There’s a lot to strive for when hunting game like white-tailed deer and black bears, but for the hunter, one of the most important goals, if not the most important, is making a quick, clean kill. That said, there are times when an arrow just doesn’t loose right or a bullet doesn’t hit its intended mark. That’s when the hunter brings in the hunting dogs. In Pennsylvania, the state Game Commission has allowed hunters to utilize tracking dogs to seek out big game for several years, but now, dog owners statewide are coming out to help outdoorsmen track down wounded deer.
According to the Daily American, the PA Game Commission has allowed hunters to use leashed tracking dogs to help recover deer, bear, and elk since 2018. But for hunters that don’t actually own tracking dogs, there’s another option.
27-year-old Kody Kipe of Chambersburg, PA represents one of many pet owners across the state that are registered through websites like unitedbloodtrackers.org which allows him to bring out his tracking dog to help other hunters seek out their evasive kills.
“Last year is the first year I tried doing it with Boone, my dog,” Kip said, “and he took to it pretty quick.”
Per the outlet, Boone is a 2-year-old Bluetick Coonhound.
He continued, “It was a pretty short span of trying [tracking] out. A lot of my buddies, I told them if they made a good shot to give me a call and I’d put [Boone] on a fresh track, that way it was kind of easy for him.”
There weren’t a whole lot of trial runs for Boone though, according to his owner.
“[The trials] quickly turned into ‘Hey, I hit one badly, can you bring Boone out?’ and it just manipulated into something pretty cool.”
How Do Tracking Dogs Locate Wounded Deer?
Tracking dogs are extremely intelligent, but there are certain qualities about a panicked deer that help the canine track it down.
Per the outlet, a deer, when stressed, leaves behind a certain scent that comes from the interdigital glands located in the animal’s hooves. The deer’s unique scent helps the dog keep on its prey’s track even after blood and other more visible clues have disappeared. Thanks to this special quality and Boone’s natural instincts as a tracker, the talented canine has located over a dozen deer within the past two years.
“It’s very cool to watch him figure stuff out,” Kipe said of his tracking dog. “It’s fun watching him learn and I feel like I learn more than him every time we go out.”
Boone doesn’t seem to mind the work either. Recalling some deer hunts from the past few years, Kipe further shared, “When [Boone] sees that vest and lead come out, he’s just inconsolably excited. He won’t stop yipping and howling and he just wants to get out and start tracking.”
While Boone and Kipe seem to enjoy tracking and helping out other hunters, the outlet reminded readers that they and other trackers are still providing a service and, depending on the extent, location, and type of hunt, costs will vary. For more information, visit unitedbloodtrackers.org.