August 17, 2009
Training Your Dog to Track Wounded Deer
By David DiBenedetto
Deer season opened yesterday in the Low Country of South Carolina. I know, hard to imagine if you hunt in a place like Vermont or Kansas. But take solace: it was 89 degrees today, and I heard the mosquitoes were so thick they could carry you off the treestand. I went fishing. Still, it got me thinking about Pritch’s potential as a tracker of wounded deer. She constantly has her nose to the ground, and I’m sure she’d pick up on a wounded deer trail with the proper training.
I did a bit of research and found that it doesn’t take too much effort to train your pooch to find wounded deer…at least compared to, say, teaching blind retrieves. Seems all you need to get started are a few Ziploc bags of frozen deer blood and a hide or tail.
The best—and possibly only—book on the subject is Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer by John Jeanneney. There’s also an organization in New York called Deer Search Inc. that specializes in training dogs and volunteer handlers to assist in finding wounded deer.
Believe it or not, the German Wirehaired Dachshund (otherwise fondly known as the wiener dog) is one of the best canines for the chore, but others like Labs, Goldens, and beagles work equally well. Any dog that helps find a wounded deer is a good one in my mind.
While I know using a dog to track wounded deer is not legal in all states, I’m curious if anyone else has used their dog to recover a downed big game animal.