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Help us help you with these simple tracking tips.
1. A successful track begins BEFORE the shot ever happens. Make every effort to take high percentage shots. A tracking dog is not a cure all for poor shooting or poor decision making in shot selection.
2. Secure land owner permission to track wounded game from adjoining neighbors if possible. This is best done before the shot ever happens, as the land owner may not be available the day your shot occurs. We WILL NOT knowingly track on land that you don't have express permission to recover game on. We trust you to keep us from trespassing on properties we are unfamiliar with.
3. Prepare your pack with something to mark your trail when sight tracking. Flagging tape or toilet paper both work well. Mark the shot sight, first visible blood, as well as periodic blood found along the way. Also, mark the last visual sign clearly. You wouldn't believe how difficult it can be to find blood that was easily visible several hours earlier. We spend countless hours each season searching for sign that hunters already worked through, wasting valuable time.
4. Take a "mental image" of your shot as soon as it occurs. Adrenaline can make replaying the shot difficult after a short period of time. BE HONEST in your assessment of your shot, both with yourself and with me. Most of my calls start with the phrase "I am sure that I double lunged him!" or "The shot was PERFECT, we just ran out of blood." Rarely do we get called on deer when the shot really was perfect, because those deer usually die in short order, and are easy for the hunter to find. There are rare exceptions, but they are...rare.
5. Watch where your animal runs, and note landmarks where you last saw it before it disappeared from sight. It is common to have hunters swear that the animal ran a different direction than the dogs are tracking, only to have the dogs pick up blood or find the animal along their route. It has even happened to me. In the heat of the moment It is easy to lose perspective, but hard, physical landmarks will decrease the chance of this happening.
6. Wait at least 30-45 minutes to take up any track where you don't watch the animal expire. Avoid the urge to "just look for your arrow"or see if there is any blood. A deer that may have bedded and died within ear shot of you will likely run a much longer distance if it hears or sees you moving through the woods. If you are not 100% sure that your shot was in the heart or through both lungs, wait at least 2 hours before taking up the trail. If you suspect gut or liver shot, wait at least 4-8 hours if conditions allow. The only exception to this rule is an animal that was shot through a leg, particularly with a firearm. The sooner we get on those track, the better. You are not likely to recover them without a good dog, though we recover leg shot deer fairly frequently.
7. When you are tracking your animal, do your best to stay off the blood trail itself, as you are likely to scatter blood scent in various directions as you search. Also, the fewer people that are scattering scent through the woods, the more likely we will be able to work out the trail. Numerous people disturbing the blood trail and unknowingly spreading small specks of blood through the woods as they search is going to confuse any dog, and make a track more difficult. Avoid using an UNTRAINED dog at all cost as this will certainly defile a track. The only exception to this rule is if we can not get a tracker to your sight in a reasonable time frame. At that point, any Hail Mary is better than nothing.
8. If you know your shot was poor or the trail becomes difficult, CALL US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Even though we have recovered deer over 40 hours after the shot, the fresher the trail, the more likely we are to recover your animal. Because I also have a "real job," I may not be able to come to track right away, so time is of the essence. If I am not able to come track your animal in a reasonable time, I will do my best to connect you with another tracker.