OUR TRACKING PROCESS EXPLAINED
You've lost a deer, what next?
The picture perfect scenario goes like this:
When you first take up the track you mark important information with toilet paper (or something similar). Yes, that's right, I need the hit site clearly marked with toilet paper or flagging tape of your choice. As you progress the track, continue to leave a trail of toilet paper. This is just a good visual practice, so if the need arises you or anyone else can easily follow the known trail of the deer. Now, if you come to a point of loss and can't find anymore blood to follow, the WISE thing to do is to IMMEDIATELY back out and try to get in touch with us (or the tracker of your choice). You can either call or text, but either way I'll ask questions like:
-What weapon were you using? If it's a bow, what broadhead?
-Where do you think you hit it? This is often times accompanied with a grid picture of a deer.
-How far was the deer when you shot it? Broadside or quartered?
-How long did you wait before you started tracking?
-Do you have permission to use a tracking dog?
Once we've made the decision that a tracking dog is a good option
for your track, we'll make arrangements to meet at a decided
location. Please know that my dog can follow a track that's up to
24 hours old, depending on terrain and weather conditions, so don't
panic if I ask you to wait several hours before we meet.
Fast-forward, we are now at the hit site of your deer. I'll give the
"go find it" command, and the dog should start to work the known
trail that was previously marked by you. Once we reach the point of loss, if the area hasn't been grid searched (we'll talk about that in a bit), the dog should continue on following the trail. This should continue until we ultimately find your deer, or determine that it was not fatally hit and is still alive.
*Fun fact: tracking dogs don't rely on blood to follow the trail, they rely on the specific deer's DNA profile, which includes blood, hair, scent glands and other various ways DNA is left behind!
What did you say about grid searching?
The ABSOLUTE WORST thing you can do if you plan to ask a tracking dog for help is to grid search.
Let's rewind for just a second. Remember when I said if you come to a point of loss you should mark that spot and immediately back out? Well, more times than not, hunters will continue to search, often times with multiple friends, in what in known as grid searching. Now what could have been an easy track for a dog turns into a tracking nightmare. The fun fact listed above comes into play now. While you are grid searching you are scattering DNA all over the place, even though you can't see it. This makes the job much harder for the dog, if not impossible, depending on how extensive the trail has been contaminated.
If you are unable to get a tracking team, then by all means grid search with as many people as you can recruit. Just do us a favor and make that method your very last resort effort, not your first.
- Animal must be legally harvested. I will not track a deer shot out of season.
- I will not trespass. You must have permission from landowners to track using a dog if it's not your personal property. This includes neighboring properties if your deer crosses a fence; they must know a tracking dog will be involved.
- My dog will stay on a 30 foot leash at all times.
- I will notify the county Game Warden of who I'll be tracking for and where, per the Oklahoma regulations. They also typically ask what the outcome was.
- You cannot carry a weapon, per the Oklahoma regulations. If we find your deer still alive we will back out and you can go back with a weapon for a follow up shot.
-I will not accept tracks that another dog has previously been on (in most circumstances) as it hinders my dog's ability to progress the track.
- I work a full-time job, have a family and also hunt, so I'm not always available to take tracks. If I am unable to provide services myself, I will try to refer you to other trackers with proven dogs.
-We (typically) charge $50 for our tracking services, but tips are also accepted.