I started the track with my best dog who had found numerous deer through the years and who unbeknown to me had dumped a small metal trash can full of dry dog food the night before, and gorged himself. You can see the belly hanging down in the photo below.
As a rule, I keep my dogs light and hungry all during deer season and I always feed them a cupful of dry dog food at the truck right before I start the track so they have something in their belly while we hunt.
AFTER a track, on the other hand, when we return to the truck and before I load them up, I feed the dogs heavy. I always keep about 10-15 pounds of dry dog food in the back seat of my truck for feeding after a track because the dogs always know where the next meal is. Should I lose the dog while on track, because I am almost always tracking off-leash, they know where the next meal will happen and they can follow the sound and find their way out of the unfamiliar woods and back to the truck without me looking for them. I ALWAYS blow a horn when I feed them after a track so the dogs associate the horn with food and know when it is feeding time. And a hungry dog will come to the horn if you train them that way.
If they get turned around and are lost in the woods and they hear the horn, they know where the truck is and can follow the sound out of the woods. I have had dogs get lost in thunderstorms and heavy downpours and it took a few hours for them to reappear. Now I am guessing most states do not as yet allow trackers to trail wounded deer off-leash like Louisiana and Texas does, but as a rule, it is too dense with vegetation along the Gulf coast to track otherwise. And Louisiana law states that we are to use every means possible to recover any wild game that is shot and lost. And for the record, 'any means possible' includes tracking off-leash in my book!
Back at the house, I buy in bulk and always keep a few hundred pounds of dry dog food in metal trash cans and 55-gallon barrels with metal lids to protect it from the rats and mice. I am a breeder and a trainer and often keep 20-30 dogs at a time. Sometimes the dogs sneak in and get into my bulk supply of dry dog food without my noticing because as a rule, my dog's diet year-round is 80-90% raw meat because I have lived a mile away from a huge slaughterhouse with lots of raw beef meat by-products year-round, for the last 15 years. Below is a 50 lb. block of frozen raw meaty beef bones that I got out of my freezer and Jesse is waiting for it to thaw out.
Anyway, back to the track with the experienced dog with the belly full. As it turns out there was a herd of omnivorous wild hogs nearby who were I'm guessing, planning to eat some venison before we arrived and I could hear them in the distance.
If I could hear them, my old dog could smell them and bless his heart, my old tracking dog loves to bay hogs at home in a pen and hunt wild hogs in the woods in the offseason right after deer season closes. I am guessing with his belly full, he was bored with the prospect of tracking a dead deer and was not interested in helping us find someone's dead deer. No that is not fun when there is wild hogs about 40-50 yards away! He wanted some excitement, to go have some for real Catahoula good-time fun and look for trouble with the herd of wild hogs. BTW: you can't make a Catahoula do something if he doesn't want to! They are very hard-headed by nature.
You got to love Catahoulas grit!
As a rule, Louisiana Catahoula Curs are year-round working dogs who hunt squirrels, track wounded deer, bay hogs, pen wild cattle, are private property security guards and play with the kids after school. If you don't believe me, then you don't understand Texas and Louisiana Catahoula Curs!
Valyrie was never trained to hunt squirrels, but she damn well knew what she was doing!
Louisiana Catahoulas are year-round working dogs who need a job, and I suggest if you get one for tracking wounded deer, if at all possible that you keep them busy and hunt squirrels, track wounded deer, bay hogs and pen wild cattle if you can, so the dogs stay busy year-round.
Because if you don't, then they will drive you crazy, and you don't understand a well-bred Louisiana Catahoula Cur!
OK, back to the track!
Once I realized that my best dog would not track the deer, I walked a 1/2 mile back to the truck, put him in the kennel, and got a couple of yearlings out and they took us straight to the dead deer.
Bear in mind that these two yearlings were hungry, and had never found a deer in their life, but they were raised in my blood trail dog training facility and had eaten raw meat since they were young pups.
I am Marcus de la Houssaye and I can be reached by email:> email@example.com