Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Blood Trail Dog Training Rules Of the Game 2016

I have hunted Whitetail deer for almost 30 years and I have always had tracking dogs.

 But six years ago, I began breeding and training my Louisiana Catahoula dogs specifically to track blood as started and finished tracking dogs for sale to deer hunters and at the same time, I trained some of my dogs exclusively and personally for me to track professionally for hire.

It was then that I researched and discovered that it was estimated by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries that ½ the deer shot in Louisiana were not recovered.

Frankly, I was in shock, because I had never lost many of the deer that I or my friends shot because I always had a dog to help me find the ones that did not drop in their tracks and got away.

I decided I wanted to change those statistics by educating the deer hunting public about the importance of planning ahead to include a blood tracking dog into the overall deer hunting program.

 Many of us spend thousands of dollars preparing for the deer season, invest 100’s of hours of our time, and expend a great deal of energy getting to the point of pulling the trigger on a hundred pounds of venison, or worse the trophy rack of a lifetime, as you can see below,

and then ½ the time we can’t find it because we don’t have a dog to advance the track at the last point of blood? And if you can't find blood, or don't have a dog, you will be lucky to find it?

Something is very wrong with this picture from my perspective, because I have to wonder why anyone is ever hunting deer without a tracking dog to start with… but that is just me apparently…

Now if you are just getting started with training a tracking dog and have never tracked with a dog, so you don’t know where to begin, I want to share a few rules of the game to help you begin teaching your dog to track in the off season so you can have a jump on the game come next year. Or it may be deer hunting season already and you need to begin working with the scraps at the hunting club because you may need this dog tomorrow!

1. Always start a track at the point of first blood if at all possible.

This seems like a no-brainer to me, and there exceptions to the rule, such as land boundaries, hunters in the treestands, or climate changes that cause you to move the dog up to speed up the track. But always start the track as far back as possible to establish the line of scent for the dogs benefit.

2. Always track at night if at all possible,

so you don't disturb other hunters who are still in the stands and more importantly, this is for your personal safety and that of your dog. I suggest you wear hunting clothes and boots even during training, so the dog sees what is happening when you dress that way.

And also...

I wear a full body blaze orange jumpsuit with reflective strips on the arms and legs, if I have to track in the day time, and I like to use an orange leash

and put an orange vest on the dog too.

3. Always be supportive of the dog.

Finding wounded or dead deer isn't about taking your dog to the woods and hoping that it will sniff the deer blood and follow the track. Tracking with dogs is teamwork, and you should always be there to do your part and never get angry or take it out on the dog if things are not going well.

When you run out of blood and are not sure if the dog is still on track, trust the dog. The leaves may have blown over and you can't see the blood, or it has rained, and washed it away and there is absolutely no sign that the deer has gone down that trail, this the time that your dog needs your faith in him and for you not to override his nose and better judgement. If he makes mistakes let him figuire that out and learn from those mistakes, because it is sometimes a guessing game! But if you are tracking for someone else, and the hunter says the deer went left, and the dog is going right, what do you do??? TRUST THE DOG!  

4. Always train them on an empty stomach, or when tracking because a hungry dog hunts better,

AND trains better, and then ALWAYS feed them back at the truck, after the track or training exercise.

The reason you want to feed them when you get back to the truck from tracking or training is that the dog always expects to be feed when they get there and when they are hungry, if they get lost they are motivated to find the truck and you don't have to go looking for them if they are looking for you.

5. Always try to use your human skills to advance the track when the dog struggles.

And you do this to not only advance the track past the point where the dog struggles,

 it gives the dog confidence that you got his or her back and that they are part of a team, and that they are not out there working on finding this thing all alone.

6. A worker is worthy of his wages, so always if at all possible allow the dog to claim the deer as it's own, and chew on, lick blood, and even guard the deer if it is so inclined.

If you gut the deer when you find it, at the very least allow the dog to eat some intestines, and don't forget to grab the liver and heart for the dog to finish off later.

You want the dog to be a part of the transport and at the skinning shed so it can get in on treats like the liver, head and heart of the deer being dressed out.

I hope this post helps you begin on the best part of deer hunting where the excitement and real adventures of tracking begin: Training your own blood tracking dog.

I am Marcus de la Houssaye, I am a breeder, and a trainer of Louisiana Catahoulas. I have puppies, started, and finished dogs for sale.

I am also a wilderness guide and professional tracker in the Lafayette, Louisiana area if you need assistance, and I can be reached at 337 298 2630


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