Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak Pro Staffer Bob Walker has lived, hunted and guided in Livingston, Alabama, for 36 years. Walker also has raised and trained blood-trailing dogs for about 35 years.
According to Bob Walker, “I favor Labrador retrievers to use for blood trailing, because that was the breed of dogs I first started training for find deer. But in recent years, I’ve also begun training mountain cur dogs, since I’ve learned that they make very-effective blood-trailing dogs. I’ve got one mountain cur that’s only 2-years old that’s really doing well at finding deer. I’ve got another older, 6-year-old mountain cur that’s a super blood-trailing dog. He picked up blood trailing quickly and has made some great finds. I’ve used him plenty to find numbers of wounded and dead deer.
“I like Labrador retrievers too because not only are they great blood-trailing dogs, but you also can train them to be retrievers. A dual-trained dog for blood trailing and retrieving birds often will sell for $4,000-$5,000. If a trainer picks a puppy and has worked that dog for a year or two on blood trailing, that dog is easily worth $1500+. A very good blood-trailing dog probably will sell for $3,000-$4,000. A started dog may be worth $2500 or more.
“One of the biggest advantages of using a blood-trailing dog is if you own a lodge or are in charge of large hunting lease where members can bowhunt and gun hunt for deer, you can get more hours of sleep after each hunt by using a blood-trailing dog to find and recover wounded and dead deer. These dogs work quickly at night, and generally within 30-45 minutes will have pinpointed where the deer is, and whether it’s mortally wounded or will survive its encounter with a hunter. Either way, you don’t have to stay up all night trying to locate a downed deer. A blood-trailing dog can cover more ground much quicker than a human can. That dog can smell a deer’s trail that you can’t see.
“When a dog finds a deer, it will alert by barking or sitting down beside the deer until you arrive at that spot. Most of the time if the deer’s dead when the blood-trailing dog locates it, the dog won’t bark. I use a Garmin training and tracking system https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/on-the-trail/dog-tracking-training/cOnTheTrail-cDogTrackingTraining-p1.html on all my dogs’ collars to know where each dog is, and when he finds the deer, even if the dog doesn’t bark. The tracking system alerts when the dog stops, which I then know is when the dog has located the deer and is waiting on me to come and get it. You probably can get one collar and a tracking system for about $600. And, if you have to look for numbers of deer, that tracking system will save you hours of searching for wounded and/or dead deer.
“Some trackers keep their dogs on leaches. I’ve tried that. However, when those dogs run through a briar or cane thicket, you’ll quickly learn that a tracking collar is well worth the price. But I’ve learned when you’re training young dogs there are some advantages to keeping them on leashes. They may get so excited that they’ll wander off the track. But if you start them off with a leash, then you better can control them to stay on the track. Some people put a bell on a dog’s collar or some kind of device that beeps or a light that blinks. But I’ve learned that if you try to keep up with a dog when it’s hunting a deer by hearing a bell or seeing the light, you’d better be an athlete. You’d also better be prepared to get stuck, scratched, hit by limbs and encounter many things you haven’t wanted to run into when you’re chasing a deer.”
Bob Walker’s nephew William Crawford, who lives in Montevallo, Alabama, is also training blood-trailing dogs. “My Uncle Bob Walker has had dogs that can find wounded deer for as long as I can remember,” Crawford reports. “I’ve always been completely fascinated with them. When I was about 13, my grandfather, Bobby Walker from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, shot a buck in the woods that went out into a clear-cut. Immediately, my Uncle Bob put his Lab on the blood trail. When we arrived at the edge of the clear-cut, the deer was standing, with the dog barking and baying him, until my grandfather dispatched the buck. I told my Uncle Bob, my dad and my granddad then, ‘One day I’ll have a dog that does what Uncle Bob’s dog does.’ That’s why I’m trying to do.”
To contact Bob Walker, write email@example.com, or call 205-652-2489.
To learn more about hunting deer, go to John E. Phillips’s book, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close with Bows, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A2A6ZG6#. To receive your free book on “How to Make Venison Jerky,” go to https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/Ece3UZVcOo52cKPJcL