to-side to line out the track.
After her short stop, she knows she is right in the middle of the track.---so she slows down and just starts to walk it out with her nose to the ground. This shows that she has settled down, and is now using her head---not just driven by the excitement when she first scented blood. Smart dog!
I almost laughed when she ended the track and lifted up her head to see the hog ear hanging from the string. She is being very cautious---not knowing what it is that she just tracked down. Notice my hand lifted and me sicc-ing her on the hog ear!
My sore leg was tested in this short chasing session, but there's something about an animal trying to flee that fires up any young dog. Otter has learned that tracking blood is not all there is to RECOVERING a wounded animal.
I was extremely HONORED that Otter invited me back to SHARE her trophy. As you can see, she gets very fired up again with the hog ear, because WE are now having a great time together AGAIN. It appears that the early (initial) "socialization time" has paid great dividends. Proper socialization is always a first priority.
IT'S ALWAYS FUN TO START A JAGDTERRIER ON BLOOD---REGARDLESS THEIR AGE. WITH OTTER'S FIRST TRACK WE LEARNED MANY THINGS ABOUT HER. (1) WHEN SHE FIRST SMELLS BLOOD, SHE IS NOT AFRAID TO USE HER NOSE IN THE AIR OR ON THE GROUND TO IDENTIFY AND LOCATE THE TRACK (2) SHE IS A NATURAL AT WORKING BACK AND FORTH ON A LEAD ROPE TO LINE OUT THE TRACK SHE HAS LOCATED (3) SHE WILL WORK THE AIR, WORK BACK AND FORTH ON A LEAD ROPE---BUT ONCE SHE LINES OUT THE TRACK---SHE PUTS HER NOSE TO THE GROUND AND WALKS IT OUT (4) SHE NOT ONLY ENJOYS FINDING THE TARGET, BUT SHE WANTS TO ENJOY HER TROPHY WITH HER HANDLER---SHE IS A DOG THAT "WANTS TO PLEASE" .
I WILL TAKE THE INFORMATION THAT I LEARNED ABOUT HER AND PUT IT INTO MY MEMORY BANK. THEN ON THE NEXT TRACK I WILL TRY TO SEE IF I SEE THE SAME TRAITS, AND WILL BE WATCHING FOR MORE THINGS TO LEARN ABOUT HOW SHE WORKS BLOOD. BLOOD TRACKING IS NOT JUST A "DOG THING"---IT IS A COMBINATION OF TRACKING DOG AND TRACKING PERSON---WORKING TOGETHER TO GIVE THE DOG ITS BEST OPPORTUNITY FOR ALLOWING IT'S NATURAL INSTINCTS TO WORK. AS A HANDLER, I LEARN EACH DOG, AND I APPLY WHAT I HAVE LEARNED WHEN IT IS TIME TO WORK AN ACTUAL WOUNDED ANIMAL. PRACTICE TIME IS LEARNING TIME----EVEN IF YOUR DOG DOES NOT DO A GOOD JOB ON EVERY BLOOD TRACK. TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT MAKES YOUR DOG TICK, AND THEN UTILIZE THAT KNOWLEDGE TO ASSIST AND TRUST YOUR DOG WHEN IT REALLY COUNTS.
JAN, OTTER, AND I THANK YOU FOR GOING WITH US THROUGH THIS PICTORIAL RENDITION OF HER FIRST BLOOD TRACK. PLEASE GO TO OUR MESSAGE BOARD FOR FUTURE UPDATES ON OTTER'S TRACKING PROGRESS.