The perfect blood tracking law?

Discussion in 'Deer Tracking Dogs' started by Doctorbrady, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    OK folks, the title of the thread is definitely supposed to be "tongue in cheek," and in response to some changes occurring now in other states. Let me start with my list of disclaimers. The first being, that I am not the authority on blood tracking, and certainly not on law making. Like everyone, I have an opinion, and tend to think it is right...even when it is not, my wife reminds me. I also have a pretty conservative libertarian (Small "L", not crazy Gary Johnson big "L" Libertarian. Didn't I say I had an opinion?) view of lawmaking and governance. In general terms, I think that constantly adding new rules to try to keep us, the unruly masses, in line is generally not necessary, and sometimes harmful. It is even worse when done by the central bureaucracy. In that vain, I am glad to see blood tracking left up to individual states, and I agree that each state should be able to mandate the rules governing that state and its wildlife, whether I like them or not.
    As to my limited qualifications, I have blood tracked rather extensively for the past 7 years. During that time I have trained or assisted in the training of over a dozen dogs of various breeds. I have owned 4 blood tracking dogs of my own. I have tracked around 250 deer with a dog, in 3 different states, and recovered roughly a third of those. I had no part in passing the Missouri blood tracking bill, but played a small role in the legalization in KS, as well as assisting some of the persons pushing the current Oklahoma changes. I am also a member of the United Blood Trackers, and have many more accomplished and experienced tracking friends across the country who add a wealth of knowledge to my own experiences. This is where I draw my opinions, and sometimes qualified facts, from when I make my recommendations.
    As I said above, the title was meant to be hyperbole, as I do not think that there is a one size fits all law. There are, however, many inconsistencies in the current laws that can be frustrating, or even dangerous that would be best to avoid in future laws. I will speak primarily of the KS and MO laws, as I am more intimately familiar with them.
    In both states, leashed blood tracking is the law. This means that the tracking dog must be maintained on a leash, and remain under the control of the handler at all times. I like this part of the law. In some Southern states (primarily where dog driven deer hunts were in the culture) dogs can track off lead. I have no real problem with this except that there is no ability to keep the dog confined within a property line, even by well meaning trackers. Again, this doesn't seem to be a problem in states where this is part of the culture, but would pose a serious problem in most states. In fact, this is the biggest hang up with state legislators in passing any blood tracking legislation. Many legislators and hunters are fearful of tracking dogs running deer during the season. Leashed tracking essentially eliminates this concern to those who are open to the facts. Leashed tracking is no longer an experiment in the US. We have decades of experience and success to support its use. Abuses are nearly unheard of in those states that have implemented it. Is there a chance that someone could try to use this as an opportunity to poach? Of course there is. The same could be said of suppressors (which I am in favor of), or even being able to drive dirt roads with a rifle in your truck rack. Cheaters will cheat, and law breakers will break the law. Adding layers of regulations will do nothing to prevent that from happening. However, there is no evidence to support any increase in illegal deer harvest due to the use of leashed tracking dogs. Conversely, the natural resources are protected. When a mortally wounded deer is not recovered, the hunter is under no obligation to surrender his tag, and will likely pursue additional game. When a dog is used, and the deer is recovered, the hunter's tag is used on the recovered animal, protecting the resource.
    In Missouri, a conservation officer (game warden) has to be contacted when a deer is being tracked with a dog. I do this routinely, and have found it to be very little hassle over the past few years as the officers have become more accustomed to this. In fact, most of the time, I leave a message on their phone with a call back number, and never hear from them. Occasionally I run into an over zealous officer who runs me through 20 questions, but it's uncommon these days. My only beef with this process is the inconsistency of the rule. It seems a bit ridiculous to me that I have to let a warden know when I am attempting to recover an animal, but don't need to call them for any other activities including running hounds for coyotes or night hunting raccoons. The other issue I have with this part of the statute is that it leaves a lot to the interpretation of the individual officers. I respect law enforcement, and make an effort to abide by laws even when I don't like them, but I don't like inconsistencies or too much left to the interpretation of the person potentially writing me a ticket. I would get rid of this in my "perfect law."
    In Kansas, a warden does not have to be contacted, but each tracker must have a "hunting license." Again, on the surface I have no problem with that part of the law. My problem is in the details. The statute doesn't say anything about having a Kansas license or what type of hunting license is required, simply "a hunting license." I have spoken to a few different agents, and have not come to a consistent answer. Some say a small game license would suffice, others are less sure. Would a valid Missouri license suffice? I don't know. Since out of state deer permits are quite expensive, requiring a valid deer permit would limit the trackers in the state. Currently there is only one listed with the United Blood Trackers who actually lives in Kansas. Brushpile and myself do the majority of tracking there. I know what kind of license I have, but don't know what he carries. It's a vague law, and I am unsure of its purpose, so I would eliminate it from my perfect law. If revenue is the issue, then having a specific, inexpensive permit for trackers would make more sense.
    Others have suggested that trackers be mandated to take a class and get a permit for tracking in the states in which they track. Like the permit issue and the "must call the warden" issue noted above, my primary disagreements with the suggestion is one of principle. Why would a person who is trying to recover game be required to take a class when the hunter himself is not required to take a specific class to hunt that game. Hunter's education is required for some in certain states, but should there be an additional requirement for trackers? If so, then why aren't other houndsmen subjected to the same? There is an incongruence that doesn't settle well with me. If there were evidence to support that poachers were using the law as a common way of illegally taking game or there were frequent problems with trackers breaking the law then I would be more open to that argument. At this time, the argument is only one of fear and emotion. There have been no major problems associated with leashed tracking in any of the states where blood tracking is legal, that I am aware of.
     
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  2. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    My final issue is about carrying a weapon. I have a lot of issues about this portion of the law. First off, I have a concealed carry permit, even though they are no longer required in Missouri. I carry a firearm for protection most of the time. When I track, it is often for folks who are complete strangers to me. Most of them are armed when I arrive. I do not feel that I should have to give up my personal right to defend myself because I am looking for someone's wounded deer. Up to this point, I have never felt threatened by a person for whom I have tracked, but it could happen at any time. I also do not want to give up my ability to protect myself, my dog, or the hunter should the need arise. I have had several close calls with live deer over the years I have tracked. On one occasion, I was tracking for a state run handicap hunt. The local conservation officer had decided that he would allow the guide of the hunter to carry a weapon to dispatch any wounded, but living deer we recovered on this hunt (see the incongruencies again?). Our first call was on a serious leg/shoulder wound that left the animal's front shoulder dangling by sinew, but alive enough to cover a fair amount of ground. When my dog and I were able to get it stopped, the elderly guide was barely in yelling range, and having a hard time getting to us. The deer broke and ran a couple of times. Each time we pursued, and my dog would get him stopped. Finally, I decided to slip around the back of the animal while my dog had his attention. As I got within striking distance, the button buck spun and hit me full on, square in the chest, knocking the wind out of me and nearly putting me on my butt. After that, I let the dog keeping his at bay until the guide finally made it up to put the animal down. Had this been an antlered buck, I wouldn't be around to tell the story. On another occasion, my dog was the focus of the attack, but managed to escape the antlers until the deer could be put down. On another track, my dog was attacked by two pitbulls which were running loose in the private woods we were tracking in. All of these events could have ended much worse that they did, thankfully. Each has cemented in me the importance of tracker being able to have some means of defense as well as ethically dispatching a mortally wounded animal. Many people are against the hunter carrying a weapon, and I have no strong feeling about this. My preference would be for them not to carry a rifle behind me, but rarely does the hunter keep up with us throughout the track. If they were carrying a rifle, common safety would require them to remove any bullet from the chamber before we set off on the track. The same would be true of a crossbow, in my opinion. I would have less concern about hunters carrying a more traditional style bow to finish off their quarry with if the opportunity arose, though I would still reserve the right to dispatch the animal if necessary for safety or ethical reasons.
    In a nutshell, here is the essence of my "perfect blood tracking law."
    1. Leashed tracking dogs can be used to recover wounded game.
    2. The dog must be maintained under control of the handler at all times.
    3. All other game laws and property/trespassing laws apply.
    4. The hunter may carry whatever weapon is legal for the season/area in which he took the game.
    5. The tracker may carry a firearm to be used solely for the safety of the tracking team or the ethical dispatch of mortally wounded or severely disable game (the description of which would have to be clearly defined in the statute).
     
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  3. GonHuntin

    GonHuntin Active Member

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    I like your perfect blood tracking law, not sure about #4 just from a safety standpoint, but the other look pretty good.


    A few questions if you will.

    Is it common for trackers such as yourself and Brushpile to charge for tracking services? Do you personally charge for tracking??

    Are there actual studies or records we can read regarding blood tracking (you mentioned evidence and facts)?

    Can you point us to the laws/regulations for blood tracking in other states?

    I have read on this forum that blood tracking was allowed in Oklahoma this year with game warden permission......I have not found anything to support that statement, do you know anything about this??

    The proposed exception in Oklahoma is stated as follows:

    (i) Dogs may be used in taking all game species in these rules except bear, deer, elk, antelope and turkey. Exceptions to this rule would be the use of a leashed dog to track downed game after obtaining game warden permission and having no means of take on person while tracking. Use of an unleashed dog to track is prohibited.

    Speaking of inconsistencies, this is part of "getting it right" that I spoke of in the other thread. As it stands now, the proposed exception to the Oklahoma law is for "downed" animals, not "wounded" animals......is a deer that is not mortally wounded legally considered "downed" or is a downed animal one that has expired, wounded to the point that it can no longer move, mortally wounded, or simply bleeding?? I'm sure if we think about it, there are many other unanswered questions in this proposed exception. Does the game warden get to decide the answer to these questions?? Obviously a law can't be written that addresses ever possible issue, but this one is vague as written and I'm not one to go for a "we'll have to pass it to find out what's in it" type law.
     
  4. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    Edited my own post.

    Wayne
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  5. cutman

    cutman Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't understand why tracking wounded animals is a hot topic. I don't think there should be a law. Period. If you shoot a deer or other animal, it is your moral obligation to find it. Dogs' sense of smell is so much better than ours that it is no brainer that they be enlisted to help. I've used my doofus lab countless times to find a deer that ran into thick stuff.

    I come from the most redneck, backwards game management state in the country. SC is a joke when it comes to managing our natural resources. But this is clearly one situation where being backwards has its advantages. If the government allows you to legally kill an animal, they should give you every tool available to find it.
     
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  6. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    Frame a few basic questions.

    1. Do we believe as licensed hunters in any state, we have a responsibility to retrieve every animal we possibly can that has been shot with a legal weapon?

    2. Do we believe a leased dog has the ability to help us track and retrieve the wounded animal?

    3. Do we believe dogs chasing / running deer is a different matter that a tracking dog on a lease?

    My position is Yes to #1, Yes to #2 and Yes to #3.

    Users that answer No to any of the above 3 questions thinking differently than I do. Just defining the position.

    Wayne
     
  7. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    Good questions, and I will do my best to answer them.
    1. Whether or not a tracker charges is a personal decision. I know of some trackers who only asks for tips or gas money. They typically track in states that are loaded with trackers, and usually only have to travel a short distance to a track. I know of others who truly track professionally, and make a career of it during the deer season. Most of these track in Illinois where hunting lodges charge large amounts of cash for the opportunity at a big buck. I have been charging for the past 6 of my 7 seasons. The reasons are many, but mostly it allows me to travel greater distances to track for hunters without eating huge costs. I have a lot of money tied up in dogs and their related costs...more than I will ever recoup by tracking. Additionally, making a 6 or 7 hour round trip with 3 hours of tracking added in holds some value, and requires a lot of out of pocket expense in gas, vehicle upkeep, food, etc. On a successful all day tracking out where the buck is recovered, I make about 1/6 of my usual daily wage, and work 5 times as hard. All the trackers I know track because they have a passion for the dog and the excitement that a successful track brings.
    2. There are, but I am not the best source of them. Tracking was first legalized in the U.S. in 1989, I believe. New York state was the first state to explicitly make it legal. This only came after a 13 year study piloted by the "Godfather of blood tracking," John Jeanenney. John is now in his 80's, and is a great source of information regarding the facts and statistics surrounding blood tracking. United Blood Trackers president, Andy Bensing is also another great source, as he continues to struggle to get blood tracking legalized in his home state of Pennsylvania. Currently, New Jersey is in an ongoing study using leashed tracking dogs, and is compiling more current data. Darren Doran, is the spearhead of that study. I could put you in touch with any of the above mentioned trackers if you need the details to convince your legislators of the merits and safety (in regards to abuses) of blood tracking. The best testament to me is that no state that has legalized blood tracking over the past 27 years has had to revoke or restrict the use of tracking dogs due to abuse of the system.
    3. Each states statutes should be fairly easy to find on the internet with a quick google search. I look up the statues in Kansas and Missouri frequently by going to the state's Parks and Recreation or DNR sites. Again, if you need them for your congressmen, I will get you a link.
    4. Yes. At this point, tracking is allowed in Oklahoma at the game warden's discretion. This is far from ideal, of course, and puts too much authority into the warden's hands, in my opinion. I am not sure how they are supposed to make that decision in a fair and unbiased way. On a similar note, my neighboring state of Iowa does not allow tracking with a dog. I received a few calls from there this season. I always have to inform them that I cannot track due to the law. The last call I had was from a wealthy land owner with large tracts of hunting land. He was convinced that he could get the game warden's permission. I told him that if he could, then I would get someone up to track for him. I never heard back from him. Most every warden I have known is a "letter of the law" type of person which doesn't leave a lot for "wiggle room."
    5. I agree that the term "downed" is vague, and leaves a lot room for interpretation. This is good if you ever end up in court, but stinks in that one warden may ticket you while another does not. In the real world, I am a "intention of the law" guy more than a "letter of the law" guy. I will never poach an animal while tracking, or otherwise. I have too much respect for the game, and too much invested in my tracking efforts. On the other hand, I will not be the victim of a deer attack or watch a severely maimed animal crawl away because I can't safely get within pocket knife range. I will personally take responsibility for myself, and defend my actions in court (with a good attorney) if necessary. Still, it is far better to have a well defined, consistent, common sense law from the beginning so that these issues do not become a problem further down the road. You are correct in that getting the law right in the beginning is definitely easier than trying to get it changed later.
     
  8. GonHuntin

    GonHuntin Active Member

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    I figured you had to charge something to at least pay for expenses but I really have no idea what someone would pay for this service.

    Can we discuss #4 a bit more......I am a subscriber to the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife newsletter and I have seen nothing saying blood tracking was legal in Oklahoma this year (with game warden approval). In fact, the ONLY place I have seen this mentioned is on this forum. Can you point me to your source for this info?

    Not directed specifically to you....but general questions.

    If game wardens are already able to give permission to use recovery dogs, why is there even a proposal on the agenda to have this exception approved?

    If the proposal has not been passed, then how can game wardens give approval? I agree with you, game wardens should enforce the law, not use their authority to make it. If they have been giving permission for people to do this without a change in the law, they are, in effect, making law. A game warden can't legally give someone permission to trespass to retrieve a downed deer, don't understand how they could give someone permission to violate other laws??

    As and FYI. I don't think that this proposal needs to be approved by our state congressmen, probably wouldn't do much good to contact them. It is my understanding that it can be approved by the wildlife commission under their authority (Title 800). The info can be found here: http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/public-meeting if anyone wants to learn more or voice their opinion on this or any other proposed rule changes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  9. Kabic

    Kabic Active Member

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    I feel good about using tracking dogs to recover deer. I'm not sure I like them to track live deer. ..if you come up on the deer and it's alive you are no longer tracking, but hunting. My opinion is you should back out at the point...I can see an exception if the animal can't get up...but if it can get up and run away the hit wasn't fatal and if you continue to follow you are now hunting. Just my 2 cents.
     
  10. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    Kabic, your last statement is sometimes true, but often not. I have jumped up gut shot deer and liver shot deer the day after they were shot. They will all die, and it will be an unpleasant death to be sure. Peritonitis (infection of the abdomen from a ruptured organ) is extremely painful, and can be a lingering death that may take over 24 hours. Additionally, though deer can recover from leg hits, most will succumb to predators or infection before they can recover. The higher up the leg the hit occurs, the higher mortality in general. Lower leg hits are tough to catch up with as they move fairly well. I would not dispatch a deer with a lower leg hit being the only wound. High leg hits are at an extreme disadvantage as they are in great pain and not very mobile. Also, there are usually additional wounds on the body. I have recovered and dispatched several deer with such hits.
    In many of the European countries a tracker is required to follow up all unrecovered hits. Even road hit deer are followed up on because they don't want the animals to suffer unduly. The concept is a little strange to us here in the States, but is not entirely unreasonable.
    All this is not to say that no deer that may have recovered are put down by trackers, but it is rare. Furthermore, from a resource stand point. I would rather have that tag "punched" than have the Hunter shoot another deer, while that one goes to the coyotes.
     
  11. Brushpile

    Brushpile Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    I am currently buying a dog in Luxembourg and the breeder was recently invited to track for the "Grand Duke and Government Hunt". By law ever animal that is fired upon (Not wounded, just shot at), must be tracked to insure that it is not wounded! All game that is wounded, must be tracked. It is illegal and unheard of for hunters to wound game and leave it to die a lingering death! Hunters must have a tracking dog or access to a tracking dog, to legally hunt.

    Elkie, my leashed Wirehaired Dachshund caught up with his buck. The buck was shot through the shoulder with a 7MM Magnum about 8 hours earlier. Since hunters can't carry weapons.... now what?
    [​IMG]
    I have killed two deer with a pocket knife, this was one of them.
    [​IMG]
    I retired as a Marine Corps Provost Marshal/Military Police Commander and have over 20 years of law enforcement experience. I find the current mind set of many, to include some game wardens offensive, backward and wrong minded.

    This is what I found today. The buck was shot last night and recovered close to first light. Tracking should NOT be the last option, it should be a FIRST thought!
    [​IMG]

    I bought Elkie after I shot and lost more deer than I care to mention. It's unethical to waste the resource, leave deer to die a slow death and I will not post "The Death of a Deer", but it is ugly and it doesn't need to be that way! No wounded deer in any state should be left to die a death that might take weeks!
     
  12. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    Backnwhack, thanks for clearing up the current situation in Oklahoma. I still think that pressing your congress to pass legalized tracking as law is preferable to leaving it under the jurisdiction of the Game Commission. Game Commissions are typically made up of political appointees, and can change their minds like the seasons. I am currently in communication with a prominent Texas attorney who has a large ranch in Oklahoma that he hunts on. I have provided him with the template to get things going in the legislature, and hope that he applies some well placed pressure. If enough sportsman contact their legislators, the wheels will be greased for action. Even more liberally run states with legislators that oppose hunting in general are legalizing tracking with leashed dogs. It is an easy task once you get it on the radar of your congressmen. You do that by burning up their phone lines and emails. I will make the same offer I made to the legislators in Kansas, and happily make myself available to any of your congressmen or congresswomen who have questions or would like to have testimony given in committee.
     
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  13. swat1018

    swat1018 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with most points. As a law enforcement officer my only struggle is with who carries a weapon and kills a deer. I get putting down a deer humanely, but what if the tracker kills the deer? I can see things going wrong here. The hunter says, "That's not my deer, I'm not tagging it." Now what? Some may think this is far-fetched but I have been involved in several arrests/issues when people killed a deer and tried not to claim/tag it because, all the sudden, it wasn't big enough, etc. A crappy way to deal with ground shrinkage, but it happens all the time. By the way, I agree, more laws usually aren't the answer, and I'm all in favor of an armed society, whatever they are doing.
     
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  14. Brushpile

    Brushpile Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    You can't fix stupid. Recovering wounded deer should be the priority.
     
  15. wbpdeer

    wbpdeer Well-Known Member

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    DoctorBrady I don't know about every state but the word congress is generally a federal term for the lawmakers elected that go to Washington DC. I am a retired election official of 25 years service.

    The appropriate lawmakers are state law makers in Oklahoma. Mind you I don't know if they are called state representatives or state senators or what but they are state law makers addressing the change most of us support.

    Regarding liberal states - they don't want the animals to suffer - which is similar to the European mindset Brushpile spoke about.

    It has been a long time since I lost a deer but I still wonder if that animal fell victim to a predator.

    While in Ohio recently I was the man to push a long drain for two buddies standing at the end. I discovered two skull plates with antlers - one had been dead a year and the other much longer. That drain was 200 yards long.

    I wonder what the story was for those two bucks. We did jump a 6 pointer out of that drain. This is our first year on that hunting lease.
     
  16. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    Good point for sure. One I have run into, but not with a live deer thankfully. In any case, putting a wounded, suffering animal down is a good thing. The details could get sticky after that, but I assure you that nobody I knew in the state would ever track for such an individual again. That hunter would only get to be stupid once in that regard.
     
  17. Doctorbrady

    Doctorbrady Well-Known Member

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    Yes, State legislators or State senators and representatives are more appropriate terms. Thank you for clarifying this.
     
  18. backnwhack

    backnwhack New Member

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    A new statute is the ultimate goal. Attempted several times. Hopefully we can build some good will and recognition of the asset of tracking by being able to track under the guidelines of the exception to the reg and move forward from there.
     
  19. Brushpile

    Brushpile Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    The #1 priority in tracking should be the safety of the hunter and the tracker, so weapons are absolutely necessary when wounded animals can and do attack!

    Then there is Elkie the killer, who needs protection too!
    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Brushpile

    Brushpile Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Elkie has had one track in Oklahoma and did not recover the deer.
     
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