How many times have you spent hours tracking a wounded deer with only a 50/50 recovery success rate? Do you remember how frustrating it was last season when you finally drew a bead on that massive buck, only to wing him and watch him go bounding away? Worse yet that he managed to slip away and disappear, leaving you with nothing more than a story to tell.
Why not teach your dog to track wounded deer? Your dog has one of the most sensitive noses on the planet, why not put it to good use by teaching him to track? Unlike a human that can easily lose track of the deer as is blood trail disappears from sight, your dog can lock onto the deer's scent and won't give up until he has tracked it down or been called off the hunt.
The task is simple, you are training your dog to track a wounded deer, presumably one that you failed to kill with the first shot. But, before you train your pup to do this, you need to make sure it is legal in your state. Some will require your dog to be on a leash while tracking, others allow you to let the dog run free. Some states let you continue tracking after dark and there are those who have a specific manner in which you can finish the kill when you catch up with the wounded animal.
The concept is that once you have wounded the deer, your dog can be taken to the spot where the deer was standing when he was shot. At this point, he should be able to pick up the scent and take off following the deer until he tracks it down, loses the scent (yes, it does happen), or is called off the hunt by you.
You can teach this skill to any dog capable of being taught to track using his nose. In most cases, it is better to start training your dog at an early age as this will make the training go far more quickly. Dogs learn quickly at a young age, but as they get older it gets harder and harder to teach them. For this, you will need a few supplies, including:
In addition to the materials above, you'll need plenty of time and patience, as well as a good location to train in, preferably a field with woods on at least one side.
Of these, time is probably one of the most important as you need to work on this training consistently over the course of several months or longer before your pup masters this particular skill. Be patient and work your pup over a number of different types of terrain including fields, light and heavy brush and, of course, out in the woods. All training methods assume your dog has already mastered the basic commands.