This year in Indiana, approximately 60,844 bowhunters will take to the woods in pursuit of the elusive whitetail deer. It is estimated that each archer has about a 46% chance at harvesting a deer of either sex. This is based on past harvest statistics.
With the season closing in you are practicing with your bow, setting up your stands, and scouting new properties. Everything that you can do to increase your odds at the moment of truth, you are doing. Looking at the Cabelas catalog page by page, just to make sure that you didn't miss something the last time through. Always updating your gear to the max that you can afford. It is a passion!
I have bow hunted whitetails for as long as I can remember. The craving never goes away. Every year we prepare ourselves for that one shot at that trophy that will provide a lifetime of memories. The one aspect of hunting that we cannot practice for regularly is blood tracking our deer. We have tag limits and seasons that prevent us from preparing for this aspect of the hunt. Consequently, we are often very unprepared for this task. Often, blood tracking is not very difficult and a clear bloodline points you directly to your trophy. It is when you run out of blood that things can become difficult.
I personally know the feeling, having lost the largest buck that I will probably ever arrow in my lifetime. I spent three days crawling on my hands and knees through thickets, ditches and cornfields. My hunting group deemed me temporarily insane. I analyzed all the aerial photos and topo maps again and again, trying to think like a wounded whitetail. I even went to the closest sporting good shops, to see if I could find a local deer tracking dog. I went home without that buck and will never forget the sick empty feeling of having to leave that deer behind.
The use of leashed tracking dogs to recover wounded deer is becoming more and more popular as hunters become aware of their availability and their practicality. A trained dog has amazing capabilities. They can distinguish the individual scent of a single deer and stay true to that one line throughout the entire track. They are seasoned to ignore fresh game and trust that there will be food at the end of the old cold line. The harder the line, the more focused the dog becomes. It is a challenge for them that they love. We are addicted to harvesting whitetails and they are addicted to finding them. The problem solving abilities of a highly trained dog are very unique. They can figure out when a buck back tracks, leaving two bloodlines close to one another. They know which direction the deer went at all times and also seem to know how badly wounded the deer is. A great dog will use all of it's scent resources combined. Very often, the blood will run out but there will be hair and sweat and guts. Not to mention, they can tell the age of the ground disturbance and stay on an individual track, also using the scent given off by the interdigital gland. When they run out of one scent they will use the next available, all the meanwhile making sure that it is the same wounded deer that they are pursuing.
The old methods of grid searching with as many buddies as you can round up is very invasive to your hunting property. Many of the smart bucks will leave for quite some time after you scour their sanctuary. A trained tracking dog can cover a bloodline in minutes that would take a human several hours. They stay on a leash and do not bark. Many handlers are using small breeds and these seem to be less offensive to deer. It is a very efficient way of recovering your trophy so that you and your buddies can get back to hunting. By all means I am not suggesting that you do not look for your deer. Just remember that you have the option of calling in a trained expert if things become difficult.
PHOTOS AND WEBSITE MATERIAL ARE COPYRIGHTED BY: Jared Tucker 2012