I’ve been hunting for 45 years, and most of my deer harvests have been taken with a bow, including my 10-point buck this fall.
I shot him at the end of shooting time one recent weekday, during a snowstorm up in Bradford County. Because of the storm, I only waited 30 minutes to try and track him, but was faced with a situation I’ve never faced before.
There were no tracks of any kind, due to what was already a couple of inches of snow freshly fallen, after I shot. A feeling of desperation had set in that most hunters have felt at one time or another.
I had almost no idea which way he went, after losing sight of him, and there was no blood to be found, due to the snow covering. And I mean zero, despite what I believed to be a mortal hit.
When I got back to my cabin, I said to my daughter, Gina, who was hunting with me, “I need to call those dog trackers I read about in past articles, but have had no experience with.”
I contacted Jack Wentzel, a member of United Blood Trackers, a number I had with me in my gear. He called me back right away, and asked me questions to assess my situation, and decide whether he could help.
After that conversation, and him returning the calls of two other hunters that evening, in a similar situation, he called me back at my cabin, and said he would arrive on Wednesday morning, with his helper Paul, and his two dogs, named Layla and Winston.
I am so grateful for what they did for me.
After they arrived, and I took them to my stand, where my shot had taken place, he said to his dogs, which he had on his long lead, “Find it.”
I watched in utter amazement how quickly they picked up the scent in the snow. Wentzel explained, something I had no idea about – that a mortally wounded deer will leave off a scent, through his hooves, that the dogs are trained to pick up.
As we proceeded, both dogs started their track. Once they locked on the scent, which took only a couple of minutes, which to me was amazing, they lead the four of us straight to the dead buck.
When the guide Paul said, “there he is,” at first, I really thought he was
kidding. But when I saw that animal, laying there upside down, between
two dead falls, I turned to him and Jack and gave them both a big hug.
My daughter and I got choked up.
Over the years, I’ve hunted in several states, harvested a couple of bears,
turkeys, birds, etc., and lots of deer – this experience for me goes
down as the greatest hunting experience of my life, and something that I
will never forget.
I owe these men, and their dogs, Layla and Winston, my new heroes, a
great amount of thanks and praise as well for their professionalism.
Lastly, and on that note: I know these gentlemen volunteer their time, and
don’t charge for it, as members of the United Blood Trackers. So I made a
significant donation to them both, and their fantastic animals, for
saving the day for me, and for being a part of a memory never to be
If not for them, we may never have found this magnificent buck, which is a personal best for me in Pennsylvania.
(Story written by Brian Palmiter)