Tracking News on Dachshunds
Full Cry December 2006
German hunting dachshunds are just one of the breeds making a good record for themselves as finders of wounded deer and bear. This month’s column is a collection of various dachshund tracking stories. We hope that this will give readers a feel for what they can do. Of course this column reports on many of the other breeds making a name for themselves in North America as finders of wounded big game. Next month’s column will report on such important breeds as Drahthaars, Bavarians and Jagdterriers. And we won’t forget that some of the best trackers are crossbreeds. The character of the individual dog is more important than his breed label!
Charlie Anderson from Virginia has an extraordinary puppy, not yet eight months old as he wrote this in an e-mail to the breeder, Andy Bensing. As you will see Abby has been operating on a very high level.
“Abby continues her spectacular year. Last night she found #12 out of 16 tracks. She tracked a one-lung buck for more than a mile and a half. My hunters are just blown away by my dog. I have a good friend who has been bowhunting with me for about thirty years. He shot a huge buck that turned as the arrow flew through the air. The 9-pointer was struck in the right ham and my friend was dejected at the result. Nevertheless, I put Abby on a track that had no visible blood. This deer required about 20 minutes to find, more than 800 yards away. I never saw a drop of blood and I took a picture of the buck when I found it. There was no blood on the fletching, but the broadhead penetrated into the abdomen. All of Abby's no-finds have been tracked to the edge of my 2000 acre farm, or have traveled such a distance that a lethal hit seemed unlikely. All but four of Abby's tracks have been at night, with the trail no more than a few hours old. She found all four of the deer that had tracks more than 12 hours old.
Abby is relentless. She has worn out one harness on the underside. I am learning her language. I can tell by the way she pulls what she thinks of the track. When she begins to yip, it is pretty much a slam dunk that we are going to find the deer. I look forward to the end of the day, because I love to watch Abby work. I have killed four bucks with four arrows, so I don't need to shoot anything else. I'm just concentrating on the dog, and loving it.
I look back at the years of bowhunting and the bucks that I have never found. I am so fortunate to have a super star tracker. If the deer is on the ground, Abby will find it.
Abby has learned to identify with hunters, who typically wear camo. When the hunters arrive, she begins to whine. She can't wait until dark, when she gets to strut her stuff. It doesn't get any better than this.
Editor’s note: It would be a disservice to the breed to make people believe that every German wirehaired dachshund puppy is going to be an early starter like Abby. It does happen but don’t count on it. I have had brilliant puppies myself, that seemed to lose focus for a while in their “adolescent”, second year. (Come to think of it, as a teenager I wasn’t very focused either.) Almost always the good things you have seen in a puppy come back with psychological maturity.
Greg Accardo of Louisiana, who has a litter mate to Charlie Anderson’s Abby, sent in this report:
Just wanted to let
everyone know what happened to Ariel on her first real track. As some of you
know, she is out of the "A" litter from Andy Bensing (Arno/Dixie). Got a call
Sunday morning from a friend wanting to know if I wanted to see how she would do
on a bow shot doe. I said great, first live track, let's go. We met at 9:30 at
the hit spot, good blood on arrow, good blood on ground, and dog jumping to get
going. The deer was bedded maybe 75 yards away. Ariel went to the bed spot then
followed the track with very little or no blood. After about one mile of pushing
this doe through thickets, pine stands, creeks, and cow pastures I saw her
standing on a logging road about 100 yards away. She turned to run back into the
woods and I could see she was dragging her back leg. I told the hunter, “It
looks like a leg shot. Do you want to keep pushing to see if she will lay down?”
He said, “Yes since we've gone this far.” Ariel started tracking again, even
after jumping other healthy deer along the way, she never came off that doe's
track. Finally, after about two miles the deer gave up, ran into a pond to hide
or just get away and stop running.. We were able to get a rope around the
deer's neck and drown it. What a day! It was now 12:30 pm and 3 grown men were
flat out tired, but my 7 month old whd was ready to go some more.
Michael Polavin from Michegan writes about his wirehaired dachshund’s introduction to real wounded deer tracking:
”Maggie (Danke of the Jeanneney’s D litter) also got an early birthday present. Actually two presents. I spent a week bowhunting in Missouri with a good friend on September 15th. The property we were hunting on had way too many does on it. The farmer pleaded with us to "please" shoot as many does as we could. I really, really wanted Maggie to see and experience the real thing. We each purchased doe permits. My buddy shot a big, old barren doe just before dark one afternoon. We took Maggie out about two hours after the shot. I couldn't believe how excited she was. There was plenty of blood, it was shot thru one lung and the heart, but the going and the terrain was very difficult for a dog on leash. Very thick and high, what I call prairie grass. The toughest job I had was slowing her down. I didn't want to crab at her too much on her very first for real blood trail. She reacted just as I had hoped. It was like she was thinking that "so this is what I was born for".
I couldn't believe how much instinct took over when she found the dead deer. She tore right into it very aggressively. She was trying so hard to drag it out of the woods that she ripped the ear off. She needs to take a better look at herself in the mirror. We couldn't gut the deer while she was there. She kept on grabbing it and jerking it around. I tied her to a tree about 10yds away. The noises she was making you would have thought somebody was sawing off her legs. I threw her a piece of the liver, thought that would keep her quite. Nope, it was the deer she wanted, not a little piece of liver. That was on the 19th of September.
Michigan's opener was
on October 1st. My son hit a very nice 7 pt. He said that his shot was a little
higher than he wanted, but thought he still got both lungs. The arrow was
covered in blood and had good blood right away. This track job was more
gratifying for me. The first 50-75 yards there was all kinds of blood. It was
easy to stay at Maggie’s pace and still see blood. It crossed a two track and
then went in some pretty heavy pines. They’re high enough to get under but it
affects the conditions of finding blood. We've gone through this many, many
times in the past. Once the blood slows down, it becomes a very slow and tedious
job. The blood runs thru the pine needles. You end up looking for specks. It
just really takes a long time. I went ahead with Maggie, but I told the rest of
the guys (there was 4 other hunters, all experienced at tracking) to stay on the
blood. I still didn't trust Maggie enough to have us all go with her. To find
these blood specks you need to be on your hands and knees and there was no way I
could keep Maggie that slow. Maggie and I found the deer in about 10 or 15
minutes. At the pace the others were going it would have been a minimum of two
hours, maybe even three to find it. She had the same reaction to this deer as
she did her first. She licked the wound first and then it appeared that she's
trying to drag it out of the woods. She's not aggressive/possessive with any of
the hunters. Anybody could pick her up and hold her. She just squirmed a lot
trying to get back at the deer. It's really a hoot to watch her. But she gets
VERY possessive when other dogs are around the dead deer. When we got back to
camp we hung the deer. One of the neighbors has a black Lab/Rottweiller mix. He
could literally swallow Maggie without chewing. She would not let this black
beast get close to HER deer. She barked, growled and stayed between the deer and
the other dog growling and showing her teeth. Normally these two dogs interact
just fine. I finally picked up Maggie, I didn't want her to end up as a snack.
Anyway I can't believe at the instincts of these dogs. It's so much fun to train and work an actual blood trail when your dog "gets it".
Andy Bensing is the President of United Blood Trackers, and he understands dogs pretty well. He makes his living retraining dogs for suburbanites who can’t control their pets. At present Andy tracks in Maryland and New York State because the Legislature and the Game Commission in his home state of Pennsylvania have not been able to agree on the details of a leashed tracking dog bill.
Arno, Andy’s top tracking dachshund and stud dog, was not a puppy sensation for finding wounded deer, but this year he has definitely come into his own.
“The first call I thought would be a slam dunk, but it turned out to be a lot harder call than I expected. Gut shot the morning before and absolutely not pushed by the hunter. We ended up getting the deer but it had traveled unpushed for 1300 yards till it keeled over. The last 1000 yards were without sign and we kicked up live deer twice. We thought we had it sooner when buzzards went up. They turned out to be feeding on a week old dead doe just 20 yards off the line. Here's the photo of the 11 pointer with the hunter and my daughter.”
Good tracking dogs do not always find their deer, and sometimes this is because the handler interferes with the work . Scott Semrau of western New York relates this story about how his “Buddy” returned repeatedly to the right line despite the advice of humans who thought they knew more than the dog. Scott finally trusted his dog and found the deer.
It happened again. The unbelieving hunter telling me "the deer did NOT go that way". "You're backtracking, that's the way he came from". The dog takes a direct line from the hit site to the first blood, then to the last blood. We make an abrupt turn downhill. Makes sense to me. Wounded buck goes downhill. Change of direction, hunter loses blood trail. Simple right? I've seen this before. Some people never learn. I actually picked up the dog and took him to where the hunter claimed to have seen the deer last. Buddy does a few circles, then goes back in the direction I picked him up. Hunter insists we are wrong. With the dog nearly pulling my arm off, I'm wondering: Hot line? I tell the hunter let's go with him and if we don't find any sign we will come back. Sure enough 100 yards later I spot blood. The hunter is still back where he thinks he saw the deer, looking for blood. He is in shock at where I show him blood because he said he should have been able to see area that from his treestand. Another 150 yards, a few more drops of blood, and there lays his dead buck. He admits he was way off, and thanks us over and over. He says that he would never have found the deer because he would not have looked in that direction. TRUST YOUR DOG!
Neal Meyer is an Illinois outfitter, who owns Adams Pike Outdoors. He tracks for his hunters with Chloe, a young, very good looking, wirehaired dachshund. Neal writes:
During the last week of November, one of my clients shot a buck and called for help finding it. The shot was from 20 yards, and the arrow did not go all the way through. No blood. The hunter took us to the hit site where I put Chloe on it. He said that the shot was a little far back, ended up being a liver and a partial lung. He thought the buck ran west and then headed south. Chloe started out great then turned south and started voicing, and a rabbit jumped up. Back to the starting site where we did a repeat of the first attempt, without the rabbit thing, but showing hot nose. Once again back to the starting point, this time she headed due west and everything looked right. We came to a fenceline, property line, and I called one of my guides over and asked him to look for blood because I felt this was the right line. We tied a ribbon to a tree to mark the spot, but still no blood. After getting permission to enter the other property, we crossed the fence. Chloe turned north and proceeded on. I then saw big buck tracks in the dirt along the corn field and Chloe looked as if she was smelling each track left by the buck. We went for another 100 yards until we reached a thicket. I then saw a big rack upright in the brush, and the bucks head turned, still alive. Chloe saw this as well and started lunging and barking. My client, with bow in hand shot him again. The buck jumped up and tried to clear a fence, fell back over. A third shot was taken and the buck was down. The track was about 300 yards total. The hunter, is an assistant pastor, so maby we had God on our side during this one, but either way I gained a lot of confidence in Chloe, and without question, the buck would not have been found without her, since most landowners will not let you just "look for a deer" on their property. I had told the owners of this property that my dog was on what I felt was the right track. We did several other tracks this year, unsuccessful, but I do not think most handlers would have taken the calls due to the information given about shot placement. I need to re-read the section in John's book about screening calls. Since most of the calls I get are from my clients, its hard to say no. But we did find some other deer, ones that we knew where they went down, for training. I learned a lot this year about reading Chloe, maybe more than she learned this year. I was very proud of her on this one. The buck scored 156.
Henry Holt tracks for other hunters in his home territory of Southern Illinois. His tracking dog Bear came from the Jeanneney’s “A” litter,(Alfi x Elli).
Bear's track this afternoon was a strong quartering away one-lung hit from yesterday morning. It was a 30 hours old when we took up the track which turned out to be about 800 yards total. After about 400 yards in a big U pattern, the buck crossed an open field planted to winter wheat. This was the point of loss. The wheat was only about 2" high, and he worked with the wind at his back in short quartering pattern back and forth. Bear was putting his nose deep into a print about every 10 yards or so before continuing. It's awesome to see your tracking dog work that way, and even though there was no blood in the last half of the track, I was confident that he was on track. We found the buck about 200 yards into the timber on the far side down in a creek ravine.
This month’s column might be called a “dachshund sampler”. These handlers capture the excitement of training your own wirehaired dachshund and then tracking wounded deer that might otherwise be lost. Next month we will do something similar with other breeds.