2020 tracking logs

frontierrots

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9/12 and 13/2020

For those who don't know, Bella turns 11 this month. She's in amazing shape and has the energy of a five year old but this is her last year doing bear tracks. We made that decision before the season started because bear tracks are always in horrific terrain and if she's still able to track next year as a 12 year old we want to just have her do deer.

Bella is now in her tenth season of tracking. In all those past 9 seasons we've tracked a handful of bear each season, and all of them have been far too lively to catch over long tracks.

As we entered Bella's tenth season we had started with a bear track that again was unwilling to become a rug and led us on a merry romp through hell terrain.

On 9/12 we got a call locally for a bear shot in a cornfield. Sounded like a good shot at short distance so off we went in the evening.

This cornfield was nearly desert dry, the dirt puffed up in dirt clouds as we walked in, the vegetation just looked thirsty and the air was dry.. The hunter had found a chunk of food in the field path some distance down hill from where the bear had been standing, and they had looked around a good amount for other blood or sign to no avail.

After the hunter had shot he had walked up towards the road (away from the bear) to meet his son and right on the other side of the cornfield was another hunter. Both had been entirely unaware that the other was there. The new hunter was a bit upset to find another hunter so close and he decided to sit tight in his chair at the woods edge and he remained there until dark.

We arrived with about an hour of light left, Corn fields are often tough scenting in the best of times, but in this drought Bella had a hard time locking on. She'd start at hit sight and go a bit in the corn then back out, up towards the other hunter and back again.

She finally locked on and followed the bear's track into the corn to a wet bed, then out of the corn right where the coughed up chunk of charleston chew smelling food lay, and lost scent again in the field path. We spent most of the remaining daylight with Bella following that bear's scent from earlier pre shot. Eventually the other hunter left and Bella searched on his side of the field (it was a good exit point)

We took a break and regrouped and took Bella back down to where she'd exited the corn definitely on the bear's path and gave her quiet time to search both sides of the powder dry field path (about 12' across), finally success a bit diagonal down from the corn exit!

Over a stone wall topped with barbed wire and into thick hemlock and fir forest where we found a couple areas of light blood and off we went. We crossed another barb wire topped stone wall, dry stream beds and more thick woods. Any open area was waist high ferns and weeds. I kept Bella on a pretty short line because in the dark who knew where the bear would be. The scent conditions in the fern areas was almost as bad as the cornfield and we stopped several times for water breaks. The ancient logging slash and storm toppled trees just added to the physical difficulty of the track.

After an eternity it seemed of dark thick forest, the track turned back towards the cornfield.We had actually decided to hang up the track at least for the night and were ourselves headed back but followed the easiest path. After maybe 50 yards of walking at heel Bella caught her wind and suddenly snapped back into tracking mode. She wanted to go the same way we needed to so why not.

We got to a gigantic downed tree and could have gone left or right around it. Bella wanted right so we went right. We came to an almost dry stream bed and as Bella paused to sniff the ground we noticed fresh bear tracks in the mud. Rob who was about 6' from me standing on bank of the stream bed suddenly said "Bear, a bear is RIGHT here!"

Our headlamps were very dim and just like in a movie, part of a large shadow broke away from the rest of the shadow and moved very slowly away from us and stopped. Rob (who is a licensed tracker too) raised his gun to shoot, but was still at that point not positive it was the right bear and hesitated. The bear when he first saw it was 6 FEET from his boots laying in what little water was in the brook. It stopped 8' away where the rest of us saw the " large shadow that moved". Our lights were getting dimmer and wavering and the bear never looked at us so no eye shine.

I got my gun with the red laser out but the bear slowly walked into even thicker hell. We waited quietly and listened to it slowly walk away. It had to be the bear Bella was tracking (the place is loaded with bear so it was a legitimate concern). After it was gone we shined our pathetic lights at the stream bed and it was literally full of blood.

Made the decision to come back in daylight as going after a living injured bear in the dark with dying lamps is a fools mission and we did not want to push it far away.The bear had already traveled .80 miles so we pinned the spot and flagged a path to the cornfield

In the early am we were back.Back at the brook we saw what Bella had been sniffing was a big pile of puked up blood.

Bella hit the track solid and hard and in spite of it now being 9 hours since the "Shadow bear" had stood there she took it hard and solid. High humidity this am made the scenting conditions considerably better.

The bear had exited the stream on the same trail we had tracked in on and then broke out in a new direction.More of the same thick forest and ferns but far better visibility.
Finally the track turned back just when we were doubting we'd catch him and into slightly more open woods and open areas.Then yup, back into thick bear hell and hooked back into the dry stream bed area and a ways down that we found him, dead. (There was sign he'd laid in the wet area of the stream first and then back tracked to his death site)

Such a relief and what a track for Bella (and my) first bear recovery!

The bear had traveled 1.66 miles (about 2911 yards) in total. One lung/liver/stomach hit

Such a very good dog!
 

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frontierrots

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9/15/20 Opening day of archery season. Took a tracking call for an area we've tracked in quite a bit over the years.

Buck was arrowed at 6:15 am, hunter waited two hours to get out of stand and did a fantastic job of both flagging sign and not contaminating the track.

Bella had no trouble starting. Looked like the buck had bedded right after the shot but that was the only bed on the track we could for sure see.

Track came out of woods and crossed a power line trail. Saw a deer to the left but Bella had no interest so we found the track crossing and off we went
straight
up
the
mountain.
Finally the buck turned and went across the slope face and finally turned straight down hill, crossed the powerline again and into a tree and weed filled ravine in the middle of the field.
Did he stop there? Nope
He left the ravine, crossed a field, jumped a 15' deep drainage ditch and into more woods.
He popped out at the side of the highway changed his mind and went back into the woods.
All the blood was tacky but not fresh.
Out of the woods and straight downhill into tall grass, burdocks and thistle. Ow ow ow ow
Up a hill through the woods and into yards. Took us quite a bit of circling a house to figure this out with the scent burning off the pavement in the sun,but finally after a water and snack break Bella found where the buck had walked the side of the road and crossed the busy highway into a housing development where we called the track.
Shot was very slight quartering to, but with the buck looking away from the hunter. Cant even begin to tell you what was actually hit. 1.46 miles of travel by the deer (after subtracting our house circles)
 

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frontierrots

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9/15/20 track #2
Doe arrowed around 5:30 pm.
There are many reasons hunters need tracking teams and this one is a great example of a good skilled hunter but with poor red color vision, and helping friend with poor dim light color vision.
We got to shot site around 8:30 pm, there was blood at shot site but nothing else.
Bella took the track immediately and as we got out of sight from the shot site the doe took a sharp left turn. There was no blood for 52 yards from shot site and then what there was it was all high on leaves and sides of tree trunks.
Track was 276 yards. The arrow holes were both pretty high on body which explained the delay in this great shot not giving good sign from the start
 

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SportsmanNH

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What great work you guys do for hunters ! Terrific tracking job on all those critters .

I really hope you get rewarded well for what you do !
 

frontierrots

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What great work you guys do for hunters ! Terrific tracking job on all those critters .

I really hope you get rewarded well for what you do !
We aren’t allowed to charge
We can accept tips
Sometimes we get a handshake or maple syrup or honey or cash
Or nothing

a few yearsback a hunter bought me new boots
 

sneaky_pete000

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Thanks for writing these up. I love these and learn a ton. I've committed to shooting farther forward on ALL my shots this year.
 

frontierrots

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holy wow I've fallen behind....... ok here's a lot

9/16 Bullet091620.JPG

Bullet had his first real deer track tonight
He did a track for a color blind hunter. 116 yards at night with a recovery !
He did really well, just second guessed himself on a corner. He actually indicated it fine but then doubted himself
Restarted him at last blood we saw and he blew right through that section fine
Good puppy
Video
https://youtu.be/1S5Qh1sBkhw
https://www.facebook.com/36847239002/photos/pcb.10158318620199003/10158318620144003/?type=3&__tn__=HH-R&eid=ARBeFnUbSMSL7obUImfTUaRQm6uUpFyiAb5EflZnBFjh-phj6K16GOZlnlbbXoWIx8oeJIElzYMhCNpe&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARAp4rQPEqaAohvchKlk6sHL6vKZAVIjS04pC5xcouU_PcWlnvMyCQfcJrhHcvkLbt1KgnxTohRUO3aIPYE96QnG-P19Vo0guzQpvBsN21uGTbPcTiZqKk6v3-8wVmASlNpc6AvhhHY4x-xxrESdifCwuvTP6tsMqQxyQoAGeaMe24x0cjnUjfSlwvUddt_cx8Ko8quhJwF84_n0xXGrTUgNE_6WGEDhdnY-GC90nbFPZ5kok7sEGGpELJHjUWwso0eD9IoJUYyNZ-uLRu2NxQNzs7NU5FcVE0S_GYtWvkUj298Q4DHkv6h9JM_XKu6ymjkZj7zn96oHqeal5Q
 

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frontierrots

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9/17/20
Had call for a buck hit at end of day. The loud crack of the arrow hitting the deer as he jumped the string and spun was heard by another hunter over 100 yards away so we were sure this was a shoulder

Buck went downhill into a thick mud swamp where the blood got heavier for a short stretch then lighter again

He came up onto a dry hill a ways then Bella was suddenly in search mode. After a frustrating search she finally puzzled out that he had turned around and backtracked after a tiny dry spot blood.
As we went back down the trackBella found where he cut off. The second we took a few steps that way we heard him bound off. He had laid or stood there quiet and just watched us pass him.
There was a good bit of blood where he stood or layed but then none. He went back up the hill towards the tree stand and waited on the hill to watch for us. We saw him briefly as he tail up bounded off to the left with ease, so we called the track.
1023 yards of deer travel
 

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frontierrots

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9/18/20

Track A
a short successful tracks for friends, with Bella in the lead with Rob and me behind with puppy Bullet. Bullet was super distracted by Bella and was not really tracking but once he hit the scent pool of the deer where it laid he was all business

Track B
a track for a doe that sounded great but in actuality she appears to have ducked the string. What we thought would be a successful track turned into a journey. Bella was on her game on this one and once past the extensive grid search area she was off without any bobbles.
Deer crossed a road and after crossing a field and brushy area we had bright fresh blood at my waist height.
We determined that the doe was not terribly far ahead of us and very lively so we called the track off.
The fabulous young hunter went back the next am and found a possible bedding area with blood then it all stopped
Got home at 12:30 am
 

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frontierrots

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9/20/20
TWO bear tracks on the same road, no recovery

Not sure what the odds are of getting two bear tracks on the same road the same day, shot 2 hours apart by people who don't know each other is but I got it today.

Way out on a rough skinny remote state land road. Thank God I have the Outlander not the Corolla now

Track 1 is a perfect example of "Trust your dog" "Listen to your dog" and I didn't, sigh.....

bear shot on a bait site. Hunter and friend had sporadically flagged off blood and extensively searched last night.

Bella took the track but right away she's giving me the "not dead " signals. I don't listen. She keeps wanting to go to the right off blood trail. I keep making her come back. We get to just about their last blood and she wants to go right. I push her out farther. She tells me where to put that and takes me almost back to cars.
Try again, Back to almost last blood she again tries to veer off to the right. Again I don't listen. I'm too tired I guess. But I'm a TERRIBLE handler. Poor Bella.

FINALLY my brain kicks in and I can hear Bella. Back to bait site again and she goes along blood trail a ways and boots right and intersects what she wanted to before...... The bears exit trail... God I'm an awful person.
I let her track that and she finally pulls hard and sure. Happy her handler finally found their brain.

She tracks right up to the edge of a beaver pond and leaps in trying to swim across. I reel her back in.
Directly across there's a hoard of Blue jays having a fit and I tell hunter we will circle around the pond and see what they have just in case.

We circle all the way around and no bear, but the BlueJays were right above a GIGANTIC Allegany Mound Ant hill. Those things are horrid- bite and sting so got away from them before something happened.

Bella briefly indicates a possible exit path but at this point I decide bear is unlikely dead today and we hike back to cars

Back at car I have the second call come in. What the heck I'm here I guess I should go.

Up the rough road a decent ways to the other hunter's bait site

Bear had been shot at bait site last night. Hunter had bumped bear from a bed not far from site and tracked a ways out. Came back this am with a friend and tracked and flagged til they could not find blood.

Again Bella's tracking slow but not yet saying "Not dead" and this time I AM listening.
We get to hunter's last blood and Bella figures out their search area and finds new blood. Its all really small amounts other than the initial bed.
We track up through typical thick and nasty bear hell up and up and up and as we start to near the top Bella gets much faster and keen.

We stop for water and Bella is yanking on leash to go. At first I'm thinking it's just because we've passed the search area, but as we crest the top she's acting like this is a fresh track.
We round the top and we stop to discuss an exit strategy if we go down the other side. There really isn't one.

We decide to go a little farther just in case. A few steps down hill there's blood on a stick and leaves. Fresh blood no more than a few hours old.

The leaves in the downhill trail are pushed up like something was going down it fast. Two more smears on leaves. We stop again to discuss the consequences and going down. Bella is losing her mind trying to yank me. We decide to go down one more level. No more blood but the bear spun all four legs as it made a sharp right onto a trail that ran across the steep hill face and barreled along the trail.

Obviously hunter and friend had jumped bear a few hours ago when they came out. Also obvious is the fact that it's in solid control of it's body or it would have rolled down the hill.

There being no way back easily if we descend we call off the track. Bella is mad mad mad.
1 mile of bear travel. AND a handler that did a better job of listening to her dog.

Such a good good dog Bella
 

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frontierrots

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took track for probable shoulder blade shot.
no arrow no blood

Bella took the 15 ish hour old track without hesitation.

Buck took off away from shot site then sharp left and straight out. With just a few variations, the path was straightish. Through swampy mud,low water brooks, up STEEP hills, through thick pine and hemlock and repeat.
Had good hopes as we heard a huge flock of Bluejays and crows and Bella was heading right for them. But nope, we passed them and no dead deer. The buck was heading right for a major interstate when we hung it up
Still no arrow no blood and one really pissed off tracking dog we headed back
1.20 mile track
 

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frontierrots

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9/22-23/20
Failure sucks

Tracking is one of those things where you don't find the target animal more often then you do, but usually even those no finds are "successful". You provide peace of mind to the hunter that their animal is not just laying out of sight unfound, your dog does amazing dog work, you over come a hard track obstacle like this bone dry weather we are having.

So yeah, Bella (11 years old veteran tracker ) worked her ass off on this track, she overcame a heavily searched hit site, and she tracked super well in dry conditions. Those are our successes on this track

But the failure here is driving me crazy. A "dead deer walking" became a disappeared deer with zero rhyme or reason

Went on a track for a deer shot last evening. Shot was thought to be lung to liver. IE: a dead deer

Arrow had some small meat bits and hemlock needles in broadhead, a smear of fat near broadhead, streaks of dark blood on shaft and brown blood all over fletching. Arrow smelled like a deer. Nothing more at all.

Hit sight was heavily searched and bone dry. Bella worked the site and figured it out and off we went.

blood sign was irregular, several spots at a time then none but not huge. Most was fingertip size or less. All of it was low. The highest two spots were knee high on me. All the blood was on one side of trail

Deer came out onto a heavily traveled deer trail and Bella was cruising along. I catch eye shine in woods just off trail just as Bella acts like she's hit the edge of a scent pool (which she will usually circle) and I tried to push her past the deer in hopes it would stay put so I could get gun out, but as we were almost past the doe exploded up like a bomb went off and bounded away in HUGE high bounds tail up looking totally un impaired. 20 feet. I was 20 feet away...

Bella had a fit and we put neck leash on her to settle her and examined bed,.

There was thick brown blood seeped into forest floor in the bed where doe was lying. And where she had exploded to feet was a couple more thick nasty brown blood splotches. NO SMELL at all. Again just deer smell.

We assumed liver no lung at all and backed out for night expecting deer to be a few hundred yards away come morning.

623 yards from shot to bed.

AM comes and we arrive. Get right to bed and Bella takes a bit to work out the exact exit, but gets it then tracks away with ease. Again the small sporadic blood spots start up some yards down the track.

Deer went uphill slightly and got on a well used deer trail that ran along face of hill. Not much blood here at all and we get to where it looked like deer stood for awhile. 6 or so small blood spots, pencil eraser or smaller size.

Bella starts casting like she missed a turn, I convince her to check several yards down that trail but no blood and Bella has no interest (she doesn’t need blood to track it’s just an observation that there’s none). She circles downhill and back up to trail. I try again but only a few feet down she again circles downhill and I bring her back to trail again. I get her to rerun a portion but she whips around and runs back down the trail.
Thats Bellas solid indication of a backtrack. OK

She backtracks a ways then cuts left tracking strong. and we go up and up and up. NO blood at all
We get up to a flat (and hunter finds a shed antler) and the hill goes nearly vertical. Deer switches left and runs along the base of that. Still no blood and the only bed was also bloodless and possibly not hers.
We are now 500 deer travel path yards from the trail with sparse blood. It's getting hotter, Bella is getting hot as are we.

We decide this is just implausible and head back to last blood

Again I try to push Bella forward on the trail. nope. She wants to go back to the track we just left (backtrack to exit left)

I stand there and desperately ask her to find another solution. She casts awhile then chooses a path down. Not super strong but going. We pop out on the access road having seen zero blood, Bella crosses the road and promptly says her deer does not exist there. She just took that path to appease me.

Why is this deer not dead. Why did it just stop bleeding. Why did it never rebed. Poor Bella she works so hard, tracks so well and sometimes her handler is just stupid

Maybe the deer was abducted by aliens I have no other answer

I feel like this was my Unwinnable Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek reference)
 

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frontierrots

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9/26/20

Went on bear track tonight for friend who arrowed a bear, he thought heart but that turned out to be a no

Walked in and met him at last blood, I usually start at hit site but had to walk by last blood to get there so decided to see if Bella would take it from there

Bella made one loop and a zig zag and took the track and found new blood right away
We had sporadic blood to confirm the entire track. All the blood was very low, 8” or lower and a couple places where it had laid down
The bear stuck to thick sapling and brush hell the majority of the time with dried blood to mark the way from time to time
The one time it broke out into open terrain it crossed our walk in path and there was wet blood right in our tracks. It changed Direction though and turned around and backtracked back into hell
The blood remained wet and we realized the bear was walking ahead of us. Not challenging us, just staying ahead. It veered off the back track then sharp turned back to the center of this thick mess. We found a bed with very wet blood and a splatter where it ran past a root, A sharp right out into a small opening with very fresh blood. Then it dives back into the thicket
Bella sits and stares ahead unmoving and we hear cracking
Time to call off the track before one of us gets hurt. The boys will go back out tomorrow
Best guess is a very low chest/brisket shot?
We followed 1287 yards, hunter had already tracked about 250 yards
 

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frontierrots

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10/1/20
Local track
Doe arrowed in field from treestand uphill from the deer. Hard quartering away shot.
Arrow picked up standing straight up missing about 4", about 8' blood on shaft. Middle red color

Started Bella where arrow was found. She checked left into woods then across logging road into woods confidently.
After a decent amount of yards with no blood we restarted her at arrow site same result.
Followed on what would prove to be a totally bloodless track.
away then half circle then straight across logging road uphill. Much airscenting and effort but could not pinpoint. Brought her back down to logging road where she checked right then came back up to where she'd missed a sharp turn originally and she was hard on the track again.
Sharp left up hill and we ended up crossing the top of the airscent location. Straight up the gradual hill to a cold bed that Bella was much interested in. .Away and around in a circle, curved downhill a bit then turned and back uphill again. We halted at a log trying to get untangled to cross over when just ten yards away we heard the doe get up and run.
Got up to the bed and it was still slightly warm. Tracked a few more yards to make sure she was not going to fall over or start bleeding and called the track.
Not real sure how hit but does not appear to be having trouble breathing and not bleeding externally due to high entrance hole and no exit.. Puzzlement track
Doe traveled 646 yards
 

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