Monday, January 31, 2011

Molly's First Deer

Molly at 12 months old, with her first deer was never "trained" to be a blood tracking dog. She is as we say "a natural".

She was imprinted on blood, eating raw beef livers at my house starting at 3 1/2 weeks old for about a month or two before I gave her to Scott and his family to be their family ranch pet.

Below are a couple of pictures of Molly at about six months old, last summer.

Notice the loyalty and devotion in the photo below.

She just found her first deer this past weekend, and I will post those pictures in here along with some of her mother Scarlet which I shot in good light on a track about 2 weeks ago.

But, Molly found her deer after dark, and I was not there to photo, so Molly's owner, Scott, sent the hunt photos to me in an email and I pulled some more off the site.

The photo below and the other daylight shots are of Molly's mother on a track a few weeks ago in the same terrain. I am inserting those shots in the email for illustration and education purposes.

Scott just sent me an email of Molly's first deer with pictures.

I want to use this email to explain how a Catahoula works a blood trail.

The (enclosed inserts) are mine, to help explain what is happening.

Here is the email Scott sent me this morning:

Molly’s First Find.

It was a short track, but we lost the blood the last 20 yards(before the deer),

which does not sound very far, but(in the dark), the palmettos were so thick that you couldn't see five yards in front of you.

I tried to let her work on leash, but it was too thick, so I turned her loose.

She does really well. While on track, she does not leave you behind, she will stop and actually let you catch up(check back), then continues back on track.

We are both new at this, but I think with a little time and practical experience, she will be a good asset(blood tracker).

Jeremy was so happy, he was generous enough to give us a third of his deer meat.(better than giving the cayotes a chance)

I have to be careful because, I guess she thinks that since she found it, the deer belongs to her, and she gets very possessive(protective, guarding the kill).

Molly guarding the meat!

I had to put her leash back on, so they could drag the deer out.(She will relax in time, we hope!)

Jeremy Lemieux posted his story on the Bayou forum.

The link in the last line above will take you to the hunters post on, my forum handle there, is "catahoula1".

Now let's learn something about the Catahoula breed;

What Is A "Check Back"?

For those of you new to the Catahoula breed, you need to understand that a Catahoula Cur, especially a young one, will not go very far without you. If they know you are following them and you are close behind, they will keep moving forward. If you don't keep up, they will turn around on track and "check back".

Meaning, they will come back to you and make sure you are following their lead. When following a blood tracking dog, always trust the dog. If they do check back, do not give up, get anxious or get mad, you should reward them with a pat on the head, and praise them verbally; saying good dog, now go find the deer, blood trail, blood trail, find me some blood, come on dead deer!(get excited, be happy, and start moving forward again), and they usually turn around and continue tracking in front of you. (If they do not check back, they are most likely guarding the kill)

Catahoulas are naturally curious about new scents, and every blood trail is a new and unique scent to be explored and followed. This is natural instinct as a result of breeding, not training. Another natural instinct is protectivity.

Catahoulas Are Natural Protectors

And what that means is, they are by natural instinct, loyal and protective, and are not aggresive unless they feel that what they are bonded to and guarding(such as your family, property, or your deer!) is threatened, by an intruder. I suggest you spoil them rotten as a puppy and provide for and protect them when they are young and they will grow up to want to do the same for you for the rest of their life.

An 8 week old puppy bonding to her "new" momma!

You do not need to teach a well bred Catahoula to be protective or aggresive. It is bred into them and it will surface in a flash when needed. You need to protect your dog from getting himself and you in trouble as a puppy in the first year or two by working him on leash so you have control of him. The first and most important things to teach a Catahoula is obedience and ease of handling on leash, and hope he learns to socialize and warm up to people along the way, so he can be worked off leash, and not be a threat to people.

Now, when they find the deer, Catahoulas are often very protective of the kill. They will growl at anyone(excet their master and family), who gets too close to the deer.

A 10 week old puppy and "her" first deer!(same puppy of the previous photo)

They found it, and it is their deer until the master gets there. DO NOT try to over-ride the dogs position if you are not the owner of the dog. He or she is growling to give you fair warning. Back off, or you will get bit!

And, do not fuss at them for being protective. You(if you are the owner of the dog), should leash them and tie them back away from the deer, before the hunter gets there. If you are using your dog to track for someone else's deer, while tracking, I suggest you stay about 20-30 yards behind the dog, and the hunter about 10-30 yards behind you.

If you(or anyone), beat the dog for eating on or protecting the kill(that's her job), you may cause the dog to be afraid of tracking deer again. You can ruin a good blood dog in one night. Also be careful not to let anyone be too harsh on the dog(verbally or physically), for anything wrong(especially for puppies), anywhere around the deer, at the kill site, during transport, or in the skinning shed.

I advise you to let the dog be present at all of the above if possible. Best to tie them up with a cable lead(they can't chew through it), and let them be there in the skinning shed so they can watch and get treats, without the freedom to get in trouble. If you can't control the dog verbally or by tying nearby with a cable lead, and they continue to get in trouble anyway, and be fussed at anywhere around the deer, remove the dog to a secure area away from the deer. What you want the dog to experience is a totally feel good, positive re-enforcement, team work association, any time it is around a dead deer and receive some meat treats at the skinning and Bar-be-que if possible. Reward and praise them constantly in pursuit of and after the recovery of lost deer. A tracker should always be as close as possible to the dog in pursuit of a fresh track, so the dog does not have to check back too often. Then, in case the deer is jumped and charges the dog with his antlers down, be prepared to defend your dog and yourself with a pistol or shotgun when tracking big bucks.(if legally allowed)

If the deer is gutted at the kill site, give the dog some liver on site and save liver, kidneys, heart, sleen and lungs for later. I always let my dogs eat all they want of any innards at the kill site,

A 12 and 16 week old Catahoula puppy in the skinning shed.

and later, they can have everything including head, feet, skin, deboned carcuss, etc. after the deer is processed.

If your dog eats some choic meat when you are not looking, don't fuss too much, because it is not his fault, it is your fault that you left the meat there, where he could get to it, if he wasn't tied. It is very important that the dog be there in the skinning shed, but be secured by lead or in a crate, so they can't get in trouble.

Being too harsh and punishing the dog around a dead deer, could ruin your dogs motivation to find deer in the future. I have seen dogs be turned off to deer permanently, by someone who did not even own the dog, but was pissed to find the dog's head in their ice chest of meat, or being mad at the dog for protecting and growling at them for getting too close to the kill before the dog owner got there.

Dogs often associate rewards and punishment in a much larger picture than we are aware of. This may not apply to other breeds, but it is an important asset in the Catahoula when properly understood, valued, and handled. Please consider that your Catahoula will guard your kill should the cayotes show up and try to muscle in on the kill before you can get there, and Catahoulas are known for tackling and catching a deer by the throat and killing it, if it tries to get up and run should you jump it while tracking blood.

All of these natural abilities to protect and control the final destination of the meat to the leader of the pack(his master), are due to a Catahoulas' loyalty and grit. This may be a dog breed which is way too "high performance" and "aggressive" for most people, but if you think you can handle them, and you like the idea of having a natural protector around as your family pet, they are in my opinion, the ultimate short range, blood tracking dog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Blood Trail Dog Testimonial 2 1/2 Months Old?

This is Valerie at 8 weeks old, a sister to the puppy Sandy bought from me.

Sandy and his son on opening weekend or there abouts.

I delivered Catahoula puppies to Florida a couple of weeks ago and already, I am getting positive reports that these puppies are trying to find the deer and they are only 10, 12 and 16 weeks old!

If he gives me permission to refer people to him as a reference of my Catahoula dogs abilities, I'll put his email and phone number in another post soon.

I'm sure he will be sending me some more photos and testimonials soon.


Here is the email Sandy sent me.

A friend shot a doe Tuesday evening and called me to bring the puppies. He said he had blood on the arrow but couldn't find a blood trail. I told him to back off and I'll bring the dogs.

We arrived and took the puppies into the site where his arrow was sticking in the ground. All 3 puppies went straight to the arrow and the little brown female (Tracer) took off with her nose down. The others followed close behind.

We found visible blood after about 50 yards and then it was just a drop here and there. The puppies moved thru the block (very thick vegetation) and eventually lost the trail. I couldn't find anymore blood.

We came out of the block on a dim road covered with grass and leaves, I turned them to the left and walked slow watching them work. After about 40 yards all 3 converged on the side of the road, I walked over and found a single leaf with a small drop of blood.

By now we were over 1/4 mile from where the deer was shot. We never found the deer and never found anymore blood.. But for 2 1/2 month old puppies, I can't be more pleased at this point.


Wow! GOOOOO Sandy!

After Sandy and his son lost a 10 point at the beginning of the season, he called me about purchasing Catahoula puppies to use for blood trail.

We began to talk about getting him some of my puppies as soon as they were old enough to wean, and then the holidays were rolling in, and the puppies were 8 weeks before I could deliver. In the meantime, I am bringing deer blood and carcusses home to start the puppies and I do this for all my puppies no matter the age. The more blood, in the woods or my yard, the better.

The lesson here: do not under-estimate a dogs tracking abilities based upon age or experience or the lack there of.

Have faith in your dog, trust in their superior abilities and give them a chance


Bring them to as many blood trails in the woods if it is hunting season, and make as many in your yard as you possibly can, no matter what the age of the dog, work them.

So, when do you start blood trail training? When the pups are about 3 1/2 weeks old.

Start feeding them raw beef, goat, sheep, deer meat, or raw liver, and start hauling them to the woods or fields where you hunt. If it is not hunting season, bring some raw liver to a new location, and a string to drag and make a mock trail. Don't let the puppy see you making the trail. Change locations as much as possible. Or change direction if you are doing this at your feeder and hunting stand, ideally about once a month. The sooner you can make long trails and increase the complexity of the trail, the better.

Create complexities and increase difficulty as in crossing water and making 90' turns or make an intermittant trail.

Here is another thing. Don't just always put dog food in a feed bowl by the back door. Spread out kibble once in a while around the yard or in a field. Make your puppy use his nose to locate food if he wants to eat! Keep it close and compact when they are young and gradually extend the exercise into a hundred yards or more. Make them hunt if they want to eat! If they don't put their nose down to hunt, and follow a line of kibble, they don't eat! Just think about it. It doesn't have to be blood.

And don't forget about using roadkill in the off season to tune up your pups.

This is Marcus de la Houssaye, and I want to remind you;

Be safe, keep it legal, and good luck.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Learning From Our Experiences

After only one season as a professional blood tracker, I am convinced we deer hunters need to do a little more practice at the paper target in the off season and study deer anatomy and consider shot placement as a serious issue that needs to be addressed by all of us.

OK, here is yours truly admitting that I missed 3 out of 5 shots so far this deer hunting season. OK? I am not pointing blame at anyone. We are in this together.

Now, that I have confessed my own inaccuracies, the last 4 tracks I went on with my dogs were apparently not mortal wounds. OK, so it is not just me that needs better shot placement. More so, we can all learn a lot about tracking wounded deer. This is a learning process, and we would all do well to hunt with our youth and old timers as much as possible, to share the knowledge these old timers bring to the sport.

Hey, I am happy these people who called me were willing to bring in some help and see if the dog could find the deer. We found one, but problem was it got up and ran like a bat out of hell. I believe this deer will survive!

Later I overheard the hunter talking about putting the cross hairs on the shoulder and I thought, "You are supposed to but the cross hairs "behind" the shoulder.

Anyway, apparently John Jeanneney believes as I do that we need to tighten up and work harder to prevent the loss of so many wounded deer during hunting season.

Below is an introduction to his new book.

Dead On! is written for all deer hunters. They need information useful for killing deer quickly, cleanly and humanely, and they need to know the best tactics for finding deer on their own if complications do arise. The book questions many of the traditional assumptions about how to find wounded deer after the shot. John Jeanneney comes to the subject with a fresh perspective based upon his 930 searches with bow and gun hunters to find their deer. He used leashed tracking dogs to follow wounded deer far beyond the hunters’ points of loss, and this yielded more complete information on wounded deer behavior than has been presented by previous authors. Jeanneney presents this information in the form of clear, practical advice to hunters who do not have access to a tracking dog.

If you would like to order his book as I have just done, you can go to his site at:

and here is a link to a page in the site titled: About This Book

Below is the content from that page

Excerpt from Dead On!

For 34 years I have been tracking wounded deer on a volunteer basis. By the end of 2009 I had gone out on 930 searches with my tracking dogs to help hunters. They had tried everything to find their deer before they called me. We found many of these deer, 253 to be exact, and we usually learned something, even if the deer was not seriously wounded, and we could not catch up to it. This book is written to share with you what was learned during these many days and nights in the woods. You do not need a tracking dog to use this information!

My earlier book, Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer, describes what the dogs helped me learn about wounded deer behavior. On many occasions the dog’s work allowed us to figure out what the wounded deer had done. As the dog followed the scent line, it pointed out the widely separated bits of visual sign far beyond the hunter’s point of loss. Most of the deer we did not find provided convincing evidence that they were going to survive. Win or lose, the hunter usually felt better after we were finished. Even if we did not have the venison and the antlers, he knew that the deer was not going to waste.

The tracking dog book has sold beyond my wildest expectations, and many of the readers’ comments have echoed these words by Will Elliott: “The abundant wealth of this book lies in what it can do for a hunter before he goes out hunting and wounds a deer. Once a deer has been wounded, Jeanneney’s suggestions become priceless for identifying wound sites and tracking approaches before making that call to a Deer Search volunteer handler. Chapters 12-14 alone would be worth the $24.95 price of this book.”

This new and smaller book is designed to provide that information, and more, for the majority of deer hunters, who do not have the time or the interest to develop a tracking dog for themselves. They simply need information useful for killing deer quickly, cleanly and humanely, and they need to know the best tactics for finding deer on their own if complications do arise.

As you read this book you will see that my work with tracking dogs taught me many lessons that contradict the traditional lore about finding wounded deer. I had the advantage of learning what happened beyond the hunter’s point of loss.

I love to tell and write “deer finding” stories, but too many of these tales can get in the way of presenting clear principles that can be applied in the woods. I want this to be a small book that you can read on the deer stand after 10 AM, once your fingers have warmed up enough to turn the pages. As a former student, and later a teacher, I learned that it is easier to retain information, if you understand why it is true. Without getting into a lot of technical details, I plan to explain the “whys” so that you can remember them, even if your ears are tuned into the forest sounds as you read.

For Those Who Do Not Hunt

This book is written for hunters, but some of those who read it may not be hunters, or may even be anti-hunters. It should be understood that this book does not describe what is typical or routine in deer hunting. The experiences upon which it is based are drawn from 34 years of tracking wounded deer over a region of many New York State counties.

This book deals with the exceptional, unfortunate cases in which deer are wounded and not found. The information is provided in order to help reduce the sad situations described to an absolute minimum. It may seem strange, but sometimes waiting before the tracking begins may actually reduce suffering in the long run.

Those who would use this book as a basis for attacking hunting should realize that an equally disturbing book could be written by an emergency room physician describing about the horrible consequences of automobile travel. In the real world things do go wrong.

Be safe, keep it legal, and good luck in the last few weeks of the season.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Blood Trail Dog Training Book

I have been using blood dogs for over 20 years, but only began to look at this as a business a few years ago, with the belief that I could sell blood dogs, as in finished dogs. But too many people are coming with the mistaken belief they can buy loyalty, devotion and servitude which is what motivates a finished working dog to function. So, I began to push started yearling dogs with the belief that a step down from a finished dog might be more marketable to the public.

The truth is my most satisfied group of customers and the easiest for me to deal with is the people who want to come and buy a puppy. These people understand the importance of bonding and building a relationship over time, and plan on having a started dog next season. Although my dogs are well bred, well raised, and experienced on blood, you will never get the service I get unless you earn the dogs trust and loyalty. That takes time and dedication on the part of the deer hunter.

Unfortunately the vast percentage of people who call me inquiring about blood dogs already have a dog that is not getting it. Some of them want another dog as a solution, others think another breed my be an option.

I can't analyse their problem over the phone and be certain that I have a solution, but most people are very pleased to have spoken to me and thank me for the information I shared with them.

This leads me to the present. Perhaps the most important contribution I can make to
fill the void of blood dogs, and bring more working dogs into service is to sell information.

As I am writing this, my website designer is working with a new hosting company, and is creating a new template for and I will be selling a book to teach people how to train a blood tracking dog. Starting with a chapter on raising and early training for puppies, then a chapter on proven blood dog breeds, and I will also sell individual chapters for diet, socialization, how to handle the finished dog in the woods, and advanced training.

Each chapter can be bought individually for $3.95 by electronic download, or you can buy the entire book for $12.95.

All you need is a credit card or Pay Pal account and a computer.

I will also offer to ship a printed copy of the book if that is your only option.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

8 Point Down In Palmetto, Louisiana


I just got a call from a hunter whose wife shot a buck yesterday evening. He was establishing communication with me in the event that he needed me and my blood trailing dogs to find the deer.

She got off 2 rounds before the buck left, and there was evidence of a gut shot and the deer was dragging a leg, which was evidence of a broken leg bone. Looked like this was a terminal situation, but a gut shot is a slow death and the best and most ethical thing you can do to insure that you find the deer in the end and salvage the meat is to give it 12-18 hours to bleed out and die.

This hunter did the right thing: he and his wife walked away, and went home to let the deer die, then returned in the morning to follow the blood trail with 2 locations of laying down with good blood pools and as they followed a good blood trail, for over 150 yards, it appeared the deer had finally went into a thicket.

At this point before he entered the thicket, he called me to discuss and plan on possibly bring in a dog if need be.

We talked about the evidence of a gut shot in the blood trail and I told him I was available if he needed me, and I could be there in about an hour.

But based on what he shared with me I told him that the deer was most likely in the thicket and dead or very weak and be ready to shoot it again if the deer got up.

I aim for a spinal cord shot if possible to drop the deer in it's tracks.

He called me about a half hour later and informed me the deer was found dead about 20 yards into the thicket.

This hunter did everything right.

He flagged the point of impact, analyzed the blood trail, found evidence of a gut shot and backed off to NOT put pressure on the deer and cause it to move.

18 hours later, the deer had died within a reasonable distance from the point of impact, and was actually easy to find, but just in case, he had a professional blood tracker with a dog ready and waiting on call.

He sent me a picture in my phone and if I can load that into the computer, I will share it with you here later.

If you have a large hunting club and plan on killing several deer on the weekends, and anticipate needing a tracker on the lease for a day or the weekend with dogs ready to go, call me and let's get these Catahoulas on some fresh blood.

I would be willing to be there for some gas money and meat. I am not a just a tracker with only one dog. I am a breeder and a trainer, and I have 6 yearlings who are on their first deer season, and need all the experience they can get.

Catahoulas are not hounds with long range and a mouth. Silent on track, and short range runs, checking back often with me if off leash.

Help me get these dogs on as much blood as possible while the season is open.

I am available 24/7 through the archery season which for most of us runs into February. If you plan to finish filling out the doe tags before the season closes, I would love to be there with a couple of my professors and some of the pups. (I use the older dogs to train the pups)

Also call me if you have carcasses to donate to help train my started pups. The more raw deer meat we can feed to them, the sooner they are seasoned, finished trackers.

If you find a deer a day or two later, and the meat is not good, call me and I will go pick it up. I am also interested in any part of the deer you don't want. The more my started dogs are exposed to blood, meat and hides, the better will be their ability to trail, in the future if you need a tracker.