View Full Version : Dog to track wounded deer?

Byron Quick
November 10, 2001, 04:48 PM
Where I hunt in eastern central Georgia, it seems that the shot I get is often in the last few legal minutes of hunting. In Georgia, legal hunting is from thirty prior to sunrise to thirty minutes after sunset. Well, in about the last ten minutes of those thirty minutes after sunset, you have to be using a scope unless the deer is right on top of you.

The deer often run a hundred yards or so after being hit and a blood trail can be difficult to find in the dark. It has gotten to the point that I hesitate to take shots that I know I can make and that I know will kill the deer. I just can't guarantee that the deer will drop where I can find it in the dark.

I talked with some fellows once who had a dog trained to track wounded deer. They were not using the dog to hunt just to track. Does anyone have any knowledge about how to train such a dog? What about best breeds?

November 10, 2001, 05:22 PM
Hounds have the best nose for the job, but most dogs could be trained to track wounded game. Which breed of hound would be cause a pretty stiff arguement or even fist fights in some places, so I won't start that here.

As to how to train the dog, the best way to learn is find someone who keeps a few for hunting racoons, cats, bear or other critters. Quiz them on how they did it and offer to help in exchange for the knowledge you'll gain. If they'll take you up on the offer - go for it. There is no better way to learn.

If that was what you were looking for here, sorry I'm a little far away. Anyone else?

Also before you try tracking wounded deer, check your local laws thoroghly. It's illegal here and in most places I think. Don't invest your time and money in something you can't do.

Running hounds is a whole lot more than just tracking wounded game. If you start learning about this, you'll find a whole new world out there. And once you embrace the sport fully and try all its various forms you'll wonder just what you've gotten yourself into. You'll spend long nights out chasing racoons in the wet and wondering if you'lll ever catch up to that @%#[email protected] mutt, you'll be awed by the noises a bear battling a half dozen dogs makes, you'll get a thrill out of looking into the disdaining eyes of a puma that thinks he's too good to bother getting down from the tree to kill your noisy mutts, and you'll be heartbroken when you loose your first canine buddy to some tragic accident way too far away from the vet's. It is a whole different world.

So if you do get into this misunderstood sport, you'll find out what I mean by: Gotta love that "hound music!" Good luck.

Art Eatman
November 10, 2001, 11:59 PM
Texas has the same 30-minutes before/after law. Same problem.

My father and uncle both hammered at me, "If you shoot 'em in the white spot, they're DRT." My shot of choice, if at all possible, is in the neck. I have never lost, nor had to track, a neck-shot deer.

Regardless, there are many mutt-dogs which can be trained to track any wounded animal. (Either a dog which is well-bonded to you and obeys orders; or one kept on a leash during the tracking.) Mostly, it's having one around camp and using it during daylight when his nose might not be really needed--somebody usually needs some help...


November 11, 2001, 04:35 AM
Dogs are increasingly used in the UK for tracking shot deer. This is following the German Jaeger traditions - on which much of Britains stalking/ management practises were based following WW2 ( returning servicemen etc ).

I understand that in either Norway or Sweden a hunter must be able to call on the services of a trained dog within one hour as a condition of his shooting permit.

A large proportion of shooting leases over here are taken from Forest Enterprise/ Forestry Commission. Whilst not mandatory, access to a deer tracking dog is strongly encouraged. A number of Districts have a chief Ranger with such an animal. If you wound or lose a beast, you may be required to notify the Ranger within a few hours. He will then search - charging you in full for the service!

A number of English stalking books contain details on selection and training. You may have these or be able to get them via Amazon etc.

The British Deer Society run dog training courses - give us a visit!

Dogs seem to fall into groups -

Terriers - small yappy dogs that can locate a beast
Hounds - GSPs, Munsterlanders etc - they can track and may also be trained to bring down/ hold a lively wounded beast.
Labs - can usually be shown how to do anything! A friend has one that lends it's nose to actually locating deer, will happily flush a block of trees and is a master at accessing the shot and acting appropriately - without a word of command. The only downside is that, once done, she insists on leap up at your head, snatching your hat and chewing it to shreds!

Byron Quick
November 11, 2001, 09:03 AM
Hunting deer with dogs is legal where I live as long as you have the permission of the landowners...so I can't imagine that using a dog to locate a wounded deer would be illegal.

Two years ago, I shot a deer that moved just as I shot. Instead of hitting its chest-I hit its shoulder with a trajectory that didn't reach its internal organs. Definitely a mortal wound albeit a lingering one. The ball of the bone analogous to a human's humerus was laying on the ground. I tracked that deer by blood and hair for about a half mile into the swamps but lost it. And it was the closest shot I have ever had with a deer. I've lost one that I shot right before dark. I found it the next morning but it was a warm night and I felt the meat was probably ruined. I'd like to avoid that in the future.

However, 2/3's of the decent quality bucks I've killed in the past six years have been right before dark and I want to take those shots without becoming a slob hunter.

Art, I must agree with the neck shot. Every deer I've hit in the neck has dropped in its tracks. But, on the few occasions when I get a 250 to 300 yd shot I like to take it. Don't think I'm good enough for a neck shot at those distances. Not now, with these aging eyeballs:)

Art Eatman
November 11, 2001, 10:51 AM
Spartacus, I freely admit that I won't take a neck shot much over 100 yards.

I just wish I had the eye-finger coordination that my father had. I've watched him call the white spot at over 200 yards, offhand; and four credible witnesses watched him kill a buck with a called neck shot at around 450 yards, offhand.

I watched my Uncle Joe stomp the brakes of the jeep, grab his rifle, and break a buck's neck in mid-leap over a fence, at around 125 yards. Joe's comment, one time in reference to the Springfield '03 was, "When I was your age, if it jumped up inside 300 yards, I owned it."

Some folks "just have it".

:), Art

November 11, 2001, 12:49 PM
I don't use a dog to track wounded deer, although I have a couple that would do an excellent job. I just don't like dragging them along for a whole day to have to keep going back to the vehicle to check on them, feed them, let them water the bushes, etc.

I have a couple of flashlights and a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the waistpack. When I find something that looks like blood, I spray it - if it bubbles, it's deer blood. Mark with a piece of white paper (TP anyone?) and follow the path. Takes longer than a dog probably would, but haven't lost one, yet.

I heard another good trick. Find a walking stick and mark the first couple of strides using it as a ruler. Using the stick as your ruler, you can tell if it's still running full-tilt or weakening and slowing down. Sometimes the deer won't really bleed for a few minutes because the cavity hasn't filled to the point of overflowing (not a major artery that's spouting out the bullet hole), that's when you really need to look for other signs - newly turned leaves, hair, listen for sounds of the deer running or falling. Use compass points from the place you were to where the deer was standing when you shot it and again to the last place you saw it. Likely not to be a straight line, but the geography of the area should lend to likely spots to which the deer will head.

I would say if you have access and the time to train the dog - go for it. Otherwise, try some of the other methods that our woodsmen forefathers used for hundreds of years - they worked then and still work now.


November 11, 2001, 11:11 PM
Most management areas in FL allow use of a leashed dog to trail wounded game. Same half hr before hr hour after legal hours. Better to allow someone to use a dog to find the animal than to let it go to waste.

November 12, 2001, 09:55 AM
Slightly off topic here, but where do you aim with a neck shot on deer and on elk? Just center of the neck, or slightly toward the back of the neck to try to hit the spine, or what?

Art Eatman
November 12, 2001, 10:20 AM
Side view of deer: Center to slightly above center. The spine is maybe 1/4 down from the top of the neck. Generally, even a center hit will disrupt everything and he drops in his tracks. A slightly low hit will cut the main arteries and while he can run, he'll quickly bleed out.

Front view: The "white spot". DRT. Even a bit off center will disrupt the connection between brain and body.

An advantage of a neck shot is that gutting out Bambi is much cleaner. You don't have all those gallons of blood in the chest cavity when you cut the diaphragm. (Less likely to be caught "red-handed". :D )


November 12, 2001, 11:23 AM
Hmph. Wish I'd read that a month ago. Went elk hunting w/a cow tag and had a herd of about 40 go crashing by me at less than 50 yards. All I could see were heads and necks and tops of shoulders. Had one shot at a cow's neck, but wasn't really sure where to hit her and wasn't taking a chance on wounding her. Dammit.