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Where can I get blood for training?:


UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Having a good supply of blood in the freezer is crucial to consistent blood tracking training. If you lay just one track a week using 8 ounces of blood you will need at least a couple of gallons by VGP time. Perhaps even more!

My advice is to find a small meat processor or butcher in a rural area and ask them to save blood for you. I leave a five gallon plastic pail with a lid on it so that the meet processor can have it there ready to catch the blood when it's time to butcher. I'm not real particular with respect to type. Pork, Beef or Goat all seems to work. I usually give the butcher $20 dollars for his trouble which keeps me in good standing when I need more.

Since you're a hunter I will presume that you are not squeamish when it comes to getting blood on your hands. Your work does not stop at the meat processing plant. The blood in your bucket will be coagulated and will seem more like jelly than liquid. Blood coagulates rapidly once out of the animal so you will have to process the blood before so it will be in a liquid state when you're ready to use it.

In order to do that you will need to put the jelly like coagulated blood into a blender and blend it at high speed for at least a minute or so. Blending the blood breaks down the cells and prevents coagulation.
Blend 2 MinutesFilter Blood

After blending you should filter the blood with a strainer to remove large particle, hair etc. from the liquid. After filtering you can poor the blood into a larger container and let the protein foam that will develop during blending rise to the surface.

Allow a few minutes for the foam to rise to the surface and then skim the foam off with a large serving spoon or poaching ladle. Once you've gotten rid of the foam, transfer the processed blood into 8 oz. bottles of some kind. Plastic water bottles, liquid yogurt containers or any other plastic vessel that holds 8 oz. can be used. You will want to freeze the blood so I do not recommend you use glass containers.

Idea: Though I have not tried it personally, I am told that adding salt to blood will keep it from coagulating. I plan to try this and report back here and let folks know if that works.

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The Swivel is an Important Part of the Blood Tracking Collar
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It is extremely important that you develop a ritual that your dog will recognize and associate with each specific task that you ask it to perform. Part of each training and hunting ritual includes the repetitive use of the same equipment used to perform the assigned task.

Dog's are very keen when it comes to noticing seemingly miniscule changes in equipment and settings. Event the type of clothing, head gear, and boots can signal your dog what it is about to be asked to do. Inconsistency can serve to confuse your dog thus you should make every effort to develop a ritual for each task at the outset of training.

In the case of blood tracking that equipment includes a blood tracking collar and a blood tracking lead. I will describe the entire ritual later and only describe the collar and lead and their use for now.

Tracking CollarTracking Lead

In the photo above you can see that there's a swivel attached to the collar. Much like the swivel that a fisherman uses to prevent his fishing line from getting twisted, the swivel on the tracking collar prevents the tracking lead from getting twisted as the dog, and you move through the woods. The collar and lead above I purchased from Hans Klein. Hans imports them directly from Germany. If you wish to get more information regarding this type of collar, click here.

It is important that the swivel is oriented towards the ground (see photos below) and that the lead lay under the dog. As the dog creates tension on the lead it's head will be pulled down towards the ground and the scent. The collar is worn loosely around the dogs neck and should be wide enough to be comfortable and not cut into the dogs neck as tension on the lead is created.

The collar in the photo above consists of a double layer of hand stitched cowhide with a stainless buckle and a brass swivel. The swivel attached with saddle rivets to insure that it does not pull out of the leather.

The tracking lead in the photo above is approximately 10 meters of 1/2" x 1/16" cowhide and buckles to the swivel with a stainless buckle. I have recently added a brass ring a distance of 6 meters back from the swivel since the blood tracking test requirements require that length of lead between the dog and the handler.

There are various other materials and styles of both tracking collars and tracking leads. Several new types are made of smooth water proof plastic materials and some others are made of woven nylon. Which type you use depends on your personal taste but regardless the swivel is a must. Also keep in mind that harness type tracking collars are not acceptable JGHV tests.

I have provided a couple of links to suppliers of tracking collars so that you can evaluate them yourself. The hand made collar and lead in the photos above I purchased from Hans Klein and it has been used extensively to prepare three dogs with very little repair.

As far as care of the collar and lead go, if you buy a leather collar you can occasionally treat it with mink oil or spray it down with the silicone spray used to water proof boots. In any case store the collar and lead indoors in and area where humidity is low since leather tends to mildew when damp. Of course if you have the new waterproof plastic equipment moisture will likely not be an issue.

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If You Plan to Use the "Dab Method" to lay Blood tracks You Will Have to Make
a Dabbing Stick and Have Something to Carry Blood In:

There's probably as many types of blood dabbing sticks as their are people who lay blood tracks using the dabbing method. I've seen sponges attached with rubber bands, sticks using cloth pads, sticks made of pvc and on and on.

It really doesn't matter what type of stick you construct as long as it works. The idea is to use some sort of dabbing method to apply a given amount of blood over a given distance. The dabbing stick in the photo below is my current "worlds best" dabbing stick. I made it using an old broom handle and a paper binding clip fastened to the broom handle with a heavy duty electrical wire tie.

Dabing Stick

I'm currently on my second one of this type. The first one lasted about 6 months. The clip rusted and broke so I simply put a new one on. The only real work to it is that I cut a notch around the stick so that the electrical tie doesn't slip up and down after it's drawn tight.

Ideally the stick should be short enough so that it's easy for you to dip it in the blood jug but long enough so you don't have to bend over to dab blood on the ground. Mine is about 36".

Technically the sponge should be no larger than 2cm x 7cm but a sponge of close to that will be fine for practice.

Sponge AttachmentBlood Jug

You will also need some sort of container to carry and dip the sponge in as you move along in the woods. Any throw away plastic jug will work fine. A gallon milk jug or detergent bottle like the one in the photo above both work nicely because they have a fixed handle.. I do not recommend a pail with a moving handle since it is likely to hit brush or branches as you walk and splash out on your clothes.

There are two methods for laying blood tracks. The "Dab Method" is the one I find easiest for me. The other method of laying blood tracks is call the "Drip Method". Those who lay tracks via the drip method usually use some sort of plastic squeeze bottle and drip the blood on the ground as they go. When I have laid tracks this way I have used a child's sip or seal container. I have also used a laboratory style water squirt bottle. I always seem to have problems with clogging bottles that wont drip correctly when I use the drip method. Or even worse, I tend to drip to much blood out at a time. It's really a matter of preference and both methods are acceptable.

Some claim that the drip method better simulates the track of wounded game and others say that those who are experts in this area of training always use the dab method. Unfortunately the dog has no vote or it could tell us which type it likes. Both methods leave scent and that's what the focus should be.

The type of method used for a specific blood tracking test in the JGHV system will be announced so you will know the method for that test far in advance.

Marking The Blood Track:

You're going to need some method of marking the blood track as you lay it. It's very important during training that you know exactly where the blood track is so that you can correct your dog when it goes off of the track.

The track should start with a wound bed that consists of a scuffed area of ground with blood sprinkled in and around it. The wound bed also serves to mark the beginning of the track so you know where to start your dog on the scent trail.

Along the way, say every 30 feet or so you will need some sort of markers. Some people use colored clothes pins, wooden clothes pins painted blaze orange, surveyors tape et cetera. I like to use cotton balls because I don't have to constantly look up to find markers placed above ground level. Another good reason to use cotton balls is that they are biodegradable so you don't have to pull them as you go or go back and pick them up.

The down side of using colored clothes pins or other colored objects is that some of them always seem to get left in the woods hanging on trees and brush. If you have a limited number of areas to train it wont be long before those areas have a number of confusing markers hanging about. Cotton balls become discolored, degrade, and disappear within a week or two so you probably wont have to worry about making a wrong turn do to an old marker.

When laying the track I try to throw the cotton balls on the ground off to the side of the blood trail about 5 or 6 feet so the dog doesn't notice them and smell my scent on them. As your dog gets better at tracking you'll be able to decrease the number of markers you need and even start using land marks such as dead falls, rocks, and changes in contour to guide you.

It's also helpful to have a some sort of bag that you can fasten to your belt to carry track markers in. If you don't have such a thing, a pair of cargo type pants with big pockets will do nicely.

Remember that it's an absolute must that you know exactly where the track is. Whatever method that you choose to mark your track make sure it's one that not only works for you but it's one that the dog wont scent of see otherwise the dog may eventually key in on the markers and not bother working on the scent. Later on we'll discuss another use for markers but for now we'll stick to the tools and methods used for laying tracks.


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Hunger Is the Incentive:

The reasons that you want your dog to be successful performing blood tracks are obvious but you must ask yourself, "What's in it for the dog?". Yes, most Kurzhaars are perfectly capable of following scent but if they don't have a good reason to do it they will soon become bored and show little interest. It's your job to make sure that boredom doesn't happen.

To insure that the dog stays motivated you will want to use it's desire to eat, i.e. it's hunger, to motivate the dog to move to the end of the track. I rarely run a practice blood track when my dog is not hungry.

My dogs like vienna sausage, cheetos, cornbread etc. The point is use something that your dog doesn't get every day to make the end of the track special for it. A couple of hand full's of whatever it is your dog like is plenty. You want the dog to come to the job hungry and leave a little hungry too. The dogs desire to track should be almost as strong to continue as it is to begin.

Important considerations:

In the South we have to contend with, not only varmints like raccoons and opossums. but insects such as fire ants and yellow jackets. Because of that food that we leave at the end of a track, especially a blood track ,will likely be gone by the time we get there. Especially if that track has been left to age over night.

If you live in an area with similar conditions then you may want to be a little creative with your dogs reward. I like to leave the reward I plan to leave at the end of the blood track at the time that I finish laying the track. I like to do that because it's one less thing I will have to carry while running the track and I have on occasion forgotten the treat altogether.

I use vienna sausages because I can leave them overnight in the can and pop it open quickly when the dog gets to the end of the track. I've also hung sealed sandwich bags full of treats in trees or brush at the end of a track. In addition, I have put the food in a glass jar. If you use either of those containers be sure you wash the food scent off of the exterior or it will become an easy meal for some varmint or worse covered with biting or stinging insects.
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The best way is to try and end the track at an easily accesible spot such as a road or pathway where you can drop of the reward from your vehicle on the way to the start of the track. Doing that becomes even more convenient if you intend to drop of an animal carcuss at the end of the track for training purposes.

In any case your dog must be rewarded at the end of the track so you must make sure the reward is there when your dog gets there. I've been robbed by a midnight bandit more that once and you certainly wouldn't want your dog to be rewarded by being bitten or stung by insects at the end of a track so take whatever precautions needed to prevent accidents and make the experience a pleasant one for both you and your dog.

Along with the treat you should really go overboard with excited praise and petting the dog. Make the event as pleasurable for the dog as possible.

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When laying blood tracks it is important to vary the terrain:

Though most blood tracks at tests are run in stands of woods in reality deer don’t much care which way they vacate the premises when shot and wounded.
Get your dog used to tracking in all types of terrain and you will truly have a blood tracking dog worth having.

It makes sense to me that when blood is laid on the ground in an area where the predominant growth is pine trees the odor emanating from the ground cover in that area is different than odors emitted from the ground cover in an area where only oaks grow.
It follows that odors will be different in areas of brush, bare soil, high moisture, dry conditions, and so on.

Agricultural FieldHardwood ForrestPine ForrestBrushy Areas

If nothing else, varying the terrain may help teach your dog to focus and distinguish the target scent even when it’s mixed with the scents that are emitted by varying terrain components. That’s a good thing!

If a dog is truly concentrating on the blood track, changing terrains should not be a problem.
I often lay blood tracks in dense woods that cross over open terrain at some point and go back into another type of terrain.

The dog should know that tracking blood scent is the task at hand and should not break into a search pattern in open terrain or brush. The dog’s nose should be focused on blood scent from the ground and its head should be down.

A dog with a head up sifting odors in the breeze is not focused on the blood track and probably needs to be corrected by its handler.

The photos on the right are pictures of actual varying terrain in an area where I often lay blood tracks for practice.

I can easily run a track that extends 500-1000 meters that crosses 4 and even five types of terrain.

When selecting places to lay blood tracks for your dog try to find areas where the terrain is diverse and has at least a couple of different types of cover.

When it’s time to find that trophy buck or monster hog you will want your dog to go where ever the blood trail takes it regardless of the terrain.





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Deutsch Kurzhaar vom Sturmland

Gary Fleming
vectortfl@outlook.com