I thought I would pop this on as an example of what my dog has been trained to do and a deer dog should be able to do if a shot is fired at an animal. It's not a smart arse post because of the other thread that a discussion has started on, it's just a point of interest that some stalkers with dogs may be interested in reading about, nothing more.
I placed a guest in a high seat yesterday morning and left him alone as it's a single seat. Furthest distance a shot is likely to be is 120yds. He's not a novice and has plenty experience but not on sika, and was happy to be left alone.
After a couple of hours I am walking up a ride towards the seat to collect him and as I arrive he indicates to me there are deer out in front that I cannot see. I duck down and go back behind the seat about 30yds. He takes the shot.
He tells me he saw the stag jump slightly and then run off down the hill and after about 30yds it disappears from his sight because of the ground sloping away. I ask him to describe exactly how the beast reacted to the shot. It was a jump, no kicking of legs or anything and a run with another couple of deer that were with him, showing no obvious signs of injury in his movement. When the shot was taken it was vey still and the only other piece of evidence was no typical sound coming back suggesting the bullet had struck flesh, not foolproof in any way but a piece of the puzzle nonetheless.
I put the tracking collar and lead on the dog and took her to where he said the stag was standing when fired at. I kept her on a shortish lead and watched her reaction as she moved back and forward across the area the deer were, obviously scenting them. She then pulled off on the track they'd taken. She showed no signs of interest at the shot site indicating any hair, blood or other matter so at this point there was nothing else to go on. She pulled strongly down the hill in the direction the deer had ran off without faltering. Very, very strong scent obviously. I decided to allow her the track to see if she would indicate any sign suggesting a strike. She tracked for about 200yds and then went through the rabbit netting fence back into the Sitka spruce which is completely shut in. This area is carpeted in deer crap. I stopped her at this point and took her back to the shot site as she never found any sign of injury at all over that distance.
By the time I got back the guest had actually found the bullet strike in the ground. Brilliant, as we now had an easy line for the dog to work on between the seat and where the bullet struck. I worked the dog on this line for about 30mins, still very close on the collar and tracking lead. She in fact started to show signs of getting fed up on the same piece of ground to be honest. She indicates sign quite well for a young inexperienced dog. Whenever she stopped and gave an extra sniff or attention to a patch of ground, a piece of heather, moss whatever, I was right there to take a few steps forward to see what had suddenly interested her. It may have been a smell from a fox, a bird or even a deer but it was nothing to say that stag had been hit.
Therefore the result was confidence it was a clean miss, the guest was no longer quite as gutted thinking he had wounded a stag and it was another experience for my dog who is still learning, just like I am in this tracking game...
Only thing I would have done differently on reflection, was spend more time initially trying to find the strike before the control track was made but I allowed her that in the hope of indicating sign. Very hot track for a dog to follow though proven by the speed she worked it at. There is a wee benefit in that though, because if there had suddenly been a blood splatter, piece of bone or hair lying there, she puts the brakes on and stops and sniffs at it showing a very obvious change in behaviour which I can see being close enough...