Scent tracking with NK for prey recovery
  • ceziegcezieg
    Posts: 1050
    I've been reading up on hunting, as I've moved out to the Southern US where it's practically a requirement, and came across this interesting article.

    I know there's a decent amount of hog hunting with Kishu, and minor Hokkaido working, but has anyone given scenting wounded prey a go? NK are obviously used in human S&R and barn hunt, but the latter is a controlled environment and S&R is guided to a specific location.

    Ren and I's scenting experience is non-existent, so it'd be interesting to hear about some scent training success/challenges first hand :)

    Also, has anyone used NK to retrieve downed birds such as grouse and pheasant?
    The "lighter" builds and temperaments of dogs coming from non-working lines/kennels would lend well, in theory, to recovery of light game animals, and be much safer than a late start on training for active prey "holds" on larger animals, such as hogs.
    Ren, Kai Ken (f, intact) 02-01-2012
    Kirin, Alaskan Noble Companion Dog (f, intact) 05-04-2015
    Post edited by cezieg at 2015-02-01 06:42:51
  • Myabee09Myabee09
    Posts: 552
    I think @wrylybrindle hunts for grouse with her Kai. I'm not a hunter, so I really don't know what they're capable of.

    Where in the south did you move to? I'm originally from Louisiana. :)
  • ceziegcezieg
    Posts: 1050
    @Myabee09 Yup she does! So far no catches, but I know she's been training hard!
    Most NK that I know/know of will devour what they pick up lol. So I wonder if she's been doing any "soft mouth" training
    Ren, Kai Ken (f, intact) 02-01-2012
    Kirin, Alaskan Noble Companion Dog (f, intact) 05-04-2015
  • sjp051993sjp051993
    Posts: 1605
    Dave was training Tyson to hunt bird. I would think they could be trained to track as well. I know mine track scents they find. It would be a matter of training them to only track the blood trail and not get distracted by other scents.
    Stacey living with Tora, Kazue, Ritsu and Kuma the Shiba

    DSCF0686IMG_0940 - Version 2DSCF0714IMG_1151

  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    I have used Taro to locate deer and he seems to be pretty good at it. No formal training fot scent tracking other than the times I trained him in a bay pen.

    You could use a scent drag to teach dogs to follow scents. That's a pretty typical way hounds are trained. Just like all other hunting dog training, it definitely requires a lot of time and patience.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
  • "DIY Juno", bagged her own grouse without me shooting it for her, and while she didn't bring it over, she did let me have it :) They are not soft-mouthed dogs though, and it's not part of our relationship for me to train her with the traditional spiked dummies to train a softer mouth. Bird hunting is not worth that to me. So, yes, the grouse had some battle damage- so we don't have a pretty fan tail to show off- just some feathers- but we ate the breast meat, which just had two small tooth marks. I preserved the wings for training and fed the dogs the legs/feet.

    But they track all the time, which I just reinforce with my enthusiasm (they are excited and continue if I share their interest and go along too- no need for any other form of reinforcement "Yeah! Let's go find it!") if the target is an acceptable species. So I always track grouse with them, turkey and bobcat (all legal to hunt with dogs here- though I'm not interested in shooting a bobcat with anything but a camera- I still have much to learn by watching them and tracking them), but we always leave porcupine, coyote and deer tracks after examination and don't follow those out. It is like pattern-setting- we do This, but That is just "not done".

    Dogs already know how to track and use their noses, the thing you have to communicate is which scent you want them to discriminate for you and say yes! to that one. It takes some trust, though- they can sense it and we cannot- as I am reminded every winter when the snow allows me to see what the dogs have been tracking all year long. ("Ohyeahhh... the birds DO walk in crazy angles sometimes... the dogs ARE right and aren't just goofing off!") You start to learn with experience when the dog is tracking a bird or a squirrel trail because you can see how the dog moves differently, visits different woods objects, and is excited differently. Suzanne Clothier has written an interesting booklet on the tracking relationship "Following Ghosts" which gives some good perspective :)
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2015-02-02 11:26:28
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1906
    Ooh, I like this thread (and I'll have to check out that book @wrylybrindle mentioned!)

    I don't write much about my SAR training with the Kishu because I go so infrequently, but Nami especially has a knack for it. Both are a bit "ADD" compared to the other dogs who do it, but they've been doing it a lot less time than the other dogs.

    We train by having people lay scents and having the dogs follow them on a long line, first, then off the lead. At first, the person putting the scent down will be a short distance away, hiding, and I had to encourage Fionna a bit more than I had to encourage Nami to explore and find the tracks we were supposed to be looking for. Nami just needed direction. Fionna needed the rules and supervision.

    I haven't been back in a couple months now, but it's definitely something I want to do when I get settled in Oregon. I've been looking into SAR groups there to continue.

    The biggest issue the SAR people have with Nami is that she doesn't have an overt signal when she finds what she's supposed to. She's either just pranced up to the person hiding or given a subtle full-body point, which isn't really good if you're doing SAR because you need the dog to be able to signal you from a distance, I guess.

    Fionna has a very excited, short and shallow series of barks she uses. That was untrained, tho. It's just her "I FOUND AN EXCITING THING!" voice.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 ||
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    I personally wouldn't expect a soft mouth from an NK, though it is possible to teach without a spiked dummy (of which was one of the humps when doing dumbbell work with my husky, dumbbell needs a firm grip not a soft one). I think that's one of the issues @dlroberts was having when training Tyson to retrieve birds.

    I can see NK being very good at tracking, both my NK will go nuts over tracks while my huskies will only really notice if it's very very fresh. A few times we would follow the NK when they were going nuts over a scent and about 30 minutes or so later we would be scaring up some deer or turkey.
  • NavyDogNavyDog
    Posts: 388
    This is a good thread. I've hunted boar with my kai but unfortunately we've moved to a state without boar. I've been thinking about training Yucca to track deer for me
  • ceziegcezieg
    Posts: 1050
    Very cool @NavyDog! I don't think it'd be much different, but wouldn't a deer be pretty tough to keep up with? I'm new to hunting so I have no clue. Pardon my newbiness :)

    Here's also something that I found extremely cool. Dogs being used to track and discover antler sheds

    Here's a real short Field & Stream article on the basics

    And here's a more in depth "article"

    That sure would be a cheap way to stock up on dog chews!
    Ren, Kai Ken (f, intact) 02-01-2012
    Kirin, Alaskan Noble Companion Dog (f, intact) 05-04-2015
  • Juno and I are training at blood tracking for wounded game (deer and bear) recovery. We have a mentor trainer who is super enthusiastic about bringing new people and dogs in and has set us up with training materials (an excellent book "tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer" by John Jeanneny as well as other articles, notes and catalogues.) We will test in late April for our state license (Vermont allows licensed leashed dog-handler teams to track wounded deer and bear).

    Some good things:
    This activity favors a small, rugged dog that doesn't make a lot of racket- not necessarily a big bloodhound or something. Some of the most successful dogs are wire-haired dachshunds. I have met other hunters who look down their nose at fluffy little Juno and think THAT is a hunting dog? - but this activity welcomes all breeds and mutts.

    The training is already force-free- the trackers emphasize that the dog's initiative and delight in doing this. This is a rare attitude in hunting, where force-fetching, spiked dummies and ear pinches and shock collars are de rigeur. Hunting is very slowly coming round to force-free positive reinforcement training, but very slowly- and blood tracking is already there.

    A lot of the work of this training is stuff my dogs are already used to- they are excellent in the woods and used to track and scent and the overall layers of information in the forest. They are already hunting dogs, and very good at using their nose to find things and tell me about it, and I am already used to their different body language when on game or not. This also dovetails really well with my fieldwork as a wildlife tracker and naturalist

    Some things that the tracker needs to learn to be useful and functional in the field involve deer hunting forensics (differences in behavior and fluid leaks from a gut-shot deer, vs other hits, vs a deer with a broken leg- if the hunter couldn't find it and needs to to call in a tracking team, its a situation that is a bit messy in some way), knowledge of the land and deer/bear behavior, trust in the dog- rapport with the dog for that kind of silent communication that goes between a team in excellent tune, and a willingness to get dirty, scratched and crawling through brambles and alders in swamps if needed.

    In Vermont, the tracker needs to be prepared to finish the deer after dark if it is still alive, also (after legal shooting hours), and there is also the matter of hunter relations- evaluating the call and info from the hunter, ensuring permission form landowners and informing the game warden. This is a leashed activity in Vermont and New York as well as the midwest states that allow it. In the South, off-leash tracking by baying hounds and gps trackers is more the custom.

    But back to the dog-part- Our trainer provided us with a gallon of deer blood and two hides to practice laying tracks and train up. Jeff and I laid a 50 yard track through the woods, let it age a few hours and then brought Kai Kens Matsu and Juno out to work the track.

    Matsu located the start, and tracked, but his attitude was wary, and he would often look up and swivel his ears and air scent and lift his paw. "Something is making deer bleed here- this could be dangerous..." He seemed to find the whole blood track interesting but disturbing, and he marked on some of the blood spots I had placed. When we eventually reached the hide, he touched it with his nose but turned away. I thought, well he DID track and maybe this is just how dogs are the first time out. I put him back in the car and ran Juno- completely different story!

    Juno was lusty for the whole thing, tracking, intense, electric. She'd eat the blood, and searching hard, nose down and working. When she reached the hide she began to tear it and tug on it with her whole little bod. So with her natural motivation and interest Juno will continue this training, and Matsu will remain my top grouse dog (he had the most finds last fall by a 3:1 ratio over Juno). I am not sure how far we will get in this training- and will probably only take search calls from friends to begin with if we get that far. But I have already learned a lot, and it's fun to work with an eager dog on something she feels is authentic and significant.

    Our mentor reviewed Juno's tracking on video and was pleased with her work so far. He looked at the clarity of her body language on track vs when she lost the track, and that she got back on track by herself. He feels she is a good prospect, so we'll keep at it!

    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2016-02-24 16:04:15
  • Juno and I just got back in from our first real public call to track a wounded deer. We did not find it, but the hit was in the neck and from quartering away and highly likely to be not lethal. But it is still good information for the hunter to know his deer isn't dead anywhere in range, and thus probably survived.

    It was really worthwhile to get out and work and serve the greater good. Even though the odds of recovering a deer were really low and it was after 4pm already and raining, despite these factors, we took the call.

    The hunter and his Dad and Juno and I followed the trail through lot of crazy thickets and thorns and found some scat and just one more drop of blood. After an hour, we agreed to call the track. Josh (the hunter) said he felt really good to know the deer had probably clotted and survived the hit. He said he would feel horrible for the deer to waste or suffer. They were very grateful to us.

    This was a really tough track situation for a first call, but Juno did well. In addition to tracking and finding blood (in the rain!) she learned to focus and work in front of two new big guys crashing around with us, and in a new woods.

    Kai CAN!
  • Juno and I took another wounded deer call this afternoon, but again the deer was not findable. We did extend the track beyond what the hunter had done himself, finding more blood, scat and the arrow. The arrow had blood about an inch and a half up, but the deer shook it out about 30 yards after a shoulder hit. There was not much blood to work with, and the deer went up and down a ridge before hitting a heavily travelled deer run, where it became impossible to distinguish his track without further wound fluid to go by.
    As we walked back to the trucks the hunter's buddy told me he had shot a doe yesterday up there and recovered it this morning about 25 yards from the hit, and his brother had got one on just the other side of the ridge yesterday as well. So complicating the work was two other wounded deer tracks, gut piles from dressing each (which I am proud to say she stayed on track and avoided). Juno indicated the the deer took the run through a ravine and then out into the lawns of a suburban development, but we didn't go in there because we hadn't seen any blood sign in a while and there were tracks everywhere.
    The lack of blood, bedding behavior, the placement of the wound and the dislodging of the arrow led us to conclude the deer is not mortally wounded and is running fine. Again, the conclusiveness of the search effort supports this. Good job, Juno!
    I really REALLY want us to get a find, though! The experience is fantastic - nothing beats a real track for increasing knowledge, learning how we can train better and perform better. She is already improving on the experience of driving out to new woods to walk with strange big guys- much less barking and wariness toward the guys today, just an initial greeting bark and then she was happy to get to work and not mind them. She also did a terrific job of ignoring the barking dog in the yard when the track led us up behind a house. It barked for a while, but she merely sniffed. I'm very proud of her!

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