This is an exellent question that usually is presented to me by hunters attempting to "train" a blood trail dog, but in this case it relates to actual tracking and it is an issue that I need to write about because last year on a professional track where I was hired to help find someone's deer, the hunters brought me to the last point of blood instead of the point of impact., where the shot occurred. Now this has never happened to me before because it seems that this is common sense: bring the dog to the point of first blood, walk them down the blood trail to the point of loss, and turn them loose, and let them work from that point on and show you where the blood trail is. It is always inspiring to watch a dog follow the invisible scent trail and lead you to the next spot of blood that you could not find visually without the dogs help.
So back to the track where I and the dogs were started at the hunters point of losing sight of the blood. Guess what the dogs did when I turned them loose? They went the wrong way! And I don't blame them, because that is where the strongest scent of blood was at and hey, like us, dogs often respond to what is most obvious. Now part of what created this scenario was the hunters telling me that they have had blood trail dogs in the past. I assumed they knew that you always start the dog at the point of impact and lead the dog down the blood trail to the point of losing sight of blood, and then work the dog from there. For young dogs especially, this is essential, because the dog is learning to formulate the process of finding lost deer, and develping a "sense of line scent".
So to try to salvage this situation, I followed the dogs to the point of impact and then we did a 180' turn and walked back in the right direction to the hunters point of loss. We never found any blood or any strong indications of a mortally wounded or dead deer, but we did jump a deer in an extremely dense thicket, and we assumed it was the wounded deer, that was NOT mortally wounded.
When we got back to the camp after tracking the hunter confessed that he had shot the deer with a "new" rifle that had not been properly sighted in! Now I am not one to usually complain, but here I go: I could complain that he only paid me enough to cover the gasoline expenses for my trip that night, but my complaint is on behalf of the suffering wounded deer, who was shot by a hunter who decided to hunt with a weapon that was not properly sighted in. Why hunt with a gun that is not properly sighted in?
Now, not to brag, but I was awarded the tracker of the year reward for the 2011-2012 season by the Southern Blood Trackers Association. What was interesting was the criteria that judged me to be tracker of the year: I did not complain about one track, AND I responded to every call that come in.
The paragragh below came from this link: http://www.bowsite.org/bowsite/features/articles/trackingdogs/index.cfm
That paragragh reminded me of the track last year, and inspired this article.
Avoid starting your dog right at the hunters point of loss. This is likely to be the hardest part of the whole scent trail. Obviously the hunter lost the blood trail for a reason. Maybe the deer stopped bleeding, perhaps the deer backtracked or changed direction. For certain the point of loss will be well trampled and saturated with human scent as the hunter searched back and forth to find another spot of blood.
I have not had a chance to read other articles on this site but this one was very well written and short and to the point on a number of important issues.