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Thread: Dogs for deer

  1. #1
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Dogs for deer

    A short story for you.

    I was on my way home from stalking last Sunday and had a call from a friend whose client had shot a muntjac doe that was hard hit but had run. They had searched for nearly an hour but hadn't been able to find it, so I stopped off with my lab, Fallow.

    Now Fallow is a general purpose dog who I use for picking up and beating, but also take stalking. I've never really trained her for deer other than taking her on Stone's Deer Dog day a few years ago and subsequently trying her on a few simple trails. That said, she's found deer for several clients in the past, including in one memorable instance a muntjac buck that a client had shot at last light and that she found the next morning. Oh, and I always let her work her way onto any deer that I've shot.


    We walked to where the muntjac had been standing when shot and I put Fallow onto the trail. Within a minute she had worked her way up to the muntjac which was lying stone dead but well hidden under some thick pine fronds - even walking next to them you wouldn't have seen the muntjac.


    There are several points to my story above:


    First, any dog is better than no dog
    Second, we use training to hone a dog's natural skills - but those natural skills are there nonetheless
    Third, you don't have to have a highly trained, dedicated, deer dog to find deer - your plain, Jack-of-all-trades, lab can find deer. Perhaps not always, or under the most testing conditions, but they can find deer.


    Fallow is primarily a family pet, the matriarch of the pack and - to be blunt - a cantankerous old bitch! But she loves coming stalking and is steady to deer at 10 metres and less. She will sit beneath a high seat for a couple of hours (with only the occasional whine), and will walk and sit at heel when I'm stalking. Yes, sometimes she will just sit down and sulk for no apparent reason, and her love of retrieving a pheasant will occasionally get the better of her when out stalking, but in the General Ledger of my stalking life she is still hugely in credit. She may be a cantankerous old bitch, but she's my cantankerous old bitch, and I love her for it.


    I often read threads in this section of the site and think "why would anyone ask a question about training dogs for deer, when it seems you need some special tracking breed with a whole slew of German qualifications after its name, and have to dedicate yourself to training it all day every day, when all I've got is my old mutt!".

    Don't get me wrong, it would be great to have a "proper" deer dog, but I simply cannot justify it. If I was stalking every week, and particularly if I was guiding clients full-time, that would be another matter.

    I know the above trail was a simple find - not a 2,000 metre, 20 hour old trail - but in my experience represents the most common type of need the average recreational stalker has for finding a wounded/dead deer, at least here in the soft South.

    I also know that comparing what my lab does to what a dedicated deer dog can do is like comparing an egg and spoon race to the Olympic 100m final, but most of us don't aspire to run the Olympic 100m final. I do realise that there's a huge amount of satisfaction to be had from training a dog to be able to follow cold, complex, intermittent trails.


    I hugely respect those people who have dedicated deer dogs and the time, energy and dedication to devote to training them, but my life outside stalking prevents me doing that, at least for the present. So in the meantime I will carry on with my grumpy, farty, frustrating - but loveable - do-it-all lab.


    So to anyone who might read these threads and perhaps feel intimidated by not having a "proper" deer dog, or who has a dog that is used for general shooting and that you haven't tried on finding deer, my advice would be to just give it a go. You may be very pleasantly surprised, you may not, but at least you will have tried everything in your power to find that deer.


    willie_gunn
    Last edited by willie_gunn; 27-02-2013 at 08:24.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  2. #2
    Probably the best deer dog thread of the year so far, well done to both of you.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by unicorn71 View Post
    probably the best deer dog thread of the year so far, well done to both of you.
    a defo plus two from me as well + 2 regards pete

  4. #4
    Willie well writen and full of common sence well done to all on the day.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by unicorn71 View Post
    Probably the best deer dog thread of the year so far, well done to both of you.
    A big +1.
    This says it all "but in my experience represents the most common type of need the average recreational stalker has for finding a wounded/dead deer"

    Well done both.

  6. #6
    Well said! And very typical (I suspect) of your average stalker in the uk.

    If your dog fails to find one in every 100 deer, then statistically 1% of deer dogs need to be scent hounds. Just so long as we're not too proud to call on one when we do fail!


    (I bet a BMH would make an arse of itself as a peg dog on a driven day)

  7. #7
    Well written Dom & as for the "grumpy, farty, frustrating but loveable cantankerous old bitch" well she's a little star.

    Cheers
    Chris
    Life should be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving skidding in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride!

  8. #8
    Well said. So encouraging to read a post like that to which I can relate! Hope you continue to enjoy working with the "grumpy old fart"!

  9. #9
    Great story! Thanks Willie Gunn

    Quote Originally Posted by Shabz View Post
    Well said! And very typical (I suspect) of your average stalker in the uk.

    If your dog fails to find one in every 100 deer, then statistically 1% of deer dogs need to be scent hounds. Just so long as we're not too proud to call on one when we do fail!


    (I bet a BMH would make an arse of itself as a peg dog on a driven day)
    I think that you meant that you would need a scent hound for 1 out of every 100 tracks
    If that was the case, the odds of needing a scent hound would be 63.4%, i.e. the odds of a deer not being found 1 time out of 100 tracks.
    Lies, damn lies and statistics

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JabaliHunter View Post
    Great story! Thanks Willie Gunn


    I think that you meant that you would need a scent hound for 1 out of every 100 tracks
    If that was the case, the odds of needing a scent hound would be 63.4%, i.e. the odds of a deer not being found 1 time out of 100 tracks.
    Lies, damn lies and statistics
    Alright carol, that's enough!

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