Blood Tracking Dog "Dylan"

Dan Braman

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  • Category Deer Hunting
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  • Prostaff Member Dan Braman

My client had made a bad shot this morning with his bullet to far back and too high. I watched the bullet enter through my binoculars and knew exactly what happened. There is an areas about the size of one's fist high on a whitetail's back that when hit won't bleed nor will it die within a reasonable time frame. This was the spot I watched the bullet go through this morning.

I knew it was fruitless but for luck's sake we would give him thirty minutes and go take a look. My client was very upset with himself and quite sad that we might not find his buck. When he made reference to not finding the deer I told him that we had an “Ace in the hole” back at camp. He asked what I was talking about and I said that my dog would most likely find him. He stated that he refused to do anything illegal that furthermore was offended that our outfitting business would partake in illegal activity. What my client didn't know was that it is perfectly legal in Texas. Once that was explained his sad looked turned at least to one of hope.

Thirty minutes past and we walked over to the spot where I last saw the buck. After another thirty minutes we had managed to find one tiny speck of blood the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. Explaining to my client that we didn't need to push him we backed out and went to the truck. We drove the twenty minutes to the lodge and picked up Dylan.

Dylan, comes from a long line of blood dogs in south Texas. The most famous blood tracker in Texas is Mr. Roy Hindes from Charlotte, Tx. One of his best tracking dogs was a cur dog he called Jethro. Another great tracker from this part of the world is Mr. Wade Cornelius whom has a dog named Bo who is a son of Jethro. To ad even more confusion, Bo was bred to a black mouth cur female owned by Wade Cornelius and one of the puppies ended of in yet another blood tracker's hands. This dog is called Clyde and belongs to Mr. Wade Ruddock. Clyde was bred to my brother's blood tracking dog Mattie and so Dylan was conceived. So, if the above linage isn't too confusing one can tell that Dylan's genetics are lined with blood tracking dogs.

All the way back to the area where the deer was hit my client asked question after question. One question was asked much more then others. “ So Dylan will find my buck………..right?” All I could say was that Dylan was 70% his first year and 98% his second year. I would say the odds are good. I also added that if Dylan didn't find him my brother could bring Dylan's mother to look or Wade could bring Dylan's father.

We arrived at the spot and I let Dylan out of the truck. Dylan knows why we are there and he's excited to be there. He loves his job but he must run around and make certain that every bush within fifty yards is marked well over any coyote smell. Then, just like his father, for five minutes he will walk around and act like he has never done this in his life. My client was certainly beginning to doubt my dog and me. I had to keep reassuring him that he would go in a minute. With a little more coaxing his head went to the ground and his tail kind of made a little wag. I smiled and looked at my client saying that he smells your deer.

Another command to go on (I use a high pitched short yell) and Dylan disappeared in the brush. I took out my GPS receiver and watched Dylan moving straight away and to our right. He stopped and circled a time or two then would find the track and go on. “Why is he not barking, did he lose it, What is happening” were questions coming from my client far too often. I explained that he doesn't bark on the track and he won't bark until he has the deer stopped or finds him dead. What I didn't tell him is that Dylan doesn't even bark if the deer is dead but he will stand right by him until I get there. This is easy to do with advent of GPS collars as I can watch him in real time on a screen as he goes. It was fairly calm that day and we were down wind of him anyway so, I elected to sit tight and wait.

After about 15 minutes it happened. Dylan barked and then set in to solid every breath baying. I said,” There's your buck, now lets go get him.” Making sure we approached on the down wind side, I stopped and explained some things to my client. I told him that when we saw the deer to raise his rifle and aim for the shoulder. I secondly told him to NOT fire under any circumstances until I said NOW. If for some reason two seconds elapsed from the time I said now and he didn't shoot to not fire and wait. We would start over. It is incumbent that every precaution be taken to avoid shooting the dog. In most cases I don't even allow the client to follow me in the woods but today I did.

We walked around a thicket of cat claw and agarita brush and saw the buck backed up to a Mesquite tree. Dylan was standing two feet in front of him barking and growling. My dog had worked himself up so much his mouth had foam coming from it with every bark. The buck had his head lowered and ears laid back flat on his neck. As fast a bullet the buck charged at Dylan but he wasn't fast enough. Dylan side stepped him and snapped the bucks jaw as he went by. This caused the deer to simply turn around and hold his ground more. I said,” Raise and aim your rifle.” With Dylan standing on the opposite side of the deer I kept saying to wait. “Wait, Wait, Wait,” I whispered. Dylan circled around to his favorite place, which is right in front of the buck. NOW I said in an excited voice and the gun cracked loud echoing off of the trees. The buck jumped three feet into the air and bolted past Dylan and to our right. Last we saw of them Dylan was biting the deer's hindquarters as they disappeared into the thicket. 20 seconds later we heard Dylan bark twice and then we could just hear him panting. I said,” Good job Jerry, your buck is down.”

Jerry was ecstatic, unlike most people who take a big buck; he didn't run to the deer. He ran straight to Dylan and literally hugged him. I felt bad because Dylan licked 12 inches of tongue straight up his lips, nose, and forehead. This poor guy now had dog slobber, sweat and deer blood in both eyes. He didn't care, adrenalin levels were far to high to worry about the less then sterile happening. We admired his buck and of course took photographs. He insisted that Dylan be in every photo. This turned out to be a great ending to a less then stellar beginning.

Without my dog or one like him I would say that there would have been a less then 10% chance that we would have found the buck. I find it troubling that some states don't allow this kind of wounded animal recovery. A good dog can take almost certain failure and turn into success in minutes. If the dog is bred right they are easy to teach to track blood. In fact, you don't really teach them what to do, you simply show them what not to do. For example, I had to teach Dylan that it was not ok to run deer that were not wounded. Deer that have been shot leave a completely different scent then a non-wounded deer. It took me no more then five scolding over a course of a month to have that problem behind us.

Due to my line of work, I am able to talk with a lot of game wardens in several different states. I have asked them all why they don't allow blood dogs in their states. Out of the 25 or more that I’ve asked all but three have stated that they wish their state would make it legal. They all had a concern that people would use dogs to hunt illegally and state that their dogs were for blood tracking only. I assume that is a legitimate argument but it is easy to catch people doing it wrong. First of all, other hunters are not going to stand for a dog running unwounded game like deer. The word will get out and the wardens can do their jobs.

Simply put, blood dogs will find the deer that you can't or at least most of them. True, if we always made the perfect shot we wouldn't need a dog. But, sometimes we make bad shots for a variety of reasons. It is always nice to be able to say ,”Lets go get Dylan.”

Posted by Dan Braman under Deer Hunting on May 24, 10 01:03 PM | Permalink

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