Blood Tracking and Grouse with Kurt Vercauteren and Rocky
Rocky’s 1st 3rd Blood Tracks of 2021
17 September 2021
With Colorado’s archery and muzzleloader seasons underway, Rocky has had a flurry of action. We’re members of United Blood Trackers, so hunters who have shot an animal but not been able to find it with just limited human senses can go to the UBT website to locate a nearby tracking dog.It started last Friday, we got a call to assist in finding a mule deer doe.She had been shot 6 hours earlier in the day and was a great first real track of the season.The archer had a good hit and Rocky quickly led us 180 meters to her.Then I got a call on Saturday afternoon, an archer shot a great bull that morning, bumped it once while tracking, and could find no more blood so called me late that day.Along with a buddy and his son who had come along on practice tracks with us over the summer and wanted to see the real thing, we met the hunter Sunday morning.It had rained gently all night and it was still drizzling and cool, decent tracking conditions but no blood visible to the human eye.Twice we flushed broods of dusky grouse, which we love to hunt so were a huge distraction from the task at hand.Refocusing Rocky was not easy the first time, the second time he wasn’t as interested in the grouse because I think he was more confident of elk track at that point. It was almost a mile straight line from where the hunter shot the bull to where we found it, 650 m from where the hunter last bumped it.Then, late Monday afternoon I got a call from a buddy hunting 5 hours west of my home.He had a solid hit on a bull with his muzzleloader that morning but after painstakingly advancing the bloodtrail 700 m over the course of the day he just could not find next blood.After getting my wife’s blessing, we drove to the trailhead, slept in the truck, and Rocky and I met my buddy at his camp just as the sun came up.We started on the last 100 m of the bloodtrail that my buddy had marked with flagging tape.I felt we were making good progress but then Rocky got distracted by the carcass of a domestic sheep (~2 weeks dead) and I couldn’t get him back on track.We went back to where we had started, took a break, and started again.On this effort at a point the dog had stayed high the first time he went down a ledge and was clear he was confident, then the hunter and I were seeing blood occasionally so our spirits were rising.Rocky’s pace picked up as he drug me along.Then his head came up and was clear he lost scent, just slightly discouraged being a rookie handler, I said “Ok, let’s go back to last blood and start again.” We turned around, took a few steps and walked right into the dispatched bull.Rocky had just traveled out of the scent plume and knew it, we are both learning and learning fast.