The adventures of Elkie

I really enjoy reading your tracking adventures. I bet it's a lot of fun watching Elkie work.
Tracking is interesting; seeing new places and meeting sportsmen. Elkie is actually a high energy dog, with no quit in her. One hunter didn't think Elkie would find his deer, but he wanted to be sure about the deer and he wanted to see Elkie work. Elkie found his deer so fast that he didn't get to see her work, and when I called for him he initially didn't believe it! Who knows where a wounded deer goes? Elkie knows!
Simply amazing the ability of a dog - along with their drive.

Brush do they underestimated Elkie based upon size?
Simply amazing the ability of a dog - along with their drive.

Brush do they underestimated Elkie based upon size?
Wouldn't you rather see a Bloodhound? Elkie tracks with her nose on the ground, tracking like a vacuum cleaner. The dog and handler are a team, and Elkie and I are very determined, but the deer has to be down for Elkie to find it, however a dachshund in New England pushed a deer almost three miles until it bled out.

Any dog with a good nose can be trained to track deer, although Wirehaired Dachshunds are a favored breed
Love the harness. Did you buy it locally or order it online?
I bought the harness at Pet Smart, and mailed it to Lonewolf Dogwear, with measurements and an idea. Subsequent phone conversations with the lady who runs Lonewolf Dogwear aided in the development of final product.
Elkie and I went tracking. Think of our trail through the wet grass as a scent trail. The track looks easy to follow, but what if we had walked back and forth and around in circles doing a grid search, creating a maze of scent trails all over the woods? When the shot is off, STOP! A good tracking dog will find the deer if it's down and if the track hasn't become fouled. Elkie might find the deer anyway, but her job is easier on a hot track that hasn't been adulterated.
At the start of every track, Elkie is commanded to sit and stay.

The arrow is the start of the track. Elkie is wearing a short lead, her 16 foot tracking leash is placed on the ground, and Elkie is told to sit and stay. I have walked over to pretend that I'm inspecting the area. Elkie stayed, even though a rabbit has her attention!

Elkie is 100% on practice tracks, and the track was completed in a matter of minutes. This is Elkie wearing her custom harness that protects her belly.
Nice write up! Elkie and Luna could almost be twin sisters. So, the harness seems to be working out?
Elkie gets haircuts because it's hot in Southwest Missouri, or she'd look just like Luna. Elkie is overdo for another haircut to keep her free of stick tights.
Elkie's training started at a very early age. Elkie was selected from the litter because she was the only puppy that followed a piece of deer liver that was dragged along the ground.... when she was just 6 weeks old! Here is Elkie tracking at about 9 weeks old. Early training imprints!
By 9 months Elkie was following interdigital gland scent from a deer hoof. This hoof and small amount of blood was used to make long tracks!

This is the start of the track.

Looking back from the end of the track. The track was started near the barely visible building, maybe a half mile away.

This is the end of the track. I've expended the blood and hung a piece of liver on a string for Elkie's reward.

Elkie completed the track and found her reward.

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Piece of cake right! I was convinced that Elkie was ready because she was 100% successful on training tracks.
My first tracking call was in Kansas on a HOT September day. The buck was shot over a feeder, where every deer in the woods came to eat corn and specially formulated protein pellets, so there were fresh deer tracks everywhere! There was very little blood, only a few drops, and the blood stopped within 50-75 yards. Elkie picked up a track, but it was apparent that the buck was healthy, so I pulled her off. We'd have to track another day to recover a buck.
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Elkie is not just a Tracking Dog, Elkie is our baby! Elkie sits in my wife's lap and likes to jump up on the bed and snuggle in the morning, so we absolutely fell in love with this playful, affectionate little dog.
We received another tracking call in Kansas on yet another big buck shot over a feeder. Once again there was deer scent everywhere, and Elkie didn't know which trail to follow??? Unlike her training tracks, hunters had walked after the wounded buck, spreading scent everywhere. Elkie finally selected a trail, and we were off! We plowed through thick brush, crossed a field and entered a woods. Once in the woods I couldn't hang onto the leash and follow as Elkie went under fallen trees, so the hunter and I took turns hanging onto Elkie's 16 foot blaze orange leash.... then the hunter released the leash before I could get in position to get it.................. suddenly Elkie was GONE!

I searched for Elkie until almost dark, and then I left notes on farmhouse doors in the area. One kind hearted farmer drove me around on an ATV until almost midnight, and the fear was that coyotes would kill her, after all Elkie was dragging a 16 foot leash. I finally drove to the nearest town and rented a room for the night, but I couldn't sleep. So at about 4:00 A.M. I was driving the roads and at first light I was back in the woods. That afternoon I knocked on doors offering a reward for Elkie, before departing for home in Missouri.

My wife and I were in shock, and were inconsolable! The next morning I called the kennel that sold us Elkie, but all of the puppies were sold long before birth, so the best I could hope for was a future breeding, and I thought about my poor little baby... all alone in the coyote woods. I was told that there was little chance that she survived two nights with the coyotes. :-( It appeared all was lost and my brief stint with deer tracking had ended.

Then the phone rang! A lady in Kansas said that she thought she had my dog, saying it was on a very long orange leash! For the longest time I couldn't even speak, and I was afraid the lady would hang up! Three days and two nights of emotions... thank God, thank God, thank you GOD! I told the lady I'd I was leaving immediately, and I was lucky I didn't get a ticket, I drove so fast!

When I arrived, I learned that the lady had a 200 pound Black Lab, and the Lab found Elkie wrapped around a fencepost. The Lab normally slept indoors, but the lady said that it wouldn't go in the house for two nights, and on the third day it coaxed the Lady to follow, and lead her to Elkie. That Lab had stood guard over Elkie for two nights, saving her from certain death... what a dog! Of course Elkie went nuts when she saw me... we had our baby back! :) I was told that Elkie refused to eat, even though she hadn't eaten in three days.

Lesson learned the hard way........ maintain leash control. Elkie comes when called, but I don't think I could call her off a track, and I don't want to use shock. I tried shock once and it was as painful for me as it was for Elkie.
Prior to deer season I was overconfident in Elkie's ability, but there's a huge difference between practice tracks and the real thing... we were 0-2 and I almost lost my dog, how much worse could things get? Still I knew that Elkie was 100% on training tracks!

So I went hunting for a deer, any deer, just so I could see the entire process and put Elkie on a GOOD track; one that didn't start at a feeder! When there's no rain, tracking conditions are terrible, and the ground was powdery dry when I had a clear 25 yard shot at a deer. I'd been hoping for a doe, but expended my buck tag on a small buck, so that Elkie would have a good track. The buck was walking and the shot was slightly high and back. I let the woods quiet down and then departed for home to get Elkie. Within the hour I had Elkie at the site, but the ground was powdery dry, there was no blood, and Elkie couldn't detect a trial.

From reading, "Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer", I knew that in the morning the scent would rise up from the ground, so I took Elkie home and waited for Sunrise. At Sunrise Elkie was on the track, and in minutes she found her first deer... was she surprised! Elkie was cautious at first and didn't know quite what to think of such a big animal!

Then instinct took over and Elkie headed in for a chew.

It wasn't long before I shot a doe, and Elkie was hooked on the real thing; this time there was no hesitation and Elkie had a good chew.
BTW, these deer are fully utilized. Following my heart surgeries we eat venison, not beef or pork. The hooves, tails, hide, blood, and organs are used to train Elkie.

I shot both my deer early, and there hadn't been many tracking calls, but I'd regained my confidence in Elkie again, when a local lady called about a buck she shot that evening. We agreed to meet at our local U. S. Post Office just before first light, and a short drive later we were on site at the break of dawn. Elkie hit the ground running and the track was over in under five minutes!

This young mother was in a tree stand playing with her toddler, when this buck walked up and posed for a shot that she couldn't resist.

The buck was shot on the family farm, and everyone got in the pic. The hunter is a vet tech, so Elkie gets special treatment when she goes to the vet. :)