Edd Woslum and a Story about Chui and Tracking Dogs

Below is a short story I received from Edd Woslum of Idaho. It is a true story Edd wrote about his Teckel Chui and an encounter they had with some coyotes on his ranch. He also writes about the history and use of tracking dogs. Chui is a dog that came from our C-litter. Edd told me this story will appear in some outdoor magazines. Edd and his wife Leanne hunt and guide hunts at their ranch in White Bird Idaho.  They are into the custom rifle business, are African hunters, and Edd is involved in guiding, and hunting Cape Buffalo in Africa. He has also written a book called Walk with the Jackal. I read it and would recommend it to anyone that has an interest in rifles, and big game hunting. Edd has a way of making you feel as you are there with him when you read his writings. If you have a little time, read the story below titled “Blood Trackers”. I think you will enjoy it as I did.

Idaho buck, Chui and a successful hunter

Chui and a successful hunter

 

BLOOD TRACKERS
by Edd Woslum

After about a mile of casual fox trotting down the dirt road, Tillie, without any warning shot by me with a bark, a squeal and a mad rush down the mountain.  Kahlua saw her rapid departure and decided there must be some really cool stuff down there.  She then without delay was in full flight right behind her house mate.  Chui ‘s legs are only 7 inches long, even if stretched to full length, and I didn’t even see the feisty little fur ball until she came blasting by me doing warp nine on the star trek scale.  In less than two micro flashes, with miniature legs churning at full speed, she was 100 yards down the steep cliff and accelerating with every yip.

By this time I was jolted out of my quite reverie and was whistling as loud as I could and screaming to the point of damaging my respiratory system.  At about 200 yards off the road Tillie and Jesse, being of more reasonable disposition, decided this was a totally stupid endeavor and came trotting back to the road to see what the screaming was all about.

Immediately thereafter I nearly managed to kill my fool self while chasing my run amuck puppy down the steep slope. After this I slowed down a bit but continued to stumble on for another half mile or so before I heard the  yip-yips from Chui getting louder and simultaneously heard the snarling of the coyotes.

Several more yips from the little dog were rapidly followed by much more serious snarls from the coyotes.   Good lord, this idiot dog actually thinks she can take on that whole pack of four legged piranhas unassisted.  By this time I was wringing wet and was nearly spent but the adrenalin flow from full blown panic kept me going.  I could not see hide nor hair of either specie of k9 but could plainly hear Chui and the marauders verbalizing their displeasure at each other.  Of course I was still screaming with all the air I had left, but this was to no avail.

Ten more steps and I heard it.  Over the top of Chui’s mini bark, and completely smothering the snarls of the coyotes, came a rumbling growl like I have only heard a few times before.  Kahlua is usually quite mild mannered but is very protective of home and family.  When she is serious about it, this gal could inject mortal fear into King Kong.
At the time of Kahlua’s arrival into the fight, I had been doing my ungainly sprint over the rocks for about 20 minutes. I had just about maxed out my endurance meter, when suddenly, straight ahead, I saw two coyotes with tails out and ears back, racing at full speed as they tried to escape the wrath of that black demon with long teeth and a bad attitude.  About two minutes later this goofy little 9 ¾ inch, 20 lb, wannabe coyote killer, was at my feet and beating on my leg with her tail.  Man, I hate it when she does that.

I have been a passionate pursuer of wild game for over a half century.  The only pass time I enjoy even more is taking others, especially kids and neophytes, afield and assisting them to the successful completion of their hunt.    The flora, fauna and topography of the bush veld of Southern Africa compared to the prairies and mountains of Idaho are diverse in the extreme but I have been very lucky to have been able to both hunt and guide in these, my two my favorite places on earth.

No matter where one hunts the one event related to both hunting and guiding for which we all have a keen dislike is the gut wrenching feeling one gets when a wounded animal is lost.  To prevent this occurrence in Africa we have on many occasions employed the almost mystical skills of trackers from the Venda, Shangan, Shona, Sotho, and Matabele tribes.  Even though each of these highly talented individuals may have come from a completely different culture and spoke dissimilar languages, they each shared one overwhelming commonality, they could on demand and without hesitation, track a deer mouse, that was dressed in full camo, completely across the Sahara.  Quite obviously we don’t have this type of specialist in Idaho; instead my wife, Leanne, and I have for many years trained all manner of hunting dogs, of various breeds, sizes and skills to exclusively cold trail the spoor of a wounded animal.

North America is a relative new comer to the blood tracking dog discipline but Europeans have been using all types of trailing dogs for this purpose for several generations.  In some areas of both Scandinavia and Western Europe it is required by law that prior to hunting you must either personally posses a certified blood tracking dog, or you must  have previously arranged to hire such a critter along with its professional handler.

I have been on many an African hunt wherein the PH had one or two small, flat coated terriers tagging along in the bush.  The PHs usually refer to these dogs as Jack Russels (JR), but even though they are very vivacious and capable coursing dogs, these feisty little guys don’t generally match the AKC, or BKC official description of the JR breed.  No matter of what breed they may be, as anyone who has ever hunted South Africa will attest, they are considered to be an integral part of that area’s hunting regimen.  This type of dog is by its very nature ever ready to hunt, chase, bay or tree anything that grows hair, horns or feathers.  Even though these highly motivated 10 lb dogs are very capable hunters, they are not the type of K9 that American and European hunters refer to as blood trackers.

John Jeanneney is the acknowledged North American progenitor of blood tracking.  In one of his books on this subject he comments on the inherent tracking skills of the JRs : “Russells have recently acquired quite a reputation as tracking dogs.  This is based largely on the fact that they are used by professional hunters in Africa to find shot game.  If the shot critter doesn’t go down within sight of the hunters, one or two Russells are turned loose on the “hot line”.  They then quickly find the animal; if dead, the dogs maul it about a bit; if alive, they hold it at bay until the hunters arrive.  Although very effective this is very different from the use of cold-nosed tracking dogs in Europe and North America where they are used only when necessary and generally many hours, or even a full day,  after the animal has been shot.

The use of blood tracking dogs is now legal in 35 states in the U.S.  including Alaska and more recently Idaho.  In order to keep both the handlers and trackers in razor sharp shape, numerous blood tracking field trials are conducted weekly throughout the Midwestern and Eastern U.S..  Approximately ½ pint of deer or beef blood is used in laying a trail for the competitors.  It is then allowed to age for 8 hours or so before the dogs are singly put onto the course.  The merits of the individual trackers are judged by their ability to stay on the trail even when making 90 degree turns.  These trials are exciting and very realistic but nothing can compare with the thrill one gets when your sure fire, non slip, cold nosed, tracking machine, finds a big buck that you thought was lost.

Last year Mark “Griz” Matheson, one of my long time friends and hunting clients, and I were hunting white tail in a particularly gnarly and steep part of the ranch.  Below us at about 300 yards were a group of 5 does plus a rather impressive male member of the specie Odocoileus Virginianus.  We had been watching this old guy for about 30 minutes but the entire bevy of white tails kept milling about, in and out of the brush and they never stayed put long enough for a shot. The end of legal shooting time was rapidly drawing down on us when Mark, who had been lying prone on the snow covered slope, broke the silence with: “There he is.  Hold your ears.”  I was peering intently through my 10 powered binos but was not watching the right deer.  At the shot it was a complete melee and I couldn’t tell who and or what was doing what to whom.  There was no dropped watermelon bullet thump, nor could either of us tell whether or not we had scored a hit.  To make matters even worse it was now black dark.

After a couple of minutes of the usual mindless chitter chatter that usually follows such an event, I pulled out my two way emergency radio and called the lodge.  “Leanne, we need help.  Bring your dog.”  About 20 minutes later Leanne and her blood trained Brittany, Tillie, joined us on the slope.  For fear of messing up the trail we had stayed put right at the spot from whence we had fired.

We kept Tillie at heal while we slowly picked our way to the spot where the deer had been milling about.  I had the little dog on a 30 foot tether but as soon as she got a whiff of the fresh blood she hit the end of the lead and it pulled from my hand.  We stood stalk still for a while in order not to interfere with her precise work.  After about 15 minutes of complete silence and no sign of Tillie, I told Mark:  “Well three facts are now quite evident.  One, you definitely hit him.  Two, Tillie is definitely on him.  Three, now all we have to do is find Tillie.  Ten minutes later the little snow white dog’s coat shone like a Las Vegas neon when the beam from my torch lit her up.  She was at that moment busily engaged with trying to drag the big buck out of the thick brush by his tail.

Leanne and I have owned and trained many different hunting dogs;   some of them good, and some not so good.  Among this diverse array of K9 hunting companions are: Weimaraners, English Pointers, German Short Haired Pointers (Kurzhaars), German Wire Haired Pointers (Drahthaars), Springer Spaniels, and Brittany Spaniels. Of these various hunting dogs the breed that has most recently captured our hunting spirit is the little 20 pound, wire haired Teckle from Germany.  These wiry little guys were actually the ancestor of the American Dachshund but unlike this Americanized version, the bloodlines of the more accomplished hunters and trackers have been zealously preserved by several blood tracking associations in Europe and more recently in the U.S.. Other than the elongated body of both the Teckle and Dachshund  there is very little resemblance of either attitude or appearance.

A few of these dogs have now been imported to the United States and several breeding programs are ongoing in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S.. Even though there are now more of these dogs in North America it still took us three years to acquire a pup.

At present our pack includes three blood trackers Chui (Teckle), Tillie (Brittany), and Jessica Lynch (Drahthaar).   Our 4th dog, Kahlua, is not a tracker but is an 85 pound body guard who goes along to protect the other dogs.

If the principles described herein are of interest to you I suggest you go on www.UnitedBloodtrackers.Org or contact breeder Brian Hibbs at brian@trackingteckles.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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