Editor’s Note: For many years, Game and Fish Departments, especially in the North and the West, were reluctant to let sportsmen use blood-trailing dogs to recover deer that had been shot. However, today a growing liberalization of regulations to use these blood-trailing dogs to locate dead or wounded deer has resulted in many more deer having been found after the shot and fewer deer being lost. Across the nation, many organizations now are available that a hunter can call to employ the services of a blood-trailing dog.
“That dog is lying,” the hunter told me as Hayward Simmons of Cedar Knoll Lodge in South Carolina followed his Labrador retriever with a bell attached to his collar. The dog was searching for a buck deer that had been shot. “I told Hayward that the buck went to the left, and that stupid dog went off to the right. I’ll bet that dog is running another deer, chasing a coon or doing something else besides trying to find my deer.” I had known Hayward Simmons for several years, and I knew his dog didn’t lie. I told the hunter, “Well, let’s see what happens.”
Not 5 minutes later, from deep in the woods we heard, “Hey, we found your deer. He’s a nice 8 point. Come on down to where we are, and we’ll drag him out.” I glanced over at the hunter, who looked just like a cartoon cat saying, “I haven’t seen Tweety Bird,” as feathers hung out of the cat’s mouth. When we reached Simmons and his Lab, the man had indeed killed a real trophy 8 point. That was the first time I’d seen a blood-trailing dog follow a wounded deer with little or no blood trail present.
In southwest Alabama where I grew up hunting, we always had run deer dogs in the river-bottom swamps near the Tombigbee River, because our hunting club always had run deer dogs there. Once a deer drive was over, we used those hounds to help find wounded deer. But as time went by, and sportsmen no longer hunted deer in groups with dogs in Alabama, if a hunter shot a deer with a bow or a gun and didn’t have a visible blood trail to follow, often those deer were lost and their carcasses not found until turkey season when turkey hunters would discover them.
J. Wayne Fears, a nationally-known outdoor writer from Alabama, a hunting-lodge manager and an outdoor industry consultant, says, “I don’t understand why any lodge owner or hunting club wouldn’t own or use the services of trained blood-trailing dogs and their handlers. These dogs can find a wounded deer much faster and much easier than a guide with a flashlight at night.”
To learn more about deer hunting, go to John E. Phillips’ books and learn the tactics small property owners have used successfully by checking out John E. Phillips’s book, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties” at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OOC2T0Y#, available in Kindle, print and Audible versions. To receive your free book on “How to Make Venison Jerky,” go to https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/Ece3UZVcOo52cKPJcL.