In the photo below is Jesse Girl and on her first ever 'for real' tracking weekend as a young puppy and she found her own first deer, on her first day of deer season, baying it from a distance and then a couple days later she went in full force and fought with a big one enabling us to drop a deer on three legs that would have never hung on the wall as a trophy otherwise.
She took repeated licks and had scars to show for it as you can see below, but that deer and the glory was all hers that day!
I have intentionally stayed out of the limelight this past hunting season because there appears to be a lot of jealousy about my dogs past accomplishments and we have had a lot of new people who are having so much fun tracking, I gave the glory and stories I wrote to them. I made their stories the ones that I published because I want to cover the broad spectrum of deer hunting with tracking dogs as a necessity, and brotherhood or community thing. We all have a lot to learn about tracking deer with blood dogs and especially the catch dog variety, because this is something very new and long over due.
And before we were a community and shared stories on facebook, shots like the one below were always assumed to be a lost cause of recovery because a deer on three legs is in survival mode, and is a very mobile situation. A deer shot low on one leg, front or back, will cover a lot of ground and live a long time, if you don't have a dedicated tracking dog to push them, and cause the deer to bleed out or better yet, a fast running catch dog to stop 'em quickly and minimise the deers suffering!
I don't want my articles to be about me and my dogs, even though I could sell more dogs that way, my goal is to bring awareness to the importance of tracking dogs to anyone and everyone who hunts deer. Even the non-hunter, vegetarian animal lovers out there need to know that using a blood tracking dog is not illegal, unethical, or inhumane. And deer hunters who don't want to own or maintain a tracking dog all year long, need to understand the importance of knowing someone ahead of time, who has a blood tracking dog nearby ready to go if need be.
My articles also allow me to teach people about the variety of various breeds and how some dogs are actually better trackers in the deer season if they are the family pet in the off season.
Also the catch dog phenomenon is at a frenzy and is going to come and go, is my best guess because in the long haul, time will weed out the not so serious from the die hard trackers.
There are going to be many opinions of people who have never handled a catch dog or needed one to suggest what might happen if a certain group, sees this video on the internet or reads that story about catch dogs going too far(in their opinion) regarding animal cruelty and begins campaining to make laws to regulate or stop using catch dogs for wounded deer.... blah, blah, blah!
A hunter needs a man and a dog if he doesn't have his own blood tracking dog to bring a swift END to the deers suffering or we have to suffer a possible waste of meat to the coyotes as you can see in the photo below.
I don't care how it looks to 'outsiders', because a man with boots and blood on the ground must make critical decisions and does what he got to do to recover a wounded deer. Not only the man, but the running catch dog makes life threatening choices to engage or not and it is always a team effort that brings the meat home. And that is not open to negative negotiation or discussions with 'outsiders'. If you are not a deer hunter, and don't want to see a catch dog run down and catch or drown a wounded deer, DON'T WATCH! I on the other hand love it and judging by Sarge's pose below, so do the dogs!
Catch dogs is the most efficient and humane end to a wounded deers suffering. And as far as the dog going into harms way, and risking his life by catching, it is his choice and his call because you can't make or train a dog to do it. And as you can see in the photo below it sometimes it gets very dangerous.
He is born a tracking catch dog or he will never be one. And typically a catch dog is fast, agile, tough and smart enough to survive!
He is having fun, and in his element, but he is not unaware of the danger of a wounded buck turning on him because it happens regularly for dogs that track off leash, although most people on the outside, the hunter, or even the handlers don't see it! Which is why I like to train and track with more than one dog at a time, purely for the safety of the dog.
To answer the question of the title of this article:
In the end to catch or not to catch is not so much a hunter or handlers choice as it is up to the dog.