Thursday evening I was relaxing around the house when my phone rang. It was one of my best friends Donnie and he asked if I wanted to make a track. I was excited like a little boy waiting on Christmas. I grabbed my tracking bag and while I was opening up the gate, Tasha jumped in the truck. Donnie said that he thinks that he made a good shot...right about 100 yards with his 444 rifle...an accurate but primitive weapon. He was surprised when he saw the deer after the shot and she was still standing there. She left the shot site trailed by at least one other deer. Donnie found pretty good blood that appeared to be lung blood leaving the shot site that went about 15 yards to some shallow water. Donnie has a Blue Lacy dog named Lucy that he uses for tracking. She has been up to her chest in water and it doesn't bother her a bit. Donnie knew that I had been wanting to let Tasha track in some water because we have so much of it in South Louisiana, so he backed out and called me. It only took us about an hour to be at Donnie's lease.
We loaded up on the ATV and went to the shot site. Donnie was worried about some of the blood that he had seen. When we were examining it, it felt like some bone was in it. I thought that it may be trachea but when we checked it out in the headlights we saw that it was the plastic polymer tip from the bullet that he shot. Tasha started the track a little slow like she usually does. There was a brisk wind blowing across the track. She followed the ample amount of blood easily right up to the water. The water was less than 10 feet wide and only ankle deep in most spots. Tasha had trouble figuring out where to cross. She threw her nose up in the air several times like she was trying to wind the deer. Finally she picked a spot to cross about 15 or 20 yards downwind of where Donnie saw the deer cross. It was hard to have patience and let Tasha find her way because Donnie showed me exactly where the deer crossed. When Tasha crossed, it was in the middle of a big briar thicket that she had to pick her way through. It was tough for me to keep her leash untangled. After we hit the other side of the water and was out of the briars, Tasha headed upwind to where the deer had crossed. Hind sight tells me that the deer must have bled into the water when she crossed and this brisk wind carried the blood and or scent downwind. I have been trying to concentrate on finding sign as I follow Tasha. Sometimes I have missed bones, blood etc because I was watching her too closely and let the obvious go right on by.....I'm learning too. Tasha hit the scent line and stretched out the leash. I was able to see small drops of blood along the whole trail. We went straight to the deer. The hit was a perfect double lung hit and the track was about 130 yards long. Primitive weapons like the 444 just don't have the knockdown power that hi-powered rifles do even though it was a perfectly placed shot. Tasha showed more aggression toward this deer than she has in the past. She shook, bit and attacked this deer when I told her it was her deer. I listened to the sound and had Deja Vu of my last little Dachshund Thibodeaux attacking a dead deer in the backyard; it's hard to tell them apart.
Two things I learned from this track.
- always bring your GPS. I left mine by the computer at home. It's a good thing that Donnie brought his because we got turned around....that's kinda like lost.....and we were only 138 feet off the trail. Hard to believe but it's true..nighttime, water flooding some areas and the woods looking different late in the season all add up.
- trust your dog and give her time to evaluate the track. She knew what the scent line was telling her but I was getting a little nervous because she was 20 yards off the track over water. I feel certain that the wind blew this bloodline down the waterway...something I never really thought of before.
Tasha is 8 months old. She went on 12 tracks this year and recovered 9 deer. I believe the other three are still alive. I am thankful for friends and hunters that can shoot straight and I am thankful for friends like Donnie who selflessly share tracks with me to help me train Tasha. It has been a great year and I feel like Christmas came again on January 31.