Fun in the Woods. Who Needs a Gym?


Brambles and grapevines are a great mix to keep an old man agile and active. The necessary dodging, ducking and crouching does more good than any workout at the gym. Each call I take is tougher than the last, but my legs get stronger to meet the challenge.

The call I took yesterday taught me a few things. It was a big bow-shot buck, hit ‘too far back” at 8 AM.. the hunter and his buddies had tracked it about a half mile. Then the blood sign ran out, and I was called in at 2:30 PM. There was plenty of scent, and it was no problem for Tommy to start and follow. After only a hundred yards we jumped the buck, and he made a tight circle in a thick swamp with a deep creek flowing though it, When you get wet, you stay cool.

And I was happy to see that the buck was staying close in thick stuff, He won’t go far, I thought. Ha! After that tight loop, he lined out though the briars for over a mile, The creek meandered back and forth so that we could cool off several times. The steep clay slopes had me on my hands and knees coming out. I envied Tommy’s four legs and claws.

We crossed a harvested corn field. …no blood, but I could see the big splayed hoof prints…. on into a stretch of open hardwoods. Much easier going. Then we found a bed with a few smears of blood. But the buck was gone, and we tracked after him as fast as we could go, which wasn’t very fast.

Now it was getting dark. The hunter and I agreed that we wouldn’t catch up any time soon, and we had no lights with us. I marked the scent line as it came out of another creek, and we slopped our way out to a road where we were picked up. Our plan was to pick up the line the next morning and track to the buck that should be dead or very weak. That was the plan, but what are plans in the passion of the hunt?

The next morning, as I was getting ready to leave for the track, the hunter called. He hadn’t been able to sleep, and he had worried about the coyotes. At 1:30 AM he had gone back to my marker and searched ahead for a 100 yards. There was the 10 point buck, dead.

Because I tracked it 1 1/2 miles without blood, I’m claiming it as a find for Tommy. But Tommy never got a chew.

Deer Search

Deer Search is a private, non-profit organization of volunteers who track wounded deer and bear with leashed tracking dogs. Most of us are hunters and our goal is to reduce crippling losses during hunting season. The majority of us live in New York State and are members of one of the two New York chapters of Deer Search. We also have out of state members who track under licenses and rules issued by their own state.

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